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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Winners announced

Thematic Songwriting Competition - recurrence: monthly
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by GMoneh »

As I mentioned in my previous post, this month competition was for me a great opportunity to make use of a few awesome synths that I either got over the holidays or have had for a while but never had a chance to really delve into. In particular, for this kind of sample-based sound design, I want to bring attention to:

- Audio Damage Quadra 2: A granular based synth that allows to create awesome sounds from a given audio file by granular processing.
- Dawesome Novum: Distributed by Tracktion, but developed by this guy nicknamed "Dawesome", this is another granular synth, but with a different workflow than Quadra. This one slices the original sample into separate "timbres" that comprise it, and allows you to then mix and match "timbres" from different samples, or even mix the envelopes from a sample with the timbres of another. Really cool stuff.
- NI Form: This is a Reaktor based ensemble, part of Komplete. I'm not sure if it's mechanism could be considered granular or not, but it offers yet another way to get awesome sounds from audio file sources by manipulating the way the audio in the sample is played.

Also had the chance to play a bit with wavetable synthesis, another synthesis mechanism that really interests me. Serum is the most popular synth in this field, I know, but I don't own that one so I can't opine on it. But both Phaseplant and Pigments proved really flexible on this regard, with the ability to create a wave table from any audio file source you may want. Possibilities are limitless!

So those were the strategies I myself used for the sound design this month. Really curious how other folks attacked the problem, because there are some really good sounds on these months tracks.

A few comments on each of the entries:

cotmm68030 - matrioshka brain neural desynchronization
A good atmospheric track, with good sound design, good use of the samples available/provided. I tend to prefer tracks with more melodic/structured content, and that's why this one doesn't place higher for me in my voting.

Arelem- Gone
It's cool that you came up with an actual song with lyrics. However, the lyrics are a bit unintelligible for me, I don't know if they should be a bit more in front or what, but they seem to get obscured by everything that is going on. In turn, all the other components get masked by the lyrics at the same time, so in the end, no part takes really full attention of the listener. The most prominent part is actually the drums, which could probably stand to be taken back a bit instead…

alavault - Rubber Banding
An interesting piece. More percussive in nature, but I guess that's what the sample set we were given was the most apt for. The problem with percussive pieces is that they get repetitive after a bit if there is not much variation in the beat or the structure.

JeroenZuiderwijk - JungleJazzElectroFusionOnSpeed
"Chaos", as you say, is a good way to describe it, but in a good way. The track is moving and enjoyable. Maybe I missed it in the whole thread, but I wish you had at least described how you got the sounds you got from the samples provided.

Mellow Browne - Fight Your Demons
I like the groove on this one. Very "dancey". The sounds are well constructed. Interesting you used Arturia CMI V for most of those. I didn't know that was a sample manipulation synth. Ended up with several interesting sound structures.

EsteveCorbera - Magia Cosmica
One more in the "ambient/atmospheric" lane. The sounds are very well constructed. The mix could perhaps use a bit more separation so the individual trimbres. Also, it stretches a little bit too long…

OrpheusXL - Le Roi C'est Moi
Catchy tune for sure! The sounds achieved are very musical and fit the piece very well. The track progresses nicely is well constructed.

AlexHyper-EZBanks -Abattoir
Chaotic and fast, ends up working well with all the sounds available. Gets a bit too chaotic towards the end, but good overall.

becsei_gyorgy - adlibs
Wow, achieving all those sounds just from a single sample, that's quite a feat indeed. The sound design is on point, and the composition and arrangement are top notch too.

VCA-089 - Machine Heart Well produced electronic track. A lot of sound variety achieved from the samples for all the sounds effects spread throughout.

tinnitus - Severe
A tale of two tracks. I like the second part better, as the more mellow beat seems to work better with the sounds selected. But nice job overall.

A Future In Noise - Always Around
It's too bad this entry was not eligible for voting, because it would probably have placed on my list, although extremely short. I like the wavetable sounds you were able to extract from the material provided.

The Exponent - LifeLoop
Also a shame it was posted late. This one would have definitely placed in my top 5. Great sounds, great beat, very enjoyable.

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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by Mellow Browne »

This was the first time for me to only use given sounds to create something, so I learned how to change the view on a certain situation, it changed the way I hear snippets for samples now for example, which I absolutely did not except to happen. I will definitely participate in the next Community Scramble and I will also provide some samples. Next time I will invest more time in the sound design part, I really wanted to finish something but in a genre I’m not really familiar with, so I could really learn some new approaches to other genres than I usually do. And I wanted to try a new synth I never used before, this is why chose Arturia CMI V for the most part. It is also nice to hear the ideas from all of you and to see your vision, and I have to say, ALL of you have done a great job. Congratulations!

So, here is my feedback:

cotmm68030: "matrioshka brain neural desynchronization"

I´m honest, first I thought wtf is this. I had to listen at least 5 times to really acknowledge what is happening here.
Great soundscape, lots of things happening, it is hard to really catch up the little details. I really like the spatial depth here, some sounds are really far away with lots of reverb and delay, some are in your face, others are wobbling, phasing, pulsing etc. Your production stood out the most to me, because of the style you chose and the way you created the sounds. There are a lot of „musical“ elements which are hard to hear the first few times, everything seems to be tuned perfectly to each other element. Only thing to complain is the „lack“ of musicality overall compared to the rest. Excellent work!

Arelem: "Gone"

This sounds like some hybrid of lo-fi hip hop and pop music, which I find interesting. I like the relaxing vibe, it reminds me of holidays and sunny weather. The sounds you created fit very well together but the mix has some problems, maybe the guitar tune is a bit too loud, but like others mentioned I’m not able to understand the lyrics. And after a while, they get a bit „annoying“, it is hard for me to listen to them, because I don’t understand them, so it sounds repetitive. Overall the sound is a bit muddy and boomy in the low mids. The Vocal FX is cool, but I think it is just too much for a 4 minute song. You are not off-tune, but to my ears your melody singing is not „interesting“ enough.

Alex Hyper-EZ Banks: „Abattoir“

This is really a hell of a ride, it goes in all directions in a very creative way, at first it sounds very glitchy and pretty unorthodox, but there is certain story behind it. Every 4 bars or so the theme changes, and even though the sounds remind me more of „noise“ you still made it sound musical to my ears. It sounds detuned, but in a „correct“ way.
Your track is a bit short and the end is too abrupt. To me the best part is from 01:21-01:53, this is a great section, I personally hear it as the transition point of your production and it would’ve been nice if that part would be longer. Some elements stick out to much in the mix, for example that loud buzz/saw sound @ 00:36 and in general, I find the mix a bit busy and distorted.
But overall really good work.

aFutureInNoise: „AlwaysAround_NP“

So sad, this production isn’t longer, very promising 80´s soundscape and feeling. I like the that turnaround thing on the chord progression you did. Also the singing does fit very well.

alavault: „RubberBanding“

I like how the energy keeps rising. The rhythm section is nice and groovy with that long delay, the sounds fit well together. Overall, I really like the musical idea behind it. This sounds like some Dark Techno or Industrial to me (maybe I’m totally wrong here) and I had movies like „Fight Club“ or „The Transporter“ in mind when listening to it. But after the break there are some elements which do not really connect with the rest, they seem a little bit too random for me and sound „off and detuned“, especially that high pitched synth lead. I would love to hear a version with the elements tuned to the rest. The mix does have some phasing issues, some elements like the „buzz guitar sound“ after the break @ 01:28 almost disappears in mono, and overall it sounds very busy to me.

becseigyorgy: „adlibs-90bpm“

This reminds me of some pop music like Lady Gaga or Britney Spears, I like the musicality of this one. The sound design is interesting, I hear guitars, strings, Pads, Leads, Plucks, etc., just from one sample. The mix is well balanced, nothings stands out. But I can’t tell you why, to me your production doesn’t sound finished, maybe it is the arrangement or the lack of percussive instruments/low end power, it is just a kick and a high hat. Don’t get me wrong, this is actually really good, but I personally know you can do it „better“ or more interesting, I’ve heard some really impressive stuff in the past from you. Even though the mix is ok, this still does sound like a „demo version“. But for that "One Sample Challenge" you made it for yourself your entry is really good.

EsteveCorbera: „Magia cosmica“

This reminds of some theme park music eg. the Eurosat Coaster @ Europa Park, nice soundscape here. Has some 80-90´s vibe to it. I like it. It needs some time to really develop, especially those hits. First impression is good. But after a while it is a bit repetitive overall, nothing „new“ under the sun, only another pad stacked on top. The overall sound design is more plucky and shrill, the chord progression varies here and there, but sometimes the chord change sounds „random“ to me, like a chord generator/arppegiator but with more basic chord progression, nothing really „fancy“ with inversion/substitutes/turnarounds eg. I would have love to hear a B part, maybe with a very dark musical twist, the total opposite of the A part, since the production is rather long. I'm also missing a rhythmic percussive section. It was a bit harder for me to stay really focused while listening.

VCA-089: „Machine Heart“

Nice soundscape with different parts, those bell and chord sounds give me that „retro feeling“ and it reminds of some space ship/alien invader or „Command and Conquer“ pc game. It would also fit as soundtrack for horror movies like „Stephen Kings It“ or „Ghostbuster“, so many things come to my mind when listening to this. Really great work.
The different parts fit very well together and the overall production is interesting enough, it feels shorter than 5 minutes 36 seconds.
The mix is ok, sounds a bit shrill and harsh at times, but nothing dramatic. Maybe the send fx are bit too much.

tinnitus: „Severe“

Holy moly, nice stuff here. I like the vibe and the mix of the different styles, Hip Hop, Drum and Bass, Glitch Hop, Trap, Oriental/Arabic etc. It is aggressive but relaxing at the same time. Although the sound design is very „rusty“ and dirty the production has a very modern character. The only thing I would love to hear is a longer version of it where you go really crazy at the end after the „break“. And the mix is not clear enough for me, some elements are clashing with others and the sound is a bit distorted, but nothing too bad. Excellent work.

OrpheusXL: „Le Roi C’est Moi“

I like the way it is developing over time, the sounds are interesting and fit well together. It reminds me of some modern „pacman“ game music. Musically it has a more neutral or „humoroustic“ character, it is not happy and not sad. I noticed a B part in the middle which complements the first part really well, it stays in that neutral musical region but still gives enough variety for the ear to catch up something different. Some elements like the stab hits are too loud and stick out too much, but I noticed you turned up the drums a bit. The mix is busy and a bit distorted but I think your sound will „improve“ when you spend some time with the concepts of mixing, mastering and „loudness“ in general. Keep up the good work.

JeroenZuiderwijk: „JungleJazzElectroFusionOnSpeed“

This has a lot of energy and sounds like some vintage computer music. It has that digital, glitchy, cheesy uptempo midi sound, I find this very cool, especially that hard screaming synth @ 00:40, actually a sound I can imagine in a hip hop production, a hard ghetto type beat for The Lox or Mobb Deep for example.
I had hope that you would bring up a longer version with maybe a B part or an interesting turnaround or something. But overall your entry is pretty short and therefore doesn’t sound finish to me. I would love to hear an extended version with a little musical „twist“. Interesting work.

GMoneh: „GrainsOfSand“

Instant mid 90´s „Eurorap“ vibes with that drum loop and the synth melody. I like the development over time, it gets more a bit more hyped at the end. The sound design is pretty cool and old school but still up-to-date. Good job!
One thing I don’t like is the „dissonance“ between the bass sound and the synth melody from 00:43-01:04, something sounds out of tune to my ears here. I think the mix is ok, it needs some adjustments, to my ears the delay and reverb is too audible, I find the instruments need more separation. That filter effect on the drums is a bit too heavy, it is loosing quite some energy and the high whistling at the beginning is also a bit loud.

The Exponent: „LifeLoop“ - Bonus Entry

Great composition, great sound design. Almost everything is on point here! Very modern and „high class“ sound. I like it a lot. The drop at about 02:00 is nice and smooth. Only thing I have to complain is the mix. It is a bit squashed and harsh in the mids and highs. I think a cleaner mix and this thing would really shine!. Excellent work. Too bad you couldn’t deliver on time.

My top 5:
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by JeroenZuiderwijk »

This was my second attempt ìn the songwriting competition. I didn't have much time so I feel that my contribution is not quite finished. Maybe I'll work on it and make it a full song another moment.
but I really liked the idea to make a song from samples I didn't choose myself. I think I'll be participating more in the songwriting competition from now on.

i didn't include much info in my first post so here is some insight in my work.
I am not really into sounddesign and to be honest, I am not very good in morphing
the sound. Normaly when I don't like the sound I find another sample ;-)
I used a lot of distortion (obviously), delay and I chopped the samples
in a creative way and arranged them in Renoise. The distorted kick (cardboard box) and snare sound made a good foundation for a D&B beat. I used the 110 Hz sine to thicken the kick a bit.
I used the following samples:
-Cardboard Box
-Thumbtacks Shaken inside plastic box
-drum loop 90bpm
-accidental Mic Tap
-Swoosh Higher
-Atral Arp Bbmaj 110 BPM
-Glass rubbed with finger
-Detuned hit
-sin 110Hz

Some of the songs this month are high quality sounddesign. There are some excelent tracks that I like listening to more then ones. Here is my top 5:
► Show Spoiler
Everybody did a great job. The creativity was fantastic to hear. Well done! :clap:

I like the spooky sounding intro. You feel something is going to happen.
I expected some kind of a build up. But that didn't come instead the weird
soundscape texture got more intense. I think this has a
very interesting atmosphere. Nice! The stereo spread is amazing. If you could have put some melody in it, this could be a really cool song. Violin maybe (I know...cliché), or some piano...or even maybe a triphop beat....just thinking out loud. It does needs something halfway the song to keep it interesting.

(1) Arelem:
My absolute favorite. Sounds like a hit. i could listen to this on the radio.
Catchy melody and beat and a very good professional production overall. The solid bass in the track
sounds massive. My compliments! At 1.50 minutes I am missing some energy. At that point I was acualy expecting a chorus or something. It takes a bit too long time for the chorus to kick in.

I like the intro vocal with pitch effect. The bass is strong in this track. i like that.
It is a simple concept but interesting. I can hear lots of potential to build this to a more full song. Maybe you could try to lengthen the vocal in the intro a bit. In that way you trick the listener into thinking it is going to be a cheesy song :-)

Mellow Browne:
Good dance club hit. the groove is nice. Kick a bit boomy. The song has a nice build up.
But I do feel I'm missing a climax in this song. The building up just stops at the end. There is also al lot of repetiion in the melody. Some variation would make it more interesting.

(2) Esteve Corbera:
This another one of my favorites. I've been listenig to this song dreaming away. Very good. The thing is,
it is a long tune but I wasn't bored by it. The relaxed vibe just goes on and on and I felt it could go on :-)

Creative track. All the layers sound interesting together. It is a bit weird track but the solid beat
makes it a song. Some more structure would make it even better.

This sounds weird :-) and I can imagine the fun you've had making this song.
The dissonants do make it a bit hard to listen to. I think every songstructure needs at least one element for the listener to hold on to. In this case it is the kick. But with all the sounds hapening I think This could use some extra hook / melody.

(3) Becsei_gyorgy:
Melody is very nice and the strings takes it to another level. Very good.
This one is in my top 3. there is enough vartiation to keep it interesting. Good work! The song makes me curious how it would sound in a 'happy hardcore' style. (150 - 175 BPM)...could work magic with this track I think ;-)

(5) VCA 089:
Another very good tune. It is like the soundscape is telling a story. Could be
a movietrack or something. Very good. I wonder how you've got all those sounds.

(4) Tinnitus:
Wow, picking a top 5 is going to be hard. This one rocks! Brutal underground
dancetrqck. When I hear this I imagine a raptrack and a cyprus Hill 'horse' sound.....

creative song. I like the atmospheric sound. I do feel not much is happening during the song. Maybe some
extra layers / variation could have helped this song to another level.

Future in Noise:
The vocals are not my thing. but the instruments sound good. I think that the
song structure could be more interesting with some extra change in the arrangement.I think if the kick would have more energy the track would sound more professional.

The Exponent:
Nice groove! This swings. I think the sounds are well choosen. This one could be in my top 5 I guess.
Last edited by JeroenZuiderwijk on Tue Jan 31, 2023 20:51 CET, edited 3 times in total.
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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by Mister Fox »

It is great to see that all of you (so far) opt for "the one extra bonus point" on the chart by giving feedback to everyone. :educate:

This is really nice. However, I also see plenty of posts already that are merely write "you did good, I like your entry" and then move on, rather than be critical and offer possible feedback for room for improvement. As mentioned previously, this would make it hard for me to adjust the "extra bonus point", despite you (plural) giving feedback to everyone.

So I am putting another chip on the table:

Update/Edit your review post by the end of the voting deadline (01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET) with more constructive feedback, and your single bonus point (+1pt bonus) for feedback for everyone turns into two bonus points (+2pts bonus) on the score chart.

How does that sound? :thinking:

:arrow: Additionally...

To those users that add more documentation to their entries. You are aware that you can edit your own posts? Please do so, as we had some entries that were "follow-ups", which in turn made it harder for me to find the actual correct/most recent version.

There are still 2 more days left for feedback and casting your vote. Looking forward to more interaction :)
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by Arelem »

Hello Everyone,

I am not particularly big on sound design; it's just not my favorite thing to do. That being said, I tried using Harmor this time around and it wasn't too bad. I just started making new sounds out of the old ones and seeing where they took me. About halfway through I decided I wanted to add vocals, but I wanted to incorporate 'sound design' into that as well. If you are familiar with any of my previous songs, I do not sound how I do on this track. I wanted to make myself sound as much like a woman as I could. I sang in my best falsetto and tuned up the formant a bit to try and achieve that.

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My Vote
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by AlexHyper-EZBanks »

► Show Spoiler
I super enjoyed doing this! It's nice to make a track just for the fun of it as most of my work is designed either for release of producing for other people. It was quite eye opening to have an absolute set of sounds to work with. Not really a limitation, more of an opportunity to explore what's possible.
I have a long history in syntheses and I think I'd forgotten how much fun it is to explore sound manipulation. Also, I have been super impressed by the functionality of Logic's sampler. As a tool I found it very well suited to the task at hand and I didn't come across any limitations in the creative process.
Listening to the other entries made me feel I should have tried harder! But, I allocated myself 8 hours to do this and I'm happy with the results. Listening back I can see many areas I could improve, but sometimes you've just got to let it go as is.
Nice one - Alexander
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by becsei_gyorgy »

hi folks! That was great competition.

:arrow: My experiences in the process of creating:
I started quite late in the competition and I had very little time to devote to it.
Nevertheless, it was exciting, because of the deliberately limited time and sample set.
It was nice to use tools that I touch relatively rarely, e.g. Serato Sample, Phase plant sampler.
I quickly got into the flow, in 4-5 hours I finished 90% of the "instruments", including an 8 bar loop, so I had the basic melodic elements ready.
The next day I immediately started to dismantle the 8-bar loop (in which all the instruments played something), and gave to the "song" a skeleton, then filled the missing spaces with the creating of the remaining 10% of the instruments.
My focus was on the vocal chops, it would have been difficult to make proper drums from the vocal sample without resynthesis, and I didn't want to do that. I figured that a kick (4 on the floor) and an intense, percussive hat would be enough.
Although I'm not a fan of fiddling with sounds, I was completely captivated by this in the short time available. It was a good experience.

:arrow: Overall impressions of the other songs: simply fantastic. :clap:
I don't think there has ever been such a strong sample challenge competition, where all of the songs (and I'm not being polite), and really all of the authors, did an excellent job. Looking back over the last few years, any of these songs would have finished in the top 2 in recent years in the sample challenge competition. And really, any of them.
I really liked the sampling solutions, the sounds you made. Congratulations. In addition to the sounds, there were also excellent songs. Good melodies, nice arrangements.

For some songs, I saw that there were some issues in the mix/master.
For mix@master of songs I highly recommend e.g. Dan Worrall's tutorial on the use of SPAN, I think it's very useful (all his tutorials are brilliant by the way) - Voxengo SPAN mixing settings:
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For all the great things mentioned above - cliché or not - it was really hard to make a TOP 5, as all the songs deserved it.

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Top 5:
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by alavault »

Sorry, I won't have time for throughout feedback for this month. Please consider my entry withdrawn.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - Voting until 01-FEB-2023 23:59 UTC+1/CET


Post by VCA-089 »

Well, that was a really tough month in terms of choosing you top 5 entries.

I really like the "Community Scramble" game and I'm glad to see many different entries this time. I think that this topic is the easiest way to experiment and try some new ways to make sounds, as it can be done with the tools that ships with your DAW. It doesn't require you to buy expensive Kontakt libraries, software synthesizers or an outboard gear. A perfect solution for hobbyist musicians with a bedroom setups that most of us are. It also doesn't require you to spend countless hours listening to examples while trying to get into a genre that is completely new to you. Sometimes I don't understand why people think that sound design is too complex. With all those modern digital technology it's almost like a children's play when you get to know the basics.

I wish that the "Community Scramble" event would happen more often (maybe twice a year?). 

My feedback:
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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC065 January 2023 - results in preparation


Post by Mister Fox »

It's the 02nd February 2023, 01:10 (UTC+1/CET) - the Voting Period has officially ended.

Sadly, not all participants have submitted final feedback, we would therefore have 2 disqualification.

I will send out another newsletter/message to those particular participants (@alavault, @OrpheusXL), give you until the end of Thursday 02-FEB-2023 as per the rule book on the voting process ("overtime mechanic"). If there is a feedback and a vote by the participant in question, only -5 points will be deducted from the scoresheet. Else, sadly a disqualification.

Once I have this feedback as well, I will post the results within 2-3 days and take "late feedback" into consideration.
(this is not an automated process)

The only disqualification criteria is by "not participating" with feedback at the end of the game. Time constraints can happen -- but I do not consider entries to be "withdrawn" at this point. You unfortunately just didn't have the time.

To those that want to get 2pts as bonus, I offer everyone the option to edit and enhance already written commentary from "this was a great entry" to more constructive feedback. Else, if you've written some additional words for everyone, you're at least getting 1pt as bonus on the final chart.

Please have an eye on this thread :educate:
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