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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Winners announced

Thematic Songwriting Competition - recurrence: monthly
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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Winners announced

#1

Post by Mister Fox »

Hello and welcome to the Songwriting Competition 59 - July 2022


This is the introduction post, where we directly link to the challenge corresponding basics (theme and premise, submission information, sponsors) and start of the voting process.

Before you get started, please consult the official and very simple "Rules and Guidelines" (Rule Book - post #6) for the Songwriting Competition regarding principles of the game, it's engaging game mechanics (allowed editing/re-submission of your entry until the deadline has been reached) and upload/submission guidelines.

Read more about this month's competition further down below.




This post will be updated with the corresponding links as we progress, and of course the suitable thread headlines. So please watch this spot:


Submission Period: General Information and Sponsors
Cheat Sheet: A couple of examples / audio demos for this month's challenge (limited if genre is "free to select")
Voting: Summarized entries and start of voting process
Results of the Songwriting Competition: Results of the Songwriting Competition
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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#2

Post by Mister Fox »

CURRENT CHALLENGE - GENERAL INFORMATION

Time Frame: Friday, 01st July 2022 to Sunday, 24th July 2022 (24 days)

Challenge submission will end on 24-07-2022, 23:59 UTC+2/CEST (Germany) - until further notice.


Want to find out if you're still within the deadline, please consult the following options:
The Global Countdown on it's dedicated page or the countdown on the home page. There will also be short reminders on Social Media and on Discord.

Does the game time frame feel too long? Why not set a personal shorter one of 5-7 days absolute max to push yourself to focus on the essentials, then use the rest of the time to ask for feedback and possible refinements. :idea:



SONGWRITING THEME: "Video Game Soundtrack - Cards on the table"
GENRE: (Video Game) Soundtrack


Image
Image Source: Pixabay, photo by Jacqueline Macou, released under Creative Commons CC0



A few word about this month's theme:
Staff (Mister Fox) wrote: Imagine the following...

You're browsing your go-to audio communities and/or places where to find commission job offerings. Suddenly a post catches your eye. It's about a video game developer looking for songwriters for their upcoming game. Curious as you are, you open this blog post and read the following brief...

Indie Developer Game Company wrote: "Hello there creative minded people out there,

we are <fictional company>. A freshly started Independent Gaming Company looking for new talent for our upcoming game, that we developed and basically devoted our spare-time to.

We are not fully set on all details yet, but the basic gist of it is, that it will be using card-game mechanics as main gameplay engine. The overall look is currently designed to be either hand-drawn, or hand-drawn then turned "pixelart" (16bit). A style that is all the rage as of late and we highly enjoy ourselves. The game has a fantasy feel to it, but things will get quite mysterious the longer you play. Please check you the following artwork.

<post proceeds to show off 4-5 concept drawings, basically character busts that have a steampunk feel, with some scribbles on the side, also some card background designs already, and a completely useless screenshot of Unity Engine with some 3D shapes plus adjacent program code>


We're still figuring out if it will be a grid-based system as seen in Yugioh, Gwent, Final Fantasy or Inscryption, or if it'll be part of a "battle mechanic" like with popular games like "Monster Train" or "Slay the Spire". We are first and foremost looking for musical talent. Somebody to elevate our ideas, something that "shapes" the overall tone for the game.

And this is where you come in!

We are looking for an "Image Theme" for our game. Something that will be easily recognizable and connected to our game, something that can be looped and never gets old. Please check out the soundtracks from the games we mentioned above. We want to hear what you come up with. Fame and praise awaits you!

Interested? Then send us a fully finished demo by <deadline of SWC059>, with at at least 2:30min length. We will get back to you ASAP. "


Your task for this Songwriting Competition:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This month, you can create a production in the (Video Game) Soundtrack genre.


What I'd like to see/hear this month:
I know that the given premise is a bit vague this time around. However, this is on purpose. In such scenarios, you're often just given a couple of keywords, a song length, and that's it. Especially from inexperienced companies / contractors looking for talent. Just create something that you would associate with an "image theme" for a video game. I posted some examples below.

It must not be shorter than 2:30minutes, it should be able to stand on it's own (as in: with intro/outro), but also be able to be listened to on loop. Longer productions are fine, but keep them interesting. One of those prime examples I could make, are from Nobuo Uematsu for the Final Fantasy 8 "Card Game" (mini game) called "Triple Triad". But other games like "Gwent" or "Hand of Fate" have similar songs.

The sub-genre is up to you. You can mix things how you seem fit. As in: mix orchestra elements with pop rock or even metal. Or blend typical soundtrack atmospheres with electronic elements. Just please don't go pure "chip-tune", or "Epic Choirs". In fact, vocals are not needed, as the story is told visually through the game. So please don't pressure yourself on that behalf. Let the music speak for itself. At most, try to only go the "oohs" and "aahs" route (see "Hand of Fate 2").


This is no easy task. But I'm looking forward to listening to your productions. :phones:


 ! Bonus Info
This month, I am adding an additional twist to the game by trying to simulate the interaction between a company (reaching out to songwriters) and you as musician (providing your musical talent). Something that would happen, if you were for instance booked for/looking to be hired for writing material for a commercial, a promo video, or a short film, etc.

However, a slight twist this time: the "clients" don't know really what they want yet, so their feedback might be vague and in places even confusing. They are "shopping for talent" after all. Just like it would happen in a "real world scenario" with indie companies of various kinds. Your focus should therefore be on providing a finished, coherent and good sounding production, presenting your current skills. No "sketches", no "will finish later", please.

I will act as both the "clients" and technical aide, but will make clear what is what in each post. I have to be brief in terms of feedback, most notably due to time constraints. My "technical feedback" will still give you hints where to maybe improve on your mix. I will do this up to two times per participant throughout the submission period. With my last initial feedback arriving on the 18th of the month (7 days prior to the end of the game), and my final feedback on the 21st of the month (a bit more than 3 days prior to the end of the game).

This "special" SWC offers a unique learning experience, where you can only win from - no matter if you may take a step on the podium or not. It is highly recommended to join early on, so you can gather constructive feedback in a timely manner and refine your work until the deadline has been reached.


Additionally, if we exceed(!!!) 20 participants this month (as in: 21 or more), I am considering opening up the Winners Podium to a 5-position podium as one time exclusive deal.

Please spread the word! And don't be shy to join the game.


Songwriting Rule Summary / Add-On Rules:
  • create a production fitting to the given theme, genre and general premise
  • you can use any tool that is at your disposal (samples, virtual instruments and/or real instruments)
  • IMPORTANT: if you use non-licensed material (as in: non royalty free material from sample CDs, etc), give full credit to the source material
  • for newcomers: no finished productions that have already been released outside of the time frame of the current Songwriting Competition (Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, etc), no cover versions or remixes, no ripped acapella's -- please only showcase your own content
  • do not go higher than -14,0 LUFS ILk/-1,00 dBTP in terms of perceived loudness (mastering). Music doesn't have to be squashed to bits in order to be impactful
  • name your files properly prior to uploading and make the production downloadable. If you opt to present your entry through SoundCloud, the forum can also convert your links into a Soundcloud player through the [soundcloud] BBCode from the text editor (orange square with a white cloud in it)
  • ADD-ON RULES:
    • Filename Template: SWC000_ArtistName_TrackName.wav and/or .mp3 (please use it!)
    • production must be longer than 2:30min
    • song should ideally work "looped"
    • <no add-on rules specified>

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please take note of the official rules - they can be found at the following thread:
Songwriting Competition - Official Rules and Guidelines (most notably Rule Book - post #6)

Please address any OT question in the official Gossip thread:
Songwriting Competition - Gossip and Discussion

If you like what the Mix Challenge (community) has been doing in recent months:
Please consider supporting the project

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


SPONSORS (Prizes):

Prizes for Songwriting Challenge participants:

Note: All licenses are NFR (Not-For-Resale), except where noted.
Changes to available prices on short notice may be possible and will be announced separately.


RECURRING LICENSE SPONSORSHIP:

Image
Cherry Audio is kind enough to give away one license of Voltage Modular Ignite, plus either a license of "Year One Collection" or "Year Two Collection"
License will turn into NFR
More info on Cherry Audio: https://cherryaudio.com


Image
IK Multimedia is kind enough to give away one license of MODO BASS 2 to the winner
License will turn into NFR
More info on IK Multimedia: https://www.ikmultimedia.com


Image
Musiclab is kind enough to donate any 1 guitar of your choice to the winner
License will turn into NFR
More info on Musiclab: https://www.musiclab.com


Image
Tone2 is kind enough to donate a license of Saurus3 to the winner (until further notice)
License will turn into NFR
More info on Tone2: https://tone2.com


Image
kv331 audio is kind enough to give away a bundle of either SynthMaster 1+2 Bundle, or a freely selectable set of 3 SynthMaster Expansions
License will not turn into NFR, you need to have a kv311 audio user account in order to pick up Expansions
More info on kv331 audio: https://www.kv331audio.com


Image
JRR Sounds is kind enough to give away any-1 sound sets or sample set of winner's choice (exception: Bundles)
More info on JRR Sounds: https://www.jrrshop.com/jrr-sounds


Image
Luftrum is kind enough to give away either a license of Lunaris, a license of Bioscape, or any two sound sets of winner's choice (exception: Bundles and Nano Electronics)
License will turn into NFR
More info on Luftrum: http://www.luftrum.com


Image
Rekkerd Sounds is kind enough to give away 1 sound set of winners choice (exception: Krezie EDM and Neurofunk Vol. 1)
License will turn into NFR
More info on Rekkerd Sounds: http://sounds.rekkerd.org/


Image
Ghostwave Audio (Vincent Bastiat) is kind enough to donate any 2 sound sets to the winner
License will turn into NFR
More info on Ghostwave Audio: http://ghostwaveaudio.com


Image
Hollow Sun is kind to donate one license of "Music Laboratory Machines - The Suite I" to the winner
License will turn into NFR
More info on Hollow Sun: http://www.hollowsun.com


Image
Hornet Plugins is kind enough to give away one license from the depicted tools (see image) to the winner
License will turn into NFR
More info on Hornet Plugins: http://www.hornetplugins.com


Image
Sound / Graphic Designer, and honorary Mix Challenge staff satYatunes is donating one commercial product of winner's choice (until further notice)
More info on satYatune's page: http://www.satyatunes.com/





THANKS FOR THE DONATIONS!
And also a thank you to all former contributors as well.

If you want to sponsor content (please have a focus on instruments, samples and sound sets), please get in touch with the Mix Challenge staff.

Please spread the word of the challenge on social media.
For example with our dedicated Twitter Account or Facebook Page

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good luck to all participants.
And most importantly, have fun!
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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#3

Post by Mister Fox »

AUDIO EXAMPLES:
---------------------

Articles and Info Pages:

A great starting point is the "Addendum"/Supplementary thread for the Songwriting Competition
Songwriting Competition - Addendum: Music Maps and BPM Charts

Additional Articles on Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_music




Music examples (selection for inspiration, 13 Sountrack examples):
► Show Spoiler
.



Please also check in with the following threads in the the Gear Talk sub-forum, if you're on the look-out for new tools:
Places to fuel your GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) (the starting point if you're in need of audio tools -- from free to affordable)

Also recommended to check out the following tools, if you're new to/need help with songwriting:
Plugin Boutique - Scaler 2 (highly recommended tool!)
Xfer Records - Cthulhu
CodeFN42 - Chordz (Transition is also recommended, if you want more experimental/generative MIDI, Free, Windows only)
W.A. Production - InstaChord and InstaScale
Fabrizio Poce / J74 - Progressive ("Max4Life" is needed, Ableton Live bound)


More tools of the trade (fitting to this month's theme/genre)
► Show Spoiler


UPDATED: 30-JUN-2022 07:45 UTC+2, updated 01-JUL-2022 00:00 UTC+2
Arelem
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#4

Post by Arelem »

Hello All,

When I read the prompt I immediately thought of the awesome rock soundtracks of games like Quake, Halo, Doom, and the like. My hopes were dashed when I read on and saw that it was card games specifically, but as I listened to some of the examples I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were indeed some that fit my initial idea. Anyway, here is what I came up with. (edited with the final version)



Any feedback is appreciated and will be considered.

Also, quick question, for the loudness requirement, the track does dip to 13.9 LUFS (integrated) for a second or two but rises back up and is 14 at the end of the track. Is that acceptable, or would that result in a penalty?

Details:
DAW is FL Studio

Drums are various samples but I did use FPC (fruity MPC) for the war toms in order to make them easier to arrange. I used Saturation Knob on the orchestral kick as well as the snare and on the more traditional kick I have Neutron 4.
Guitars are Shreddage 3 with Guitar Rig 6.
Most of the strings are Session Strings 2 and Kontakt Cello ensemble. I did use Flex and ProjectSAM short strings for some of the staccato strings. I
have Saturation knob, Fruity fast dist, Wider, Neoverb, Fruity parametric EQ 2, and Fresh air on the session strings.
The brass is various Kontakt instruments such as brass ensemble, and french horn with some Neoverb. Also ProjectSAM heroic horns with Fruity
Waveshaper.
The choir that comes in later is Kontakt choir and Nexus with some EQing.
The bass is Modo Bass with Neutron 4, Fruity Limiter, and some Fruity EQ 2.

TrackSpacer was also used throughout to create some additional space.

For mastering, I used Fruity Limiter as a sort of gain staging. Fruity parametric EQ for a high and low cut of their respective extremes. I also used a custom patcher preset that I made to cut the low side frequencies. The Wall was used for some maximizing and compression. Tape Mello-Fi for some light tape saturation. Ozone 9 for EQing, stereo width, compression, and limiting.

-Arelem
Last edited by Arelem on Thu Jul 14, 2022 00:46 CEST, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#5

Post by Mister Fox »

To quickly answer your question:
Technically there is an allowed +-0,2 LU tolerance from -14,0 LUFS ILk max, but to be on the safe side, triple check that everything is within given parameters. Else you might loose out of 2pts on the final score sheet.


I will start the "play-act" (special twist for this month's game) sometime during this weekend.
Arelem
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#6

Post by Arelem »

Mister Fox wrote:
Sat Jul 02, 2022 07:00 CEST
To quickly answer your question:
Technically there is an allowed +-0,2 LU tolerance from -14,0 LUFS ILk max, but to be on the safe side, triple check that everything is within given parameters. Else you might loose out of 2pts on the final score sheet.


I will start the "play-act" (special twist for this month's game) sometime during this weekend.
I suppose what I was looking for is does the track need to stay at or above -14 the entire time or is it only the final value that gets measured?

Side note: there's a twist this month?! :o
Edit: I need to do a better job reading apparently lol
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#7

Post by Mister Fox »

Yes, there is a "twist" this month (read the premise and bonus box of post #2 again)

Most important is the final LUFS ILk value, it should not exceed -14 LUFS
Arelem
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#8

Post by Arelem »

Got it loud and clear, thank you. And yes, I did go back and read through everything so I am tracking that as well. It sounds really interesting! I have to admit it makes me a bit anxious but I'm excited to see how it'll work. I'm always down to try new things. I only make music as a hobby so I have zero experience with dealing with a 'customer', should be fun.

-Arelem
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SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#9

Post by Mister Fox »

I apologize for the late response. But I can now assume that the initial production will also be your overall game proposal. So let's get started with the "Interactive client" mechanic this month.
Arelem wrote:
Sat Jul 02, 2022 05:27 CEST
I got this in pretty early so I will hold off on the details in case any changes are made. I'm happy with it as is, but any feedback is appreciated and will be considered.
The "clients" will respond in a quote-box, and my "technical commentary" will be in normal text form. As mentioned previously, this will be fairly short (as my time is limited). So let's get started. :phones:



Indie Developer Game Company wrote: Hi @Arelem,

thank you for your interesting proposal. But we're missing a bit of recognition value for the game. You know, some boldness, while also being part of our vision that things to turn mysterious. It currently feels a bit empty to us. Again, interesting starting point, could be "more".

- dev team


Technical Feedback (by Mister Fox)

The first thing that sticks out, is that you're using guitar samples here. And they feel a bit cut-off, making things sound "cheap" where it really shouldn't be. Maybe play a little bit more with the sustain of the material, especially with the "lead guitar" (legato).

Then you should definitely work on the instrumentation balance, especially the strings and brass on top of the guitars. On small speakers, things just feel like "fighting for space", and this make it not enjoyable to listen to (IMHO). The main percussion also feels quite "hollow" overall (kick drum, especially). The reverb, especially on guitars and the snare, is only emphasizing the effect of this feeling like a recording from a Roland MT-32 or Roland Sound Canvas rather than a bit more fleshed out production with modern day sounds. Even though I am fully aware, that you used your usual go-to environment (FL Studio, right?)

And as final thing... technically you can loop the production, but it's not as seamless.


If this is the basis for your proposal, I'd try to just flesh it out a bit more (production wise), or make the instrumentation more interesting/less frequency clashing, using more automation (especially strings) as well. I have a feeling, you were heavily inspired by the sound from late 1990s PC games, and also the FInal Fantasy songs, this is at least the feeling I got. I also know that the feedback from the "clients" is a bit misleading with telling you "get back to the drawing board" (this is on purpose, to learn how to handle that type of feedback) - but the general idea for this month's game is "present the best you can - right from the start, and only do minor adjustments".


I'm curious about all other entries.

:educate:
Arelem
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC059 July 2022 - Submissions until 24-07-2022 23:59 UTC+2/CEST

#10

Post by Arelem »

OK, well that is a lot to consider and yes, I do use FL Studio. I do want to clarify one thing though, when you say that the track needs to be loopable, do you mean in its entirety? I was thinking more of like specific loop points that might react to certain points in a fight. For example, it might go intro through about 1:55 and loop back to 0:20. Then past a certain point in the battle, it would play beyond that (the higher portion) and loop there until the outro at the end. That was what I had in mind when constructing the separate parts of the track that could be individually looped rather than in one continuous loop of the complete track. Does that thinking makes sense to you and meet the criteria for the challenge?
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