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Undertale -- Fallen Down (Cover) Undertale -- Fallen Down (Cover)

Rated 4 / 5 stars

Yeah I'm not sure about this one. At the very end of the cover I feel like you got to an interesting place layering the sounds, but I feel like otherwise it's missing a purpose.

What were you thinking about while making this? It feels like the sort of song you end up with when your goal is just "I'm going to make a song", rather than for example, "I really like how Fallen Down expresses expresses the empty sadness of defeat, and slowly adds a bit of warmth, as if trying to tell you to stay determined. I want to try to do that, but a bit better."

It _is_ possible to make cool songs by just setting up a pattern and playing with it in interesting ways. However, I feel like any song is going to convey some sort of emotion, if only a lack of it. Thinking about how to convey emotions in songs might be the next thing you need to do to improve your music. Also remember to think about the stories that a progression through different emotions can tell.

To me, the cover sounds slightly happy most of the time, maybe if you accentuated that, you could say something about how the original might change after a good ending of the game.

Anyway, it's always good to get stuff like this out there, so you can look at it (and have others look at it) from a different perspective. Looking forward to what you do next!

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Birdinator99 responds:

I'm not surprised you have this opinion, given that you've played the game yourself! I agree that my usual mechanical approach kind of took this piece out of context, removing some of the emotional content in the process. I like to get caught up with how I want the drums to sound, how loud the snare is, and other things that ultimately are not a substitute for an overall vision for the direction of the song -- which seems to be the component you (and I) find to be lacking here.

I guess basically I just need a different game plan, and then to build the sounds and patterns off of that, as opposed to thinking about those things first.

Haha, I don't think this sounds happy, though. Now that I'm re-listening a while later, I can't really pick a defining emotion. It's just sort of, aimless, plodding along, which fits with what you've already brought up. It swells at the end, but there's nothing there to build upon...

This'll probably end up on the more forgettable side of my works, but you're right, its inclusion in my library is just as important as any other piece.

Thanks for stopping by!

Diddy Kong Racing -- Lobby (Cover) Diddy Kong Racing -- Lobby (Cover)

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

Overall, I like it. All of the additions and tweaks you made fit the source material well, especially the riff you added just before fading out.

One gripe I have is that this feels like the sort of song I'd queue up two or three times in my music player before moving on to another song, and the fade out messes with that. I think it would have been more appropriate to make it loop instead.

The other thing I noticed is with the... organ? Is it an organ? I'll clarify that with you later, but anyway, the source had more jazzy detail in the timing of the organ's notes, and I don't think the remix managed to capture or improve on that very well. The source times the start of its notes well and cuts them off in interesting ways, where I feel like your notes start and end more evenly with the beat.

To sum up, I think the _sounds_ that you you used were cleaner and more interesting, and your additions were well chosen and well placed, but the original was able to put more personality into its organ.

Looking forward to hearing what you make next!

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Birdinator99 responds:

Glad you like it. I had fun with that bass pattern! I made some quick changes to the organ's articulation to try and make it more interesting -- good catch, I wasn't thinking about that.

I agree that it might sound more natural as a loop, but I when I was making this, I was set on adding in the solo at 1:05. To me, the solo is a more notable moment in a song that otherwise feels like a background track (because it originally was). So, in this way, I think my cover came out feeling a little more like a structured song, and therefore I felt it needed a more "proper" ending. You could argue that a fade out doesn't really fit that bill, but I hope you get what I mean. I'm sure it would work as a loop too.

Thanks bruh!

Krummi Svaf í Klettagjá (Feat. Kayorent) [Remix] Krummi Svaf í Klettagjá (Feat. Kayorent) [Remix]

Rated 5 / 5 stars

I guess this'll be a review with a bit of insider information, but that's fine too I suppose.

I like the way you set the stage for the main melody of the original, and think the instruments you chose for it fit quite well.

I'm unsure what to think of the section with the tambourine, drumsticks, and cardboard. Maybe they fit, maybe they don't, maybe they're a bit quiet, but perhaps if they were any louder it would colour the song in a way you hadn't intended. The sounds probably don't sound as well put together as the regular synthetic instruments you use. Overall I think this section feels a bit out of place as it is now, but don't know how to improve it.

I did however like the use of the garbage can drum, and think it fits well where you have it. The tambourine at the end was a surprise and I think it fits. I didn't notice any other recorded sounds.

This song has quite the different feel from most of your previous work, and I think it went quite well. Good job. I look forward to your next piece!

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Birdinator99 responds:

Glad you like the intro and initial arrangement!

Haha, that middle section. I think overall, the tambourine was important to add. It also fit well in the outro, which you noticed as well. I have no regrets about that choice. The sticks and cardboard aren't particularly strong, but I think the result is reasonable given our recording "experience", hahaha. That's just part of the challenge of recording live instruments, and I was eager to kind of get my feet wet in that regard. I think next time we do something like this, we'll be more prepared, and I might have better arrangement ideas.

I also think the can sounds cool! Pretty good result we good out of that. 2:32-3:12 is where the music stand and Nerf gun are. I think the fact that you didn't notice them is a testament to how well they fit, actually; they didn't stick out in a bad way, that is. At least not to me. The music stand is the shaker-like sound (panned left and right), and the gun is the clicking sound panned straight up the middle!

It's fun to try something new, isn't it? Weeeeeeeeeee

Lazy Day Lazy Day

Rated 5 / 5 stars

This is really cool.

Eight minutes and fourteen seconds. This is certainly the longest song that you've put on newgrounds. And that being the case I wondered how you would keep it from becoming repetitive.

Well, I wasn't disappointed in that respect, the song continued to build on itself the whole way through. I never felt as though it was getting repetitive, or going nowhere.

The audio felt well balanced, and didn't lean left or right as far as I could tell, and I'm pretty picky about that. On my second listen, the upper part of the ending section where more and more drums are slowly added felt strangely empty, but my concern was voided when some a synth and more drums filled that space. I had been remembering those from my first listen.

I really liked how the drums built up at the end, and most of the synths you used were clean and precise. The reversed drums were neat, though they don't make or break anything for me.

The rolling melody was really cool. I can't say that I've heard that anywhere else, and you made it fit well, so good job.

The note placement felt intentional, and sounded natural, though occasionally a bit awkward.

I usually don't like long songs very much, but this works for me. Great job overall, I think that this is your best piece yet.

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Birdinator99 responds:

I think of this song as a spiritual successor to "Slow Me", in terms of the song structure especially. Maybe you did, too? Where the first half is pretty much just the same chords presented in different ways, and the second half is a slow, building section? I like chill stuff, if you haven't noticed, haha.

Glad I could fill the sonic space appropriately for you. There's a lot going on at the end, so I had to balance volumes very carefully.

The rolling melody is an arpeggiated synth (an "arp"). You give it a chord, and it plays the notes in a rhythm and direction (eg. up the chord) that you assign it. In this case, the rhythm I gave it didn't line up with the time signature I was using, so the pattern it plays is offset by a note each time (until it changes chords). That's the best way I can describe it, anyway. Maybe that's why it felt a bit awkward? I came to like it, myself.

Best piece yet whooooooooooooa rock on bruh

White Cap White Cap

Rated 5 / 5 stars

First thought: "I like those pan drums".

Well, you did it, I don't have any immediate complaints about any of the instruments sounds. I'm going to need to get more creative about what to look for. I'm going to be listening to more music once I get my new headphones, so I guess I'll think about that then.

The wind in the background is nice, and I like the whole atmosphere you have going in the beginning.

If I had to pick out something to work on, then it'd be the organ that comes in when the drums drop out. I feel like you could have put more thought into variations on the spacing and velocity of the notes, either to make seem more natural or to give it a different feel. Right now when I listen to it it feels a bit mechanical, though I do appreciate the double notes (where it plays one note and immediately switches to another, what's it really called?).

I really liked the part from the organ section to the end on the first listen. However, on subsequent listens I didn't find it as interesting, though it still held up under close inspection.

Anyway, great job, deserving of five stars! I look forward to your next work.

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Birdinator99 responds:

Pan drums?!?!?! There's an echo on them (which is called a delay, by the way), but maybe your name sounds cooler?

Glad you liked the wind ("steam sweeps")!

Organ melody isn't great, this is true. I believe the "double notes" are called grace notes ( -- not 100% sure on that. Probably something I picked up from high school jazz band.

I love the pitch bends in the final section. They almost sound like an alarm, but, like, a slow and creepy one. Do you know what I mean, Mr. O-rent?

On to the next song! Cheers!

An Evening Guest An Evening Guest

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

This is certainly unlike anything I've heard from you before.

Particularly the xylophone, I'm not sure I've heard you use such an instrument. You certainly did a great job with it though, the melody played on it feels perfect.

I'm happy with nearly all of of the instruments you've used in this track, with the unfortunate exception of the main strings, which come into play at the very beginning and stick around for the whole time. I've never been a fan of that awkward sound of a synth that's trying to be strings, and almost but not quite succeeding.

The other strings in the song sound fine to me though, so maybe it's just their prominence leading me to pick on them. This being said, for a first try with these instruments you've done a great job, and overall I like this track quite a bit.

Great job, I can't wait to hear it in the game!

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Birdinator99 responds:

Style change!

I love the xylophone -- that little bit of echo on it suits it very well, I feel.

Synthesized strings can be more realistic, for sure. As you know, I don't work with these sort of instruments usually, so I don't quite have the ear for the right velocities yet. I will say though, that earlier in the production of this piece I was using a different string sample that did NOT sound very good, so I'm glad I changed it and got at least this far, hehe.

The violin soundfont I used is great. I'm proud of the melody section it's featured in, looking back.

Nothing like something different to listen to, eh? Thanks for the review!

Dive In (NGADM '15) Dive In (NGADM '15)

Rated 5 / 5 stars

So, how do you even end up making a song like this? The slow progression from some sort of dancy song to the spooky conclusion is well done. My first listen I was terribly confused, but on subsequent listens I was able to appreciate and enjoy it thoroughly. How did you go about arranging the sounds in the ending?

Some of the sounds you've used sound like they would have come from one of Waterflame or ParagonX9's early pieces, but you've used them in a way that feels clearly different.

When hearing them in those songs they become repetitive and feel like a distinguishing mark, whereas here I can still hear them, but the surrounding atmosphere has made them feel somehow refreshed. I suppose it's because they aren't the focus of the song.

You probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about there, and it's hard for me to spell it out, so don't worry about it.

Aside from that the instruments seem finer grained than previously. I don't know what changed, but again good job.

I can't wait to see how this does in the deathmatch!

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Birdinator99 responds:

Haha, it just flows, man. I was actively trying to shake things up this time around in order to prevent listener fatigue/boredom. The ending was a combination of wanting to see how far I could push my "tape stop" VST (i.e. a really, really slow stop) and a new application of the second snare (the electronic one) -- instead of the snare being used as a percussion piece, I tried playing it "rapid-fire" to get more propeller-like sound effects. If you play it crazy fast, it sounds like an alarm, heh.

I recognize those big names you just dropped, but I'm not familiar enough with their material to know if that comparison is accurate.

I actually did remove the germ and bran from my instrument grains, so thank you for noticing.

Regardless of the result, I had fun! Thanks for reviewing!

Patience Patience

Rated 5 / 5 stars

What I told you before is still true today. When I first listened to this song, I felt it captivating.

Coming back to it, I was listening to my downloaded copy while trying to find newgrounds, and was worried that I had misjudged it, my distracted ears weren't finding what had interested me before. But after giving it a good, focused listen, I realized why I had liked it.

Some songs seem only to be good as background music, such that when you listen close, all you hear is a dull repetition of some sequence. But this song does not bear that quality at all. Even when listening closely it reinvents itself frequently enough to keep me listening intently.

And neither does it fall into the same trap as some of your previous songs, which changed too much and ended in a way that seemed entirely unlike their beginning, this song has an identity and keeps it all the way through. Additionally the changes themselves are interesting, the transitions make sense, and sections feel well-constructed musically.

So it's interesting, and it's self-consistent. That's awesome, and I think you've done a great job.

But it's not perfect, and I've got two ideas as to why. The first is that the instruments just don't feel as polished as those I hear in professionally-created songs, and the songs in recent OCR albums. I know nothing about song-polishing, and I know you're working on it and you've been improving steadily, so I don't think I've got much to worry about on this side of things.

The second thing is more interesting to me. The song is interesting, new things are happening, there are a lot of "I've never heard that before" feels going on inside me when I listen to it. And that reminds me of a certain web novel I've read a few chapters of recently. In it as well plenty of things I've never seen before have happened, and that was really cool.

But what made me feel like that? Was it because the prose was good? Maybe, I was reading in Japanese, so I can't be sure of that. However, it could be that I was interested only because the author was repeatedly making cool things happen, and making sure the transitions between them were smooth, without actually trying to convey anything deeper. Maybe a reader more experienced with the themes involved would have scoffed and dropped it after a few chapters, calling it more <some-trope-here> fluff.

Basically I'm trying to say is, when you're making new songs, and thinking about how you can improve as a composer, it's good to think about the technical side of things, i.e. "How do I make this sound good". But also think about how to convey something deeper with your songs. I honestly have no clue how to do that, and think it's probably something that just comes with experience. But I also think that it's a good thing to be conscious of as you make your way forward.

Regardless, you've made a lot of progress up to this point, and I enjoyed listening once again. I look forward to your next work!

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Birdinator99 responds:

I'd just like to point out that this review is so long that I have to open up a second copy of it in another window to write the response and still be able to see the review at the same time...

I think of this song as a good attempt. A really solid attempt at trying to make a complete, polished song, while throwing some new stuff in there too so I can keep learning. To me this song is a success in the way that I need to make 1000 more like it (in terms of effort level), but while steadily improving each time, so that I can finally get to the stuff that I can really be proud of. It is by no means the best I can do -- even though I feel like I have great ideas sometimes, translating them in to the digital realm is really challenging sometimes, and it never quite turns out how I envision.

Part of the instrument polish you're talking about is literally sample quality. I've been using instruments all straight from Mixcraft lately, because they're easier to edit with regards to note values, placement, and volume (i.e. I don't have to record through my keyboard every time I want to change something), so it smooths out the workflow a bit. However, they don't all sound great to begin with.

Neither do many of my keyboard sounds, though, so the other part of the polish would be mixing/mastering. This is what I'm most interested in -- as you said, it's an ongoing process. I always want things to sound as good as I can get them, so you can rest assured that I'm always going to be working on that.

Your second point, about conveying a deeper message, is in my opinion mostly about good songwriting. This stems from musical theory knowledge, of which I have just enough to get by, but not really do anything very interesting with. I feel like I get the comments, "This sounds like game music" or "This would be good in the background", etc... a lot because the way I construct songs is never very complex. Key changes are really rare -- I never know what key I'm working in, what chords will naturally make sense with each other, or what direction a song should go to have the most impact. I'm always just feeling things out; "dicking around" until somethings sticks, but the result is still not grounded in any theory. It's just what makes sense at the time, and sometimes it can come back to bite me. I need to take some piano lessons, so I can get a better appreciation of songwriting and theory, which will lead to more interesting arrangements and structures in my songs. The deeper messages will come along with that, I think.

This song is trying to not be background music, but it's not well produced or composed enough to resonate and really stick with me as a "front and center" piece, you know? I'm not saying it IS background music, it's just not a very good "regular" song.

I don't know how to end this response. I really want to say "Yeah, I don't like this song as much as I thought I did the first time around", but I do that too much. That is how I feel though. I'm glad I'll be able to come back to this song later, but for now I'm looking forward to the next one, so maybe I'll go do that instead.

Pikmin -- Today's Results Pikmin -- Today's Results

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

I'm not really sure what to say to this one honestly, so I'll focus on what I feel are the main differences from the original.

The biggest difference is the lead. Pikmin 2's lead has a warble to it, and that warble reminds me of spaceships. It may be just the fact that I've played Pikmin 2 and the association to spaceships came from there, but this being a cover it's still just as important. Your lead on the other hand is a lot smoother, and feels more spacey than it does spaceshippy, and less eithery than the original warble in my opinion. It also feels more imposing in your version, perhaps it would have been better to make it a little quieter and shift the focus more towards the atmosphere.

An important sound in either song is a pad on the far right that plays single short notes and sounds soft and icy. Perhaps in the original it is meant to capture the coldness of space. However, I feel that the sound sounds icier in your version than it does in the original. I think that it sounds icier in your version regardless of the other sounds, but also even more so due to the (my perception) lesser spaciness of the lead.

Apart from these two points I don't have much else to say. It's a cover. It's not a bad cover. It's a little more icy. Nothing sticks out as a particular sore point, but I also don't feel like it's trying to be any different from the original.

I know that there's a lot of work that needs to be done to make a song that can be sincerely compared to the original, so good job! Keep it up.

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Birdinator99 responds:

Your description of the lead is actually bang-on. No arguments here; I could've also looked for a smoother, more naturally quiet-sounding lead, too, as another potential solution.

Actually, your description of the pad is also really good. I didn't know what you meant by "icy" at first, but now it makes sense, if you think of it as a kind of harshness/airiness.

These two things are probably why I don't get the same feel from this cover as I do from the original. This one is too in your face! Hahaha. Well, that and the mixing, too.

I initially was going to try and do something cool with this. I was playing around a lot with drum beats, but nothing seemed to fit the song, so I decided to just do a straight cover. So, yeah, there really isn't much to comment on, is there...

I forgot to mention in the Author Comments that there is no existing MIDI file for this song (or at least, I couldn't find one), so I took about three hours to figure out all the notes myself, sometimes slowing the reference down by 50% in order to make out the light notes that pan left and right constantly. Kind of rewarding to do it from scratch :) So I guess that work would fall under your last statement.

Thanks for taking a little time to listen. More on the way!

Stardust Stardust

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

This song is done in a style that I recognize as very you.

That is, I've never heard a song like it from any other composer, though I've heard several like it from you.

How should I describe it... those lingering organ and pad notes, that slide up and down instead of changing notes with a punch. I'm not doing a very good job of it. Well, you probably know what I mean anyway, and I can point out which ones it's similar to later if you want.

I would call it the best in its style from you so far. I really like your placement of the drum hits throughout the song. Especially when those "paper-fan" style drums start layering over top of themselves around 3:00. It feels neat, like they're drawing a box around my head or something.

I felt a bit lost during my first listen. I didn't have any clue as to what would happen next. This may be due to my unfamiliarity with this style, since I only had your previous pieces to draw on. Due to that I did draw heavily on my recollection of those pieces while listening to this one, which may have lead me to view it as "one of them" and as such place my expectations of it lower than they should have been, resulting in less appreciation of it on the first listen.

On subsequent listens however I started to get a feel for how it goes, and though it feels a bit "out there", I like it. I guess space is pretty "out there" too.

Good job once again!

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Birdinator99 responds:

I know what you mean. Everything here is exactly what "I" would do... it's addicting! I already know which songs it sounds similar to though, because I think of them when I write/arrange -- It's not a coincidence!

The drum delay was a new application of a plugin I've used before. Glad you like.

I like doing weird things with structure -- sometimes not knowing what's next is a good thing. When I listen to radio (which is rare), I hear lots of pop songs that all have the same structure, the same's frustrating, and it makes me want to...rebel, I guess. I have no problem not being totally satisfied with my mix, or my arrangement in the end (there are many things I would do differently if I were to redo this one) as long as I try my best to bring my...uniqueness to the table. I don't make this stuff to be popular or to rake in the dough (total earnings: $15 in NG store credit haha), I do it because it's a passion. So while I will shake up the structure once in a while to keep you interested, for now I kind of am happy that you "didn't have any clue", in a weird way.

Sorry if that didn't make any sense -_- I hope I actually responded to your concerns (reading comprehension is hard sometimes)

Spaghetti marinara...

...maybe a little garlic bread on the side