Assignment Mark (Summative)
Assignment Score 74 %
Spencer Bambrick's Notes:
This piece has come such a long way! It certainly is unique and original as the brief requires. Just about every sound in this seems created and processed from scratch to great effect. And there is *just* enough musicality to make particular moments impactful, while the rest of the piece relies on dynamics, timbral contrast, and spatialization to bring the listener to attention. Great work!
This is definitely one of the most creative pieces I've heard from a student. By far my favorite aspect of this is the "melody" as performed by the drill throughout the piece. I know that was something of a "found sound" on its own, but I also know quite a lot of work had to be done to bring it into the foreground of the mix. So nice work on that.
The other creative aspect of the is the development. This piece does not rely on tonality in any way, yet it has tension and resolution just the same. The combination of dynamic contrast, tempo, and timbre shifts is more than enough to keep the listener's attention from fading.
Personally, I love the spatialization as well. Sometimes this can work to distract a listener, but here it just adds to the cacophony.
Music concrete, and music based on sound design is so hard to mix, but you've done an excellent job here. It took a lot of work to separate background and foreground elements (as I've seen through your iterations), but it was well worth it. At no point did I find myself guessing at what I was supposed to be focused on. There are always interesting elements in the background, but the foreground is compelling enough to garner my attention throughout. This is largely due to the intense focus that the mix puts on every foreground element. This is a very well done mix.
In terms of practicality, I believe it goes above and beyond what the brief asks for. All sounds were recorded and processed from scratch, and the palette is expansive. Plus you've basically created an entirely new language of music concrete for yourself, and orchestrated it with superb clarity.
It's worth mentioning that throughout the process you took feedback in stride and implemented every bit of it in your own way, without losing sight of your original intentions and goals. Of course I am particularly a fan of this kind of sound design based music, but your track is excellently done regardless of style. Amazing work!
Spencer Bambrick's Summary:
Overall fantastic job on this. Truly creative use of sounds and timbres, and I honestly cannot think of another thing to make it better!
Chris McGuire's Notes:
Great to see another assignment of yours this week!
Some really interesting reference tracks mentioned, love that you have discovered Messain’s Quartet for the end of time, such a fascinating piece, and how he was considering the use of orchestral elements depicting other real-world sounds; he was a sound designer ahead of his time!
I loved reading where you got the sounds from here, some wonderfully whacky sources. It sounds as if you have gone all-in on this which is fantastic. Taking ‘musical’ elements into sound design is a benefit a composer can bring to the role; audio editors can be clinical and overlook this. Musical considerations that you highlight are worth applying in any future work in this vein.
This is a highly creative and exciting track, with a sense of energy which also retains structure and build over the 3 minutes. You balance intensity with atmospheric passages well, and reverb/delays are tasteful. The sense of space in the mix remains fairly consistent, and the different ‘scenes’ you paint are well-balance.
I really like the use of stereo image in this; highly dynamic whilst creating variation and life to elements in the composition. At 6s, the tail end of the opening atmos/hits dissipates underneath the saw. It would have worked better to maintain a longer sense of atmosphere underneath the saw to 9-10s so the abstract setting can be sustained.
Kick/bass drum (?) element from the start adds some good rhythm and provides drive, it’s a rhythmical element that the listener can latch on to and recognise pretty well its re-entry.
Excellent doppler effects on the bells at 24s, there is wide textural variation created through the 40s which works well in this track. – shame these aren’t revisited later under a different guise?
1m01s the repetition of squawky/radio effect (first heard at 52s) is too similar to its first iteration. Perhaps a high/low pass filter would change enough of the character of this to feel like a development rather than a direct repetition of the passage moments earlier.
You have created a really clear balance between foreground and background elements, giving a sense of depth to the production.
Through 1m-2m the various ‘kick drum’ hits could be dressed with delays to supply a sprinkling of musical metre; at the moment they appear rather randomly, but the sound itself isn’t really altered from one hit to the next.
The rising white noise/synth from 1m30s adds build/expectation and tension, nice contrast with the braam/downer at 1m45s.
There is a pop/clicks at 2m03, might be the end of a tempo-synced delay reacting to a tempo track change?
The sudden change at 2m08s could have been prepared to establish the gear change on the drill/high synth sounds. This is a moment where we move from plenty of depth and space to an element ‘close up’. A short swoosh/ramp in to this would shape the end of the preceding phrase.
Panning really effective in this section through to 2m30s. Build/expectation works nicely with the ascending high pitch and growling bass. You are using the full frequency spectrum really well. This comes to an anti-climax of sorts around 2m40s, perhaps a similar interaction as seen at 1m45s of introducing a downer/braam would help this moment of transition. – you have something at 2m50s which would answer this rise in anticipation really well, I’d be tempted to pull this forward a touch.
2m55s pops/clicks in the audio track. They appear like errors in a mixdown rather than an experimental feature. Make more of them if they were intentional, or if they are due to a mixdown/CPU issue, then this is different!
Great use of intensity in the final note, seems an apt way to finish this track! Tail end of the final note is appropriate, although there is quite a bit of silence after we have heard the full decay.
Hope this helps, and any questions please feel free to get intouch and we can arrange a 1-to-1.
All the best
Creative - Excellent
Technical – Excellent – check for pops/tail on delivery!
Practical - Excellent
Chris McGuire's Summary:
Overall a really creative submission for this assignment. Plenty of detail in the manipulation of sound sources. You strike a wonderful balance between foreground and background. Use of space and stereo image is really well-handled. There are occasions where a change/new section could have had more impact if it was better prepared; shaping the tail end of a preceding section can act as a springboard. Some audio click/pops in a couple of places. Wonderful work with detail, focus and a musical arch to the structure that adds drive and momentum/tension and release. Well done.