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Hey guys! How are you doing? I just released the soundtrack of a mobile game I worked on last year. The game is set in a Steampunk universe where the skies are full of pirates and such. You're taking control of a zeppelin and hunt them. It's a shooter game with fast paced action so I had to mostly write combat/action music. I did try to have it as a consistent soundtrack although I was kinda sick of the motifs by the time I finished the soundtrack.


Would love to have some feedback from you. Check it out if you have some time.

 

By the way, if you like the music, the game is on the play store and the app store if you want to try it out. Just type "Brigands" in the search bar.
 

https://soundcloud.com/nicolasguerrero/sets/brigands-original-score

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48 minutes ago, Gustav Johnson said:

I've begun listening - so far I like it. I'll get back to you with more thoughts when I finish it (and maybe listen to it a second time).

Cheers,

Gustav

 

Thank you for taking the time to listen. Looking forward to your feedback.
Warm Regards,

Nicolas

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Sorry it took longer than I hoped, but here are my thoughts!! (I gave thoughts overall and for each specific piece, sorry if you weren't looking for that kind of detail...)

OVERALL COMMENTS: Great compositions and orchestrations, and very well produced. Sometimes your writing is a little busy and may benefit from some reductive editing, but technically speaking everything you wrote worked well together. In my opinion – some of your instruments (your percussion especially) could go to a whole new level if you brought in one or two live musicians for a session to record some of the stuff on an acoustic instrument. Hans Zimmer does this all the time, as do other great composers and producers. The mingling of live and computer music helps to bring some humanity to the crazy-good sounds a DAW can produce. A small group of live performers may set you back a couple hundred dollars, but would make the soundtrack stand out compared to other soundtracks. Otherwise this is a really good soundtrack and you should be pleased with how it turned out!

 

SPECIFIC COMMENTS:

The Horizon: Sweet, love the electric guitar sounds especially. Everything here really sets the stage for a game in this style. The rhythmic guitar at 1:25 ish could maybe have been introduced more subtly, and then built up in a crescendo. The orchestra at 1:40 was also kind of unexpected, almost abrupt. Nice transition into 2:15 ish, this is an interesting section. 2:30 is definitely really working well, the parts speak well with each other and create an interesting overall picture/texture/idea. Good sound production at the end.

 

Airships: Good use of ostinatos to compliment the melodic material. I’d consider bringing them down, either reducing the instrumentation or giving them a quieter dynamic. Seems a little cluttered, is all, with all the sustained sounds and with everybody playing in such a similar range. Never be afraid to listen for reductive editing opportunities. Your countermelodies are super strong and add a lot to the piece.

 

Dogfight: Whoa, cool. I LOVE the Celtic sounds (flute, guitars) in this one. Again, good use of ostinatos. Really good electric guitar melody, I feel like I have to search for it through all the other sounds happening, though. 1:25, REALLY good break and transition into the next section. I don’t think I’d have the snare drum or high percussion sounds accompany the horns, they didn’t feel well-matched to me. Great melodic ideas and supporting ostinatos. 3:20, the percussion exit was abrupt, maybe a cymbal roll into that release would help me feel less like you pulled the rug out from under me?

 

The Brigands: Is your eighth note subdivision consistent? Some parts are definitely swing eighths and some are straight eighths, which sounds weird to me when they happen at the same time. A very “saucy” track, I like it, and the harmonic tension definitely helps.

 

Bounty Hunters: I’m losing a sense of your melodic and counter melodic writing style in here. Not a bad piece, but next to the others it doesn’t seem to have as much personality.

 

A Million’s Pirates: The first couple times I listened to this something struck me as off about the timing of the articulate, high-frequency percussion lines – like they weren’t evenly subdivided. The most recent listen I gave, I didn’t hear the same thing so maybe I’m crazy! Live performers would be epic for that part (maybe on un-tuned toms or field drums, or on their rims, or something similar). I think there’s a Celtic flute somewhere in here, but it’s getting lost for me.

 

Bomb Run (& Fire at Will): I think with these pieces you have a chance to change styles a bit. Think of this as the “bridge” of the game, you don’t have to adhere so much to what you’ve created in the “verses and choruses”, you can break a little bit more and just focus maybe on a new idea in the same vein. Fire at Will started to do that (especially cool rhythm idea @ 1:35 ish), with some new-ish rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas. At this point, my ear wants something that breaks stylistically from all the previous pieces. They’re good pieces, but I think you missed an opportunity to make these pieces something special.

 

Surrounded: Nice intro, a unique character. Again, when I listened the articulate, high-frequency percussion seemed to be unevenly subdivided. This time I think I may understand the rhythm you’re using, but it still sounds a little off. Listen around 1:31/1:37/1:43/1:49 for examples, though there are more. The legato melodies in this one are a nice break from some of the other melodic styles. Sometimes the intervals felt weird to me, but it’s hard to put my finger on why sorry! Neat sound effects. Change of style at 3:05 is welcome and refreshing. Cool keyboard and oboe stuff at 3:20 ish, the build in this area is quite nice. Any reason this piece is so much longer than most of the rest? There are a couple areas where the momentum seemed to slow down, maybe reworking some of them out of the piece may have helped (or maybe not – who knows). Good legato melody at 4:45 ish.

 

What We Fight For: I like the guitar parts I hear in the background at the beginning (0-0:15). Nice use of choir, reminds me of one of the earlier pieces in a good way. Good chord progression here, really fits the mood, especially with the clear descending line it creates. The chromatic downward motion in the cello/basses around 1:30 is fun J Hey, the guitar stuff has returned (2:35 ish), cool! A good piece overall.

 

Our Finest Hour: SWEET rhythmic stuff in this – the interlocking here is especially good. With the melodic material, be careful to listen for velocity and plan how you want to build tension and relax it. The horn melody didn’t peak on the higher note like I expected it to, while the trumpets may have peaked too much (felt kind of forced, not quite human). Otherwise, all I can say is wow – for me you really nailed this one.

 

We Fly Once More: Again I hear swing and straight eighth notes at the same time. It’s more subtle here and somehow seems to work better in this case than the other time(s) I heard it. Great balance for the drums, I wouldn’t mind hearing more of the cymbals and crashes when they’re emphasizing melodic content.

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Wow! I didn't expect a full review of the soundtrack but I'm really grateful for that and you pointed out a lot of things that I can improve.  You shouldn't apologize for the details you put. It's quite the contrary. That is the type fo feedback any composer that want to be better at their craft would love to get. So again, thank you.

Alright on to your comments now:

18 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

OVERALL COMMENTS: Great compositions and orchestrations, and very well produced. Sometimes your writing is a little busy and may benefit from some reductive editing, but technically speaking everything you wrote worked well together. In my opinion – some of your instruments (your percussion especially) could go to a whole new level if you brought in one or two live musicians for a session to record some of the stuff on an acoustic instrument. Hans Zimmer does this all the time, as do other great composers and producers. The mingling of live and computer music helps to bring some humanity to the crazy-good sounds a DAW can produce. A small group of live performers may set you back a couple hundred dollars, but would make the soundtrack stand out compared to other soundtracks. Otherwise this is a really good soundtrack and you should be pleased with how it turned out!


I would have loved to hire live musicians for the soundtrack but the game was designed as a rev-share. So no income up front and I didn't have the personal ressources to hire live musicians. I am aware of how crowded my pieces can be. I'm trying to fix that but it is a long process (as everything is in that job). You should have seen my early pieces. It was NOT listenable.

 

Quote

The Horizon: Sweet, love the electric guitar sounds especially. Everything here really sets the stage for a game in this style. The rhythmic guitar at 1:25 ish could maybe have been introduced more subtly, and then built up in a crescendo. The orchestra at 1:40 was also kind of unexpected, almost abrupt. Nice transition into 2:15 ish, this is an interesting section. 2:30 is definitely really working well, the parts speak well with each other and create an interesting overall picture/texture/idea. Good sound production at the end.

The guitar is my first instrument so I guess that helped. As for the rythmic guitar and the abrupt orchestra I completely agree with you now that you point it out. I lack subtlety sometimes.

 

18 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

Airships: Good use of ostinatos to compliment the melodic material. I’d consider bringing them down, either reducing the instrumentation or giving them a quieter dynamic. Seems a little cluttered, is all, with all the sustained sounds and with everybody playing in such a similar range. Never be afraid to listen for reductive editing opportunities. Your countermelodies are super strong and add a lot to the piece.

I'm struggling sometime with the balance of mixing/orchestral sounds. I haven't found the right  balance yet. I don't want to cut out to much and yet I want to give a powerful feeling to some part of the songs.

 

18 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

Dogfight: Whoa, cool. I LOVE the Celtic sounds (flute, guitars) in this one. Again, good use of ostinatos. Really good electric guitar melody, I feel like I have to search for it through all the other sounds happening, though. 1:25, REALLY good break and transition into the next section. I don’t think I’d have the snare drum or high percussion sounds accompany the horns, they didn’t feel well-matched to me. Great melodic ideas and supporting ostinatos. 3:20, the percussion exit was abrupt, maybe a cymbal roll into that release would help me feel less like you pulled the rug out from under me?

Yeah the celtic sounds were a really important part of the soundtrack along with the electric guitar. and the choir To me they are the main elements that were supposed to make that soundtrack feel unique. At first, even though the game is set in a steampunk world, I wanted the soundtrack to have some sort of medieval/fantasy feel to it. The ending could be improved that is for sure. The songs were all designed as loops so I had to add endings to most of them and I must admit I lacked inspiration at some point.

18 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

The Brigands: Is your eighth note subdivision consistent? Some parts are definitely swing eighths and some are straight eighths, which sounds weird to me when they happen at the same time. A very “saucy” track, I like it, and the harmonic tension definitely helps.

I definetely need to work on my rythm and metric understanding. That is one area where I need to invest a lot of time in. If I were to evaluate myself right now I'd say my strong points are melodies and harmonies as they come quite naturally. But rythm and metric theory, meh.

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

Bounty Hunters: I’m losing a sense of your melodic and counter melodic writing style in here. Not a bad piece, but next to the others it doesn’t seem to have as much personality.

Haha yes! I expected that sort of comment on that song. That song was wrote as a trailer song for the game. I wasn't sure I would include it in the soundtrack. I'm still not sure. I was gonna include it at the end as a bonus track. Maybe I should do that?

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

A Million’s Pirates: The first couple times I listened to this something struck me as off about the timing of the articulate, high-frequency percussion lines – like they weren’t evenly subdivided. The most recent listen I gave, I didn’t hear the same thing so maybe I’m crazy! Live performers would be epic for that part (maybe on un-tuned toms or field drums, or on their rims, or something similar). I think there’s a Celtic flute somewhere in here, but it’s getting lost for me.

You are not crazy haha. They are not exactly evenly subdivided. There is some craziness happening in their line. I basically moved the fast part a tiny bit off time to make it less stable. I figured it would be interesting and as I worked on it I learned to like it. There is indeed a celtic flute but I wanted it to be a support instrument rather than the main one. I now am not sure of my choice anymore.

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

Bomb Run (& Fire at Will): I think with these pieces you have a chance to change styles a bit. Think of this as the “bridge” of the game, you don’t have to adhere so much to what you’ve created in the “verses and choruses”, you can break a little bit more and just focus maybe on a new idea in the same vein. Fire at Will started to do that (especially cool rhythm idea @ 1:35 ish), with some new-ish rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas. At this point, my ear wants something that breaks stylistically from all the previous pieces. They’re good pieces, but I think you missed an opportunity to make these pieces something special.

That is exactly what I thought when I was compiling the soundtrack. I too needed to hear something else. Maybe  since "Surrounded" and "What we fight for" are a bit different, I should have moved them up in the track list and moved "Bomb Run" and "Fire At Will" down to somewhat fix that. What do you think?
I took too little time to design the soundtrack and that is one mistake I won't made again. Because at some point I was doing the same thing over and over, specifically with these songs.

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

Surrounded: Nice intro, a unique character. Again, when I listened the articulate, high-frequency percussion seemed to be unevenly subdivided. This time I think I may understand the rhythm you’re using, but it still sounds a little off. Listen around 1:31/1:37/1:43/1:49 for examples, though there are more. The legato melodies in this one are a nice break from some of the other melodic styles. Sometimes the intervals felt weird to me, but it’s hard to put my finger on why sorry! Neat sound effects. Change of style at 3:05 is welcome and refreshing. Cool keyboard and oboe stuff at 3:20 ish, the build in this area is quite nice. Any reason this piece is so much longer than most of the rest? There are a couple areas where the momentum seemed to slow down, maybe reworking some of them out of the piece may have helped (or maybe not – who knows). Good legato melody at 4:45 ish.

This song was divided into two different loops in the game but I wrote it as one. So that is why it is a bit longer. First loop is until 3:01 and the second is everything beyond that. May be I should have divided it into two songs here.

 

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

What We Fight For: I like the guitar parts I hear in the background at the beginning (0-0:15). Nice use of choir, reminds me of one of the earlier pieces in a good way. Good chord progression here, really fits the mood, especially with the clear descending line it creates. The chromatic downward motion in the cello/basses around 1:30 is fun J Hey, the guitar stuff has returned (2:35 ish), cool! A good piece overall.

Thank you! This one is one of my personal favorite in the soundtrack. Glad you liked it.

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

Our Finest Hour: SWEET rhythmic stuff in this – the interlocking here is especially good. With the melodic material, be careful to listen for velocity and plan how you want to build tension and relax it. The horn melody didn’t peak on the higher note like I expected it to, while the trumpets may have peaked too much (felt kind of forced, not quite human). Otherwise, all I can say is wow – for me you really nailed this one.

Again lacking subtlety here and again agreeing with what you are saying. I will pay more attention to dynamics and velocity in the future. That's for sure

19 hours ago, Gustav Johnson said:

We Fly Once More: Again I hear swing and straight eighth notes at the same time. It’s more subtle here and somehow seems to work better in this case than the other time(s) I heard it. Great balance for the drums, I wouldn’t mind hearing more of the cymbals and crashes when they’re emphasizing melodic content.

I did struggle quite a lot with the rythm in that song. I really need to learn a lot more about swing rythm.

 

Thank you again for this great feedback. You can't imagine how much that helps.
Cheers!

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