VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

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VSE Winter Hybrid Contest

Poll ended at Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:46 pm

Miami Dreams
7
33%
Hybrid Brideshead
6
29%
Isolation
2
10%
Thunderstorm
6
29%
 
Total votes: 21

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by groy » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:10 pm

Man, like the last competition, it's hard to vote for one. Not my pick, but i'm also surprised that there are not more votes for Isolation. Props to you all, as they are all really strong!

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by commodorejohn » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:19 pm

Heh, I'd be interested to hear people's guesses as to who wrote what...
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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by monolith » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:32 pm

Infinity Curve wrote:"Miami Dreams" was my pick for sure, so awesome!! Interested to find out who made that one. Kind of surprised the number of votes for "Hybrid Brideshead", no disrespect, but to my ears this was the weakest of the bunch.
The lead sound from Miami Dreams was unreal!! I can see why 'hybrid brideshead is popular, It's a good display of using not so typical sounds.

To give one outsider's perspective: My girlfriend was in the room while I listened to the entries and she thought the other three songs were the 'reason synths are nerdy'' while 'hybrid brideshead' was 'the reason synths don't suck.'

I wish I could have entered, but I only got my MEK a day before the close of entries.

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by dustinh » Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:04 am

I really liked all of the songs. I almost voted for Isolation, (sorry person that I know who you are, it was really a great song). I voted for thunderstorm though. Not normally my style, but I liked the sound design and the composition was definitely the strongest of the 4 entries, well done!

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:44 am

vicd wrote::idea: I think I noticed the pattern - the most votes go for easier/"traditional" harmonies/arrangements and song-like structures :)
Yeah, that tends to be the case with the contests here, I don't think any of the one's I've voted for has ever one. It's not really about winning or losing though in my opinion, I think all these entries are really good and even getting one finished in time is an achievement that I couldn't manage.

It's funny, there are a lot of rules about what can and can't be used in the making of the song, but no real guidelines on how they should be judged. Not that I think there should be, but some entries might be more skilful in terms of synthesis whereas others might be better in terms of songwriting and others might be sitting between the two but be produced much better. Me, I just voted for the song I liked the most, just as a song. Which was Isolation. :D

I feel like Hybrid Brideshead had some really cool programming going on and was really good as a song. I liked that it didn't use drum samples for the drums, as that seems too much like an easy way out (and I spent ages patching up my own drum sounds on the modular for this too) so respect for that.

Miami Dreams was really cool as a song but just not what I'm into. I could imagine hearing it on the radio though, reminded me a bit of a band I mix that are pretty popular. That lead was cool, I'd be interested in knowing if it was played in and then quantised or what. It's a bit tight for my liking, I like things (especially leads) to be a bit sloppy. Just my preference though.

Thunderstorm was also cool, sounds like the drum sounds were programmed from the synth instead of PCM waves as well. I liked the layers and complexity of the arrangement but I felt like the mix/production of it let it down a bit. But this isn't a competition about that so it shouldn't matter at all. I also like how it had different sections, but overall I didn't feel like it was offering me a song as a complete package that I could appreciate. But maybe it's just too proggy and complex for my tastes.

You know why I liked Isolation? because it reminded my of songs from my favourite album ever, Gomma's Teutonic Disaster volume one. The beat really got my head nodding. I really like the patches and the arrangement and the mix, and the references to the 80s in the song that aren't the big obvious ones that are popular with people doing 80s throwback music at the moment. The melodies are simple but complex enough to be hooky.

Sorry everyone for holding the comp up because of me and then still not being able to deliver anything in the end, but if it's any consolation I think Isolation is totally better than the track I was working on and it's coming last in the comp at this stage, so mine would have been particularly unpopular. :D

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by Swayze » Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:55 am

Well I just tried to place my vote thinking I had some more time but it appears the poll was already closed this morning. My vote would've been for Isolation and wouldn't have affected the final outcome anyway. I really enjoyed everyone's songs, just thought Isolation really nailed the hybrid sound and had a badass vibe reminiscent of John Carpenter movies...sounds like someone used an SQ80. 8-) Also, sorry I had nothing to submit, I've had computer trouble lately and finally just got my macbook to the apple store to get shipped out for repair. :(

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by commodorejohn » Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:55 am

Hey, I actually came within one vote of winning this time! Mine was "Thunderstorm." If only I'd done the crass thing and voted for myself, I'd be on top...but since I voted for "Miami Dreams," I certainly have no cause to complain that it won - it definitely deserved it :)
Stab Frenzy wrote:Thunderstorm was also cool, sounds like the drum sounds were programmed from the synth instead of PCM waves as well. I liked the layers and complexity of the arrangement but I felt like the mix/production of it let it down a bit. But this isn't a competition about that so it shouldn't matter at all.
Yes, the drums were programmed, since the DW-8000 has no drum samples (no time-variant samples of any kind, really.) The mix could've been better, I agree - it's not as problematic as my entry in the previous compo, but audio mixing/production is still something I need serious work on. Ah well.
I also like how it had different sections, but overall I didn't feel like it was offering me a song as a complete package that I could appreciate. But maybe it's just too proggy and complex for my tastes.
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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by mdannyg » Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:37 pm

I was the sixth vote for Thunderstorm. I figured i'd be voting for Miami Dreams, but when i got to Thunderstorm it blew me away.

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by Walter Ego » Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:35 pm

Too bad I just missed voting. I would have voted for Isolation. So kudos to whoever made that track. Felt very solid and reminded me a lot of Holy Ghost's recent offering Dynamics, which is definitely one of my top three favorite records of 2013. Good work to those who got it together to submit something. Props to the one who made Isolation.
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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by GuyaGuy » Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:20 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:
I feel like Hybrid Brideshead had some really cool programming going on and was really good as a song. I liked that it didn't use drum samples for the drums, as that seems too much like an easy way out (and I spent ages patching up my own drum sounds on the modular for this too) so respect for that.
Thanks...And sorry to disappoint you, but they were actually samples of the Evolver that I programmed in Ableton. It was just a lot faster that way. But a lot of the song was done using the Evolver's sequencer. I rushed the EQ and master to meet the original deadline so I'm not happy with that but overall I still dig it.

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by dustinh » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:42 pm

Great job everyone. A VERY close contest this time around! I did Miami Dreams. I'd like for all the contestants to answer the questions from the last contest, so what you used, how you used it, any challenges you faced, and how did the making the song change your understanding of your synth if at all.

I wanted to post yesterday but I've been going non-stop with life for 3 days now. In fact, I have to go right now, so I'll be answering these questions later on when I got more than 3 minutes of spare time.

Again, great job everyone, all strong entries!

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by commodorejohn » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:20 pm

Ah, yes...as I've mentioned, mine was "Thunderstorm" on the Korg DW-8000. I didn't actually get a start on it until closer to the middle of January, as I wound up selling off the DW-8000 I thought I was going to fix up and snagging a working one on the cheap, but it came together a lot faster than my entry for the analog competition, so it worked out in the balance. Unusually for me, "Thunderstorm" was actually almost entirely recorded (piecemeal) from the keyboard, at tempo, as I wanted to have variation in velocity but didn't want to go to the trouble of inputting the values for so many notes in WinJammer. It did mean I had to do a lot of cleaning up of my sloppy timing, though, since I didn't want to just quantize the timing and lose the more subtle variations. Came out alright in that regard, I think - less "programmed" than most of my pieces. The drums were the only part I did entirely in the sequencer, as I wanted to have a good tight percussion track for the looser parts to center around.

The song itself wound up being a blend of my typical proggy strangeness and an attempt to mimic the style of a lot of '90s BBS/shareware MIDI music, which I've always liked. (The final, peaceful section is also a bit of a nod to the ending of "Night on Bald Mountain.") The initial spark was the clavinet intro, and then everything just kinda fell into place from there, starting with the bassline. Like my entry for the analog compo, the most difficult part was getting a melody going, but after a couple attempts it fell into place quite nicely, and hit just the mood I wanted.

The sounds were all rolled up from scratch. I found that the DW-8000 is excellent for unison leads and basses; it can also do some very solid pad/string sounds, thanks to its ability to modulate the onboard delay for a simple chorus-like effect. What it isn't great at is drums. The noise generator is clearly of the digital shift-register variety, which lacks the broad, even frequency spread of true white noise, leaving more of a lump of frequencies concentrated in the middle, so it was impossible to get the kind of nice, crisp attack on the snare that I wanted, or a sufficient concentration of high frequencies for the cymbals. Thickening things up with the delay/chorus helped a bit, but I was still left with lackluster Simmons imitations where I would've liked something a bit more lifelike. I think at some point I might go back and record new drum sounds on my MS-20 Mini or something. The wind sound that comes in at points was a lot of fun to do - it's a simple resonant-filtered-noise affair, with the delay set to give a bit of quasi-reverb, but the DW-8000 lets you both bend and modulate the filter cutoff with its joystick, so I set it up for that and aftertouch modulation of the cutoff and just sat swirling the joystick and pressing down on a key to generate my wind sounds :D

One other thing I did that made a huge difference to the sound was to double-track each part with slightly different settings for delay/chorus time, rate, and depth, putting one track each on the left and right channels, for a makeshift stereo effect (the DW-8000 has stereo outputs, but perniciously, these are achieved by having the delay effect 180 degrees out-of-phase on the right channel compared to the left, so if you mix them down to mono, you lose the delay!) This really made a difference in achieving a fuller, more spacious sound.

As for how I view the DW-8000 differently? Well, it's definitely a somewhat limited synth - beyond simple square and saw, the DWGS waveforms have very distinct sounds that only lend themselves well to certain uses, so it tends to be more like a DCO synth that can also imitate a few other instruments than a whole new world of sounds. All the same, what it's good at, it's really good at, and it's a very solid performance instrument to boot.
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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by Jabberwalky » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:59 am

These submissions were all really unique! I enjoyed doing this song. I did "Isolation" with the Sq80. I opted out of using the onboard sequencer, but sequenced and tracked each part separately into Ableton. The drums were damn fun haha! They are somehow both the worst/best drum samples ever. I had to EQ the kick to give it some bottom, but the other drum sounds were straight from the board. You can just hear the crackly/nastiness right up front. I really liked that. Almost like the song was being heard over a radio with terrible reception in an antarctic base ;)

The rest of the sounds were just various patches I'd programmed for a month or so. I made that convincing FM bass sound using the amp mod. Lots of the sounds used that or sync. Sync and AM open that synth up into different realms. The lead sound was almost a form of the japanese koto, with a ton of glistening harmonics over top. The pads were pretty straightfoward. I don't remember how I did that rhythm line. It's some form of the bell sounds that the SQ80 loves to make.

I did want it to have that sense of cold isolation. I appreciate the couple guys that liked the track! I think you guys knew what I was going for. I think I missed the mark on the arrangement or the mood with some people. I was definitely trying to capture some of the 80s, in the less bombastic, ObX strings sort of way. It's honestly hard to escape it with this synth though! I ended up writing this track the night before I sold the poor boy. It was a good synth, but wasn't getting the attention.

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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by Walter Ego » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:11 am

Jabberwalky wrote:These submissions were all really unique! I enjoyed doing this song. I did "Isolation" with the Sq80. I opted out of using the onboard sequencer, but sequenced and tracked each part separately into Ableton. The drums were damn fun haha! They are somehow both the worst/best drum samples ever. I had to EQ the kick to give it some bottom, but the other drum sounds were straight from the board. You can just hear the crackly/nastiness right up front. I really liked that. Almost like the song was being heard over a radio with terrible reception in an antarctic base ;)

The rest of the sounds were just various patches I'd programmed for a month or so. I made that convincing FM bass sound using the amp mod. Lots of the sounds used that or sync. Sync and AM open that synth up into different realms. The lead sound was almost a form of the japanese koto, with a ton of glistening harmonics over top. The pads were pretty straightfoward. I don't remember how I did that rhythm line. It's some form of the bell sounds that the SQ80 loves to make.

I did want it to have that sense of cold isolation. I appreciate the couple guys that liked the track! I think you guys knew what I was going for. I think I missed the mark on the arrangement or the mood with some people. I was definitely trying to capture some of the 80s, in the less bombastic, ObX strings sort of way. It's honestly hard to escape it with this synth though! I ended up writing this track the night before I sold the poor boy. It was a good synth, but wasn't getting the attention.
Well I appreciated it. I'm really into music with this vibe right now. Makes me wish I hadn't sold my ESQ (or rather, both of them...).
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Re: VSE Winter Hybrid Synth Competition: VOTE HERE!

Post by commodorejohn » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:29 am

"Isolation" was great even if it came in last (it was a tough call between that or "Miami Dreams" for me.) It reminds me a lot of Amiga tracker music in the pre-"all demoscene compositions must be chiptunes" days.
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