Nur Ein IX Round Four

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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Manhattan Glutton » Wed May 21, 2014 11:38 am

That was my voice, which is well within the confines of the challenge. Not much different from a-Capella... but I digress. You judges listen to the music you want to listen to, and I'll make the music I want to hear. ;)
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby glennny » Wed May 21, 2014 11:45 am

Cavedwellers: Thanks for the translation, but next time do not invite the translator drink wine before passing the text. It has been useful in any case. Musically: I have not understood anything, it seemed to me a strange mixture of ideas, some better than others, but without much sense coupled. The challenge, half passed.


Carlo, sorry about the translation. I'm confused how you could possibly say we only half met the challenge. We only used vocals and percussion. How is that not 100% met?

thanks for the feedback !

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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby chocolatechips » Wed May 21, 2014 11:50 am

Thanks for the feedback Carlo. I agree that the melodyne use was a bit off this time, I was annoyed by my own lead vocal on this one because I didn't have time to really nail what I was trying to do and had to sort of shoehorn it ... the fact that I barely missed making the cut makes me wish I had spent a bit more time on the vocal, maybe it would have made the difference. But I had less time than usual this time around and had to rush it.

But one thing I'm not sure about is why using my vocal samples (which I recorded myself for this track, they weren't canned) as a harmonic instrument wouldn't be a fit for the challenge? ... most of the backing vocals I did actually sing through one part at a time (although I did quite a bit of tuning on them.) ... still the main backing vocal was a sample situation (using melodyne) and ... I can see why that could be seen as a cheat I guess. .. still it seems like a grey area.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby glennny » Wed May 21, 2014 12:22 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_row

Here was our row and chord progression
The row: C G D, F E B, Eb Ab Db, A Bb Gb
The chord progression: Csus2 E5 C#sus2 G#

The whole composition has this melody repeated throughout in the timpani,marimba, vibraphone, and in the vocals. Then counter melodies.
Schoenberg's 12 tone technique seemed appropriate for a song called "The New Ugly"

I kept myself from explanations beforehand because of all the grief I've received in previous Nur Eins for explaining beforehand.

It should have stood on it's own. It apparently failed. I'd like to think the judging panel is musically literate and listens to music other than rock, metal, rap, and pop. I know Niveous can hang in a Song Pop duel in Jazz and Classical, I know Geoff makes some beautifully weird and challenging music. Jon clearly knows some theory. The other 2 I assume are of similar ilk.

Anyway, I'm not surprised it didn't go over well. Certainly disappointed.

I was listening to it last night with some excellent musicians, a very talented musician said "this is just weird". I pretty much imagine that's how the judges reacted.

There's no shame in losing to the survivors. There are some titans there! Many of my favorites! The next 3 rounds will be very interesting!

If you want to win: Pop hooks, rock production, be a smart ass in every possible way you can think of. ;)
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby furrypedro » Wed May 21, 2014 12:28 pm

carlo bruno jr wrote:Balance Lost: The song suffers arrhythmia and vocal anorexia. Because It, has fallen to me. The challenge, half achieved.

I appreciate the feedback dude. It's all moot now, but please could you explain how the challenge was only half achieved. I'm pretty sure I did exactly what it said to do (how well I did it is another matter, of course).

I bet you regret posting reviews now! I hope you don't mind answering our questions. I love the feedback and I'm pretty sure everyone else does too, so thank you :)
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Generic » Wed May 21, 2014 1:01 pm

glennny wrote:The whole composition has this melody repeated throughout in the timpani,marimba, vibraphone, and in the vocals. Then counter melodies.
Schoenberg's 12 tone technique seemed appropriate for a song called "The New Ugly"

I kept myself from explanations beforehand because of all the grief I've received in previous Nur Eins for explaining beforehand.

It should have stood on it's own. It apparently failed. I'd like to think the judging panel is musically literate and listens to music other than rock, metal, rap, and pop. I know Niveous can hang in a Song Pop duel in Jazz and Classical, I know Geoff makes some beautifully weird and challenging music. Jon clearly knows some theory. The other 2 I assume are of similar ilk.

Anyway, I'm not surprised it didn't go over well. Certainly disappointed.


Yes, I definitely heard what you were up to. My first draft of review uses the phrase "borderline atonal," then I paused and listened closer, and the penny dropped.

I applaud your ability to sing in tune with such a difficult (possibly even counter-intuitive) melody, but sadly for me, it was just difficult to listen to, never evoking an emotional reaction, and not being stimulating enough to be memorable. At least, not as much as the other entries that attempted less theory-heavy interpretations. I'm still very sorry to hear you go, as I think you've produced some of the best work I've ever heard from you this Ein. You get major props from me for your "Stop (You're Killing Me)" and your "Watertight" in particular. It was a good run.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby chocolatechips » Wed May 21, 2014 1:10 pm

yes ... I'm not sure it's possible to make a popular song using a 12 tone row (I'd love to be proven wrong...?). I think I tried composing a song using this method once and gave up. I am impressed by what you did with this song technically though, it kind of makes me want to experiment with some simpler more tuneful rows (something I looked into before but haven't really pursued.)

I find all of this kind of stuff quite interesting, although often more theoretically than when it comes to actually listening to. Last year I read THE REST IS NOISE and was fascinated by a lot of stuff I read in there (and some of the music it introduced to me) but when it comes down to it I do prefer listening to Beethoven over Schoenberg.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Generic » Wed May 21, 2014 1:49 pm

There's a woman named Vi Hart who makes great Youtube videos about math, nature, and music sometimes. She recently did this long-form piece about the 12-tone scale and Schoenberg, with some digressions into the U.S.'s current copyright system and why it's all borked. She included some pretty listenable experiments in adapting well-known public domain songs into 12-tone scales, but her video also serves as a great introduction to the topic for anyone who doesn't know what glennny and I are talking about:

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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Lunkhead » Wed May 21, 2014 1:53 pm

carlo bruno jr wrote:Manhattan Glutton: Not meet the challenge. I do not mind the origin of the sample, the wave or whatever, you are using a tool that emulates a bass.


My understanding was that MG used an amplifier emulator plugin, which emulates an amplifier, not a bass (or guitar). That doesn't seem like it goes against the challenge as stated. The challenge described what instruments you could and could not use, not how those instruments had to sound or function. Seems pretty uncool that folks can get seriously dinged based on each judge's own individual unexplained/uncommunicated interpretation of the challenge.

Personally MG's was my favorite song this round by a long shot, and I really can't comprehend how somebody ranked it last, and that he got eliminated.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby chocolatechips » Wed May 21, 2014 2:13 pm

Lunkhead wrote:
carlo bruno jr wrote:Manhattan Glutton: Not meet the challenge. I do not mind the origin of the sample, the wave or whatever, you are using a tool that emulates a bass.


The challenge described what instruments you could and could not use, not how those instruments had to sound or function. Seems pretty uncool that folks can get seriously dinged based on each judge's own individual unexplained/uncommunicated interpretation of the challenge.


definitely agree - as far as I can tell/hear every entry did the challenge as stated ... I still haven't heard a reasonable explanation of the reasoning behind saying that some entries didn't do so. Curiously awaiting such an explanation!

Jon Eric - I am very much enjoying that Twelve Tones video you posted. interesting stuff.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby BenKrieger » Wed May 21, 2014 2:29 pm

Lunkhead wrote:Personally MG's was my favorite song this round by a long shot, and I really can't comprehend how somebody ranked it last, and that he got eliminated.


MG's was one of my favorite compositions as well. However, I get a sense like players get penalized if they sidestep the spirit of the challenge and treat it as an obstacle to outsmart. If you alter your voice to the point where you might as well just use a synth, it kind of defeats the purpose. I got killed on this last year with a song in the metal challenge where I used metal in the percussion while everyone else got into the spirit of the heavy metal aspect.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Generic » Wed May 21, 2014 2:40 pm

Lunkhead wrote:Seems pretty uncool that folks can get seriously dinged based on each judge's own individual unexplained/uncommunicated interpretation of the challenge.


You've Eined before, right? :P

Okay, since I'm a judge this year, how about a less flippant answer: I think MG failed the challenge spectacularly because, even though he used (synthesized) percussion instruments and voice only, he ran them through effects plugins with the express intention of making them sound less like percussion instruments. His "bass" instrument may not actually be a bass, but I don't know what percussion instrument it actually is. And the higher-up background instrument? I think it's a vibraphone run through amp distortion, but to my ears it's virtually indistinguishable from an electric guitar. And this is especially galling to me because of this exchange earlier in this very thread:

Generic wrote:
Manhattan Glutton wrote:If I manipulate the shit out of a bass kick to sound like a sin wave, what's the point of having the restriction?


If you're asking us whether it would be permissible to alter a kick drum to the point that it sounds like a sine wave, I would say that the challenge is contingent upon the judges being able to tell that the instrument in question is a percussion instrument. At the risk of sounding pedantic or obvious, the judges need to be able to recognize the percussion instrument in order to know whether you succeeded in the challenge.


I'm sorry to any of you who think it's unfair that your rankings are done at the whim of five judges' subjective criteria. That's not a bug; it's a feature. I've been eliminated for what I felt were spurious reasons as well. Keep writing songs, and try again next year. NUR EIN!!!!!
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Lunkhead » Wed May 21, 2014 2:59 pm

Yes, I've eined before, and I've always had an issue with the challenges and how they factor into the judging. I've never liked the idea that the way the challenge was addressed could make a judge rank a really good song a lot lower than a not nearly as good song. I would prefer if making a good song were of overriding importance in the contest. When I was (half) a judge I tried to rank the songs by quality first, then break any ties by factoring in things like how the challenges were addressed. Factoring aspects like the challenges in too much makes this whole thing feel like some kind of fringe circle jerk, where we pat each other on the back for how well we made a disposable song that fits only this one context.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Manhattan Glutton » Wed May 21, 2014 3:03 pm

So I think the problem here is that Jon's clarification confused me. At first, I correctly assumed the spirit of the challenge was to make a percussive song, but upon clarification Jon said that 'pitched' percussion was allowed (which devolved into my annoyance at the ambiguity that presents). At that point, I assumed the challenge was not to make a percussive song, but rather to use the resources at our disposal within the confines of the challenge. I followed the challenge text; I heeded Jon's words about not using synths, and I made my own synths out of the allowed materials.

As this was possibly my favorite song this competition, and other people have found it rather enjoyable, I am not that upset. If the judges aren't interested in hearing more of my awesome work this year, then that is their prerogative as judges. Nur Ein's goal is not to find the best song or song writer, but to get people writing music.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby glennny » Wed May 21, 2014 3:21 pm

yeah I was shocked about MG. I thought he had one of the best songs of the round. Furthermore he was quite open in the forums about how he was approaching it, and I had the impression it was acceptable. It clearly has a very high Smart Ass factor which historically has been rewarded.

I'm the idiot who writes epic songs for epic challenges and ugly songs for songs called "The New Ugly".

Somebody had to be eliminated, too many good acts!
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby BenKrieger » Wed May 21, 2014 3:29 pm

Lunkhead wrote:Factoring aspects like the challenges in too much makes this whole thing feel like some kind of fringe circle jerk, where we pat each other on the back for how well we made a song that fits only this one context.


That's exactly why I love Nur Ein! The fun is to write a lot of songs that require some hoop-jumping with the hope that something that can exist outside of the contest is created. I've written about 25 Nur Ein songs, I think, and there are only about 3 that actually make the cut for performing live in the long run. It doesn't mean they aren't good. Just not great. Roughly 1 out of 10 is a pretty reasonably ratio for the number of songs I write to the number that stand the test of time. "At least I got a song I'm proud of and want to perform " is the traditional mantra of the Nur Ein Loser. I've used it myself! :mrgreen:
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby glennny » Wed May 21, 2014 3:31 pm

yeah If I wanted a good song, i'd write a good song. If I wanted to do well in Nur Ein, I try to embrace the challenge and write a good song. (sometimes i go down in flames)
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Generic » Wed May 21, 2014 3:50 pm

Mike, we appear to have had a misunderstanding about the meaning of the word "pitched." When referring to "pitched percussion," we meant percussion instruments that naturally have a pitched sound, such as the xylophone, marimba, and vibraphone. As opposed to most percussion instruments, which don't really have "pitch" in the musical sense. You seem to have thought we meant regular percussive noises, given pitch through post-production manipulation. I apologize for that misunderstanding, but I'm happy you came out with a song you're pleased with.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Generic » Wed May 21, 2014 4:17 pm

Lunkhead wrote:Yes, I've eined before, and I've always had an issue with the challenges and how they factor into the judging. I've never liked the idea that the way the challenge was addressed could make a judge rank a really good song a lot lower than a not nearly as good song. I would prefer if making a good song were of overriding importance in the contest. When I was (half) a judge I tried to rank the songs by quality first, then break any ties by factoring in things like how the challenges were addressed. Factoring aspects like the challenges in too much makes this whole thing feel like some kind of fringe circle jerk, where we pat each other on the back for how well we made a disposable song that fits only this one context.


As I've noted in the past, Nur Ein specifically has no hard-and-fast rules on the extent to which judges should take the challenge into account when building their rankings. When you were a judge, you were certainly within your right to more or less disregard challenge implementation in favor of making a good song. For my part - and I've been pretty transparent about this - I think the use of the challenge is very important, and the winning entries often find ways to integrate the challenge in a way that is both effective and significant to the song.

Moreover, I think it's unfair to exclude the challenge when determining the quality of entries because that gives an inherent advantage to those who take the challenge least seriously. If Songfighter A works really hard to write a song within the confines of the challenge, but then Songfighter B basically just blows it off and turns in something that sounds like his usual, then you'd expect Songfighter B's song to be better, because he wasn't working with the same limitations. I want to reward the competitors who worked within the confines of the challenge, and to especially reward those who leverage that limitation into an advantage.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby iVeg » Wed May 21, 2014 4:49 pm

Loved the 12 tone video. I'd tried some serial composition before, but her video was much clearer, and more musical.

The challenge was percussion and voice only. I know I'm out of the competition, but I chose to go more vocal - recording voice thru my guitar effects stomp box. It's painful to listen to, yeah, yeah, whatever. It still meets the challenge, as written.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby noma » Thu May 22, 2014 12:11 am

Wow! :o Now that's a big surprise to me. But a pleasant one ;)
Thanks to all of you for liking my song that much! Now I shall prepare for the next round.

Sad to see all of you go that got kicked out this time. I liked all of your songs a lot, even the Cavedwellers one, which at first sounded just strange to me but grew on me after a few listens. By then I found it to be very listenable, actually, especially considering the background you posted. I have some basic ideas about the fundamental stuff in twelve-tone theory, but I don't think I could pull off such a good song using Schoenberg's technique. Haven't watched the video yet, but I'm planning to do so later.

As for my song, I used a lot of percussion instruments and vocal tracks, but also a few synth lines that helped me with my vocal melody. Those were very useful especially with singing the 3rd and the 5th in the backing choir, which was not the easiest thing to do for me. Of course, I erased those synth parts later on, so all that is left in the final song is percussion and vocals.
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Re: Nur Ein! IX Round 4

Postby Paco Del Stinko » Thu May 22, 2014 4:23 am

Glennny wrote:I try to embrace the challenge and write a good song

Jon Eric wrote:I want to reward the competitors who worked within the confines of the challenge, and to especially reward those who leverage that limitation into an advantage.
There ya go. Ideally, you write a good song that incorporates the challenge. In past EINs, people have gotten passes for writing good songs that don't even touch the challenge. Some have gotten clobbered for sticking too much to the challenge. In a perfect situation, yeah, I know, you do indeed write a good song the utilizes the challenge in an obvious yet effective manner. AND end up with a good song to boot.

Create music for yourself, by all means. But this is still a contest with specific, if occasionally muddy, rules that one needs to adhere to. It's a balancing act. If you want to just please yourself, great. But don't be upset when you get hammered. Something like that.

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