Audio submission number 200 would have been a go regardless of what the outcome of the Newgrounds Audio Underdogs Contest (NGUAC) auditions were. I want to state for the record that I'm glad to have made it past the auditions.
I also want to announce that I am resigning from the NGUAC. These are the full details of why.
I am a Newgrounds Audio Deathmatch (NGADM) judge, and I was also a judge for the Art-Inspired Music (AIM) contest earlier this year, for which I wrote extensive commentary on every single admissible entry. In threads and Discord discussions related to these contests I mentioned that I vibe with a lot of tracks, owing to having listened to music across various different genres. So, for me, composition and production are not enough.
I look for authenticity of emotion.
A lot of this involves having the emotional literacy to convey the message that we are trying to convey in our songs, to positively and pleasantly catch listeners off guard, to make them feel, to make them question, "Oh, hello, what is this?". It is an emotional literacy that had been encouraged in me by stellar composer friends and judges in past years, and by some industry figures as well, some of whom have had the opportunity to listen to my music as hosted on Newgrounds. It is experimentation, the willingness to dream, that makes new genres and has us take them far. Some experiences are going to be a little more left field than others, and that's fair enough -- but even still, I want to hear the actual soul of the composer.
If this is going to be stymied in me for the next point that I am going to raise, then I would be a hypocrite for modifying my composition structure and what I'm looking for to suit certain tastes. In my judging for the AIM and the NGADM I would be looking for that which is missing from a lot of compositions -- whereas I myself would not be practising what I preach. I cannot be put in that position. It is fundamentally morally wrong to me.
The next point, of course, is the definition of "industry standard," a thing sought for in composers of my bracket. Now what is that?
By the overwhelming benevolence of one of my fellow composer friends, I happen to be acquainted with Akash Thakkar and his course on game design and networking in the video game music industry. (Evidently, due to ongoing circumstances, I can't actually apply most of it, but I am still learning a lot.) The closest entry point for anyone even going left field with their work would be to compare it with something that it somewhat sounds like -- I've had my lyrically layered songs compared to the soundtrack of Nier: Automata before. If there's a place for that, there's a place for anything -- it's a matter of selling it well.
Now, my understanding of "industry standard" is something with some degree of safety but a great degree of freshness, experimentation and pleasantly catching others off guard -- the kind done by Field Music and Coldplay and Aimee Mann. The kind that goes on to win Brits and BAFTAs. Imagine that for a few moments -- the mere exercise of dreaming it feels beautiful to me.
Ahead of time, when I submitted my audition piece to the Round 1 thread, I knew it was going to polarise. Some were not going to like the child's voice, even though I deliberately went for Frelia out of Ar tonelico II with that one. Some were not going to like the distortion in some of the chorus vocals. And others were going to be absolutely floored by the fact that the song is more than eight minutes long. So it came as no surprise that the judges' scores were polarised on my own song; I had long expected it and I have no complaints about this.
What I do have consternation over, is that there are people whose tracks are imaginative enough to actually qualify for the NGADM -- which is meant to be a step up above the NGUAC, by the way -- who have not qualified to Round 2 *of the NGUAC* because they were given some inexplicably dismal scores by a couple of the judges, ostensibly out of this concept of an "industry standard" that they're after.
Industry professionals have told me time and time again that my stuff deserves to go far even if I currently do not have the right to take it further than here. I have no doubt that if they listened to some of the tracks that were excluded, they would say the same. There is a part of me that is screaming in my gut, telling me to actually listen to the affirmations and believe -- affirmations that I am indeed fortunate to have had -- and it's only fair that I extend that same affirmation to the people who had excellent tracks who were ultimately excluded.
The results came out at about 3:-something a.m. BST; my beloved Seán was occasionally checking the audio forum on my behalf while I was asleep. After seeing what I did, I couldn't sleep. I got out of bed, freshened up, and immediately set to work on audio submission number 200 -- what would have been my NGUAC knockout round entry. I started at about 6:30 a.m. my time, and it is now 9:08. I've not touched the keyboard for a good hour and a half, and I can safely call half the structure of the piece finished. So, actually finishing the piece on time is not the issue. If constrained to do this within two weeks, notwithstanding any emergencies that may crop up, I do not doubt for a moment that I'd be able to finish it on time.
It'd be a damn shame to let it go to waste, so I am planning to see this piece through to the end. It will be my audio submission number 200.
And it'll hopefully be the first in a series of tracks whose subject matter is close to my heart.
I am at peace with this decision, and I'd certainly be grateful if someone who didn't make it past the auditions could take my place. Part of the Hamlet soliloquy from Shakespeare is apt for this situation, I think--
This above all- to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
I hope to update you about the piece in progress soon. Until next time.