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Pronounced "trwa-nix." I dream up meepy dreams full of meep.
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Annette Singh @Troisnyx

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Audio submission number 200! + resigning from NGUAC

Posted by Troisnyx - August 11th, 2020


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.


10

Comments (7)

Nice

I hear you love. Sometimes I wonder what it must feel like to be Katy Perry and not give a damn. To have my one hit, be rich off it, and laugh at all the crits.

That's not a place my mind is willing to go. ?

But I hope that if something like that should ever happen to me, that I don't let hubris take over.

But think of the power trip that must come from being able to look critics in the face and say "I retired in 2008 because I kissed a girl and I liked it."

Perhaps, and that could very easily lead to hubris. Something equally or more powerful, I would be blown away by it perhaps — but I cannot, I must not forget when I had no power at all.

I really like your philosophy on music. In the end, music is art, and art is emotion. Can't wait to listen to your track number 200, even if i just knew about you yesterday. I also really like what you said about my guitar playing on my AIM submission :)

Thanks for the kind words, on the review and everything else. <3

The structure of the track is almost done now, which I'm grateful for. I'll be continuing this in earnest in the days that follow.

I CANT WAIT TO SEE MORE OF YOUR BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECES AAAH THERE SO GOOD.

You know, I'm half here and half there when it comes to how competitions go. I've seen some judges that seem to actively score lower on just those genres that leave a bad taste in their mouth, opposed to judging a piece by its own merit within a given genre or smatterings of genre. I feel half of a track's art is in that industry level conformity -- or I should really say accessibility and intelligibility to the average person, and the rest is up to the adventurousness of the composer. In the end, it's about the clarity of communication to the end user. If I have to explain the value of my piece to another person with all sorts of flowery description boxes, that's not them enjoying it for their own sake, you know?

Trouble I find is that the pieces that I considered a little left field weren't all *that* left field (for left field, a good few NGADM Round 1 entries should do the trick). They're as left field as the highly celebrated Field Music -- highly celebrated in the UK at least -- and it's not like the general public can't vibe with this sort of thing.

I remember there being a long protracted discussion about what makes the "Industry Standard (TM)" and I've asked person after person about this, and no one seems to really agree.

@Troisnyx You're absolutely right. I think regarding the competitions here, we're butting up against this thing of comparatively few people being anything past hobbyists in their working genres, as opposed to classically trained, business degree or music ed majors, what have you. There's not a lot of super professional exposure to the business, or what is actually marketable. And then music itself is very subjective.

Myself, I try to judge based on the best examples I've had for presentation and sound stage, musicality, and craft, as genre appropriate. Obviously no one is going to judge the guy playing a piano piece for not having built his own piano and tuned each of the strings by hand, but there are some people out there who are convinced that just because you used a snare sample or ripped a piano loop (called flipping a sample in hip-hop) that automatically your entire craft is inauthentic, and you are trash, so you deserve a bad score. Imo, I'm of the opinion that it's not about reinventing the wheel. It's about using what you have in a way that speaks to people, in a way that works and inspires you to keep creating. Different approaches are valid for different styles.

I think I would be happier if more judges would do like you and me, sit back, and explain why they made the scoring decisions they did. I get tons of thank you letters whenever I do a competition -- there's tons of demand for it, and I don't see why anyone wouldn't even just take the time and write at least a paragraph, if not to critique, then at least to thank them for coming out!