Music Composers Unite!
So there has been a lot of discussion about adding a tips thread on how to for various functions of the Composers' Forum site. I don't have time to get into them all, but I want to touch on one of the most used parts of our forum: Music Analysis and Critique.
1) PLACE FOR REAL CRITIQUE. First of all, Music Analysis and Critique is intended to be a place for members of our community to post music and to get back actual critical thoughts about the piece listed. It's not supposed to be a warm fuzzy place where you go to put something you finished and aren't really looking for critique. If you want warm fuzzies, please don't post in Music Analysis and Critique, but rather as a blog post in your personal blog or in your player on your page.
2) POST YOUR MUSIC AND /OR SCORES INSIDE THE THREAD. Do not present links to outside websites or say "it's on my player". Just don't do it. If you do I very well might just delete the thread. If you are serious about wanting feedback from our awesome members, then you need to take the time to present it the way we ask. Posting the piece in the thread lets people who would like to listen and have VERY limited time (like many of the full time professional composers among us) listen to something and offer feedback. It also means that people using iPad or iPhone can hear your music. And it means that every piece is presented equally, as sound files and scores presented as files and not embedded in some player or requiring some codec or software or membership or click some links, or suppress ads, or whatever. Just do this please!
3) POSTING INLINE IS EASY! Type your title, then explain what you want to in the text area, then at the bottom click the BROWSE... button where it says Attach File(s):. Browse to the file you want to upload and select it. Click "Add Discussion" and wait for it to upload. DO NOT close your browser window or move away from that page until you see the thread you made WITH the attached file listed. If you close the window or you move the browser to a different page, it will not be uploaded or entered. Thats it!
4) TIPS ON POSTING FILES. The ning.com site is built primarily with audio and video players built with Adobe Flash: that means that video and music in players will NOT play for iPhones or iPads because of some security issues that Adobe or Apple won't change their policy on. The LINK in the thread, will work however, so its another reason to do your music file inline and not point to your CF music player. Not for the Music Analysis and Critique forum, but if you post music on your player (and its a general good rule to follow anyway) MAKE CERTAIN you are making your music files at 44.1kHz!!! Making them 48k or other frequencies will have problems being played in your player streamed through a Flash player. I highly suggest you make MP3s at 44.1k @128kb/s - this will keep your files decent sounding without being humungous, and 44.1 will play well if you upload them to your CF player as well. I also suggest that you post PDF files of your scores and NOT finale files or other notation files.
5) COPYRIGHT LAW! Of course we only allow you to post your original material. Please do not post someone else's music of course, but also do not post copy protected images or video clips here. We don't care that it's on youtube and you are posting a link to that.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION to use someone elses images or video or audio or score or whatever, DO NOT POST IT on the Composers Forum anywhere.
6) GIVING FEEDBACK. OK So, yes I have mentioned that this forum is not supposed to be restricted to warm fuzzies. That does not mean this is the place to be rude either! If you want to give feedback on someone's work, please feel free, and be as assertive and filled with criticism as you feel is warranted. Through critique we learn about ourselves, about others, about our listeners expectations, about our music, about our egos and so much more. But just make sure that your critique is actually critique that is constructive. There is no purpose to just ripping something apart without purpose. If any admin feels that the critique is being mean or just for the sake of conflict we will delete it. So just go for it, hold nothing back that you yourself wouldn't want to be told and enlightened about, just do it in a positive way.
7) POST ONE THING PER THREAD. Do not show up here and as your first and only post, put up 4, 5, 10+ songs or pieces and expect that anyone is going to want to listen to it all and even more so give thoughtful critique on your music. Start off by a. BEING INTERACTIVE and getting involved in discussions, meeting people here and understanding who your peers are and b. PUTTING UP ONE PIECE in a thread and asking for specific feedback on a specific piece or section of piece.
8) DON'T POST STUFF THAT'S HALF-BAKED. Unless you are intending to get feedback on something specific. Our members are extremely talented, many of whom are full time music professionals, nobody wants to have their time wasted with a phrase that took you five minutes to make that you start your thread off by explaining how its something you whipped up. EVERYONE HERE can make something really cool in five minutes, there is no need to show us what you did after smoking a bone and with your favorite cello sound pulled up that you improvised 8 bars of. So respect your peers enough to present things either with very specific questions (like what are possible ways to modulate from phrase a to phrase b, etc), or something where you are at a crossroads needing constructive thoughtful feedback to help you sort out your issues and move on with the piece.
9) BE REALISTIC IN YOUR EXPECTATION FROM YOUR PEERS. Don't expect that every one of our 2000+ members is going to run and take time from their schedule to listen to your works. The forum is a slow-brew process, and often threads here take weeks or even months and occasionally years to get replies. Mostly because our members are mostly people who are dedicated to spending lots and lots of time working on their art and craft. If you aren't getting any response and you think your music is compelling enough to be warranting being listened to, my very best advice is for you to be more active at the forum. Spend an hour and listen to other peoples music. Comment on their stuff if they posted it in the Dissection forum. Give them what you want in return. Politely mention to them (after you listened and commented on their stuff) that you have a piece you are working on and have asked for feedback, and if they have time maybe they could offer you some advice on it personally. To be honest that is always the best way, not only do you get less-biased-against type of feedback, but you also make friends, something of an unusual concept for many of us "up all night in our music cave" types ;-) But my experience is that when I have something I am really trying to get help on if I ask specifically (and no, not in generic spam to your whole friends list) to a friend what they think, or if someone asks me, the result is magical: pretty quick results and usually positive feedback even if they are ripping it apart its still done as a pal.
10) BE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE TYPE OF FEEDBACK YOU WANT. Unless you want any and all of the most general sort, tell us exactly what you want our opinions on. All thoughts about music is SUBJECTIVE and so there are an infinite number of views about the musicality of your piece. Keep in mind also that the only stuff that is not subjective is production type of critique. Well its still subjective but in a much lesser way. A great mix is still a great mix. A great performance is a great performance and both of those have quantifiable points to them whereas a great piece of music, once those previous points are "great" is still completely subjective. With that in mind, if you DON'T want feedback on production (i.e. you are wanting feedback on the MUSIC portion only, like you work in Finale or Sibelius and you KNOW the production sucks as its just a reference to the music until its played live), then say so. A lot of times bad production detracts from the music to such a degree that it makes hearing it as music difficult. So a lot of people can very easily get caught up in critiquing how your sequence sounds fake, the samples not performed well, the wrong kind of reverb, bad mix, etc. So just let us know if you don't want some specific aspect of the piece to be critiqued, it will go a long way to not wasting your peers' time and not becoming frustrated in comments that aren't helpful to you.
If you have other tips for Music Analysis and Critique, please reply to this thread! Live long and prosper.
Thanks Chris for refreshing us busy composers on the rules. :)
Time is too short, the software is sometimes too frustrating with and the compositions too elusive.
posting files IN the forum are not required to join or be a member or use the site, even though we highly recommend it as uniformity on how to access and hear peers' music makes it tremendously easier in the large scope. Trust me on this, if I could share how many times there is a huge ball of confusion because someone decides to post things differently, "their way", and what the result is is that other folks cant figure it out, even what seems obvious and simple to the person posting. But the tools here are for your enjoyment to use as you see fit and we dont kick people for not using the ning player.
However, posting in MUSIC DISSECTION it _is_ a requirement. For the sake of uniformity and reasons mentioned above. If you want to also use some external tools and offer that as a supplement thats fine, but minimally there should be an mp3 attached in a thread you want critiqued. More advanced things like musescore we have no issues with as an extra goodie, but not in lieu of the basic file.
Edit time stuff we have no control over, unfortunately Jon. Its ning.com technology and we just rent space from them and is far far less customizable than a PHPBB forum or a wordpress blog. But its one of the only ones that allows uploading of audio and video and has all the features that _are_ really cool, like personal blogs and profiles and photo albums and etc. None of the admins here have programmed any of the tools nor do we have any control over them other than basic administration ability. Also I should note that none of us are paid either in any way shape or form, we just do it because we are insane ;-)
Hey also I should mention here, so nobody walks away feeling upset: If you dont feel like you can adhere to some particular part of these rules then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE a. write me and / or the other admins and tell us why and MOST IMPORTANTLY b. post your music in the way you want to! Just do it in a blog post NOT in the dissection forum.
Thanks a ton and warm fuzzies and happy glowy things for everyone :P