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Now that the Knockout round has commenced, I thought it might be nice for you all to see the way I judge!
In the tryout round, I had 4 simple criteria that I judged by;
General; The overall quality of your song. How much it worked, or didn't work as a whole. Simple put, how good it was. This could have been and 8 where as the rest of your scores couldv'e been a 6 or even a 5, simply because it ended up working as a whole, even if it lacked in mixing or composition.
Composition; This applied to the chord structures you used, the form of your song transitions and how well you exectued them, or how catchy your melodies were. Simply put, your song could have been mixed terribly, but had some awesome ideas, and couldve scored a 9 in this where your mixing may have even been a 5.
Mixing; How well your song was balanced. If you wrote an edm song, how well you mixed it, executed compression, how loud your kick was during peak moments, all important things in EDM. If it was a recorded piece, i.e. live recording of guitars, drums, etc.... then I used this category to judge how well these intruments were recorded andbalanced, which is another art compared to EDM mixing. I also judged Orchestral pieces different in this category, but it all came down to balance.
and finally Originality; How unique, and thrilling your song was. If it made me dance, groove out, go HELL YEA or oh nooo....this was seperate from "general, as a song with LITTLE originality, could have been written and executed well, even if it used ideas that were not unique or groundbreaking at all.
These were the criteria I started judging with. They were each graded a number out of ten, then averaged out between them. I realized about halfway through judging that I needed to focus on different aspects, though similar. It was also not fair to equate originality to composition and mixing.
I couldnt very well change my rubric mid way through, that would be unfair, so here is what I will be looking at for the future (it is still very similar to before, just balnced better, and more specific);
Production/Mixing (30); This will be genre specific. there are three focus points within this category. Clarity, Quality, and Effects.
- Clarity(10); The overall clarity of voices, i.e. Mixing. This will be judged differently for each genre, EDM, Classical, Rock, Indie, etc etc etc.... So keep those kicks thumping in the EDm realm, and those guitars juicy if you're a headbanger like me. (I like all music I am NOT biased in my judging.)
- Quality(10); In this category, I will judge your sound design skills, your tone quality, or your recording skills. If you are recording a live instrument, how well that instrument sounds (Tone) If you are making dubstep, the level and quality of your sound design will be judged. And also over all how high quality the whole mix sounds.
- Effects(10); This speaks for itself. This is an important category even though it seems simple. How well can you add a bit of nuance and flavor to your song. This can be very important in all genres, even in a solo instrument piece. Get creative, that's all I'll say about that.
Composition (30); This category is roughly the same for every genre. Overall, it is how well your song is written, even if you use stock voices and stock drums, you could have a very good mind for harmonic structure and write killer melodies. This is why Production and Composition are the big categories here, they are the most decisive in your score. This will also have three subcategories, Complexity, Transitions, and Form.
- Complexity(10); How well your harmonic structure is composed, are there beautifully done transitions? Are the melodies driving and introduced well, rather than out of nowhere and lazy or sloppy. Variations are a key element in this category. CHANGE IT UP YALL none of us want to listen to 11 minutes of the same chorus or drop. Write your second drop COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, change the key and mood, GO NUTS. Just do it well.
- Transitions(10); Many struggled with this in the tryouts. That's fine, there are niches in writing music that some don't see as important. This one is, I promise. That is why it has it's own subcategory. How well can you transition from one section of your piece to another, how well do you start and end your piece, and how well do you surprise me if that is your intent. (I LOVE SURPRISES!! :D)
- Form(10); Another category that many composers, not just you guys, ANY COMPOSER, struggles with. Many people dont want to adhere to the generic structure and form of an edm song. You know what, THATS FINE. But if you're going to go against something that is proven to work, DO IT WELL. This category will judge your overall form of your song. Does the energy work from section to section? Is there a part that didnt belong in your song, IS IT TOO SHORT OR TOO LONG. (you can write a short piece, just as long as it FEELS like a complete idea, a complete piece.You can write a super long piece, as long as you variate the melodies and harmonies. Keep it interesting and worthy of someones ear for 11 minutes or however long you decide you want it.)
The final three Categories are on their own, but just as important as the others, just not scored as hard as Production or composition.
- Instrumentation (15); How well you layer your piece, with multiple voices that go well together and blend nicely, or a smaller amount of voices, that create its own sound and aura. Even if its a solo piece, this category can be judged. The important point here, is how well the voices you choose go together, you need to create a synergy in your song.
- General Effect (15); As I said I am not biased. I enjoy all form of music, and if I don't, I know what and what not to appreciate within all genres. This category is how well your song is executed overall. Does it make me want to bob my head? Dance, go OH YEA, or does it make me want to lay my head on my hand and beg for it to be over. YOU DECIDE.
- Originality (10) how unique your style, composition, and overall sound are. If you make me say WOW I NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE, you can bet your arse you'll get a good score in this. If you use a chord progression that is simple, and is clearly from a top chart pop song, you might get a 2, unless you execute that chord progression differently than Taylor Swift. (I swear if I hear a I-V-iv-IV) progression, I'll quit. Not really, but basically DONT USE THESE CHORDS; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I and if you actually clicked and watched this, you see why.)
These all add up to 100, which will then be divided by 10 to determine your final score!
So there you have it!! Focus on these points in your songs and I bet you will write the next top song of 2016. Er, at least possibly on this site. Still no promises there.......YOULL DO GREAT :D
TLDR; For my rubric for the rest of the NGAUC, Iwill be judging on a 0-100 scale with these criteria;
Overall, don't think too hard, dont try to write a song constaly looking at the judges rubrics, I just think it nice to give you guys an idea of how I judge. WRITE WHATEVER SOUNDS GOOD TO YOU. That's the most important.
Thank you Samulis for your inspiration on this rubric, though I did take it in my own route just a tad :P