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Home » Forums » The Big OT » A moment of honesty (Are my ears broken?)

A moment of honesty (Are my ears broken?)

Clarence Simpson
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permalink   Tue, Nov 2, 2010 @ 4:42 PM
OK, I’m going to be brutally honest here for a moment and say something I’ve been thinking since I joined.

I’m not going to name names, but there are a significant percentage (I’d say maybe 10-15%) of the remixes on ccMixter that I really don’t like. At all. Now that in itself wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I have noticed that, based on recommendations and reviews, lots of people seem to love these same songs. Sometimes these songs even end up as an Editors’ Pick tagging them as some of the “best of the best” that ccM has to offer.

Now, I have pretty eclectic taste in music. Anyone who knows me or has heard the variety of what I have submitted here should be able attest to that. I have found stuff that I really like in pretty much every musical genre I’ve ever heard.

But some of the stuff on ccMixter just forms an awful cacophony of sounds to me and I can’t seem to find anything to like about it. I’ve heard people put 80 bpm pellas over 100 bpm backing tracks. I’ve heard people take samples of a trumpet in the key of Bb and mash it up with a bassline in the key of B. I’ve heard remixes that used samples where the obvious accent beat of the sample is placed on the 2nd beat of the remix (or in the worst cases on some sort of fractional beat) instead of the 1st beat. I’ve heard remixes where I feel like the remixer has given no regard to musical harmony at all. This stuff drives my musical brain crazy, and I wonder sometimes if nobody else hears the same thing I hear.

Now, of course, music is art and there are no rules set in stone. Everything is subjective.

The thing is, like I said, that virtually all of these songs that I don’t like have multiple not just good, but absolutely glowing, reviews. There’s usually at least 5 or 6 people saying “This is fantastic”, “Loved every second of it”, “Brilliant. Simply brilliant.” and other such superlatives. There’s rarely, if ever, a criticism of the song. Now, this can mean one of two things (each of which is difficult for me to believe).

1) This is simply an overwhelmingly supportive community. People want to encourage and lift up each other regardless because we all agree with the concept of sharing music if not taste in music. I have noticed that negative reviews and even constructive criticisms are few and far between on this site. Everything about the community does really seem to be overwhelmingly positive. Of course, if this is the case, and this music really is “bad” then aren’t we doing visitors a disservice by making it harder to find the truly “good” music?

or 2) My ears are broken. I could just be incapable of hearing how good these tracks really are. I suppose this is possible. People who have only listened to pop music all their life probably think that modern jazz sounds “wrong” or full of mistakes. People who have never heard a 5/4 beat may think you messed up if you throw some 5/4 time measures into your song. As difficult as it is for me to imagine, maybe throwing an 80 bpm pella over 100 bpm music really is appealing to some people.

Now, let me be clear. I do think there are some absolutely fantastic tracks on here that I would not hesitate to put alongside some of my favorite commercial releases. Beyond those tracks there are many more tracks that I think are OK and still “musically sound” and I can appreciate them though they may not be my cup of tea. I’m really referring to the stuff beyond that that I can’t even appreciate in the least because it frankly hurts me to listen to it.

Recently Admiral Bob made a forum post about how most songs on ccMixter are of such high quality. I will definitely agree that the production quality of songs on ccMixter is overwhelmingly good. However, my admittedly subjective judgment of the compositional quality of the songs varies widely.

I don’t really know what my point is in saying all this other than just a desire to share my humble opinion for some reason. I’m definitely not trying to start a flame war or anything, so please don’t take this as such. I am curious though if other people feel the same as me.
Admiral Bob
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permalink   Tue, Nov 2, 2010 @ 5:25 PM
One of the things you’ll find about this community is that it is an overwhelmingly positive one.

This applies to both the premise of your post, and why people will not respond to your post as though it were flaming (which I don’t think it was: you put too much thought into it for that.)

What you’ve noticed about the remixes is that the comments tend to be positive. That’s true. And what criticisms there are, if they’re even there, are a constructive subset of overall praise.

But what you’ll also notice is that pieces with a more obvious level of quality tend to accumulate more than just a few nice reviews: they get a really large number of recs. There’s a reason you’ll see one track accumulate 25 recs, and another get only 10. They probably got the same number of initial listens, but more people quietly passed along in the second case, without pressing the rec button.

That’s basically the takeaway with CCMixter. You’re always going to get some encouraging feedback: not dishonest, but it certainly comes from a positive place. But the recs and playlist adds you earn tell an important story. As a result, I think a casual listener might actually be better served by http://dig.ccmixter.org/ which tends to highlight popular pieces.

As to why you’ll see pieces that merge strangely asynchronous time signatures together or which bend the keys of parts in strange ways get selected as Editors’ Picks, I think it is because remixing is a slightly different art from traditional musical composition. Not all pieces here are musical, and some are definitely meant to be somewhat non-musical. We certainly have some remixers here who are deliberately trying to make a non-musical sound collage, using musical elements.

The musician in me doesn’t always get those remixes, but the painter and the poet do.

The very best ed picks for me combine the musical and atonal elements. Subliminal’s “Trapped by Time” is one of the most knockout pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time, like a cross between Bear McCreary and Gyorgi Ligeti. As a somewhat “musical” remixer myself, I might not make remixes like that. But there’s a strong possibility that I simply can’t!
 
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permalink   Clarence Simpson Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 7:33 AM
Quote: Admiral BobAs to why you’ll see pieces that merge strangely asynchronous time signatures together or which bend the keys of parts in strange ways get selected as Editors’ Picks, I think it is because remixing is a slightly different art from traditional musical composition. Not all pieces here are musical, and some are definitely meant to be somewhat non-musical. We certainly have some remixers here who are deliberately trying to make a non-musical sound collage, using musical elements.
I agree that I hear some songs that are meant to be a kind of ambient soundscape that doesn’t even necessarily have a tempo. They often don’t have any kind of drums to hold a tempo anyway. Those songs I get and can appreciate. I wasn’t referring to them.

But I also run across remixes that, as far as I can tell, are produced just like a commercial hip-hop song for example. Except that, like I mentioned before, the music may be at 100 bpm while the pella is at 80.

Then the question becomes intent I guess. Of course, if the remixer doesn’t say what their intent was in the description then it becomes difficult to gauge, and maybe even impossible to find out without the possibility of offending the remixer.

Did the remixer intend to make a commercial hip-hop song? If so, they’ve failed because that kind of thing would never get on mainstream radio. In this case I feel like somebody needs to say something to the remixer so that they can improve their skills. Maybe their ear just isn’t trained enough to even notice the discrepancy. Just saying “This is marvelous!” isn’t doing the remixer any favors if their goal is to get on the radio.

Of course, if the remixer’s intent was to make something that bends or breaks the rules of commercial music, then they have succeeded regardless of whether I like it or not. A comment that “corrects” them may simply be insulting to an artist like this. They may not want to hear criticism from people that don’t “get” their art.

Quote: Admiral BobThe musician in me doesn’t always get those remixes, but the painter and the poet do.

Well said.
 
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permalink   Admiral Bob Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 7:52 AM
You’ve made a good point about how the feedback that circulates here probably doesn’t do aspiring producers a favour. But then again, I’m not sure that corralling that feedback down a more critical pathway is one of the site’s strengths. There are folks like colab and Victor who are good at that, but it is tough, as you walk a fine line trying to avoid hope-crushing comments. :)

I think the only real favours that CCMixter does for aspiring producers are these:

- It gives you great samples to practice with. The material is more complete and useful than AcidPlanet or Looperman.

- It gives you somewhere to put both your early prototype efforts, as well as your later polished stuff. CCMixter is a site where you really can stay as your skills grow to the (hopefully) pro level.

- It gives you a community that rallies around you and says, “welcome, do it again!” Since most musicians are already their own worst critics, that may be enough for a lot of people. Encouragement is sometimes a more valuable commodity than even a good critique!

I know a lot of people used to take their CCMixter material and put it on Garageband, where you would get ferociously critical reviews. For the sensitive that might have been too much, but it was definitely a good outlet for those who could take it.

I myself was a Garageband reviewer, and I got good scores on the reviews I gave (even reviewers get rated over there!) I gave detailed and critical feedback.

But that’s a very different world. Garageband was a great place to get polish. CCMixter is a great place to get and grow ideas.

There’s a big world of difference between those two objectives, and both are real needs. And since CCMixter music is licensed liberally and you can post it most anywhere, I do suggest that people put on their armour, and take their music out to critical reviewers from time to time!
MC Jack in the Box
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permalink   Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 1:32 AM
Hey Clarence, as a long time (real long time) participant here, I can appreciate your sentiment and honesty.

You’re not the first person to make that observation and you won’t be the last. ccmixter has seen many artists come and go (just look at the sheer number of different people in the archive) but the common thread, the reason why certain people stick around for an extended period of time, is because as Admiral Bob just pointed out, “it’s a nice place”.

It’s easy to hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and be mean and nasty towards other people. It’s what the internet has more or less devolved into. But there exist pockets of places where people are still civil, treat each other with respect, despite differences of opinion and taste. It’s how I’m responding to you now instead of just calling you a troll for not liking us. Because I don’t think that way at all, and agree with many of your points.

But like you yourself said, everything is subjective. And your opinion, about the site and other peoples music is as valid as the person who gives glowing reviews time after time. If you respect their opinion as objectively as you say you do, I’m sure you understand this. Different strokes for different folks.

Could people be more critical? Of course. Would that really benefit anyone? of course not. based on years of watching this stuff happen, one person gets offended, the other feels the need to defend their opinion, and it turns into a pissing match.

To be critical just for the sake of being critical is worse than giving great reviews to reciprocate great reviews. Because you (or any other listener) will learn pretty quickly that “Wow, MC Jack in the Box’s taste in music sucks!” if you listen to something I like and you hate. So I assume you’ll stop listening to what I like. Fair enough.

There’s room here for everyone. And there’s no rule that says you have to play nice, but if you walk into a party and you don’t know anyone, do you start insulting the other people there, or do you try to get to know them and see if you like them and might want to try and fit in.

There are people here that can be very critical sometimes, and still have much respect in the community. In some ways, they’ve earned it. But not just through submissions, but through interacting with the group in a civil manner.

If you think something sounds awful, and you want to say so, go ahead. You might get others to agree with you. But for me (and this is just my opinion here), I tend to say nice things and not insult people. That’s just the way I am in real life. I’m not going to change that now.
 
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permalink   Clarence Simpson Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 8:27 AM
Just to be clear I’m certainly not advocating that people do away with tact and restraint. Mean and nasty criticism has no place here (or anywhere in my opinion). However, there have been times that I have wanted to offer what I feel is constructive criticism. So, even for stuff that I truly think is awful I would never use that word. I’d probably say something more along the lines of “I love the backing music you’ve got there, and the vocal sounds like it would be a good match, but the timing of the vocals seems a bit off to my ears.”

But then I look and there are already 5 or 6 reviews and all of them effectively say the song is “perfect”. I don’t want to be “that guy” - the one that’s a downer and a party pooper - especially since I’m so new here. And to be honest seeing all those good reviews make me question my own judgement sometimes.
Clarence Simpson
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permalink   Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 8:28 AM
Hmm… there was another post here from St. Paul (I think?) but it seems to have disappeared before I had a chance to respond.
 
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permalink   timberman Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 8:34 AM
Yeah, I though I’d stay clear of this discussion. Too difficult subject for my November mood…
Snowflake
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permalink   Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 2:35 PM
hey clarence,

i echo the sentiment of admiral bob and mcjack in the box.

the major record labels essentially stopped doing artist development years ago. i believe ccMixter is a place where artist development is flourishing, through the positive, constructive feedback we give one another.

there are seasoned mixers here, and there also are new folks that have little if no experience in recording or mixing music - and everywhere between. those with more experience encourage and mentor others.

i was deep in the Los Angeles music scene from 1998-2004 and believe we don’t need to follow their example of unnecessarily harsh and tactless comments to artists about their creations. a couple of mantras i try to abide by here at ccM:

“if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.”

“if someone doesn’t ask, don’t tell them.”

early artists need encouragement, and most of the technical advice a seasoned mixer could provide would likely not even make sense yet. as artists grow and flourish through their experience here, they start asking for specific feedback. those are the artists that are really developing themselves.

there is a place for everyone here, and through our cooperative collaboration, we are always striving for new heights.

thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 
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permalink   Clarence Simpson Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 6:16 PM
And likewise thanks for your thoughts. :)

Good point on the early artists needing encouragement. The internet, in general, is not a nice place. So, having this oasis of nice people is definitely a boon to the new artist.

The policy of waiting for people to ask for advice is also a nice way to compromise between the newbie-friendliness and providing constructive criticism to those really seeking to improve. That makes sense.

I guess it’s really all about what this site/community wants to be - more like group lessons in music production or more like elementary school show-and-tell (and I don’t mean that derisively). Each have their own pros and cons of course, but it seems like ccMixter is much more of a show-and-tell site - a place where people can feel free to share whatever it is that they made without fear of being mocked or scorned. Fair enough, I can live with that. :)
fourstones
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permalink   Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 5:22 PM
I love this thread. Clarence, you rock.

Sorry for the self-reference but the gory details of the first 4 years of reviewing/rating are laid out in memoir.

Highlights (ymmv):

- I spent 4 years trying to convince everybody here that critical reviews were really important for the sake of the site. For anybody visiting the site that sees an upload with 10 recommends and nothing but rave reviews they would think the remix is awesome! Of course, many of these well-received tracks suck and I’m sure the site loses many first time visitors who will never come back to site. I failed at convincing anybody even when I backed that up with site statistics proving I was right. In this way, MC Jack is incorrect because it does hurt the site. The community here just rejected this way of thinking outright.

- I was extremely rigid about ad hominem attacks on people and we banned quite a few folks who didn’t get that. That added (a lot) to the “we’re just nice” feeling of the site.

- A few times after I left critical reviews the musician became so outraged that they ended up stalking me on the ‘net and my gmail inbox is still haunted, 3 years later, with the aftermath.

- I learned that most musicians here (maybe everywhere in the world) simply can not handle any critique whatsoever. None. They are all very, VERY sensitive and take everything, no matter how kindly couched, as a person affront and rude and insulting. So in this way MC Jack is exactly right - it benefits no one to get critical.

- I learned that even if the musician is cool with the critique this particular community will jump all over you (the reviewer) because they feel the need to “defend” the reviewee - again, even if the uploader is cool and understands your review’s intention (!)

In order to alleviate the first issue I created dig.ccmixter.org (that’s not the only reason it was created but definitely an important one).

In the end, if a vocal is harmonized “just plain wrong” I would say so, typically with something like “Love what you’ve done here but the fact that the vocal and backing track are in a different key distracted me from what would have been a great listen” - framing the problem as a “distraction” seemed to cushion the blow and satisfy my need to let the musician (and visitors) know that a problem has been identified.

(Regarding beat placements, I’m afraid I’m pretty guilty of this myself but in my case I can plead “experimentation” because I do hear the “1” but cut the track different anyway.)

Hopefully this historical perspective gives you some insight into how we got here. At the end of the day you and I will just have to accept 1) ccM is not any kind of “schooling” site at all and more of a “music dinner party” where it’s rude to comment in the negative at all and simply say “wonderful” for everybody’s effort and 2) never waiver from rule (1) even if it hurts the site in other ways.

Just to be clear, I love the site the way it is. These are relatively small picture issues in an overall great experience. iow I think whatever the process here looks like, it produces enough quality remixes to let all my “wish it were different” nits go.

Peace,
Victor
 
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permalink   Clarence Simpson Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 6:50 PM
Quote: fourstonesI spent 4 years trying to convince everybody here that critical reviews were really important for the sake of the site. For anybody visiting the site that sees an upload with 10 recommends and nothing but rave reviews they would think the remix is awesome! Of course, many of these well-received tracks suck and I’m sure the site loses many first time visitors who will never come back to site. I failed at convincing anybody even when I backed that up with site statistics proving I was right. In this way, MC Jack is incorrect because it does hurt the site. The community here just rejected this way of thinking outright.
Victor, you just made my day. :)

I have no problem with the community adopting this kind of stance, but it’s not exactly obvious that that’s what’s going on when you first visit. I couldn’t help but have a few moments of “Wait. Am I crazy?” when I would see praise heaped on songs that I hated time and time again. Knowing I’m not the only one makes me feel sane again.

Quote: fourstonesHopefully this historical perspective gives you some insight into how we got here. At the end of the day you and I will just have to accept 1) ccM is not any kind of “schooling” site at all and more of a “music dinner party” where it’s rude to comment in the negative at all and simply say “wonderful” for everybody’s effort and 2) never waiver from rule (1) even if it hurts the site in other ways.

Just to be clear, I love the site the way it is. These are relatively small picture issues in an overall great experience. iow I think whatever the process here looks like, it produces enough quality remixes to let all my “wish it were different” nits go.

Thanks also for the history lesson. And your music dinner party analogy echoes what I just said to snowflake.

Though I’m still very much a newbie here, I love ccM too. It’s been the best musical sharing/collaboration experience I’ve had in a long time. My issues, like you said, are very minor compared to the good that ccM provides. I plan on being here for a while.
 
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permalink   MC Jack in the Box Wed, Nov 3, 2010 @ 9:12 PM
I think as Victor points out, musicians in general have pretty thin skins. But I think part of this stems from a point of context, and who is delivering the criticism.

In real life, if one of my band mates tells me I wanked a note, or the drummer isn’t playing like a metronome, these are constructive criticisms that in that point of reference it’s fine (and still often leads to hurt feelings and confrontation).

Put in the context of working with a stranger’s source, which will no doubt deviate from the original, is tricky business. Hit or miss depending on the view of the source artist, and everyone else.

How does anyone feel being criticized by strangers with no point of reference. If Daniel Lanois told me my mixes suck, I’d probably ask him why, because he’s one of my idols. If some random new dude on ccmixter said the same thing, I’d probably just write them off. If someone on the site I know thought something was off or not right, I hope they’d be tactful and tell me in some form. Just recently, I worked with snowflake and there were technical issues with her vocal track. Come to find out, the issues were on her end and how she was bouncing down the track, and I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I didn’t want to tell her her track was all out of synch, I just cut it up and worked with it. Mostly because I appreciated the effort period. But she told me, not publicly but by email, that there were other pitch issues. We worked it out offline.

So I guess the best analogy I can give here is if someone at the party has a piece of spinach stuck in their teeth, do you yell it out across the room so everyone can hear, or do you let them know discretely?
 
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permalink   fourstones Thu, Nov 4, 2010 @ 1:18 PM
Quote: How does anyone feel being criticized by strangers with no point of reference

strictly for the sake of conversation: ccM should be enough of a point of reference - about 99% of reviewers have uploads and the majority of uploaders are reviewers with (hopefully) straightforward ways of looking up their history of reviews. How much context should you need?

Criticizing discretely would be perfect if this was a learning site but doesn’t address the problem of keeping first-time visitor bounce rates at a minimum.

Either way, your larger point is taken and for whatever reason musicians take it all personally (as a rule) and when they don’t, others take offense at the idea that don’t so it just isn’t worth it - certainly not in the context of ccM. It’s a shame, but really, I’m over it - at least by saying that over and over again I’m hoping I will be lol.
Abstract Audio
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permalink   Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 12:24 AM
Interesting topic to read, especially the history class provided by fourstones. Here is my 2 cents, something I missed so far:

Maybe a stupid view of me, but isn’t it so that a good review will gain in value when balanced out with some bad reviews?
One of the most anoying things about letting my music hear to most of my friends is that they say: “it’s good” when I ask for a critic review. It is there opinion and I love them for it (that’s why I make the music) but it’s not helpfull. And at some point you take it for granted. But when the ones that also give a bad review when it’s bad say “it’s good” I know it is good.
*** Topic deleted by author ***
 
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permalink   Snowflake Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 8:34 AM
Quote: colab
- I am more likely to share criticism for songs that I like - because I find myself thinking “this track would be perfect if only …”

Unless I’m really drunk, in which case all bets are off. :)


i agree. the songs that are really excellent but perhaps the vocal is a bit too high in the mix, or perhaps there is a little buzz that could be etched out with EQ, etc. - i am more likely to comment to those items.

as MCJ pointed, often times i will email an artist with comments for a more private discussion.

and as with you, some of my reviews are more free flowing and honest than others, depending on how late it is, and how much wine i’ve had :)
 
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permalink   Clarence Simpson Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 7:03 AM
Quote: Abstract AudioMaybe a stupid view of me, but isn’t it so that a good review will gain in value when balanced out with some bad reviews?
One of the most anoying things about letting my music hear to most of my friends is that they say: “it’s good” when I ask for a critic review. It is there opinion and I love them for it (that’s why I make the music) but it’s not helpfull. And at some point you take it for granted. But when the ones that also give a bad review when it’s bad say “it’s good” I know it is good.

I think this would be true… but it seems like the fact of the matter is that “review” on ccMixter is somewhat of a misnomer. Over my short time here I’ve come to think of “reviews” really as “comments” rather than true reviews. When I think of the word “review” I think of movie critics and product reviews where the reviewer is just as likely to tear something apart as praise it. Not so here. ccMixter reviews are much more like, as you said, asking for your friends’ opinions. If you think of ccMixter “reviews” as “comments” instead then it may help remove that expectation that reviews are someone’s true critical opinion.

Of course, if you really want the critical opinion you could always take snowflake’s advice and explicitly ask for it.
 
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permalink   Snowflake Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 8:37 AM
Quote: Clarence Simpson
Of course, if you really want the critical opinion you could always take snowflake’s advice and explicitly ask for it.


Happy to do so. Just remember, if you ask, don’t get upset if you don’t hear what you want to hear!

For the record, I welcome any critical feedback on my tracks (just use tact when sharing - hahah). :D
 
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permalink   Admiral Bob Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 8:46 AM
What no Simon Cowell “that was bollocks”? ;-)
 
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permalink   Snowflake Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 9:54 AM
hahaha. he can act like a dork. ;)
 
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permalink   Abstract Audio Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 2:02 PM
Little bit offtopic but in holland we finally have a talent show without all that nasty critism, the voice of… With a simple change to the standard formula the jury doesn’t see the artist but only hears the voice.
 
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permalink   Abstract Audio Fri, Nov 5, 2010 @ 1:57 PM
Quote: Clarence SimpsonOf course, if you really want the critical opinion you could always take snowflake’s advice and explicitly ask for it.

That was what I was thinking and will do in the future. Alltough I haste to say that every positive comment is as welcome and appreciated.

Let me ask all of you to don’t hasitate to share toughts on things that can be improved, constructive critism, or if needed a simple ‘this sounds like shit’. For one because those who have contributed to this topic will handle this with care and I’d really value (forgot the right word…) your comments. And two it’s the best way (for me) to learn.
vo1k1
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permalink   Sun, Nov 14, 2010 @ 8:01 AM
My FWIW ramble. I definitely use different sets of ears for different situations, be it for ccmixter or elsewhere. I usually pick them somewhat unconsciously, and usually triggered off what the explicit or implicit intent of the music is. That sounds all overly complicated in retrospect - but it’s like if I go to an indie theatrical show with bad sound but the intent is earnest, it usually wins me easily. But an overly slick production by boys with trust funds as they mime phish turns me off. Also, there are very definitely certain experimental genres that I adore and will listen to anything, and certain commercial genres where it just has never clicked and I find it hard to adapt to (though I have a wicked sweet tooth for commercial pop). Also, and I find this community specific, there are certain ccmixter artists where I’ve found that their off-the-grid, noncommercial, works have become secret sonic vacation spots for me. FWIW, another perspective from another’s distressed ears!
gurdonark
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permalink   Sun, Nov 14, 2010 @ 6:53 PM
When I first joined in 2005, my first uploads were easily among the most amateur the site has ever seen. Over the years I learned how to do some things, although there are some things I do not do well at all. A few things nowadays I do differently than others do, without it really being a “skills” thing—dissonance and microtonal scales are part of my music, which is not to everyone’s taste. So I can plead guilty to both amateur work and to odd work. Now, I see my music as a combination of the limitations of what I can do, and my own somewhat non-standard tastes in music. I rarely use beats, for example, but when I do, I often am perfectly happy to punch the first beat when the melody might call out for the second and fourth beat, because I like to aim into different territory.

I liked Victor’s comment a lot, because it is a good history of the site. His comment modestly understates how much good his early reviews did for this site. I can say this as one who got some blistering ones. They helped. In the early days, Victor and a couple of other folks used critical reviews without restraint. This was basically good for the site. At that time, a lot of commercial sites were begining to offer “upload your stuff here”, and it was very important that ccMixter be more than that. That era of critical reviews, though, had a mild homogenizing effect on the site, which over time has dissipated.

Although I am an editor at ccMixter, I find that I often would not have chosen this song or that as an editor’s pick. I don’t find bad songs getting edpicked, but I do find songs which are merely quite good but not exceptional are chosen. But that sort of thing is so much a personal choice.

I rarely edpick many songs, as I like to devote my attention to writing more detailed reviews. But there is not much doubt that this is a basically positive site in which people know one another, and you’re going to have the risk of praise which may exceed my own view of the “merit” of the work.

I try to take a positive tone, but also to point out things I might have done with a song different than the mixter chose to do. So I do try to offer my thoughts on a song, even if my thoughts involve a few things I might try differently.

I’ve been always noticed, too, that the site does not define the reaction my work gets outside the site. I follow pretty carefully what songs of mine end up on video (google video is great for this, and youtube has done good work on its search engines). Quite often what gets picked up in videos are things that did not get as many recommends as other things.

The reality is that the site does generate a lot of cool stuff, and mixter work appears in films, games, podcasts, and netradio. We sometimes arguably get a bit self-congratulatory, but that’s largely because we believe in sharing music and the people who do so.

So I say “great post, Clarence”, but also “yes, quality varies, and reviews can be a bit kind, but overall, the site does some amazing things”. I’m also delighted to say I’m rarely edpicked for the best reason—I rarely deserve it.

But never worry if you have a constructive criticism to make—but make it with kindness, I suggest.
Speck
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permalink   Wed, Dec 1, 2010 @ 4:17 AM
Clarence, my curiosity has got the better of me and I gotta ask. Is this the sort of thing you’re talking about?
 
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permalink   Clarence Simpson Wed, Dec 1, 2010 @ 5:13 AM
Haha… actually no. :)

Though I can see why you might think that since I didn’t respond to that at all. I haven’t had much time for ccM over the past 2 weeks and what little I had was spent focused on a new remix I haven’t posted yet. I try to listen and review stuff regularly, but I haven’t reviewed anything since Nov 17.

I kept telling myself “you need to remember to go review Speck’s song” but it kept slipping my mind. Sorry for that giving the wrong impression.

But for the record, no, that song is not what I was talking about in this thread. While it definitely has dissonant parts, it balances that with coherence that I can appreciate. I’ll save the rest of my thoughts for the actual review which I’ll go post now.

I’m not anti-dissonance, especially when done with tasteful restraint or for the purpose of generating tension.
 
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permalink   Speck Wed, Dec 1, 2010 @ 6:15 AM
Whew.
Abstract Audio
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permalink   Fri, Dec 3, 2010 @ 9:44 AM
Finding this topic back I do want to thank clarence for asking this question. I’ve changed my comments/reviews in something I didn’t dare to do before and had some good reactions on it aswell