NGADM 2014 is Ovah!

2014-11-05 00:40:57 by samulis
Updated

The NGADM has concluded, and it's been a great deal of fun. There were TONS of AMMAZZING entires and I am honored to have gotten to judge this year. I'd just like to address a few points quickly about the aftermath:

  1. My scores and reviews are picky. They follow specific criteria and a formulaic approach to rating pieces and are not purely a matter of personal reckoning; they are numerical analogies of how well your piece used the aspects that form all music. No hard feelings, no personal vendetta, just "here's your piece" and "here's where it could be and how". No, I don't judge this hard when I'm just writing reviews for funzies.
  2. Reviews are coming soon. If you are missing a review for a round or a song from me, don't fret, I will be working on them this week as I can.
  3. No, I will likely not be judging next year. Aside from me having horrible work ethics, the activity of having to nitpick other people's work when I know how hard even polite critique can be to swallow. Plus, I wanna compete next time. ;)
  4. Tongs are good.

Bai.

P.S. For anyone interested, here's an example of my rubric I used for judging:

Rubric Example


Comments

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TroisnyxTroisnyx

2014-11-05 03:22:59

Horrible work ethics? At least in my mind you did what you could -- early on, preparing for college would've been a struggle. Go easy on yourself, for unlike us participants, you especially deserve it. I mean, having been involved for this long. ^_-

samulis responds:

Thanks Trois. I try to go easy on myself, but it's hard when there's a lot to get done. ;)


PhonometrologistPhonometrologist

2014-11-05 12:50:46

Not picking on you, but you’re telling me that you found a mathematical/scientific way for analyzing music without the use of any personal preference, opinion, feelings, or intuition on how a listener perceives judges a creative work? Granted that the process is based on a formulaic approach to how you calculate each category consisting of production, originality, interest, and etc., but what you’re really doing is taking a mathematical approach in calculating each category of your own subjectivity within each category. Just saying that your statement isn’t entirely true as the root of it still boils down to how you interpret a piece rather than it being entirely outside of yourself. There can be some practical ways of judging production and the arrangement, but when it comes to interest, it cannot be said to have been judged without the above mentions of opinion/feeling.

However, I still love the approach that you took in judging this contest, and if the contest continues next year, I would like someone else to take up the mantle of your same formulaic approach. This is a good way of going about it for the sake of balancing the overall score of the other judges.
I will also say that your take on it has been fun and informational to read. :) Thank you for your hard work and effort.

samulis responds:

Well, 15% of the total score IS more or less personal preference. It's not that intuition isn't there at all, it's more that it's balanced so that my personal tastes don't go and mess with the scores I give more than I believe they should (if that sentence makes any sense...).

In reality, as you point out, every element of the score is still personal taste via comparison with "ideals" in the aspects of production, composition, etc. While I tried to remain as objective as possible, that becomes a bit more challenging when you bring in all the different elements of genre. I think I might go edit the newspost to make that point more clear.

Perhaps the biggest struggle with that is, does a trope help define a genre or is it a side-effect of working in a genre? Is a good orchestral track one that has blasting French horns that sound cool but wouldn't work in real life or is that a side-effect of using sample libraries? What are "tasteful chord choices" in the context of house music versus jazz music? Figuring out not just where, but how to draw the line for categories was my biggest struggle, and it led me to create a rubric so that the lines could be as clear as possible (I'll post it up in the newspost above). There's a lot of discussion that can and I think should go on with regards to judging process.

I also hope someone takes up an objective, component-based approach for next year. I have always appreciated it when people broke down their exact thought process behind their review/score and I hope it was helpful for this. It was just a bit too much for me... it feels hard giving scores you don't want to give to people who you wish you didn't have to give them to, especially when that score is low and they are someone you are on good terms with.


PhonometrologistPhonometrologist

2014-11-05 15:13:24

And I have always appreciated those that despite the potential backlash, they still choose to speak the truth about their personal convictions when it comes to music even if I wouldn’t necessarily agree. It isn’t easy to give low scores as you have mentioned, but it is a very respectable and courageous thing to do as opposed to pretend in order to please. That shows for integrity of the judging process.
All those questions are great to think about! Does a trope help define a genre, or is it a side-effect of working within a genre? I would think that the trope existed before the genre and it merely became one because of the admirers learning to practice by mimicking. As a judge for a contest though, does it bring a positive or negative to the score? Perhaps when it is done well enough as to strike interest, but it certainly doesn’t help in the creativity aspect of it. I guess it depends on the objective in the first place. Personally I think the most important aspect of how well a piece is created is by how well it moves or communicates to the listener, and how often you can return to it afresh, but, that approach to why I listen to music differs from why others listen, I’m sure. But every choice to why one thinks a piece is done well has to be defended rationally and given a clear explanation. Hence why I think your approach works well. Just wanted to state it for what it is. Perhaps that will encourage others. People can’t expect that their music will be liked by everyone. Perhaps for some, their music will only be an esoteric kind of sound. Is that really a bad thing?

samulis responds:

My think-blob hurts. :P

For me, tropes are acceptable in a piece, but a purely tropish piece will earn, at most, a score in the 80s. For a piece to truly excel, it can (and should) embrace tropes, but also learn to build upon those, vary them, and the creator should "make them their own". Similarly, drawing upon tropes from different fields and combining them in a "pleasing" way also garners points.

Generally for me, things that set a track apart = good; things that make a track sound like every other track in that style/genre/feel = bad.

But I could definitely see how someone would disagree with that personally.