**If you are interested in seeing a full breakdown of your score and you are not in one of my three review groups, please let me know via PM or comment!
There are five categories I judged you in. Each category was determined independently of each other, and the final result was a mathematical result of the determinations I made, so really, I put in my thoughts, and I get out a single number that is your score out of 10. The categories are weighted to add extra emphasis on more important categories. Below is a list of each category, the weight, and what it includes.
The quality of your sounds and recordings if sampled or live (less important), your mix's clarity (very important), the quality and depth of the mastering process, spatial positioning, balance, tasteful use of earcandy. I also include how well you use your samples- is it painfully obvious that is a 2xRR stacc violin? Do you use the 127 velocity of the horn ensemble in EWQLSO that has a 100 ms attack and sounds like shit? etc. If live performance, I include the tightness of your performance here. A top-rated production track sounds completely flawless and like it was recorded or produced in a professional studio and I could buy it on CD and not feel any regret.
The complexity and detail of your work, relative to your chosen genre/style, tasteful choice of chords, varied chord prog. and cadences, effective use of form (i.e. not repeating the same thing over and over again, having a contrasting B section), tasteful use of backgrounds and counterpoint if applicable, tasteful layering of front, mid, and back sounds. Things like tasteful ornaments, subtle counter-melodies, and award-winning melodies will have a large impact. I add bonus points here for songs that use lyrics that are well written. A top-rated composition track will make Bach turn red in envy and make my jaw hit the floor with your incredible detail and mastery of music-ing. A piece that is super complex but unclear or boring as a result will not receive many points.
Did your instrument or synth choices properly reflect the feel and style you were going for? Less focus on sound quality and more on the actual choice of instruments. I'm looking for use of texture, blending, zones, layering, arpeggios, using different instrument families, having variation in the synths/instruments that are present with the melody, and how well you used each synth/instrument. Extra points if you perform parts live, with focus on the tone and timbre of the instrument or vocals and if they match the music (i.e. blasting trumpet is a no no on quiet sad song, quiet trumpet is a no no on a loud blasting song during blasting part). For orchestral songs, I also look for traditional orchestration techniques and practices- use of texture, function, and balance. A top-rated track in this category will have all the instruments required in the genre/style chosen, and if adds others, uses them tastefully and appropriately.
It is okay if your piece "sounds like you" (in fact, that's a good thing). What I am more concerned about is if your piece sounds like every other piece I hear in this genre (i.e. your cinematic music sounds like exactly what I would expect for cinematic music and has no remarkable features other than that), as well as if your piece's content, both melodic and harmonic, felt trite and boring. I rewarded pieces that also presented innovative approaches, such as sampling household items, or pieces that presented innovative combinations of genres that worked. Note that if you are innovative and it sucks, you will not gain extra points here. A top-rated originality track presents an innovative method of either blending ideas or elaborating on an existing genre to create a personalized sound and touch that stands apart from the rest.
This category is kinda a 2-for-1 sort of thing. Part of this is straight up how much I like listening to your piece as an end user. Is it tolerable? Does it hurt my ears? Does it feel good? The other part is if it conveys any meaning or emotion (or if it is supposed to and does not). If you write a happy song about bears dancing with hot girls on clouds, I want to be grinning so wide you will mistake me for the Joker. A top rated interest track will have my foot tapping the floor so hard it shatters and have so much feeling I cry out all the water in my body and turn into a mummy.
Now, I'd like to talk a bit about what I think about when I am judging.
I'll admit, I unfortunately am not a sadist. I am, however, brutally honest. In this contest, I'm not just comparing your pieces to you, I am comparing your pieces to industry standards and professional recordings/compositions, and not just in production values. I want the person who wins this contest to be the kind of guy who will go on to score the next big game or record a big album. I want the people who don't win to want to be that guy, so I've decided to be honest and exacting in my grading. I reward creativity. I reward your best ever effort. I do not reward tracks that feel like the same quality and depth of detail as all of your other tracks.
If you are a good composer, I expect a brilliant, 5-star composition that will leave me cold, hungry, and rocking back and forth like a baby wanting to quit music and go do underwater basket weaving for my career. If you are good at synthesis, I expect you to build your pads by hand or even crazy stuff like formulas and not just use presets. If you are decent but learning, I expect something that pushes beyond what your best existing peice has achieved.
All this may sound hard, but really, that's how the real world works. When you pick up a scoring job, they don't say "I want you to really not try at all and just spit out a bunch of your normal fare." Even if they don't say it out loud, their thoughts and actions say "I want you to dedicate yourself to making this score the best you can possibly make it." This is the same with people working as artists- the label doesn't want NORMAL. They want INSANELY EPICLY AWESOME. Pieces that can capture and bring people along with them for the ride that is their duration.
IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT GENRE OR STYLE YOU CHOOSE. I WILL JUDGE YOU SOLEY BASED ON YOUR ABILITY COMPARED TO PROFESSIONALS AND ROLE MODELS IN THAT GENRE OR STYLE.
Remember: I'm proud of everyone who has made it through the open round. This is an insanely hard contest. I myself have never made it past the first round with the exception of the time I worked with Bosa. If I give you a low score, it does NOT mean you suck. It means I expected and hoped for more from you, for greater, for more emotion and more energy put in to the work. This is not Throw It Together: The Contest. This is a deathmatch, which means I want strangling and teeth and hair ripping, not just little pushes and shoves. ;)
Your insane judge,