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Trading Places



 Genre: Acoustic

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This is what "Ditty," as an initial sketch, has so-far evolved into.

What you're hearing is a rendering from the open source music-scoring software, "MuseScore," rendered using the TimGM6mb.sf2 soundfont. Since this software gives only marginal ability to adjust things (putting the Marimba and the Vibes in two different sides of the room, for instance), please consider and critique the song as a piece of music, and what you're hearing as a demo, not as a recording (mixing, levels, and so on).

Also: although everything in this piece is "hand-drawn," both the drum and the bass parts are simple ... a lot of copy-and-paste here ... because I am neither a bassist nor a drummer. But I would love to hear from players of all of these instruments.

The thought behind the piece is that the two main instruments, Marimba and Vibes, are constantly "trading places" throughout. It tries to be doing something just a little bit different throughout the thing while retaining an element of repetition. Parts are melodic; parts are driven by rhythm. And there are problems... The transition to the "C"-part is, I admit, rather abrupt right now, just dropping right into the bass solo without any preamble.

I would love to hear technical critiques of the song structure and composition, as well as your general impressions. Point to the "hh:mm" of particular things you're specifically referring to so I can find them.

(c) Copr. 2011. Enjoy it. Don't sell it.
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Song Stats
Hits: 3417
Comments: 36
Fans: 16
Plays: 170
Downloads: 69
Votes: 2
Uploaded: Sep 07, 2011 - 04:40:48 PM
Last Updated: Sep 07, 2011 - 04:40:48 PM Last Played: Mar 02, 2019 - 03:33:24 PM
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MuseScore (http://www.musescore.org) ... excellent tool ...
hackneybloke said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
trading places
the eagerly awaited mikerobinson first song. so they finally let you in then....i wonder what they were deliberating over - there's definitely nobody else on here like you as far as i can make out. maybe that's what took them so long.....mob mentality 'n' all that. this isn't at all what i was expecting....i thought you'd be one of those rock dudes. this is quirky and camp. technically i think it would be interesting to hear it done by real instruments, but even in its current form it's got its own style going on. don't sell it? ok....promise :)
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MikeRobinson said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
How could I be a rocker...
... if my avatar is a calico cat?   ;-)

I would like to write music in several different genres over time, but rock music is always going to be one in which the particulars of the performance and of the recording/mixdown/mastering are crucial ... and, well beyond my knowledge at this point. (I've heard what Sil-VER can do to a recording!)

I suspect that those of you who just came from Ditty would be surprised at this piece. (Heck, I'm somewhat surprised at how it came out.) It wasn't all easy going, to be sure. Many "trips to the woodshed" on this one.
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MarkHolbrook said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
I like how this evolved
I personally feel that the vibes have just a wee bit too much echo on them. They sound great but muddy it up a bit.

Enjoyed this!
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MikeRobinson said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
You're absolutely right... they do... but...
... this is merely the rendering which MuseScore produces. I figured out a little bit about setting levels and putting instruments more into one "pot" than the other, but there's just not an extraordinary amount of control (that I know how to do, anyway) about the final acoustics of what comes out. Reverb and chorus can both be adjusted, and these are strictly the defaults.
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alackbass said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
Trading Places
I love the piece. Very playful and constantly moving. I'm a big fan of mallet instruments and they work very well in this. I like the bass line although I do think it sounds very synthy compared to the mallets. I wondered as I listened how a realistic tuba sound would add to the piece.

Excellent post and welcome to MJ.
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MikeRobinson said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
Wanna add a tuba?
Apparently I can't go back and change "no derivatives" after-the-fact, but if anyone wants to add a part to this thing or remix it or collab it or what-have-you I'm very interested. (PM me.)

No doubt, the bass-line is very "synthy." It sounds like keyboard wanting to be a string instrument. Doesn't really feel like a true bassist would instinctively know how to play it. A bassist would also have a much better version of the C-part and a much more inventive segue into it. Ditto the drums. Would love to know how both that and the drum-line could be improved upon. (All I know about drumming I learned from my steering wheel...) Real players welcome.

There is, of course, a tuba in this soundfont, but I have zero idea how a tuba would be played. Obtaining the proper sound is really less than half the battle.
Check out my latest song called It Must Be A Christmas Song
J.A.Stewart said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
Who Let This Guy In?!!!

LOL! An official welcome to you, Mike. :)

I always find it fascinating to witness musical minds who haven't found their way to an instrument and yet who find a way to bring their musical ideas to life — either with the pencil tool, or "hand-drawn," as you put it.

I'll look forward to hearing as your musical adventures develop. Best of luck. ;)

--- Joe
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VicDiesel said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
No comments about the mix
(except that everything sounds like it happens in the next room down the hall.)

Intriguing piece. Cool idea to use vibes & marimba. The bass instrument sounds a bit like it wants to be a real instrument. You might as well use something synthetic, or a better sample. The drums are too intermittent for my taste. Lose them altogether?

The melody parts are great. After listening through this twice I still couldn't whistle the melody , but there is a definite unity to the parts. Enjoyed.
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drakonis said 2965 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
Here it is!
Hey, you added a bass line, and sparsified the drums, excellent. I know you said not to critique the "mix", but unfortunately the mix is a little "muddy" and interferes a little with my ability to hear the overall music (as Vic says, it is "down the hall in another room." :-) But the actual music itself has this lyrical jazzy swagger that is quite appealing. Great fun to listen to, musically... reminds me a tiny bit of some ancient "Fantasy Computer Game" music by legendary composer Bjorne Lynne.

The bass-line seems a little meandering... perhaps a little more rhythmic/melodic repetition there would help the cohesion of the piece?

This is indeed quite a leap from the little twigs of "ditty" behind the woodshed, this is a cord of wood in comparison! (pun intended.)

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Symphony101 said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Very nice work !
I'm not a confirmed bass player and I actually program drums parts on my projects (similar to using a score program) and to summarize it, I'm a real musical barbarian :-) So I'm afraid I won't be able to provide specific technical insights or opinion. I very much enjoyed listening to your work, I like the melodies you built and overall I sounded to me like everything was well in place. Very much enjoyed the listen, and I hope you'll be posting more. Welcome to MJ BTW !
Check out my latest song called Standing On The Brink (w/ Mosaica)
Symphony101 said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Oh, I meant
"overall IT sounded to me like everything was well in place"

Sorry it's too early in the morning yet :-)
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jk1986 said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Trading Places
this could be in a movie or something
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Doug Somers said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Interesting to hear the development from Ditty to this interpretation. First let me say I like it and I like the ideas you have to make it more than the sketch.

You specifically asked for some feedback so here goes:
Much of the piece is percussive even if tuned percussive. It might be interesting to contrast that with something more flowing and legato - for instance, you could change the bass to a bass fiddle, tuba as alackbass mentioned, or slower attack bass synth to have even more of a long flowing countermelody to the vibes.

The other thing that struck me (and warning: I am either a minimalist or throw in the whole shebang kind of composer so this is more about my taste than your art) that the simple setting of Ditty was in some ways more appealing - to me anyway. I wondered why, and I think that the added layer of the drums didn't add to what I thought you were able to achieve with the other instruments. The one that stood out the most was the snare, and I wondered what it would sound like without it. Maybe keep the kick as it sets time. You could experiment with the cymbals, toms etc and see what effect it has to simplify the piece. May work, may not, and as I said, this is more my taste than a rule for good composing.

I do like the playfulness of the two vibes and how they dance together or around each other. The ending is really good, crisp and clean. The overall feel of the piece is like a bit of fun amongst sombre spaces.

Thanks, and again, welcome!


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MikeRobinson said 2964 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Excellent suggestions
Neither Ditty nor Trading Places is truly finished yet. (Is music ever “truly finished?”)

I think that the next thing to do will be to take Ditty, minus the snare-track which should have been omitted anyway, and try to capture the “light and happy” feel that Tobin spoke of below, along with perhaps a passage through the more “somber spaces” sonority. The ending ... yes, I rather like the way that turned out, although it was quite the “trip to the woodshed” to get it.

Time to get out yet another sheet of electronic note-paper and see what else the muse might bring. Thank you (all...) most sincerely for the good and constructive comments.
Check out my latest song called It Must Be A Christmas Song
Char said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
It reminds me
of Animusic. And, I liked it. Thank you.
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Saltaireguru77 said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Trading places
Well worth the wait!
Looking forward to more Mike!
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TobinMueller said 2965 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Interesting variations
Comparing this to the original sketch, this is far more meandering, intellectual, and complex. Its fun, but I think the original is more fun in its simplicity and balance. If this is designed to be a marimba piece meant to highlight someone's marimba playing, then this piece does a better job presenting a format for craft and talent to shine through. But I missed the sense of repetition, expectation, clear melody, balanced melodic structure. I'd also use less reverb. In the B section, consider varying the rhythmic nature of the bass line, making it more syncopated, to give it slightly more of a jazz feel. If the C section is what starts at :45, I like that transition. It begins a new, yet related, statement. But then at 1:02, when the bass is highlighted, the piece seems to lose focus. If you want the bass to take over there, consider driving it more with a melodic soloist's flare, again more syncopation and jazz player feel, and perhaps some bends and finger articulations to give the sense of a real player.
This is still a fun track, and very competently composed and arranged, and perhaps more interesting, but I found it less pleasing than the original draft, which had an innocence and simplicity that struck me as light and happy. The original would work as a soundtrack draft.
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MikeRobinson said 2964 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
/me nods ...
Yes, as time passes, it sounds to me like this piece as it stands right now reflects too-much its computerized origins by being “slave to the metronome.” The underlying beat does not vary, and I think that this is especially noticeable when the “I wanna be a bass part except I don’t play bass” part comes in. The percussions do nice things in there, I think, “dah-dah-DAH-DAH-KAPOW!” ... but the would-be soloist is really just doing more or less the same thing he’s always been doing.

I think that this also reveals my utter inexperience as a composer, because without that underlying (and unvarying) rhythmic structure provided by the bass and drums, I’m afraid the darned thing would just wander away.   Which is most likely just what I should do:   turn off the bass and drum tracks and listen to the thing over and over again to see what else is in there, waiting to come out.   I should do the same with Ditty, and of course I will.

They are two very different tracks, and I like them both so-far and in their own different way. Of course I'll continue to develop both. This song is more-or-less what came out when one motive “(Bonk! Bonk!)” superimposed on the melodic opening of Ditty and the two went from there. But the sweet childishness of Ditty was pushed aside in the process, and the lack of true jazzy improvisation remains evident in this one. There is definitely a lack of melodic variation in this one. Even though there is a sort-of change of key in the midsection, it's not as effective as it should be.
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MikeRobinson said 2964 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
oh.. and I am ...
... my own worst “critic.”   :-)   But that's the way you learn, I think. Put it together, tear it apart, and put it together again. “How else can this puzzle be assembled,” and so on. Because I have already noticed that, when “it” happens, it is always a surprise.
Check out my latest song called It Must Be A Christmas Song
neilh79 said 2964 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Trading Places
I think you have hit this on the head. Kind of a circus feel to me (in a good way). Enjoyed well done
apb said 2963 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
I have...
very little point of reference (eg. Patrick Moore- an eccentric Brit astronomer that also on occassion played (extremely well) on the old mallets) for this kind of music. I can only thinks of "sounds" and I enjoyed this quite intricate piece overall and thought (like Andy) the synth bass part could be a tuba.. for me it seemed to start out with a renaissance classical vibe/playful court jester (could be taken as a fairground/circus/carnival too).. then about half way, or around 01:00, I started to wonder if it was the same.. but backwards...also taking your Ying/Yang pic into consideration.. the feel changed totally and it sounded more random/sporadic... ending was a bit cheesy imho: run, run overlay, pause.. "da".
Anyways.. what do I know.. welcome (finally) to the jams Mike!
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apb said 2963 days ago (September 9th, 2011)

loved the diligent use of italics Don't be so hard on yourself ;o)
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Vic Holman said 2963 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Trading Places
nice piece, the melody ii really like, it holds together nicely
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SomeMadGirl said 2960 days ago (September 12th, 2011)
Char took the words out of my mouth!
I was thinking Animusic the whole time! Love those marimbas, well I must since I put marimbas in my most recent song. (Which, coincidentally, my husband told me reminded him of Animusic just yesterday!!) That is too much coincidence for one day, my brain is overloading. :)
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MikeRobinson said 2957 days ago (September 15th, 2011)
I'm afraid I don't even know what "animusic" is.

However, I will be quick to say that I admire your work very much.
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Doadars Uncle said 2957 days ago (September 15th, 2011)
Really enjoyable!
It's got a real lively sense to it. Nicely done!
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papag said 2949 days ago (September 23rd, 2011)
Twice through
It keeps growing on me. Got me in a few mood moments.

Thanks for the download :)
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DWL said 2926 days ago (October 17th, 2011)
Sorry I missed this.
A very interesting piece. Almost freeform in its construction.

Nice playing. I thought it lost a bit of direction towards the end with the tuba (?) section but my interest was held throughout the piece.

Clever work.


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Philip18 said 2818 days ago (February 1st, 2012)
Trading places
No doubt the clarity of the sounds can be improved, but the music is fun! Light, lively, a touch robotic. Agree with Dick about the tuba, but I did enjoy listening!
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Monkaton said 2793 days ago (February 27th, 2012)
Good Vibes
I don't have a big problem with the sound of the piece. I'm sure it could use some tweaking here and there, but it is enjoyable. I like the breaks and vibe solos.

Good job.

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paul f. page said 2425 days ago (March 1st, 2013)
I like
the quick little runs that pop up now and again. I also like the general feeling of serious counterpoint between your bass instrument (whatever it is) and the xylophone. There are, it seems to me, pretty much just a very few general chords you've employed in this short track. I'd suggest moving around a bit more so that there is more variety in the harmonic area. Also, in my head I can hear a solo instrument soaring out of all the movement below it and creating a "singing melody" that has structure and purpose. Even a sudden key change (higher) would add a great deal more interest to what you already have, and it would lengthen the track and give you time do develop your initial solo melody even more. Just some thoughts. Maybe they will be useful as you think more about this piece.
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Llarion said 2231 days ago (September 10th, 2013)
I just dicovered MuseScore too
This is nice work! I don't use it for rendering, just scoring parts for my horn/wind players, but it's super powerful and easy. Fun piece, how long did it take you to do? I'm really slow in it...
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MikeRobinson said 2229 days ago (September 12th, 2013)
It sure does sound different, two years later and in decent headphones ...
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mr_mordenus said 2226 days ago (September 15th, 2013)
Robots In A Coffee Shop
Why do I see robots in a backstreet coffee shop, Just chilling back, jamming with some synthetic buddies and relaxing in the groove?

Wonderful moment of magic.
VicDiesel said 2166 days ago (November 14th, 2013)
Fun piece. I've used MuseScore for writing, but haven't tried getting a sounding result out of it yet. This is nifty.
Check out my latest song called Frippery
woofer3 said 2146 days ago (December 5th, 2013)
Trading Places
Very easy and pleasant to listen to.I must investigate 'Muse Score' as well, looks interesting. I'm not sure if I can give constructive criticism as this is so very different from the music I write myself. This is quite modern in comparison to my own instrumental music. I do think that perhaps an instrument with a shorter decay like a piano may be an improvement which would allow some nice counter melodies in the lower regions to be played. I think the vibe's overtone tends the cloud things a little. I can imagine the notes G-Eb-D-C [sixteenths] being played with and below the main melody of C-D-Eb - that sort of thing, but in using vibes there would be a tendency for the notes to overlap - [I think] just my opinion.
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Name: Mike Robinson
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I'm a computer consultant by trade and maybe more than a little bit a "music geek." I'm very interested in what makes music "tick." I've read through Jimmy Webb's "TuneSmith" at least four times including the hard theoretical parts. (I don't say t... [see more]

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