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Forums » Lounge » Effective Criticism

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Just one thing.. never insult the artist or their intelligence or start complaining about music you yourself don't write or listen too. Above all don't comment something that's going to degrade the opinions of others. Manners... it's all about etiquette, maybe house or potty mouth training too.

Don Ficzere
A Songwriter in Ontario Canada, writes:
Constructive criticism... Hmmmm, let me see... No, I think I'll start with getting "pulled down" first, because that's what usually happens to me whenever I'm in the process of writing or recording new stuff... (I live in an apartment) "Give up that god-awful racket!" or "Quit playing that crappy song!" - Is the type of feedback I get around the house when I'm trying to work. It's hard enough to get the time to be constructive, let alone all of the distractions in between. You can expect that sort of stuff if you're trying to work in the wrong environment, like HOME. Everyone around the house is used to your singing the same line over and over until you get it right - and it can drive them nuts. What you have to remember here is that family and/or room mates will not hesitate to give you a hard time about what you're doing, especially if you're annoying the hell out of them. This will always result in negative feedback/criticism. It is usually not directed at your song, it's directed at you personally. (That's another story) Point being: find a place where you can work privately, so you can't be interrupted and "pulled down" all the time. If people keep telling you your songs are crap, soon enough you might just start to believe it. As for constructive criticism, I get my best constructive criticism from OTHER SONGWRITERS AND MUSICIAN FRIENDS because they are a little more in tune with what I am trying to accomplish. These people may or may not be biased, but at least you get quality input that you can use to enhance your songs.

Aeroren
A writer and artist from New York, writes:
"Pulling you down" is when someone makes comments without offering any help or hope for your efforts. Constructive criticism is a critique with suggestions for improvement. For some people, even constructive criticism is hard to take. It's really tough to put something that means a lot to you out on display for others to pick apart. But an english teacher of mine once said "You can not fall in love with your words" which meant that you shouldn't be so "in love" with your work that you are not willing to be flexible. 'Cause great work comes from being flexible and learning to accept others' opinions without taking it too personally. For me, one way that is great to get constructive criticism without any pressure, is to play songs for friends and see which ones they ask to hear over and over again.

Alton Rex
A Performing Songwriter from Austin, Texas, writes:
I find the best criticisms contain specifics. I hear folks say things like 'your stress pattern in verse 2 line 2 deviates from V1L2... and often I hear folks tell me to 'show' not 'tell' in my lyric... to draw pictures rather than tell a single story. That kind of input I can make good use of... the critic who simply shrugs or says "I don't like XYZ" doesn't really help me. As to 'putting you down'... I think there certainly are folks who will do that, and I've seen some of them be particularly harsh... but the thing to remember in these situations is they only have the power you yourself give them. If you are looking for approval or acceptance in a critique, you are there for the wrong reason. If you are trying to make your song, lyric or performance better, a critique can help. I personally refuse to take criticism of my work personal. It's not about ME... it's about the song. At the same time, if I observe someone being critical of folks simply to put them down, I look for other folks to associate with in the future. This thing we do is hard enough without having to deal with knuckleheads.

Crissie Morgan
A lil bit country, lil bit metal, writes:
It depends on their attitude, the way they say it. If they say "Well this chorus absolutely sucks" without anything further, I consider that "pulling you down." But if they say something like "Well the chorus isn't too good, but maybe if you try this instead..." That is constructive criticism. They're giving their opinion of what they hear and then giving an idea to follow through with to help make it better rather than leaving you feeling dejected and not knowing how to fix the problem. I get the best constructive criticism from my friends because they aren't the kind to kiss up, they tell you what they think when it comes to music without being too harsh, but still being honest. Otherwise, finding other people that don't know you that, like the style of music and having them take a listen and asking them what they like or don't like can be useful.

Sam Macmillan
A Welsh self-unaware over-analytical teenager struggling to figure it all out, writes:
Constructive criticism is, for me, telling me not only why the didn't like the song, but what about it they didn't like and how I could make it better. I get the ebst constructive criticism from e-mail groups of songwriters. On the other hand, songwriters tend to overanalyse songs and many like songs they read to be written to a specific formula, which may work, but annoys me. So then I ask my friends what the liked, didn't like, and how I could make it better. They may be bias, but at least they're not snobbish.
Latest Song: James Bond Theme
Artist Page Send Message Sep 15, 2008 | 10:08 pm
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Link below 'dovetails' nicely into this thread...

http://www.icompositions.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=63408#63408
Latest Song: Dandelion (edit)
Artist Page Send Message Nov 16, 2008 | 12:07 pm
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honestly ..didnt read the whole thing but I agree a 100 percent on the fact that a positive comment becomes useless if we dont also give constructive criticism...but you do find quite a lot of people asking for it...and when they do they usually do get effective suggestions...not about taste in music but only how to make it SOUND better...if I cant stand the song im listening to for example I'll feel bad if I actually say anything so I wont..if I feel that the song sounds listenable...even if it wasnt doing much for ME I wont exaggerate but I'll at least know its nice enough to listen to and I believe most people here do the same....I think it all comes down to the artist if he/she is smart enough to figure out HOW to read the comments...if not and they want direction they'll ASK for it or LOOK for it!!...Lots of intelligent and clever people on this site!..
I'll read the rest later! Smile
peace!
Latest Song: Catching Cloud
Artist Page Send Message Dec 07, 2008 | 4:38 pm
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oh so everything is been said already...hahha...

cool of you guys to post this Smile
Latest Song: Catching Cloud
Artist Page Send Message Dec 07, 2008 | 4:42 pm
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you hit a lot of nails on a lot of heads, i think...

it is true that a lot of overly positive comments can inspire confidence, which is a good thing usually... but at times the whole comment system seems watered down with praise, like you said

one idea would be to enable anonymous comments. i really don't think it could hurt much since malicious comments are not allowed. i definitely think a lot more constructive criticism would be the only result.

a poetry site i used to post on has anonymous comments enabled and it is quite useful when you have something to say, but don't want your opinion to be judged based on works you have created, which is what stops a lot of people here, i think

basically the "if i leave a good comment, my standing here will be more positive, and my songs will be looked at with a positive bias" type of mentality
Latest Song: Back On Track
Artist Page Send Message Jan 14, 2009 | 3:53 am
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TripleCamp wrote:

basically the "if i leave a good comment, my standing here will be more positive, and my songs will be looked at with a positive bias" type of mentality


I agree with what Triplecamp said. I am very new to this site, so maybe I have no right to have a major opinion yet...but in regard to the comments system, I've heard songs that I would like to leave some constructive criticism. But after reading all the gushing positive feedback the song received, I feel confused and out of place leaving something that may come across as negative.

So far to me, the overall feel of iCompositions has been one of positiveness. Like a group therapy where everyone is applauded. Which I think is great and wonderful. At the same time, it leaves me wondering how to handle writing any sort of criticism. Personally I love and appreciate getting it, and if it's useful/productive, I will use it to become a better musician. But here I feel like I may step on people's toes, or ruin the overall atmosphere. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Should I not feel like that?

...Sorry, I'm done! Smile
Latest Song: Letting Go
Artist Page Send Message Jan 14, 2009 | 9:30 pm
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LOL Elucian, stick around, there are plenty of folks who will give critiques, especially if you ask on your tune for feedback. Granted there are lot of folks who want to listen and enjoy what they hear. Nothing wrong with that. I've done that a bunch myself. There's lots of good music here. Smile When you see artists who will critique, go check out their stuff and hopefully they'll do the same for you.
Latest Song: Lockdown (OTT)
Artist Page Send Message Jan 15, 2009 | 2:12 am
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People like different things. if you have some constructive criticism, give it. If everyone is gushing praise, but you think the mix is off, feel free to say so. The trick is how you say it. You can say, "I CAN'T BELIEVE everyone is gushing praise! It's so obvious that you can't sing -- get someone else to sing it for you. And the major chords in this should all be sevenths. And your momma wears combat boots."

Or, you can say, "This sounds pretty cool. I think the lyrics you wrote are fun. Your vocals are pitchy to my ears, though --you can probably practice and do some breath control exercises or something to keep improving. Also, try turning the major chords you've written into sevenths to get a whole different feel in the song; I think you'll like it -- or not Smile . (If you need any info on chords, feel free to private message me; I have some links to tutorial websites you might like!)"
Latest Song: The Dice Guys Theme
Artist Page Send Message Jan 15, 2009 | 1:15 pm
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I had a piano instructor who used to give me report cards and the way it was done was very effective in terms of criticism. He would critique his students in the following way, three simple headers:

1. These parts were outstanding.
2. This parts were adequate.
3. These parts need some improvement.

I think this is a good way to review any performance and it avoids hurting one's feelings.
Artist Page Send Message Jan 15, 2009 | 8:12 pm
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For me the bottom line is simple.
If you don't want to hear what people think about your music don't post it for everyone to hear.
We all have the right to speak our minds on what we think of a tune or song, some people don't know how to express them self's in daily life and those same people will have a problem doing the same on iComps.
Never be afraid to speak your mind though, if you think a tune is bad, say why you think so, you have an opinion, it's your right to have one.
Keep your opinion clear, factual, and as honest as your ears will allow you.

That's all I ever try to do to others.

AND, try not to get so attached to your own creation that you loose sight of what others see in it.
Artist Page Send Message Feb 23, 2009 | 6:13 pm
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Are you a teacher? Do you really have the credentials to make constructive critical remarks or are you really a critic that wishes he /she had 1% the talent you have. I don't know. I see many questionable constructive comments out there. And when I go to that artists page who made a comment like this I see questionable talent.

If one is going to make a constructive critical remark make very sure the artist requested it and if not find out all about the artist first because what your criticizing may be what the artist wants to create.

Obvious technical matters are opinion too.

I remember listening to a song and found dam he has a tun of reverb and fx on his vocals, so before I made any comment I checked his other songs and profile to see how long he was a member. He was a member for a few years, would you not think that by now he would know the correct amount of reverb on his own song? Well yes, He probably thought his vocals were not that good and decided to do what he did. Ok! That makes sense. Well I am not going to be critical of it because of the circumstance.

Ron
Latest Song: The Completeness
Artist Page Send Message Feb 24, 2009 | 8:35 am
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your growth as a musician is commensurate with your ability to listen to constructive criticism.
Artist Page Send Message Feb 24, 2009 | 10:09 am
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mdestiny wrote:
Are you a teacher? Do you really have the credentials to make constructive critical remarks or are you really a critic that wishes he /she had 1% the talent you have.


Please define what credentials you believe are necessary before you're allowed to express a constructively phrased opinion about someone else's song.

I'd really like an answer because lots of people say this and, so far, no-one's come up with a justification.

-Eido
Artist Page Send Message Feb 24, 2009 | 2:51 pm
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Eidolonia wrote:
mdestiny wrote:
Are you a teacher? Do you really have the credentials to make constructive critical remarks or are you really a critic that wishes he /she had 1% the talent you have.


Please define what credentials you believe are necessary before you're allowed to express a constructively phrased opinion about someone else's song.

I'd really like an answer because lots of people say this and, so far, no-one's come up with a justification.

-Eido


Yes I will. Let me get this out of the way first: I donít personally think I have any credentials to make constructive critical remarks. Meaning I do not hold a Masters in music or have I studied theory in most forms. However if one has the application with years of hard work in writing songs does not mean you have an expert opinion in an unfamiliar genre.

Perhaps a definition of constructively phrased opinion needs to be defined as apposed to constructive criticism. Are they the same? I donít think so.

A constructively phrased opinion:
Beautiful tonal quality, it makes me feel warm inside.

Constructive criticism:
The beat perhaps could be a little slower.


I donít want you to think I canít take a critical remark. I can it just better be a good one.
The idea I believe here, what is the result in the remark. Does it really help the artist or will it cause uncertainty in ones songwriting?

And some actually have a gift in constructive opinions. I canít see how they can do this without a lot of information behind them. Acting like you know is not good enough.

All in all I believe most comments are geared toward good intentions for the artist.
Nothing wrong with that!

Ron Wink
Latest Song: The Completeness
Artist Page Send Message Feb 24, 2009 | 7:45 pm
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mdestiny wrote:

Yes I will. Let me get this out of the way first: I donít personally think I have any credentials to make constructive critical remarks. Meaning I do not hold a Masters in music or have I studied theory in most forms. However if one has the application with years of hard work in writing songs does not mean you have an expert opinion in an unfamiliar genre.


So, if I have this right, you believe that no-one is allowed to make a constructive suggestion unless they either have a Masters degree in music, have studied theory in most forms or have spent years writing songs?

To put it another way, you believe that there's nothing you could learn from someone who hasn't done these things?

I find this very strange, because in my experience learning can come from anywhere at all, even 'lesser' individuals.

But no doubt this is arrogance on my part, because I don't hold a Masters degree in music and haven't studied theory. I'll respect your opinion and refrain from commenting on your songs.

-Eido, evidently unqualified to offer opinions.

[Edit: Fixing quote tags.]
Artist Page Send Message Feb 25, 2009 | 2:34 am
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