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Topic: What kind of contests do we want?

  1. #1

    What kind of contests do we want?

    Sean, one of the Forum's most active members, started the Orchestration Challenge some years ago as a fun way for members here to use Garritan Libraries for creating orchestrations/compositions. Everyone is invited to vote on the entries, choosing what they feel best fulfills the contest's challenge, which is to develop a theme posted by the previous round's winner.

    It's been a group activity that's been maintained fairly steadily, and with at least modest participation.

    Most of us here don't have a great amount of time to spend on something like this, but those of us who have joined in have found these challenges to be a nice diversion from our regular schedule of projects and all the other things that keep us busy in Real Life. But it's understandable that not everyone can squeeze that kind of time in.

    Much more recently we've had the Movie Challenge, which has remained a bit of an experiment. At first pieces were written based just on text which describes the premise of a fictitious movie. Later, video clips were added to the contest, so participants could score to visuals, the way film composers do.

    But this Movie Challenge hasn't attracted a lot of attention. Even when the entries are posted in a way that makes it very quick and easy to view them, it's only a very small percentage of forum visitors who bother to watch and vote. It would seem there's not all that much interest in this particular idea.

    Many of us visit this forum every day, and sometimes we post answers, questions - all in keeping with the reason for this forum's existence. It seems like there must be some extra activities that a greater number of people could get interested in. But we need to figure out what those events could be. Most of us know that when we really want to do something, we can find time for it, so I don't want to presume that low participation is only because people don't know how to make time for it.

    That leads to the question - What would we like to do here which involves music, the Garritan instruments, and which would not only be fun to join in on, but would help promote an even greater sense of community?

    Ideas? - I'd love to see if we can come up with some fresh ideas along these lines.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Suburban NYC

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    Excellent post, Randy!

    You are absolutely right in the personal benefit to participating in any of these challenges; It's extremely rewarding in that it does get your creative juices flowing within a set of parameters you may not normally impose on yourself. (For example, the 1st Orchestrational Challenge I participated in had a six-instrument maximum imposed by it's creator ... YOU! ). It lead me to a small-ensemble arrangement that I probably wouldn't have created.

    I'll start it off with a general comment on the timing of the challenges. I agree people will make the time if they want to participate, but personally, I'll offer a few suggestions:

    1.- No overlap on challenges. (I.E., Orchestrational; Movie; any future type, etc.) It's easy enough to make time for one, but to squeeze in two is a lot more difficult, if not impossible fo many.

    2.- Don't have any challenges in the month of December; it's just too busy a month in general, and many of us like to work on a seasonal project this time of year. Hmmmm ... maybe we can make a challenge in the month of November each year for a seasonal arrangement/orchestration. Not everyone wants to dedicate the time to a formal Christmas CD entry, but may have some fun on a lighter-version of it ... just thinkin' out loud!

    3.- A Little Space and a Little Structure ... Start a new challenge (Orch OR Movie) on the 1st of a month and give everyone the entire month to submit. The following month is to get it posted for voting, and the actual voting period. Two weeks seems to work well for voting, but I do notice there is little voting after the 1st week its open.

    So, keeping to that schedule, we would have a maximum of six challenges a year, starting in: Jan, Mar, May, July, Sep, Nov. Maybe two of those are the movie challenges, which seem to take longer to get up.

    This keeps December free, and I can tell you from personal experience, the month of October free for Christmas CD last-minute stuff is great too!

    Hope this helps ... it's just IMO stuff!



  3. #3

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    Frank, I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a thoughtful reply. Excellent input. I like and agree with all suggestions you made.

    Great!-- Maybe this thread will elicit more conversation, and we can arrive at a better game plan for the contests that works for more people.

    What say everyone? Want to vote Yes to all of Frank's ideas? Have more things to add?


  4. #4

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    Sounds to me like Frank has it figured out. I would vote for this new overall structure.

    AND THANKS FRANK for the time, effort and insight to produce these guidelines!
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  5. #5

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    Frank's third point sums it up for me... a known schedule/structure would provide an opportunity to plan to participate, or at least attempt to do so.

    Since you asked (and you did<G>)... I'd also like to suggest loosening up on the restriction that almost everything come from a Garritan produced library - or be library based at all. I know we went through this recently in another thread, but again, you asked...

    I think restrictions are great - really! They provide additional obstacles that CAN increase one's creativity. But when the restriction never changes, well, I think that breeds some complacency, or boredom.

    So by all means, probably half the contests should be restricted to one or more Garritan produced libraries, but open up the other half to include live performances, or other libraries, or sound design or all of the above maybe. I think you'll attract a different set of folks, and who knows, when the next contest comes up maybe they'll take a shot at it even if it is restricted to World Instruments Only.

    Speaking only for myself, I do almost all my writing on the guitar or for the guitar, or looking at a guitar<G>... and the restriction that I can not put my best foot forward first time out is, well, constricting to me. I suspect that once I got feedback on something that I knew was as good as I could do, well, I think I'd be more comfortable presenting things that stretched me in new directions.

    AND, there is the whole "contest" thing. As a guitar teacher I spend a fair amount of time with many students trying to explain that music is not a contest. For teen-aged boys this is all about speed, but in fact most of my students, any age, any background, start out thinking in terms of being as good as someone else. I try to explain that while it is possible to quantitatively and objectively judge one's knowledge of music theory, and to a lesser degree their technique, it is altogether impossible to do anything other than a personal, subjective analysis of a performance or a composition.

    Now I have never really thought of these little contests as competitions... but I have seen some evidence that some people do. I wonder if there is another way to position these events so that people are not put off by the competitive nature?

    Tough one... they are, in fact, contests, with the general membership here as the judges, and a prize awarded - even if it is "more work."<G>. I don't really have any suggestions I'm afraid (and I hate that) but I did want to mention it.
    Bill Thompson
    Audio Enterprise

  6. #6

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    Hi, Bill - Thanks so much for the smart, thoughtful reply. I love it when people actually talk about music, this Forum, Garritan instruments - all those On Topic kinds of things. Input on this question about special events/contests is really needed, and I'm glad you and Frank have taken the time to write about it.

    This won't be news, but I unhesitatingly support Gary's stated guidelines for the content and purpose of his Forums. We're here as a community of Garritan Library users - That's the main topic. When it comes to posting music, the logical guideline is that what we post be produced using Garritan Instruments. Those guidelines keep both text and audio posts On Topic.

    This isn't a generic music Forum, like those for recording programs such as Sonar and Cubase. Naturally when music is posted at those Forums, there are no restrictions on what instruments are used, because those Forums have the recording programs as their topic, not the instruments.

    In my opinion, it would be a mistake, and a big one, to change those guidelines. It's totally up to our leader, Gary, but I personally feel it's not even appropriate to ask him to change his simple, logical guidelines. We're his guests, we're here because of his Libraries, and that's the point of reference for everything on the Forums.

    I think part of the issue of low participation here is because even though a lot of traffic comes through these Forums, the actual community who regularly visits and joins in isn't all that large. It's regulars who are most likely to submit pieces for contests, but many of the regulars are very busy and don't feel they can make time for these sorts of things. That's why it's very possible that whatever we do will never be things that actually involve all that many people, either as entrants or listeners/viewers.

    As far as how a "contest" can be off putting to some people, I have no idea how to change that. I feel that everything in life is a competition to some degree. We choose nice clothes to wear because we don't want to lose in the appearances department. Part of the motivation for everything we write is to be competitive - we have a conviction that we are able to produce something unique that nobody else can. But if someone feels that competitiveness isn't part of their reality, there's really no way to change their minds.

    With the kind of little contests we have, even if we didn't have the voting, I know people would still be compelled to post their opinions, "I like the 2nd one best because..." - which would make the thing a contest anyway.

    And so on. -

    I let my fingers fly on the keyboard in response - Those are the things that came to mind when I read your post, Bill.

    Thanks again for the thoughts. - Looking forward to hearing more input.


  7. #7

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    I'm taking a different tact on this question. I've got a couple ideas about specific kinds of contests outside the two regular contests currently sponsored on this forum.

    I think shortly before Gary took time off he started a thread soliciting ideas for contests and there were some really good ones. I can't find it at the moment, but here are a couple ideas I can think of off the top of my head. For me, contests provide an opportunity for learning what someone did after the contest is over. So these are offered in that spirit.

    1. A realism contest -- could be as simple as providing a single monophonic instrument line and seeing how real you can make it sound or as complex as creating a realistic sound stage of some predetermined ensemble. For a larger ensemble, one could possibly start with a standard midi file much like the contest you helped sponsor at the Sonar forum. that way everyone is working with the same initial material or performance. From there using Garritan samples and playback/mixing tools of your choice try to create a realistic rendering of that piece.

    2. A style contest -- Like the orchestration contest, participants would start with a melody or fragment of a melody and told to arrange it in the style of either a certain composer or particular style of music.

    3. A collaboration contest -- 2 or more people could collaborate on a piece of music. Maybe one could do the "arrangement" and one could orchestrate. Maybe someone is dying to sing something and could collaborate that way. Or maybe this could be tied in with a realism contest where each member of the "ensemble" is responsible for their part. So in this scenario, any sized group could be used provided each member has an instrument he/she is responsible for playing and recording in the most realistic manner.

    These are a few ideas and may spawn some other and better thoughts.

    Steve Winkler

  8. #8

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    This is great, Steve - The tact you took on the question actually is exactly what I was originally asking - what kind of contests do we want?

    I don't recall the thread you mention here, hmmm, maybe vaguely - but I love all three of these ideas. Style, Realism, Collaboration - Yes, yes, yes, those could be super.

    Hmmmm, combining some ideas so far on this thread:

    --Set up a schedule for the whole year. Regular dates for the start of contests, regular ones for voting. The first of the month in each case, each segment running for a month - submitting, then voting.

    --Alternate what the nature of the event is. The original Orchestration challenge, the Movie Challenge, and these three on this post.

    --All of that, the dates, the contest style could be posted on a calendar as a Sticky. We'd all know what's on the agenda for the whole year.

    Something like that? - I'm liking this thread.


  9. #9

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    --All of that, the dates, the contest style could be posted on a calendar as a Sticky. We'd all know what's on the agenda for the whole year.
    This is a great idea. It would allow selection and planning way ahead of time.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  10. #10

    Re: What kind of contests do we want?

    A good "brainstorming" thread (where no ideas are criticized). A lot of good
    ideas so far and I am all for keeping whatever challenges/contests we create,
    limited only to Gary's libraries. Fairly soon, there will be a host of new, related
    tutorials for all of Gary's libraries. These tutorials will have the effect of
    raising the "expertise" level of all users and their motivation will activate
    their desire to submit more music to the "listening room" and all other activities
    that are offered.

    I feel that when people really know how to use their tools, they not only produce
    a better quality product, but more of them...........

    So let's push ahead with some more challenge ideas.....

    Jack Cannon--Toshiba laptop, 2.8 GHz CPU, 1.5 GB RAM, GPO4-JABB3-Auth. STEINWAY-Gofriller CELLO-Stradivari VIOLIN-COMB2-WORLD, FINALE 2009/11, RME Digiface, Cardbus, V-Stack---Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 8, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express.--MacBook Pro 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

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