Read more “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
A question I’ve been asked from time to time about my web site DeepSID is how the SID composers in the MUSICIANS folders have been divided according to the quality of their songs.
All of the composer folders in each letter folder inside MUSICIANS have received a rating from 1-5 stars. I then decided that a certain amount of stars, say 3, determines that the composer is at least okay, maybe even good. If the rating is 4 or more, it’s a great composer.
This was done because I needed this division for at least three features of DeepSID:
- The list of recommendations, available from a link in the top line.
- The “All”, “Decent” and “Good” sort options for every MUSICIANS letter folder.
- Jumping to a random composer of a decent quality from the front page.
I knew that judging the composers to fit these three features would be a sensitive area. Even a minefield. I thought for a while about how I wanted to proceed doing this. I really wanted to involve a lot of people, but there were complications. Let’s go through each of these.
I’ve now been listening through a ton of folders in DeepSID while curating for the
Good sort modes for each letter folder in MUSICIANS. If you are even remotely familiar with the High Voltage SID Collection, you may be aware that there’s a lot of garbage there.
Sturgeon’s law would have a field day with this collection.
After a while listening through so many tunes, a pattern of repeated rookie mistakes started to emerge. I repeatedly stumbled into the same mistakes over and over – surefire hints that the composer was subpar, or at least started off on the wrong foot. Of course, there are the obvious hints like bad harmonies or artsy noise experiments, but the following are much more common indicators.
A sign of a subpar folder is when…
- A tune starts with filtered noise sounds resembling waves at the beach, then typically overstays the welcome. Yes, I get it, you thought this was awesome. We all did. Now get on with it.
- Discovering that reusing the exact same notes in the other voices can make the tune so much louder. Especially annoying with thunks. Having to turn down the volume for a SID tune is surreal.
- The beginning of the tune has a simple pattern, perhaps only one voice of bass notes, then repeating this for several minutes until something finally changes. Praise be the
- A conversion of Axel F, The Final Countdown, Crockett’s Theme or the theme of Airwolf are present. There may still be hope – great composers also converted those – but they usually do not bode well.
- The notes for the leader is meandering in a pseudo-random manner, indicating that the composer just typed in whatever. Also, typically the next note is different than the previous one.
- Repeating rookie mistakes, like pulse sounds pulsating past their boundaries thereby producing a nasty click, or sliding down then wrapping around to produce high-pitched squeaks.
There are also other things that you would think might be in the same vein, such as using Future Composer or Sound Monitor, but that’s actually not fair. Maybe the composer didn’t have access to anything else but was still talented. Even Deflemask has managed to produce awesome tunes in spite of its memory curse. I rarely let the choice of player color my first-hand impression of a folder.
Except maybe Rock Monitor.