Music Contribution FAQ - Please Read Before Posting

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Music Contribution FAQ - Please Read Before Posting

Postby West » February 22nd, 2008, 12:25 am

Please read the following carefully before submitting any music.

I want to make music for Wesnoth, what software do I need?
If you need to ask, you're not who we're looking for. As discouraging as that may sound, it's a practical issue. Learning how to use a DAW and getting good at computer-based orchestration takes time and we won't hold your hand through it. That said, you are of course welcome to submit a piece or two once you're starting to get the hang of it all. From there, we can help you with tips and suggestions.

Is it OK to post some music, get detailed feedback on it and then disappear never to be seen again?
Unless we tell you that we're not interested, no, it's definitely not OK. If you have the slightest doubt wheteher you'll keep working on a submission, then please don't post it in the first place. The main goal and purpose of the Wesnoth music forum is providing good music for the game. If you just want feedback on your music, there are other and better places to get this. In any case, if you really can't or won't keep working on a piece, for whatever reason, the least you can do is let the people who have spent their free time helping you know why. And just so you know, "I lost interest" is a perfectly valid reason -- it happens to all of us. If you just disappear without notice and the decide to come back a year later, you're going to find it hard convincing us that you're serious.

What kind of music are you looking for?
We are mainly looking for orchestral music, i.e. a simulation of a contemporary large orchestra with strings, brass, winds and percussion. That means no drum kits, no electric guitars or basses or any other typical pop/rock instruments. Synths are OK if they are used for subtle effetcs within an overall orchestral context. Same goes for percussion loops; they will be tolerated if the're used tastefully. Since BfW takes place in a fantasy world resembling medieval times, early/traditional music influences and instruments are encouraged, though definitely not a requirement. Pure classicism or experimental music are less desired, but it depends. All submissions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis anyway. If in doubt, listen to the music that is in the game and aim for something similar. Or just simply post a quick demo of your idea.

On a related note, it's good to keep in mind is that Wesnoth music is supposed to be a soundtrack, not just "background music". It is meant to enhance the gaming experience rather than just being an unobtrusive sonic backdrop. In other words, a repeating percussion pattern with some string pad chords and a flute melody on top will not be accepted. As a rule of thumb, the music should be interesting to listen to on its own.

How do I know if I'm skilled enough to contribute?
You don't have to be a music professor, but at the very least you need to be a reasonably competent musician with a will to learn. You also need a basic understanding of orchestral music and composition, not only so you can realise your musical ideas in an orchestral format, but also so we'll be able to communicate with you ("Mezzo-piano? There's no piano in my piece!"). If you have doubts whether you're "good enough", just post a demo of your work and we'll have a listen to it and let you know what we think. Should you not feel comfortable with posting it publicly, it's perfectly fine to PM a Lord of Music with a link to the demo. Though unrelated to musical skill, thick skin is also recommended as you will recieve feedback that sometimes isn't really what you want to hear. See the next question.

I think my music is good, why are you being so harsh?
Never forget that the main point here is making the game as good as possible. Everything else is secondary, including the pride of the contributors. If we deem that your music is not good enough or doesn't fit the game, you'll simply have to accept that. This is not a democracy. Don't waste your time and ours telling us that we're wrong, and why. We do our best to motivate our judgments and keep our criticism constructive, but we don't always have time to be highly diplomatic. So if something sounds a bit harsh, don't take it too personally.

I spent 6 months writing this piece, and now you tell me you can't use it?!?
Always, always post WIP versions of your music. That's work in progress, and this goes for new contributors as well as musicians who already have music in the game. Not only will we be able to let you know if the music is of interest to us right from the get-go, it will also be much easier for you to fix various problems that we may spot. Unless we explicitly give you carte blanche to write whatever you want and promise you to mainline it no matter what (which isn't likely to happen), then don't assume your music will be accepted just because you worked hard on it. However, even if your piece isn't up to mainline quality, there are probably UMC authors who'd be more than happy to use it.

What's the requirements for the "end product"?
Your song should be downmixed as hot as possible without clipping. A mastering limiter should then be used to bring it up to roughly -0.2dB, while using as little squashing as possible to preserve the dynamics of the piece. Finally, it should be submitted in a non-compressed format like wav or aiff, alternatively in a lossless compressed format like flac. Do not email huge files to me or any other dev, use a free file upload service and PM us a link instead. We will handle converting it to ogg format and tagging it.

Do you accept midi files?
No. If you want to post a demo of your work, use mp3 or ogg. Please use a fairly high bitrate though, as it is hard to judge the quality of your samples if the music is compressed to crap.

Do you accept music made from orchestral loops?
No.

Do you accept free music that's been used in other projects?
No. We already have a lot of high quality music and all of it was written exclusively for the game. There is no reason for us to add more music just for the sake of having more music.

I'm a musican, not an audio engineer -- can you help me make my piece sound better?
Sure! If we feel that your music has potential, we will gladly offer advice on getting the technical bits like effects, EQ, mixing and mastering right.
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West
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