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Music review help, please.
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rcjones Original Post: Dec 22 '06,  8:06 pm (Updated: Dec 23 '06,  7:22 pm)           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Nov 26, 2005

Post: 95613
Music review help, please.

I have avoided writing reviews in several categories; not because I lack the knowledge, but because I do not express myself well.

Music is physically untouchable. The other reviews that I have written involved touch, use, longevity, etc. Music is passion. It is something that can touch the soul, heart and mind. Words to describe what I feel are not there.

I do play musical instruments and have sung in several choirs and I should be able to put enough words together to write a good review, but instead, I end up with unfinished drafts. I did finally publish one, but I knew when I hit the submit button, that it was written without passion. I picked a CD that I am lukewarm about, because I found it to be the easiest to complete.

I have read the do's and don'ts here, and read many wonderful music, book and movie reviews, with the hope that something will click and I can finally put into words the emotions that I feel for the untouchables.

What should be included in a music review? Should the review be brief and to the point? Should there be more elaboration in decribing the selections?


I really could use some helpful advice.

RC

     
bob_tomato Posted: Dec 24 '06,  6:47 pm (Updated: Dec 24 '06,  6:50 pm)           Reply
Reviews written: 286
Member since: Nov 17, 2002

moderator in Musical Equipment
Post: 95898
RE: Music review help, please.

RC -

Thank you for asking these questions, and for summarizing the challenges you face in writing Music reviews. I'd like to offer some advice that I hope you and others may find helpful...

First, I would offer that, outside of the more universal standards for all Epinions reviews (using good grammar, not breaking Epinions' rules - those sorts of things), there really aren't any Do's or Don'ts for Music reviews.

As one of the Music Leads, it's my hope that each member who wishes to contribute music reviews will come to find his or her voice over time. You said that "words to describe what I feel are not there" and yet, you also said just before that - "Music is passion. It is something that can touch the soul, heart and mind."

To me, those are words that beautifully describe how you feel about Music, and perhaps those are the sorts of words and phrases that you can use comfortably and confidently to describe your own personal feelings and experience about the music you enjoy, or that you truly dislike.

I wrote these words recently in a discussion about music reviews:
================================
"More and more, I find myself drawn to the concept of maintaining Balance in everything I do at Epinions. When it comes to writing and rating music reviews, I offer these thoughts for others to consider:

Balance of personal opinion and product information
Balance of creative description and factual detail
Balance of what you really WANT to say and what really NEEDS to be said


Now, does any of that help anyone pin down How To Write a Music Review? Not really. Because there really shouldn't be a right answer to that question.

Balance is the Key. But I can only find my own Balance for what I write. I can only rate your review through my own (hopefully) Balanced perspective.

Balance cannot be dictated or demanded.
Balance only comes through patience and practice."
================================

It's important to remember that this is only my perspective on Music reviews - music is so very subjective, and so opinions on how to write and rate music reviews are as numerous as there are members participating in the Music category.


There is so much more to talk about when it comes to Music reviews, and I would like very much to continue this conversation if you don't mind. I'll leave this response at what I've said so far; maybe it has raised some more questions you would like to ask that I can offer my perspective on.

Andrew

(PS - I'm not ignoring the specific questions you asked at the end of your post - I think that we can cover those questions with further discussion between us here in this thread)


     
rcjones Posted: Dec 25 '06,  11:10 am (Updated: Dec 25 '06,  5:38 pm)           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Nov 26, 2005

Post: 95921
RE: Music review help, please.

Quote: bob_tomato
RC -
*snip*

As one of the Music Leads, it's my hope that each member who wishes to contribute music reviews will come to find his or her voice over time. You said that "words to describe what I feel are not there" and yet, you also said just before that - "Music is passion. It is something that can touch the soul, heart and mind."

To me, those are words that beautifully describe how you feel about Music, and perhaps those are the sorts of words and phrases that you can use comfortably and confidently to describe your own personal feelings and experience about the music you enjoy, or that you truly dislike.

Balance of personal opinion and product information
Balance of creative description and factual detail
Balance of what you really WANT to say and what really NEEDS to be said


Now, does any of that help anyone pin down How To Write a Music Review? Not really. Because there really shouldn't be a right answer to that question.

Balance cannot be dictated or demanded.
Balance only comes through patience and practice."
================================
*snip*

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to Music reviews, and I would like very much to continue this conversation if you don't mind. I'll leave this response at what I've said so far; maybe it has raised some more questions you would like to ask that I can offer my perspective on.

Andrew


I am so glad that you responded to my queries. Thank you!

I had read several of your posts on this board and one in particular, made me shudder. It was your eloquent description (posted Feb 16 '06) on the TBT topic. Why would this make me shudder? It described emotion, as well as every detail of what you heard in this piece. After reading this, I hesitated for several weeks, before gathering enough courage to post one of the Christmas music reviews that I kept in draft.

My original intent was to finish one of the music reviews that moved me spiritually, but I could not find the words to describe what I feel while hearing each piece. For me, it was easier to start with a CD that I simply listen to.

Balance only comes through patience and practice.

This is something that I must learn. I lack patience within myself. I get upset when I attempt to describe emotion and what I hear in the music that I love. Do I hear what you hear? Probably not. You (pl.) can immediately hear strings, piano, drums; while I hear orchestra, vocals and energy. I could not tell you if there were specific instruments, unless it is one that I play or attempted to play.
Practice is something that I will definitely do, as soon as I find patience.

I have read reviews that "list" tracks and and descriptions; while others describe their experience in paragraph form. Some describe all of the selections and others, just a few. I understand that both methods are acceptable and it is up to the author to select what they are most comfortable with. Correct?

There are many music review authors that I respect and admire. Their words describe every aspect of the hearing experience. This is what I want to learn to do.

This is why I asked about do' and dont's or guidelines.
I guess, I was hoping to find that little light bulb that would help me see how to express myself.

RC
who understands that everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer; some just have more flair.


     
bob_tomato Posted: Dec 27 '06,  9:05 am           Reply
Reviews written: 286
Member since: Nov 17, 2002

moderator in Musical Equipment
Post: 96159
RE: Music review help, please.

Quote: rcjones
I am so glad that you responded to my queries. Thank you!

I had read several of your posts on this board and one in particular, made me shudder. It was your eloquent description (posted Feb 16 '06) on the TBT topic. Why would this make me shudder? It described emotion, as well as every detail of what you heard in this piece. After reading this, I hesitated for several weeks, before gathering enough courage to post one of the Christmas music reviews that I kept in draft.

Thanks for bringing up that example from February. One thing to keep in mind is that the flowery decription of "Desert Rose" might have worked in the context of my Sting review, but I hope that no one would think that I'd require our Music writers to write all their own reviews in that manner. As you said, "everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer" - you just need to find the cadence that works for you, and be willing to make consider making adjustments when other members offer constructive criticisms of your work.

You quoted my observation:
Quote: bob_tomato
Balance only comes through patience and practice.

and then replied:

Quote: rcjones
This is something that I must learn. I lack patience within myself. I get upset when I attempt to describe emotion and what I hear in the music that I love. Do I hear what you hear? Probably not. You (pl.) can immediately hear strings, piano, drums; while I hear orchestra, vocals and energy. I could not tell you if there were specific instruments, unless it is one that I play or attempted to play.
Practice is something that I will definitely do, as soon as I find patience.

I think that as long as you are willing to work at finding your voice for your reviews, to find a way to describe music adequately for yourself, you will be fine. I think that you will find that the "regular" Music members and Advisors appreciate it when someone new to the category makes an effort to do their best at a review, and is willing to consider taking other's advice. That's really all we can ask of anyone, isn't it?

Quote: rcjones
I have read reviews that "list" tracks and descriptions; while others describe their experience in paragraph form. Some describe all of the selections and others, just a few. I understand that both methods are acceptable and it is up to the author to select what they are most comfortable with. Correct?

Yes, both methods are fine - it has simply been my experience that some who use the track by track method begin to sound repetitive from review to review. Some use the same descriptive words over and over, and they often forget to include some personal opinion or some context to describe the recording. I think there are those members who get lazy in their descriptions because they seem to be more intent on simply cranking out another music review by using the same TBT template over and over, rather than coming at each new review with fresh perspective and effort.

Good questions and observations! Let's keep this going!

Andrew

     
rcjones Posted: Dec 27 '06,  12:31 pm (Updated: Jan 01 '07,  8:57 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Nov 26, 2005

Post: 96214
RE: Music review help, please.

Quote: bob_tomato
As you said, "everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer" - you just need to find the cadence that works for you, and be willing to make consider making adjustments when other members offer constructive criticisms of your work.

I received a comment from one advisor and I really appreciated the advice. I have removed the statement that Mike mentioned and replaced it to something more descriptive. I understood what he meant when he said that it doesn't really give us much in the way of actual insight.

Quote: bob_tomato

Balance of personal opinion and product information
Balance of creative description and factual detail
Balance of what you really WANT to say and what really NEEDS to be said

Now, does any of that help anyone pin down How To Write a Music Review? Not really. Because there really shouldn't be a right answer to that question.

A recent suggestion was to add background information about the artists. I did some research on each of the 12 artists/groups, since I knew absolutely nothing about them; with the exception of one.
When I did a rough draft that included the review and the added background information, the word count exceeded 2,500. Now, I am left wondering what is necessary to improve the review.

edit to add: I spent the last two days reading music reviews and I think I finally figured out that "less is more". I'm learning.

Quote: bob_tomato

I think that as long as you are willing to work at finding your voice for your reviews, to find a way to describe music adequately for yourself, you will be fine. I think that you will find that the "regular" Music members and Advisors appreciate it when someone new to the category makes an effort to do their best at a review, and is willing to consider taking other's advice. That's really all we can ask of anyone, isn't it?

Thank you. Reading this made me feel better and a little less nervous about submitting the review to a new category. I really would like to write about music that has meaning to me and I know that it will take patience with myself. For now, I will continue to read the reviews written by others and I'll keep working on my saved drafts, until I find my voice. :)

Quote: bob_tomato

Yes, both methods are fine - it has simply been my experience that some who use the track by track method begin to sound repetitive from review to review.

List and Paragraph forms
I do appreciate this help. It's back to that comfort zone, isn't it? The manner doesn't really matter as long as the author is comfortable and the reader/consumer receives an informative view of the music. Correct?

You have been extremely helpful and do appreciate the advice. I was apprehensive about asking for help. I was afraid that my questions would remain unanswered. Thank you for your patience and kindness.


Happy New Year!
RC






     
bob_tomato Posted: Jan 04 '07,  12:33 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 286
Member since: Nov 17, 2002

moderator in Musical Equipment
Post: 98245
RE: Music review help, please.

RC -

you're quite welcome, and thanks for being patient with my slow response times (I've been on vacation the past two weeks)

please keep me up to date on your progress, and don't hesitate to ask any questions should they come up. My email's on my profile page, and there is also the Epinions Music Source at your disposal - there are a lot of music "regulars" who hang out at that off-site forum discussing not only Epinions and music, but many other topics as well.

     
rcjones Posted: Jan 07 '07,  12:44 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Nov 26, 2005

Post: 99227
RE: Music review help, please.

I had read the note that was attached to your profile page re: vacation and I was pleasantly surprised that you took the time to converse and answer my questions. Thank you!

RC

     
smorg Posted: Jan 18 '07,  9:00 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 217
Member since: Jul 3, 2006

Post: 102351
RE: Music review help, please.

This is a very interesting discussion! I can totally relate with the horror of seeing a review of a CD grow to 2000+ words. The longer the thing get the harder it is to keep the audience reading... that's when I find jokes and preposterous vocaburary helpful (but only to a certain degrees).

I'm afraid I'm very much a genre writer... only doing opera music review so far. These are easier than the instrumental pieces, I think, because opera is where music describes a story. So writing of the scene that the music is supposed to be describing will often give the reader a good idea of what it might sound like (providing that it is performed the way the composer wrote it, and if it isn't then one can always write how 'off' it is).

I'd think that non-opera songs are also supposed to be describing a specific scene in the song-writer's head as he penned it, and hopefully faithfully transformed in performance by the singer. If you can detect the song structure and describe whether the singer is interpreting it in the spirit it was written in or if he is putting in his own twist, that should make a review interesting to read (in opera the music is usually tailored for a specific singer, so when it is sung by a different voice type that stands out well and gives lots of room for descriptive exploration). That won't hold for non-melodic song, like in rap or heavy metal, I guess.

I'd also think that background info on the performers might be interesting... as long as it is tied in to give a better idea of what the music sounds like. This is essential in my genre, I think, because these music are repertory... been around for ages and different singers are singing the same thing. So knowing the singer's voice type and interpretative tendencies (a note-perfect singer, or a dramatic at the expense of clean singing singer, etc) can be a decision making tool for the potential buyers.

In opera, lots of buyer only go for specific composers, or singers, or voice types.. or even conductors, so opera reveiwers have to list them. Complete track listing isn't done on full opera CDs (not the recital solo discs); however, that'll take up the whole page and tell hardly anything useful.
For non-opera/musical CDs; tho, I think musical genre matters more... what kind of genre would the album fall under, dancy or sedated, that kind of info... perhaps mentioning what demograph would be attracted to the album (I'd say pianists would love Queen, guitarists would love Don MacLean and James Taylor..., etc) might help. I know I sometimes look for specific song, so I think track listing is rather essential in pop CDs.

Anyhow. Really enjoyed reading this and picking up some new tips. Thanks very much for the forum!

Cheers,
Smorg :o)

     
desslok Posted: May 17 '07,  5:24 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 802
Member since: Dec 28, 2001

Post: 128271
RE: Music review help, please.

Quote: rcjones
What should be included in a music review? Should the review be brief and to the point? Should there be more elaboration in decribing the selections?


Well, I try and break things down in a couple ways.

First, I'll sum up the general intent of the album, a brief bit waxing nostalgic over the 80's or going on about the invention of the 12" mix, or how gaudy and tacky (but fun) disco was. Something like that.

I'll usualy mention a couple of songs, give some background on them - how long the band stayed together, how high the song charted, if it was a UK only hit and that sort of thing.

Next I might mention the physical package, the liner notes, if it was in a cool box (like The Disco Box) and so on.

Then I'll get specific:
THE HIGH POINT -
THE LOW POINT -
and
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE -

Basicly, I'll give props to the best song and worse song on the album, and mention a song where I had wished I'd heard this 20 years ago.

Next come
IF SOMEONE STOLE THIS, WOULD I REPLACE IT?
Thats self explanatory

IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK OUT. . .
A header I thought of just today when I was writing my latest revew. I dont know if I'll keep that one or not.

THE BOTTOM LINE -
Just like your teacher said: sum up everything in one neat package.

Then I include a track listing, just for competion sake.
     
bob_tomato Posted: May 18 '07,  8:35 am           Reply
Reviews written: 286
Member since: Nov 17, 2002

moderator in Musical Equipment
Post: 128362
RE: Music review help, please.

Quote: desslok
Well, I try and break things down in a couple ways.

First, I'll sum up the general intent of the album, a brief bit waxing nostalgic over the 80's or going on about the invention of the 12" mix, or how gaudy and tacky (but fun) disco was. Something like that.

I'll usualy mention a couple of songs, give some background on them - how long the band stayed together, how high the song charted, if it was a UK only hit and that sort of thing.

Next I might mention the physical package, the liner notes, if it was in a cool box (like The Disco Box) and so on.

Then I'll get specific:
THE HIGH POINT -
THE LOW POINT -
and
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE -

Basicly, I'll give props to the best song and worse song on the album, and mention a song where I had wished I'd heard this 20 years ago.

Next come
IF SOMEONE STOLE THIS, WOULD I REPLACE IT?
Thats self explanatory

IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK OUT. . .
A header I thought of just today when I was writing my latest revew. I dont know if I'll keep that one or not.

THE BOTTOM LINE -
Just like your teacher said: sum up everything in one neat package.

Then I include a track listing, just for competion sake.


I like these ideas - this is a different review from the sort of thing we usually get in music.
     
desslok Posted: May 31 '07,  9:09 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 802
Member since: Dec 28, 2001

Post: 131017
RE: Music review help, please.

Hey, what can I say - I occasionaly have a moment of brilliance! :)

     
bob_tomato Posted: Jun 07 '07,  7:37 am           Reply
Reviews written: 286
Member since: Nov 17, 2002

moderator in Musical Equipment
Post: 132457
RE: Music review help, please.

let's bury the spam with a bump

     
roheblius Posted: Oct 19 '07,  12:20 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 672
Member since: Dec 13, 1999

moderator in Music
Post: 155655
RE: Music review help, please.

Quote: bob_tomato
let's bury the spam with a bump

     
quarternotes Posted: Nov 01 '07,  4:52 am           Reply
Reviews written: 55
Member since: Dec 18, 2005

Post: 157756
what a read

Wow, where was i when this post got started?
Well, here goes:
In the world of music, there are subcategories that go into subcategories that have footnotes that go finally into a certain aspect, form, and to a certain entitiy. In other words, it's hard for someone who listens to music solely out of enjoying it to understand completely the guitarist who played it.
I guess when it comes to me, i search wholeheartily what the CD brings out, as in emotion, memories, instrument accommidation, etc...
Others will rate this in a different perspective. Music, in text, covers a VERY BROAD range. If i was to read your reviews, i often tend to look at this from your perspective, while feeling mine. i have rated CDs in the past that i couldn't stand, but marked the review as VH, because of the way the reviewer wrote it, not how much i hated it. On the other hand, i search for CDs that i love, see how the reviewer rated it, then see if what HE wrote coincides with the Cd itself. this is rather hard. Harder to review a CD itself. most "epinioneers" would not take this same approach, so i do feel what you are saying.
That and the fact that i am trying to specialize in reviews that accomidate the instruments, and not neccessarily the music.
So, in a nutshell, you will be rated generally fair, (at least by me), as long as the review meets the criteria.

     
shaky_jake Posted: Feb 08 '08,  1:26 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 148
Member since: Jul 22, 2005

Post: 171780
Late...

I know that I'm really late to the party with this topic, but I saw it and simply had to give it a thorough read. And some of the same questions that have been asked here are questions I find myself wondering about constantly.

I never know if I'm really fulfilling people's thirst for the knowledge of the particular album I'm reviewing. But I find that at the end of the day, all I can do is write a review that is satisfying to me. And hope that others like it, too.


Just a general question for all of you: does anyone else seem to get sidetracked with rambling or little asides? I know it happens to me more than I'd like to admit and was curious as to everyone else's writing process...

- Jake

     
smorg Posted: Feb 15 '08,  4:55 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 217
Member since: Jul 3, 2006

Post: 172670
RE: Late...

Quote: shaky_jake
Just a general question for all of you: does anyone else seem to get sidetracked with rambling or little asides? I know it happens to me more than I'd like to admit and was curious as to everyone else's writing process...

- Jake

All the time, bro. ;o) I review mostly the obviously boring opera recordings... and do tend to ramble in my attempt to try to keep folks from falling asleep reading the review. Guess a bit of rambling to freshen the read is ok. It's just hard to tell when we overdo it, I think. :o)

Cheers,
Smorg
     
manishfusion Posted: Aug 19 '09,  1:41 pm (Updated: May 20 '10,  10:43 pm)           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Aug 19, 2009

Post: 233816
RE: Music review help, please.

hey same problem was with me dear dont worry be free and post your reviews on forums and article of music . dont think what you are post just post if you like or not
best of luck and try it
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