Friday, March 16, 2018

SpinTunes #14 Signups

Sign-ups for SpinTunes #14 are now OPEN. 
  • Sign ups end March 30th @ 11:59PM.
  • The first challenge will be posted March 31st @ 12:01 AM
  • The entire schedule can be found HERE 

To sign up you and/or your band, do the following:
  • Copy and past the text below into an email, edit it as appropriate, and submit it to Include "Sign-up" in the subject of the email so it doesn't get confused with spam. 
  • Send it from an e-mail account that I can reach you at if need be. 
  • Don't panic if you don't get a confirmation e-mail immediately after signing up. This isn't automated. I'll message you back within 24 hours of getting your e-mail.
Please don't get cute and change the terms. I'll read them, and just not sign you up if you do. If you have questions or concerns, just email me (Dave) and I'll do my best to resolve them. Same address.

-------------------------------------------- Begin ----------------------------------------------------------

I _____________ wish to be entered into the SpinTunes #14 songwriting contest. I assert that
  • I will give my very best effort in each round to provide a NEW song, written in response to the challenge, that has not been released before in any form. 
  • Any music I submit into the SpinTunes contest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (details).  I realize it will be played at a listening party and will become part of an album hosted on along with the entries of other artists, and that it will be available for anyone to download for free for non-commercial use. I further realize that this license is not exclusive and does not restrict me from licensing my music to others under any other terms, including commercial terms. 
  • I have no expectation of remuneration or financial reward. The prize for winning this contest is acclamation for a job well done. 
  • Judges' rankings are final and non-negotiable. All stated deadlines are in US Eastern Timezone. Interpretation and enforcement of the rules are left to the sole discretion of the contest organizer, Dave Leigh.
  • I agree that this competition is Heather's fault.   
Name: (The name you or your group wants to be referred to during the competition.) 
Bio: (Give a brief description of your group/music/history. Try to keep it to 500 CHARACTERS or less. It's just an intro... you'll have the links below to direct people to your sites for more information.) 
Links: (Optional, and you can list more than one. Some examples:) 
  • Twitter 
  • YouTube
  • Band Website(s) (Bandcamp, Blog, Myspace, Facebook, etc.)
Picture: (Attach a band picture or logo. It will be re-sized at need, so big's better than small. But be reasonable.)

--------------------------------------------- End ------------------------------------------------------------

Friday, March 2, 2018

SpinTunes #14 Schedule

As always, the schedule is flexible. Acts of God and other unavoidable stuff happens. You can keep up with scheduled events on our Google Calendar. If you want these events to show on your own Google calendar, the Calendar ID is the same as our new email address:

March 16th (Friday)
  •   Noon - Sign ups start.
March 30th (Friday)
  • 11:59pm - Sign ups end.
March 31st (Saturday)
  •  12:01am - First challenge is announced.
April 8th (Sunday)
  •  11:59pm - First song deadline.
April 9th (Monday)
  • 9pm - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.
  • Immediately afterward, the songs will be made available for free download on BandCamp at our new location,
During this gap:
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

April 14th (Saturday)
  •  4pm - Judges reviews are due.
  •  8pm - Reviews & scores are posted.
  •  10pm - Second challenge is announced.
April 22 (Sunday)
  •  11:59pm - Second song deadline.
April 23rd (Monday)
  •  9pm - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.
  •  Immediately afterward, the songs will be made available for free download on BandCamp at our new location,
During this gap:
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

April 28th (Saturday)

  •  4pm - Judges reviews are due.
  •  8pm - Reviews & scores are posted.
  •  10pm - Third challenge is announced.

May 6th (Sunday)

  •  11:59pm - Third song deadline.

May 7th (Monday)

  •  9pm - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.
  •  Immediately afterward, the songs will be made available for free download on BandCamp at our new location,

During this gap:
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

May 12th (Saturday)

  •  4pm - Judges reviews are due.
  •  8pm - Reviews & scores are posted.
  •  10pm - Final challenge is announced.

May 20th (Sunday)

  •  11:59pm - FINAL DEADLINE.

May 21st (Monday)

  •  9pm - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.
  •  Immediately afterward, the songs will be made available for free download on BandCamp at our new location,

During this gap:
- previously eliminated competitors will rank the songs
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

May 26th (Saturday)

  •  NOON - Judges reviews are due.
  •  NOON - Eliminated competitors rankings are due.
  •  4pm - Reviews are posted and a winner is announced!

Spintunes #14 Official Rules

Welcome to another SpinTunes. I'm Dave Leigh, the vocal half of the band, "Dr. Lindyke", and I am your host. If you competed in SpinTunes #13, then good news... you already know the rules. There are almost no changes. I've only made a couple of clarifications in the Judging and Wild Card Reinstatement sections.

I'll also remind you that there is a Suggestion Box that you can use to submit suggestions for challenges or rule changes at any time. Be aware that your suggestions would not be used in the current contest unless the challenge requires your feedback. I don't say that this will happen, but I can think of a few possibilities...


The schedule will be similar to past contests. The schedule will be posted separately, and will contain instructions for signing up. There will be 4 rounds. At the beginning of each round a challenge will be posted on this website. You will then have a set number of days (usually a little more than a week) to write, record & send in your song, which should meet the conditions of the challenge.

There will be a short break between each round. During this time the songs will be played at a listening party, and the judges will voted on them, review them, and prep for the next round.


Judges will not compete in the contest, but will be allowed to shadow if they choose. Any shadow on which a judge has collaborated will not be eligible for Wild Card Reinstatement.

Judges will collectively determine whether each song met or failed to meet the challenge. Songs that fail to meet the challenge will be disqualified. Songs that met the challenge will be ranked.

Each round, the judges will rank all the songs of that round from their favorite to least favorite. Although judges are encouraged to take how well the songs met the challenge into account, ultimately, judging is by personal preference, and the criteria for ranking is the prerogative of each individual judge. JUDGES' RANKINGS ARE FINAL. They need not be explained.

I will not officially rank songs unless one of the judges cannot judge that round. Then I may step in.


Scoring is by rank. Each judge will rank the songs 1 (most favorite) to n (least favorite)  Then the songs will be sorted according to total score (low to high). The winner of the round has the lowest total score.

If there is a tie, I will determine the winner. If I am acting as a temporary judge, then in case of a tie the songs will be ranked in the order they were submitted.

Scoring is not cumulative.


There are several ways to be eliminated from the contest:

  • If you fail to meet a deadline,
  • If your official entry is disqualified for failing to meet the challenge,
  • If you score is below the elimination cutoff
  • If you exhibit poor sportsmanship

The cutoff is determined by the number of competitors at the start of the competition. There will be 4 competitors in the final round. So I'll subtract 4 from the number of competitors in Round One and divide the remainder by 3. That's the number of people who will be eliminated each round. It will not matter how they are eliminated, so even if you don't score well you might get lucky if a lot of people fail to meet the deadline or challenge. That makes it worth your while to submit a song even if you don't think it's good or if the challenge is particularly hard.

Final Round:

SpinTunes is "first past the post".  The top-ranked four competitors in Round Three will pass on to the final round.

If one of the top four fails to submit a song, then a Round 4 shadow posted by the next highest ranked competitor will be promoted to official entry. (See Wild Card Reinstatement, below)

In this round, the judges do not vote, although they'll still review the songs.

Instead, everyone who has been eliminated in any of the preceding rounds (who also submitted at least 1 song) plus the contestants themselves will be allowed to rank the songs.

If there is a tie, the judges will vote to break the tie.

If there is still a tie, then I will choose the winner.


Challenges can be anything. You could be given a theme, restrictions, a technical challenge, a song title, a mood, a story, a character type... anything.

There are some basic requirements for all challenges. They won't be listed every time, so here they are:

  1. For the purposes of this contest, a "song" is defined as having lyrics and music. Unless specifically stated otherwise, you must include both.
  2. Rap is ok, but the music must be substantially original. 
  3. Spoken word is risky, but it might be ok, so long as the music is distinctively original and integral to the piece. 
  4. Unless specifically requested, instrumentals are not ok.
  5. You must provide written (that is, readable) lyrics when you submit your song (see below). Those lyrics must actually appear in the song as performed. Minor deviations are common... people sometimes sing a few words differently from the written lyrics... but you cannot submit an instrumental and a separate lyrics sheet.
  6. You are not required to use the title of the challenge in the song.

Hopefully you're forced to do things you've never done before.

The challenges will be chosen or created by myself and the judges before the contest starts. The SpinTunes Suggestion Box has been active for a while now and some of the challenges may be taken from or inspired by suggestions there. You're encouraged to continue submitting suggestions as they come to you.

As we choose challenges, the judges an I will make an effort to devise judging criteria. You may get hints when the challenge is posted, so read carefully. Keep in mind that anything you're told to do, you must do, so getting too "clever" with the challenges can be risky. However, anything not spelled out is up to interpretation, and creativity is important. The judges may or may not be forthcoming on what is valuable in their eyes. Make your choices and do your best.


SpinTunes is unique in that you're encouraged to play along even if you're not competing. Sometimes it's just fun to try a challenge... sometimes you might want to "test drive" the contest before signing up as a competitor. Or you may have been eliminated in an earlier round, and still want to continue.

You can still submit your effort as a "shadow" entry. These unofficial entries will be played at the listening party and will be included in the album, but they will not be ranked. Individual judges may choose to review shadows, but they are not obligated to do so.

Shadows don't have to be new. Since they're not ranked, there's no risk in taking more liberties with the challenge. HOWEVER...

Wild Card Reinstatements

IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE REINSTATED into the competition after having been eliminated. Here's how that works:

If the number of people who submit songs in a round is less than the pre-defined cut-off, I may re-instate a competitor who has provided a "shadow" for the current round (see Shadows, below). For instance, if there are 8 competitors in Round Three, but only 7 of them submit entries, then I may "promote" a qualifying Round Three shadow from someone who was eliminated in Round Two. If nobody from Round Two shadowed, but someone from Round One did, I may promote their shadow. This holds true for every round, including the final round.

Once promoted, that shadow is judged and ranked on equal footing with all of the other entries from that round. Furthermore, that competitor may move forward in the competition as if they had never been eliminated.

It is conceivable that a person who was eliminated in an early round could shadow, be promoted, and win the competition, but only if the shadow they submit meets the challenge.



  1. Shadow entries that are submitted late are not eligible for Wild Card Reinstatement. (Think about it... it would just be immediately DQ'd again)
  2. Your shadow must meet the challenge. Again, I'm not going to promote a shadow that I'm going to have to disqualify.
  3. Only shadows entered by those who were eliminated by rankings may be reinstated. An artist eliminated by disqualification will not be reinstated.
  4. A shadow on which a judge appears as a collaborator will not be reinstated due to conflict of interest. (My advice: if you want to collaborate on a shadow with a judge, it's fine, but enter another shadow minus the judge for safety).

Submitting Entries:

  1. An entry must be received by the given deadline. Otherwise it will be posted as a shadow, and the competitor will be eliminated. "Received" means that I must have received a link to the finished song by the given deadline. I will be going by the time stamp on the e-mail in my inbox. PLEASE do not wait until the last hour to send me something. If there is a blackout in your area, your computer crashes, or your dog actually eats your thumb drive...I will not care. One minute late is too late.  Deadlines are given in the US Eastern time zone.
  2. You are allowed to send in a "safety" draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens and you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song and send in a better version closer to the deadline. If you miss the deadline for the polished version, then the safety version will be used for judging. However, after judging is done, then the polished version will be included in the album.
    1. Send your file in a format that Bandcamp accepts. (.aiff, .wav or .flac) (at least 16-bit/44.1kHz) You can find the specific requirements for Bandcamp files HERE. Do not send MP3s.
    2. Name your file the song's title + the bandname, but without spaces & punctuation. Like this: "SummerRain-DrLindyke.wav"
    3. Title of the e-mail should identify the challenge and your band's name. Something like this would be fine: "ST13R1 - Dr. Lindyke".
    4. Include the song lyrics in the body of the e-mail. (remember, no instrumentals)
    5. Include information on anyone that needs credited if you collaborated with someone.
    1. If you have a BandCamp account you can just send me a link to your song if you include all the info I mentioned for emails. Make sure you have it set as a free download, and have it set so that I don't have to put in an e-mail to download it if you pick this option. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION! It guarantees that your file will contain all the proper information and will be in the right format.
    1. Sound Cloud
    2. Drop Box
    3. Something I haven't thought of
    4. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. Include in the email any required information (such as lyrics) that you couldn't include in the file. Please follow directions so your file doesn't wind up in my spam or trash folder accidentally.

Song Hosting (the BandCamp Album):

Each round I'll be uploading the songs onto BandCamp as an album. The songs will be set for free download only. BandCamp makes it easy to download songs, you can share one song individually or the album as a whole.

If you want to be entered into the contest, you must agree to the following:

You allow your song to be on the album and made available to everyone under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This license allows us to re-distribute the songs and publish them on our Bandcamp page, but leaves you with all other rights. You retain all commercial ownership of your songs. If additional permissions are required for other purposes, we'll ask you.
You allow your song to be played at the listening party and repeated on the recording of the LP on YouTube. (the license allows this)

Otherwise, best of of luck to you, but this is not the contest for you.


If you are fortunate enough to win the contest, you will win the admiration and respect of your peers and a Highly Coveted No-Prize.

No trophy. No cash. We might come up with some token, but the real prize is knowing you won and the music itself. If you need gifts and thousands of fans to motivate you to write songs then this competition ain't for you.

The winner will be allowed to be a judge in the next competition, unless they wish to compete.

Listening Party:

Tom Giarrosso ("Tommy G") will be hosting the listening party (the "LP") for each round (he will also help with uploading). This will be live-streamed on YouTube shortly after the submission deadline for each round and will be recorded for replay on demand. Recordings may be made accessible through public access channels under the same Creative Commons license. Tommy G will explain how that works at the first LP or in the SpinTunes Facebook group.

This is your chance to get together with the other competitors in one virtual place while the songs are played for the very first time. SpinTunes is a very supportive community, so come get your ego stroked.

Meet The Judges:

List of judges: TBA

  • I am the alternate judge. If a judge is unable to do his/her job, I'll step in and take over. If the judge has to withdraw from the contest totally, I'll fill in until I can find a replacement. If I happen to have a guest judge lined up already, there will be no need for me to step in as alternate.
  • There could be "Guest Judges" who drop by from time to time. I'm not promising anything, but if I can swing something cool for you all I want to leave that open as a possibility. When a guest judge ranks and reviews a round, it does count toward the scores for the round. If a song is disqualified by the regular judges, the guest judge's rankings will be edited to stay in line with the judges decision. 

Judge Responsibilities:

  1. Before the contest starts, the judges will...
    1. Make and choose challenges in the soooper-secret virtual batcave they'll be invited to.
  2. Each round, the judges will
    1. Weigh in on whether entries failed to meet the challenge. Typically we'll have 48 hours after the songs get posted to do that. I am the final arbiter for disqualifications, so if you don't speak up in that window of time you'll have to live with a decision I make on my own.  I typically go with the majority decision of those who speak up.
    2. Rank the entries for each round. 
      1. If a song has been disqualified, it is ranked last, even if you think it shouldn't have been disqualified.
      2. If a song has not been disqualified and you think it should have been, you're free to rank it as your conscience dictates.
    3. Review entries each round. Shadow entries don't have to be reviewed, but it would be nice if you found the time. You can type up your review or you can vlog it on YouTube. If you decide to vlog your review on YouTube, it needs to be kept private until after I post the reviews on the blog.
  3. Judges are responsible for checking their e-mail, and being generally accessible, especially on deadline nights. Sometimes issues requiring a decision just pop up.


For those of you that don't want to check this blog every day, but also use Twitter, I'll be posting updates on Twitter as well. @SpinTunes was created just for this contest, so we'll use it. You can unfollow it right after the contest if you want, my ego can take it.

There is a Twitter list that includes all the judges & competitors (SpinTunes List). Well, at least all the ones I know that are on Twitter.

Song Sharing:

They're your songs.  You are allowed to share your songs before the LP. In my opinion the songs will be better if you can go to another musician in this contest, share what you've got and get feedback. So if you want to share with a few friends or fellow competitors before the listening party feel free to do so.

Feel free to use your entries elsewhere, such as FAWM, Song Fight, Nur Ein, etc., keeping in mind the requirement that SpinTunes entries must be original, newly written, and meet the challenge.


I would prefer it if you kept it low key, and not pimp it all over the net (via Twitter, YouTube, etc...) until after the LP, but that's up to you as well. It does take a little excitement away from the LP if people have already heard the songs. Common sense.

Just don't try to get feedback from a judge, or from me since I'm an alternate.

Re-recording & Remixes:

In previous contests some people sent their song in on time, but then after the deadline wanted to post an updated version onto the album (they added bells & whistles).

That's fine, but you will be judged by what you turned in before the deadline, which is also what will be played at the LP. Remixes will not be added to the album until after the judging is finished for that round.

So anyone who decides they want to make a better mix of their song, and have it replace the one they sent before...that's fine. Send me the info, and I'll switch the files out. I might not do it instantly, but it will be done. These songs are something you should be proud of, and some people are bugged by not being able to add everything they want in that small window I give hopefully this helps...while still being fair.

In the end, album order is determined by how you scored in the round. But until the judges have scored the round, album order is originally determined by submission order.

Your order on the album will change if you send in an updated file. Keep in mind that this can be important to tie-breakers!!!

Multiple Songs:

You can enter ONE official entry each round until you are eliminated. There is no limit on how many shadow songs you can enter each round. If you are still in the contest and have multiple songs you wish to enter, you just have to pick of them to be your official entry, while the others are listed as a shadows.

If you do submit more than one shadow to a round after you've been eliminated from a previous round, you should indicate which shadow you would have submitted had you been a competitor.

Collaborations are OK. In fact, you're encouraged to collaborate with other competitors. Each band, though, should have a separate email address and a separate contact person.

Wrap Up:

I sadly live in the Real World, as do all of you. At times I may be busy with work and other responsibilities. I will enlist the help of judges and a few other trusted members of our community to help out from time to time. Don't be shocked if someone other than myself responds to you via one of the SpinTunes social media outlets.

Banned Individuals:

There are no banned persons at this time.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

SpinTunes #13 Winner: JERKATORIUM!

Winner: Jerkatorium (31 points)

Runner Up: Menage a Tune (38 points)
3rd: Jailhouse Payback (44 points)
4th: Sara Parsons (47 points)

Jerkatorium: (3 + 1 2 1 1 1 1 3 4 1 2 1 2)
Menage a Tune: (4 3 1 1 1 4 4 3 2 2 2 2 1 2 4 2)
Jailhouse Payback: (2 2 4 4 3 3 2 2 3 1 3 4 3 4 3 1)
Sara Parsons: (1 4 3 2 4 2 3 4 4 4 1 3 4 3 1 4)

Votes* were cast by:
Army Defense - Micah Sommersmith - Rob from Amersfoort - Governing Dynamics - Melissa Phillips - Kevin Savino-Riker - Boffo Yux Dudes - Megalodon - Jerkatorium - Jailhouse Payback - Boy on the Wall - Sara Parsons - Emperor Gum - Little Bobby Tables - Edric Haleen - Menage a Tune

* With the exception of Boy on the Wall (who wrote reviews), votes are private so the order of both these names and the scores were scrambled.

Congratulations JERKATORIUM!

Thanks and congrats to every one of the finalists, as well as to all those who competed as well as the judges and anyone I've left out. If you've done this, you already know that while winning is nice, the real reward is getting together to make and share music with friends both new and old.

Special thank-yous to Tom Giarrosso, who hosts our listening parties, as well as to Matt "Shoobs" Schubbe, the superb graphic designer who constantly delights us with his album covers, each one a graphical take on the challenge that you answer musically.

SpinTunes #13 Judges: 
Brian Gray - Denise Hudson - Paul Rosenbluth - Daniel Prince - Dave Cheetham
Guest Judges: 
Round 2: Josh Holober-Ward
Round 4: Caleb Hines
Alternate Judge: Dave Leigh

I've had a blast being in the driver's seat this first time. The next scheduled SpinTunes will be this Winter, so make sure you follow @SpinTunes on Twitter for contest updates.  

But we will have OTHER SPECIAL EVENTS from time-to-time! One of the suggestions we received in the Suggestion Box is to have year-long string of Holiday challenges. Keep your eye on Twitter and Facebook for that as well!

And in the meantime, remember that you can keep writing songs and keep answering challenges. Song Fight offers a new prompt every week, and many SpinTuners compete there as well, so check it out!

If you've completed at least 1 song for SpinTunes, at any time now or in the past, you are also welcome to join the SpinTunes Facebook group.  It's a good way to keep in touch, and we post about related news in there as well, and generally just pal around.

ST13R4 Reviews: Boy on the Wall

Dave's Note: Boy on the Wall stepped it up a notch and sent in reviews of the four contestants along with his rankings. They're presented here. And if anyone else wants to write reviews, feel free to do so... I'll be happy to post them.

1. Jerkatorium

Jerkatorium absolutely knocked it out of the park. The two distinct characters' voices, the two distinct musical moods to match those voices, the seamless "eclipse" effect, the merger of message and music, phewwwww this is probably my favorite song of any round of the whole contest, just brilliant stuff. I want to hear a whole Jerkatorium stage musical after hearing this!! Maaaybe the first "song" is a little short and spare - could it truly stand alone? I think so, at least up to the same standard as the example that Dave gave us when announcing the round. There are three distinct melodies/sections there, very very efficiently. Great job, guys. 

2. Menage a Tune

Ranking this one higher almost exclusively on the strength of the interlocking melodies and music of the "eclipse" portion of the piece - I really liked how the melodies worked and how the orchestration rose up in support of them at the end. It's beautiful. I can see this on the stage as well, though definitely with different lyrics. The lyrical content didn't rise to the same level as the music for me, at least not until that last line of "happy to share the sky with you," which is great, and "I have learned that I shine best in your reflected glory." I would have loved a version that started with those images, with the sun and moon as the actual characters. In this version, the word "rebels" especially took me out of the music - both because Civil War iconography is literally headline news this week - did you mean to invoke that? I kinda hope not! - and because it was never clear how songwriting competitors are rebelling against anything. But the music just really works so well for me in the end! 

3. Sara Parsons

Sara and Jailhouse were really really close for me, but I'm giving the edge to Sara because of the cool lyrical approach of taking two different moments in the same character's development/story. Sara's melodies are both great - they really match the moods of the lyrics well (not unlike Jerkatorium). I love when that happens! Also daring to try to map 4/4 on top of 3/4 time! Or merge your v1 4/4 melody into 3/4 at the end? I think that's what you did there. But, whether because of the meter(s) or the phrasing of the lines, the eclipse portion of the song wound up a little cluttered and hard to parse for me, and it didn't quite achieve that emotional elevating effect. 

4. Jailhouse Payback

It's brutal to have to put such a great effort last, sheesh! Such a strong round overall! And this one was an attempt to actually engage with pressing issues in the country in a thoughtful way, with powerful imagery linked to the eclipse - I really appreciated that. All three of these sections really stand alone as whole, complete songs, nice job. It does become a haul to get through, though; there are stops and starts and empty measures that I would have liked to see cut, and you probably exceeded the limit for (admittedly brilliant) guitar solos in one submission. The two characters seem like nice, thoughtful people (friends? romantic partners? family?), but their perspectives weren't really different, the way Jerkatorium's and Sara's were, to good effect. I do really like how the two chorus lines land on top of each other in the final portion, though. 

Thanks for everything! Looking forward to Spintunes 14!

ST13R4 Reviews: Paul Rosenbluth

Okay, round four.  Wow!  What great entries.  I’ve been told there was an easy way to approach this challenge but I honestly don’t know how you all pulled this off.  To be honest, the first time I listened through all the songs, I thought they were good, some things stood out but overall my impression was “okay.”  Then I listened again and again and again and each time I heard more complexity and depth.  Some really ingenious work here.  Congratulations to all!

So here we go…

Menage a Tune - Rebels Out For Glory / Reflected Glory 06:33
Such a pretty song melodically!  Really fine lyrics that paint some beautiful images. I really liked each song separately and really love them together.  In the second song, the moon really gets a personality.  The combined songs add an intangible element and are a whole new thing.  Also love the end of the song and the line “happy to share the sky with you.”  Simply gold!

Jailhouse Payback - Path of Totality / Oregon to Myrtle Beach 08:38
I really like the contrast of the longing style of the first with the upbeat tempo of the second.  The two complement each other very nicely.  I especially like the guitar work in the second piece.  Excellent lyrics and enjoyed the Spanish flavor to the music.  Excellent!

Sara Parsons - Eclipse 04:04
Smart lyrics.  A light, happy melody.  Beautiful vocals (as always).  Interesting to start the first song with the upbeat and follow with the slower song.  The two really sound good together.  Marvelous!

Jerkatorium - Oh No / Sunblock (ft Sheri Hinshaw) 02:52
This is quite genius the more I listen to it.  The first song really passes for an intro into the second as if one song and the combination is perfect.  The second song is catchy and fun with nice accents and harmonies with the background vocals.  So seamless.  Really impossible to tell if this is one song, two, or three.  Outstanding work!

Governing Dynamics - Tension (Shadow) 04:24
Really thoughtful lyrics in a very thoughtful piece.  Great delivery.  Some awesome lines in here: “and we try to let love win and hope that won’t leave us with nothing.”  Also, “there’s right and there’s wrong and there’s wool over eyes.”  Great images.  Very well done!

Glen Raphael - Be Kind / Call Names (ft. Melissa Phillips) (Shadow) 03:48
Really enjoyed hearing Glen and Melissa together.  Two good songs. Really nice together considering how different each is alone.  I like the cheeky mood of the second with the guitar punctuation marks and sassy vocal styling.  I also enjoyed the percussion element – spoons?  Very fine work!

Army Defense - Wabasha Shadows (Shadow) 10:04
A nice, catchy composition.  Smart, creative lyrics.  The songs complement each other well.  Love the line “Just because you want it doesn't make it so.”  Really fine work.

Micah Sommersmith - Song About the Sun and the Moon (Shadow) 03:32
Very Micah Sommersmith.  A signature style that made it a little difficult to distinguish the two songs but I guess how they work together is the point.  I could see this song being sung by minstrels in a “Game of Thrones” episode.  Nice work!

Rob From Amersfoort - Dance Around The Sun - The Moon King (Shadow) 03:13
Enjoyed this more and more the more I listened to it.  Reminiscent of a lost deep track from the Beatles’ “White Album.”  Nicely done!

ST13R4 Reviews: Caleb Hines

Dave's Note: Caleb had the temerity to come out of the hermit cave he's been in and express an interest in this challenge. Seeing as this musical technique (which is called ) originated during the baroque period which is still lives on in Caleb, I invited him to be a guest judge.


My name's Caleb. Many of you know me already, but for those who don't, I was an early contestant in SpinTunes, and it's predecessor, Masters of Song Fu (which I joined after discovering the music of Coutlon). Aside from that, I’m a software engineer with a strong interest in historical music, especially of the Baroque and Renaissance, and an interest in music theory. Since those eras deal heavily in counterpoint, and this challenge involves counterpoint, Dave asked if I'd guest judge this round. I agreed, although I haven't been following SpinTunes since I stopped participating, which means some of you may have been around for a while but I'm just hearing you for the first time.

One of the things I'll be looking for specifically in this round is how well contrasted the two songs are. The ranking probably doesn’t matter from me, but my method is really simple: everyone starts with a score of zero, and will get +/-1's for things I do or don't like. Yes, this means that zero and negative scores are possible. As with any music judging, my opinions, although hopefully informed and constructive, are subjectively my own: there may be things I don’t like that were deliberate choices on your part. Tough luck.

Jailhouse Payback: Path of Totality / Oregon
-1 This pair of songs lasted longer than my attention span; I got bored. It probably didn't need so many verses and solos.
-1 The two songs don't feel that different to me musically, one feels like a continuation of the other, making this entry's length feel all the more monotonous.
-1 The lyrics are phrased in such a way as they are often both on or both off. It might have been better if you could fill the "whitespace" between phrases in one song with a phrase from the other song.
+1 Although the chorus is just a short hook, I do like the counterpoint there.
+1 Even though the song was too long, I did enjoy the guitar solo, although I had hoped there would be a double-solo when the two songs combined.
+1 I'm not sure how, but your production does a good job of distinguishing the parts, so they are both easy to hear when together.

Total Score: +0

Jerkatorium: Oh No / Sunblock
+1 This is fun to listen to! And it doesn't overstay it's welcome.
+1 Musically, these songs are definitely different. Good combination of half-notes against sixteenth-notes. Almost like the first is a cantus firmus.
-1 The first set of lyrics are a bit hard to hear during the combined section. Maybe panning them would have helped
+1 The last four lines make effective use of whitespace between phrases to bounce between lyrics.

Total Score: +2

Menage a Tune: Rebels Out For Glory / Reflected Glory
-1 First song uses “meta-lyrics”. I've been there before: they can be fun to do, and it's an easy topic. But in the long run it reduces the repeatability of this song and it feels a bit lazy.
+1 I like the lyrics in the second half. At first, the two topics didn't seem that connected logically, but I there is a loose connection there in terms of seeking "glory".
+1 Good contrast between the guitar in the first half and the ethereal synth soundscape in the second half.
+0 Heavily EQ'ing the guitar as you did (and later, the male voice at the end) is a good idea to "make room" acoustically, but the mix still feels a bit crowded in the combined section, and JoAnn's voice is muddled in parts. Since this is more likely due to the available equipment I'm not taking off for it, but I can tell that you're working around it (been there, done that).

Total Score: +1

Sara Parsons: Eclipse
+1 Really great job combining major and minor keys to get two contrasting moods, and weaving them together seamlessly.
+1 Lyrically, these two songs clearly relate to each other and combine into a unified whole.
+0 Woot! Ukulele! No bonus points for that, but I won't hold it against you. :-D
-1 Clipping in the recording makes this painful on headphones. I expected better.
Total Score: +1

Tie breaker between Menage a Tune and Sara Parsons:
+0.5 to Sara Parsons for being the song that would be more enjoyable to re-listen to.

1 Jerkatorium
2 Sara Parsons
3 Menage a Tune
4 Jailhouse Payback


Governing Dynamics: Tension
+1 Good use of differing vocal registers and panning to distinguish your voices.
-1 Full disclosure: I often find GD's songs somewhat rambly for my taste (sorry Travis).
+1 Typical good performance and production values from GD to create a soothing electronic soundscape.

Total Score: +1

Glen Raphael: Be Kind / Call Names
+1 This is a good example of how to do political lyrics without incitement
+1 The rhyming of Fuhrer and Mao was cleverly done :-)
+1 Good independence between between the two melodies, (and when they both rest, you add interesting guitar fills).
+1 Exceptional production & performance
-1 Connection to the eclipse is weak

Total Score: +3 (This would have won for me, if it wasn't a shadow)

Micah Sommersmith: Song About the Sun and the Moon
+1 Finally! Some real Renaissance polyphony! And in Latin, even! Sweet! :-D
-1 The two main songs aren't that different stylistically, more like two half-songs (it actually works for what you're going for, but I need to be consistent).
+1 You throw in a third song that is stylistically different (the Latin), and fits over the other two so you get a bonus point back.
+1 The two main songs are well-designed to fit into each other. This takes my earlier advice about filling in the whitespace in one song with the other to the extreme.

Total Score: +2

Rob From Amersfoort - Dance Around The Sun - The Moon King
-1 The mood of the music should support the mood of the text: e.g. the first half is singing about being happy, but sounds like a dirge.
-1 The ponderously-repeated four block-chord phrases get very monotonous and make this difficult to listen to.
-1 Too much EQ on the second voice makes it hard to understand
+1 Combined vocals are well-panned

Total Score: -2

Army Defense - Wabasha Shadows
-1 I have no idea what these songs are about, or how the music supports it.
-1 This lasts way too long.
+1 There's some stylistic difference between the songs, and the mix is adequate.

Total Score: -1