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Stretch Yourself...

Songwritng is an art. It is a skill. Like any other human exertion, it requires muscles to be trained, honed and focused on producing a world beating performance.

In 2011, I initiated a Song Writing Challenge over at the Propellerhead Reason forums. It all stemmed back to a "conversation" I had with a forum member who had been moaning about the lack of certain features in the newly announced version of Reason 6. This individual spent an inordinate amount of time arguing and generally being a fool so after a while I said, "Wouldn't it be great if you could channel all this energy into actually making some music."

Sadly, but quite expectedly, he didn't rise to the challenge, but it gave me an idea. I began to question why people spent hundreds of pounds or dollars on a music making tool, to then sit on the internet and talk about it, rather than make music. So I decided to set up a challenge and get people to make music. And so, the Failed Muso Song Challenges were born.

The format is simple. I set a challenge and line up a judge. The judge is an industry professional. You compose a piece of music that complies with the specific parameters of the challenge and your music gets scrutinsed by a professional. If your work is judged to be the best, you win a prize. It's simple.

Take a look below to see what has gone before. Check out the challenges, the judges and the prizes. And then decide whether you're up to the task and join in the next one.

Challenge One - The Inaugural Challenge

The inaugural challenge was done purely to counter the negativity that rose up on the Reason forums as Reason 6 was announced. Suffice to say, it was well attended and did the trick! Big thanks to Propellerhead Software for donating three copies of the Disco School Refill for the 3 top entries! The judges for the challenge were the Reason community themselves. From this challenge, all others grew and flourished...

Click here to listen to the entries.

Challenge Two - Additions

After the rough and readiness of the first challenge, I set out to put some kind of consistent framework around the whole process. Challenge Two saw me take on board the first Third Party ReFill developer, Jiggery Pokery, as well as our first "big name" judge, Mark Reeder. The rules stated that all entrants had to use Jiggery Pokery's Additives ReFill (a free demo of the Additions ReFill) and nothing else except their choice of percussion, to come up with their piece. Suffice to say, the entrants rose to the challenge, and came up with some amazing results. The winner was Brent Rosen (aka Dig Team One), with his track "Getting Jiggery Wit' It"

Click here to listen to the entries.
Challenge Three - Fairlight XXL

This challenge used the exquisite and expansive soundlibrary produced by Patrick Fridh and his Bitley sound design company, capturing the heart and essence of the legendary Fairlight CMI IIx. And it also saw electronic music legend Martyn Ware of Human League, Heaven 17 and B.E.F. fame take on the judging duties. The winning track was a "two in a row" for Brent Rosen and his song "The 80s ?!?"

Click here to listen to the entries.

Challenge Four - VAST

The fourth Song Challenge saw entrants use the sublime VAST sound library, developed by Tom Pritchard. This distinctly ethereal and atmospheric collection of sounds inspired our entrants to greater heights in their compositional skills, all of which were ably judged by the co-founder of GForce Software, Dave Spiers. And the winner this time was Matt Black, under his guise of The Quixotes with his track "The Failing Muse" (Nice to know I inspire people's song titles too!)

Click here to listen to the entries.

Challenge Five - Synth Nation

Challenge five saw us take on the superb Synth Nation sample library, produced by SampleFiends. A huge amount of electronic sounds, complemented by a much freer reign in terms of restrictions saw our entrants really letting go, using all sorts of sounds and FX to impress our judge, Marc Doty, better known as Automatic Gainsay as well as being Moog Music's educational "go-to guy". After much deliberation, Marc bestowed winning glory to Martin Brown and his track "Call Me"

Click here to listen to the entries.

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