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January 2018 Instrumental Competition

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(First things first - thanks to Salley Gardens, the moderator who began the first instrumental contests, and who laid the foundation for the rest.)

Muse Songwriters January 2018 Instrumental Competition

*This thread is for posting entries.* Discussions on the competition are HERE.

Dates: Post your entries here from now until January 31st. Submit scores to Moso via PM from Thursday Feb 1st to Monday Feb 12th. This gives a week and two weekends for people to get a good listen and make their decisions. 

Purpose: to stimulate the creation of music, music education, and music discussion for those of all abilities and means.


Primary Criteria

  1. This comp is to encourage musical creation, discussion, and knowledge. All participants must include what their goals were in regards to their submitted songs. Entrants are also encouraged to share other notes about submissions, such as that along the lines of composition, production, and engineering.
  2. This being an instrumental competition, lyrics of any kind are excluded, including being typed in videos or in the comp topics.

Entry Parameters

  • When posting, please include a brief description, including the intent of the piece. (examples: This is a solo guitar piece I’m playing that modulates through several keys; This is an instrumental I’m sending to TAXI for placement; This is for a song, the backing track is made with samples in my DAW, and the melody is played by me on the sax; This is only the backing track for a song; This is a string quartet exported from Band-in-a-Box, and not meant to be radio ready but played by live musicians; etc.)
  • Participants are encouraged to share technical notes about their piece, such as composition and production, in order to facilitate musical dialogue.
  • Anything without recognizable words is acceptable. As an instrumental contest, lyrics of any kind, including including those written with the entry in the post, audio, or video, are to be excluded. Talking in the background (as might be overheard in a live venue, but not part of the music) is acceptable.
  • Entries can be any length.
  • Entries must be methodically crafted, as opposed to simply improvising on your instrument with the record button on. If you want to use improvisation(s) in layered tracks crafted together, that’s acceptable.
  • Entries may include instruments being played live and/or virtual instruments. Anything that makes noise is considered an instrument, if you wish it to be. This includes vocal sounds using "oohs" and "aahhs", "la la", and scatting, for example.
  • You are allowed to ask for help from any source regarding playing, recording, mixing, etc. Credit must be given to others involved (collaborations; musicians; recording/mixing tech help; etc.) in the entry post.
  • Videos are allowed, as well as the standard audio files via SoundClick, SoundCloud, etc.
  • Entries previously posted on the Muse in any of the forums are allowed, with the exception of songs previously entered in competitions. 


  • Any member of the Muse may score the entries.
  • Each entry should be scored on its own, and not compared to or ranked against the other entries.
  • When voting, please consider how well you believe the entrant met his/her goals and objectives.
  • Score from 1 to 10, with 10 being highest. Entrants must score all the other entries. The moderator reserves the right to have your own score as a mean of the scores you give others. 
  • PM your scores to me with "Jan 2018 Inst Comp" in the subject area during the scoring period. 
  • It might be helpful to take notes at the time of scoring, to share as feedback after the results are announced. (not required)

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Hey folks here is my entry:

"Song for Ava"  (technically I guess it's not a song proper without lyrics)


Goals:  My goal was singular and that was to write a piece for my niece.

Techincal Notes:  I don't know much about jazz so I thought I could look up a few jazz chords and apply them.  In one spot I did fall back on the old II-V-I progression but for a lot of it I tried to figure out the right chords for what I heard in my head.  The same goes for the melody.  I don't know much music theory and mainly play in terms of patterns (of scales/modes, and chords) on the fretboard.  I suppose purists frown on such activity but what are you gonna do?   

Gear:  Guitar, mic, Garageband



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Song title - "Along The Way"

copyright 2012 - Tom Hoffman

All writing, arrangement, performance, recording & final production are my work also.



My intent was non-specific. I was interested in creating something that contrasted my earlier instrumental efforts, which were both alternative genre.

I was going for something pretty, flowing & heavily melodic...something consistent with the title.

Bottom line...I wrote it for the same reason I write everything...because I wanted to <_<

Of the 2 songs that fit this contest criteria, I chose this one because it hasn't been used for much, other than my mother's funeral.

She passed away Christmas Eve 2012...I knew it was one of her favorites, so we found a way to incorporate it into the service. I think she would have been pleased. ;)


Structurally, the song is basic...written in the key of C.

All the instrumentation is real, with the exception of some percussion elements (wood block, congas & primary drum kit).

Those parts were structured & recorded first, using an old Dr. Rhythm drum machine (Boss DR 670).

Crash cymbals & triangle were recorded on separate tracks using actual instruments to achieve a more natural sounding decay.

Once basic percussion was recorded, all other tracks were recorded one-by-one using a 24-track Tascam deck, like you one you see in the photo below.


All mixing, editing & final production was done on this same system.

Additional equipment used - Gibson SG, Fender Strat, mid-priced Yamaha acoustic guitar, Peavey Fury Bass, Yamaha P80 digital keyboard, $100 MXL condenser mic


Unfortunately, the only version I have online right now is video format, so that's the one I'll have to use.

If you click on the photo below, that should open up the YouTube video.







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