Tips for Writing a Critical Review
    The Gilded Serpent

  • Read a few professional critics’ reviews in a newspaper or other reputable publication.
  • Write the title of your reviewed item, the name of the person who made it, your name, and the date.
  • Tell the story about your involvement with the video, CD, play, show, recital, etc. Explain any circumstances which may make a difference in your review (ie, producer is my mentor, I missed the 2nd half of the show, etc).
  • Explain the artists' intent, if one is obvious.
  • Start with the most outstanding parts of the presentation—good or bad--and pick out your theme similar to the headline in a newspaper. (Elementary choreography saved by exquisite dancers) (Hearts break as dancer completes her million-dollar contract)
  • Maintain objectivity. This is not about free promotion, it is valuable information about a product or event to inform our readers and perhaps educate the producers / entertainers by providing constructive feedback.
  • If appropriate, maintain a sense of wit or humor. This keeps the reader entertained. However, be cautious of too much sarcasm, which is often misinterpreted in print.
  • Mention only the pertinent points that catch your attention—not every detail and everything in the performance. Keep the review short and to the point.
  • Pick a tense and stick to it doggedly (present, past tense, future, past perfect, etc).
  • Stay in the positive while writing: (positively) “I noticed that he was the clumsiest dancer on the face of the planet,” rather than (negatively) “I don’t think that there was ever a better performance.”
  • Never, ever, use the words: nice, good, bad, worst, interesting, get, got, liked, fabulous, spectacular or great. Instead, draw word pictures for your readers by describing things, such as: “Gummy rivulets of pale goo ran lazily down both sides of the silver bowl he handed me with a grandiose flourish reminding me of The Three Musketeers.” Rather than: “He gets me a big bowl of something like food, and so I like it because I thought it was really fabulous and real nice of him.”
  • Send GS a photo of the event, CD, book, whatever, if you have one.
  • Give your honest personal opinion as an artistic judgment rather than “sentimental feel good statements” to protect or inflate the artists’ egos. There is a difference between giving your honest artistic opinion and slander. Slander is for the purpose of destroying someone’s reputation. It is a question of intent.
  • Believe in your artistic judgment as a human; you do not have to be able to hang from your teeth in a glittering costume yourself in order to tell a story about someone who did it or tried to do it. Employing your artistic judgment is completely different from passing judgment upon a person’s soul. Stand up for your opinions, we will be standing behind your right to express yourself. Don't ask us to take your review down because you can't stand the pressure.
  • Use your spell check.
  • Try to remember and follow your high school grammar rules for writing even though that is not the way you normally talk. (Our editors will attempt to catch what you don’t!)
  • Do not use your review as a way of advertising an event or peripheral items.
  • Try to sum up your theme at the end with a humorous statement if the review was positive or hopeful statement or comment if you considered it negative.

Thank you for your truth.
Our community as a whole will benefit from your observations.

Zil Rating
GS would appreciate writers using this scale if possible. The following explanations are for
audio recordings but please apply in a similar fashion to other types of reviews. This rating was first implemented with Sadira's review of multiple drum solo CDs posted in 2003. Sadira's fine article is an example in how this rating system is useful.
Thank you!

= Below average in quality and or recording . Pieces are poorly presented and stylized. Not enough variation. Average level of audience interest, but does not sustain throughout the whole recording.
= Average musical presentation. Standard rhythm forms are focused upon and used. Level useful for students with which to learn. Useable as class instructional music. Some variety.
= High level of presentation. Excellent use of sound and mixing. Clarity and consistency throughout recording. Original and passionate use of pieces. Rhythm styles are varied and performed with a high degree of variety and overlay. Useful to professionals for solo or group music selections in public format. Individuals can feel the interweaving of complexity and use of other percussion elements woven in. High caliber level of drumming skills and technique. Multi-audience versatile.
= a Full Set! Masterful use of drum and personal stylizing of drumming. Ability to incorporate one rhythmic scale into many overlays and expressions. Professional sound engineering and quality. Dramatic, use of more then one or two percussive instruments. Original and artistic in composition and depth. Soul stirring, imagery evoking, and dance provoking.

= 1/2 zil increments if you really need to! (whoever heard of 1/2 a zil!)









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