EDIT (19/5/12) - Tomppaah was awesome enough to master this so I've uploaded his mastered version. Please go check out his music - a lot of his tracks are in a similar style to this and he has some really amazing stuff.
Wow, this took me ages. I started it on the 15th of January and now, on the 8th of February, I can finally call it done! Be prepared for a long-ass description
Right then, this here is my fourth ever full orchestral song, for the Orchestral MAC BrokenDeck is organising. I think it's my best too - Land of Kings isn't even comparable to this, and I don't think Journey to the Afterlife and Legend are better either. I tried focusing on three main things - composition, realism and instrumentation.
This song probably has some of the best composition I've ever done. It explores six different keys and two time signatures, and I've also worked very hard on the harmony and transitions. It has loads of mood changes too, since I wanted the song to tell a story. Basically *my* idea was of a person who constantly kept getting into danger and worked desperately to find a sanctuary, which he does find at the end. I'd write a scene but I guess the story should be left to the interpretation of the listener.
As for realism, I know it's not such a high factor the MAC judges take into consideration but I still worked a lot on it. I gave woodwinds occasional pauses, as if the players are stopping for breath, pretty much every note has a different velocity and doesn't start exactly at the right time (for humanising purposes), I tried loads of new orchestral effects such as flute trills and grace notes, and I played the harp intro and piano solo myself on my synth. The first part of the harp intro is actually improvised. The massive amount of volume and tempo automations helped too... And so did the realistic East/West samples :P.
And lastly I worked on arrangement and instrumentation. I've got 49 East/West instruments loaded (it was a KILLER for my CPU) and I tried to touch every part of the standard orchestra (Woodwind, Brass, Strings, Percussion and Choir). I even added things like guitars and pianos which aren't part of the standard orchestra.
So, as for the instruments, I used violins, violas, cellos, double basses, trombones, French horns, trumpets, flutes, oboes, a subtle choir, bass drums, taikos, shakers, tambourines, gongs, cymbals, snares, timpanis, bongos (djembe), a guitar, a mandolin, a harp, a piano, and some subtle drone effects to add to the atmosphere. Everything's from East/West - snare/timpani and the standard orchestra instruments are from Symphonic Orchestra, all other percussion's from Stormdrum and the guitar and mandolin are from Ra.
Also, as for the credits, I've got too many to name since so many people gave me feedback on this one which I improved on, although camoshark certainly deserves a mention for helping me IMMENSELY with many chords in the song (like those brass chords after the harp intro - those took like an hour, haha) and giving me all the feedback a guy could ask for.
Echo deserves a mention too for also giving me tonnes of feedback! And lastly thanks to samulis for giving me ideas for the 3/4 to 4/4 change. I didn't use the ideas though even though I planned to. I just decided to go for a more generic transition since the project file was lagging like crazy.
So, after 49 instruments, 45 automation clips, 200 patterns, 93 bars and nearly a month of work, here's Sanctuary. Fun fact: there used to be 199 patterns but due to OCD I wanted 200 so I added a timpani roll at the very end :3.
Wish me luck in the competition. I probably won't win because there are some geniuses like PeterSatera, Bosa, Echo, Computer112, blackattackbitch, samulis, etc... taking part, but I'm aiming to get in the Top 8 at least! Enjoy, and feedback is very much appreciated.