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5 min 15 sec
4.22 / 5.00

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Rated 4.22 / 5 stars
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This is my entry for NGADM round 4.

Full title: footsteps through freshly fallen snow

This songs tells a story, but I'm going to leave it up to interpretation.

I initially imagined this one as a solo piano piece, but in the end I decided to toss in a few more instruments because it seemed to be asking for them.

Written through quite an emotional period in my life.

I wanted to write a song that was all about the melody. For a long time I've been writing these pieces that have been really epic/groovy/climactic, and I really wanted to push in a complete opposite direction. That may come at the cost of a NGADM victory, but there are more important things in life than winning at NGADM... (Or are there?)

I really tried to push hard at the composition side of things, and I think that theoretically and melodically this is some of the nicest stuff I have written. I want to call out the ending progression in particular:


I don't even know what I'm doing any more but I thought it sounded pretty good!

Gonna come back here and add more stuff later.



Rated 5 / 5 stars February 1, 2014

LunacyEcho recommended this to me, and I am amazed.
Especially in the intro, this piece really shows that you don't need layers upon layers of intruments and effects in order for something to sound good. No wonder you succeeded in this round (and in the competition in general).

Very much super awesome left hand at 2:24 o.O And those strings :D
3:09 => Oh yes O.O

For some reason the very last part doesn't mix as well with me, but probably my bad (4:28 =>). I think it has to do with the coice of intrument.
However, I still enjoy the melody at the end, especially that slight dark switch at 4:54 that immediately returns to the light and ensures a happy ending.

I think we both know where Step (consciously or not) got his inspiration for Windows. Especially considering the first 3 minutes of the song.

Please, tell me if these random non-giving reviews are getting annoying, and I just might take it slightly easier for a while. However, I could not resist writing something here, since this is my favourite composition of your writing so far.

johnfn responds:

Ha thanks for the review on this older piece dude! Doesn't happen too often, and I always appreciate it :)

> Step

Haha even if it was influenced by this piece(I didn't think he was, but on the piece he wrote that *was* influenced by me, I didn't realize that it was haha. imo Windows is way more sophisticated than this stuff.

The horn towards the end did get mixed reviews, probably because it comes out of nowhere haha.

> reviews are getting annoying

NEVER! I always appreciate new perspectives and insights on my work. I'm glad you liked it.

Also if you like this one you might also like "snowy night" which has a similar vibe to it :)


Rated 4.5 / 5 stars October 16, 2013

This is an NGADM Round 4 Review.


This round is full of surprises!

What I liked:
-This is a very emotional piece, it’s nice to see a different side of johnfn!
-This song definitely tells a story, especially with the total change of mood in the second and third sections.
-That ending is beautiful. It also reminds me of Zelda.

What could have been better:
-The piano sound you have isn't bad by any means, but it still isn't totally organic.
-The piano arpeggios after 3:10 sound programmed rather than performed in a piece that is otherwise very fluid and natural, so they stick out a bit to me.
-The instrument you use at 4:29 sounds very out of place(oboe?), but the melody is wonderful.

A fantastic piece, quite unexpected! I really enjoyed listening. Keep up the great work!

Score: 9.2/10

johnfn responds:

Thanks man! I actually agree with practically everything here. You pay good attention to detail to realize those arps are programmed in, because they were, even though almost nothing else was.

I'm not sure what to do about the piano though. It's practically the best one I have. The only way I can imagine to improve it would be to record myself playing on a live piano. But honestly that's way out of my price range (which is essentially $0). If you have any suggestions for improving realism without breaking the bank let me know in a PM or something.

Btw 4:29 is a french horn! Last minute inspiration. I agree it sticks out but I'm not sure how to fix that. :/

Glad I can surprise you guys! Here's hoping I have at least one more surprise left in me ;-)


Rated 5 / 5 stars October 7, 2013

Wow this song is amazing you are very talented with the piano

johnfn responds:

Thanks! It's just a whole lot of practice. :)


Rated 4.5 / 5 stars October 7, 2013

Hi there!

The Good:
-Aw man, the piano sound is really nice, I like the syncopation in the bassline. The velocity layering really helps a lot for it.
-Overall melodic content in this is some of the best I've heard in a long time.
-The other instruments are really used to great effect in this piece. The opening at 3:12 is absolutely amazing.
-Good on you for trying to go in a different direction rather than JUST pushing to win.
-Oh yes, since I've been picking on you for transitions recently, I just thought I'd say: Good work on them here! (though the outro can still use some work)

The Not-So-Good:
-More realism in the piano please. <3 If it's going to solo, then having it be less quantized would be wonderful. For an idea on how, try listening to the piece "Drowning Into the Heavens" by MarkySpark on here. That has some fantastic realism along with even more excellent velocity changes.
-Not sure I like the raw white noise sweeps. Try adding a light phaser/flanger. There should be a good phaser in the Fruity Love Filter (can't be bothered to find the technical name while writing this review - you know what I'm talking about), subtle phaser and flanger settings. A chorus could also help.
-This is more of a personal thing, but it might have been nice to have some kind of background effect to really put me in the place for the footsteps. Where are the footsteps? Where is the snow? I can't really hear anything like this until the white noise.
-There's a lot of good melodic material, and I don't want you to cut down the length at all, but what would have been good is giving some kind of motif. It's all about the melody, right? There's not really much that's a clear motif here.
-Overall composition thing: The entire piece moves more like a single crescendo with a teeny-tiny decrescendo at the end - the ending still feels far more climactic than the first two minutes.

Overall: Score of 9/10. This is fantastic. Only some issues which keep me from putting it higher, as you can see. Good job!

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johnfn responds:

Thanks for all the good points and the great review! I went in a different direction just for you~ (that's actually not true - I would have gone insane if I had done the same style again - but let's just say it's true).

> More realism in the piano please

This is funny because almost all the piano was played by me. However I did quantize it a lot, and adhered to the metronome pretty closely. I think what you really are asking for - judging by the piece you sent me - is rubato, like Step mentioned (let me know if I'm wrong, or there is something I'm missing). I'll definitely be keeping that in mind if I dive into more solo piano stuff in the future.

> Fruity Love Filter

Yeah, great idea. Though I use Ableton now ;-)

> some kind of background effect

This is a neat idea too. I felt like my last song was almost too story based so I wanted to ratchet that down a little.

> some sort of motif

Actually the intended motif was :24 - :29, shows up again at :44, :57, 1:31, and then at 4:38 (!). I took your critique from my last song to heart about motifs, I think you're right in that they're an easy way to tie the song together. But actually, even writing this out, I see the problem - it disappears for 3 minutes, lol. So I'll have to keep that in mind in the future...

> The entire piece moves more like a single crescendo

Is that bad? :P You might have to explain this to me more. I mean, a lot of great music functions as a single crescendo. The whole genre of post rock, for example haha.

Anyway thanks for the review! You have a really interesting way of listening to music and assigning scores.


Rated 4.5 / 5 stars October 6, 2013

This is an NGADM Round 4 review.


Oh my god, the melodies here are so good it's insane. I can't get over how good they are. I think that this track has some of the most beautiful piano melodies from the whole NGADM (rivalled by maybe people like ChronoNomad, SoundChris and headphoamz). Memorable, strong accompaniment in both broken and... unbroken... chords (also that descending bassline again!), and the flow is gorgeous.

What's more, you have some very masterful compositional touches, such as the dissonance around the 3 minute mark, the usual grace notes (which might have been a tad overused at times) and how you hold back the final note for such a long time, rounding off the ending nicely. The mood change at the end works very well, as does the 4:28 transition. And NO REVERSE CYMBALS. HIGH-FIVE! By the way, amazing piano sound. That can't be a soundfont - what did you use?

I'm a bit torn about the first half of the track. It feels a bit like it's dying to be more rubato, and yet it's got a pretty rigid, almost quantized tempo. For the most part, you still keep it sounding realistic, mostly due to how damn good that piano sample is (and your dynamics), and you still keep it expressive, mostly due to how damn good that melody is! Still, some more prominent rubato touches would have given the song a bit more of an edge, I feel.

More importantly, this seems to lack the intricacy of some of your other tracks. Switching to an entirely emotional and expressive style might have taken away from the intricacy and thoughtfulness I've come to expect from you. While this was hardly a problem in the first 3 minutes of the track, which are more sad and reflective, it becomes a problem once the song becomes more uplifting. The wind sound got monotonous, and the texture felt a bit bland.

While I don't think it matches up to your Round 2 track, I loved this. Generally, if a track gives you goosebumps the first time you hear it, it means the track is really damn good, and that was the case with me. So enjoy my really damn good score and great work trying a style that you're not as experienced in and doing so well!

Score: 9.2/10

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johnfn responds:

Step it seems like I can always count on you. Your reviews are always so rewarding to read because we practically agree on every point. Like when I was writing the melody for this song I was like "dang... this is the best melody I've ever written. I hope someone realizes that." Boom Step comes in to save the day. I really believe melody is the most important part of the song, so I'm glad that it worked out.

Or the thing about rubato. Honestly I didn't even know what the word rubato meant until you said it, but while I was writing the piece I was like "I wish I could speed up and slow down the tempo somehow." And I would have done it, except I had no clue how to do it! Now that I can google for rubato though, I won't leave it out again.


Just for you <3

> which might have been a tad overused at times


> That can't be a soundfont - what did you use?

It's the Alicia's Keys VST, and I agree, it really is fabulous. The tone of the piano was actually partially the inspiration of the piece. It's a very snowy, wintery thing, I feel.

> it becomes a problem once the song becomes more uplifting

This is an interesting point, I've never really thought about it this way. I'm not very good with writing intricate orchestral currently, but I can always improve :)

> While I don't think it matches up to your Round 2 track

I actually agree. I chose this style because I felt like the judges have a bias towards orchestral. :D Actually, while I would love for that to be true, it's not. I tried to write an intricate electronic songs but wasn't feeling it at all. I was feeling like the intricacy itself was the problem, so I decided to write a song that I would strip bare of everything aside from melody.

Finally can I thank you for taking the time out of your college schedule to write these miniature novels? They are insanely helpful, and I realize that finding that time is not an easy thing to do.