Up Through Ashen Skies

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It's time for a NG exclusive!

Hello everyone. I'm back!

This is something I found recently and decided to revive. I had noticed that most of my orchestral music was sort of pastoral and epic, but not really heroic at all. This is my first attempt at an epic heroic piece.

This piece was inspired primarily by the awesome work of fellow NG'ers, and so I wrote this specifically for Newgrounds.

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Excellent piece!

Listen to this piece kind of makes me miss writing out full pieces. I've spent a little too long writing loops for video games. xD I love this song and it's what compelled me to favorite you as an artist. Well, about time I took some time out to review it.

In any case... the critique.

Structure-wise, the song is relatively simple and short. However I do enjoy how it goes through thematic development in the short span that it has. The break at 0:42 is sort of abrupt and leaves the listener hanging after such an epic motif. While its discomforting (to me at least xD), it works effectively. The piano part afterwards works well as a break from the epic theme. I personally love an excellent piano part. While the piano part does accomplish its job, it could certainly use some development when it repeats itself as the other instruments return. Also, at around 1:00, some soft timpani rolls may also help with the atmosphere.

And now that I mention it, I have to critique you on it. Your percussion is something I think could be changed. The song sounds excellent as is, however when it comes to an "epic" or "heroic" piece, percussion has been an essential element in most compositions. Even the smallest amount (such as quiet timpani rolls) help. DavidOrr, MaestroRage, Hans Zimmer, and other famous artists for "epic" music make prolific use of percussive instruments. And if you listen to each artist's discography, it is also the use of these percussive instruments that defines their music from the others. Zimmer loves the tambourine, and uses it religiously (and to a fault in my opinion). I suppose you should try having a section where the timpani can stand out for a bit (take the limelight). Also adding a more treble based percussive instrument can help with the pace of the music (e.g. tambourines in Zimmer's music and snares in Orr's music).

Now outside of that, I think your composition of the song is excellent. The next part of critique is one where many (including myself) need work on. The sound. Focusing on composition comes a long way in making a song sound excellent, however knowing how to record (which most of us don't need to worry about) and mix the many sounds of the instruments can make a song sound much better. While orchestral pieces (and more classical orchestral pieces) usually mix themselves just by composition, adding EQ to help place the frequencies and using compression to bring out certain aspects help create that "epic" sound. Your song is "epic" already, however I think if you mixed it better it can stand out more.

Nonetheless, I believe that composition is more important than mixing and that you have nailed well.

Great work on this song! I already have it on my Ipod. :P
I look forward to hearing more from you. ^__^

~Phyrnna ^_^

TheBenjerman responds:

Thanks for such a lengthy and in-depth review! I really appreciate it!

Lets see if I can address these issues in order...

The piano: I wrote this just for NG, so I had to have a piano interlude! ^_^ I agree with your repetition comment though. I didn't spend as much time as I should have developing the piano, and it shows. :-\

The percussion: This is probably the weakest part of the piece. PhilVille commented on it earlier, and I totally agree with you. Timpani rolls would definitely help around 1:00, and I should have put more effort into some pulse-pounding drums. Actually, I added the percussion section last. I was debating releasing the piece entirely without percussion, and I suppose in my indecision I might have gone halfsies instead of ALL OR NOTHING! Ah well, I'll correct this in future work, just for you!

The mix is, of course, something everyone could use help on, and I am no exception. I think this may be my best (certainly hardest, given the number of contrasting melodic lines) job so far in the mixing arena, but I still have a long way to go.

Thanks again for the return review! I appreciate the criticism, especially from someone such as yourself. And having this song on your ipod is the best compliment I've got from someone in a while!

Oh, and If you ever want to collab or anything, send me a pm!

Take care!



The gears begin turning in the silk cloths of the floating orb. The man eagerly awaits to see if his gadget will work. He lets go of the rope supporting it to the cliff, and watches in amazement as it floats entirely in the air. He laughs in excitement and begins hovering towards the skies. He looks at the world below him. He sees the factories producing machines, the roads are being built, and trees are being cut down. He notices all the land is nearly barren, a price to pay for having developed such advanced technology.

(((It was a short song, so I wasnt able to write much on it. It was short and sweet, however, and would make great music for a menu loop! Try to extend on this idea. Add the same amount of variety and play some pads in there :) )))

TheBenjerman responds:

Thanks for the story review! I really appreciate it. It's nothing like I had envisioned, which is awesome. :)

And I'll try to write longer pieces, but I've kinda run this one into the ground, so I'm going to leave it as is.

Thanks again! You rock my socks.


I really like it ^__^ I like how you develop and support your parts without overpowering what you set up to be important. I like your mixing and panning too it feels like it really exist in a space instead of being music just playing that sounds nice haha

It does give me a feeling like its gonna explode or something but then it doesn't XD you should try and make more use of percussion at climactic points. I'm still workin on making good epic music myself though so I like what you have here ^__^

TheBenjerman responds:

Thanks for the review man! You're right about the percussion. I was trying to write it without percussion, but then I put in the piano, and kinda went halfsies on the drums. :/

Thanks for the mix/panning comment too! You taught me that!

It's still a little busy though...

Credits & Info

Waiting for 1 more vote

Jul 1, 2010
12:19 AM EDT
File Info
2.4 MB
2 min 6 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.