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Author Comments

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.


This is good. So good it could be on a game such as Skyrim! Great work keep it up. I hope I get to hear another song as good as this in the future!

Step responds:

Oh man I wish this would compare to Skyrim's soundtrack xD.

Thanks a lot for the support though. I'm glad you enjoyed the song!

Really well done! I can see all the effort and work you put into this. I love epic orchestral music such as this and can't help but think of Age Of Empires during it! Really lovely, flowing sound...
Cannot wait to hear more like this eventually!

Step responds:

That's awesome, thanks a lot!

I can't say I was inspired by Age of Empires but I do love the main theme of Age of Empires 2 and you mentioning it brought me back tonnes of memories of playing that game and being absolute crap at it :3.

Thanks again man, I appreciate the review!

Really good

Step responds:

Well I would've liked it if you could tell me why you gave me a 3.5/5 rather than just saying the song was not bad :P.

Anyway, thanks for the review!

Well its about time I got around to writing an review on this. I listened to all of the songs in the orchestral theme and came up with my own noobish list of the top 32 after several days of re-listening (this was before the official top 8 were even announced). When I first started I thought your song was around 7th place but after much re-listening and comparison your song ended up in 3rd on my list of the 32 best of those 80 songs... So that is to say Sanctuary is a song that grows on a person as they listen to it. I think the reason it grows on you is because the melody of the song is a little bit overwhelming and scattered because of the vast amount of patterns... at first you cannot grasp the voice of the song and thus it doesn't sound sound quite right. When when you get to know the melody you start to enjoy the song more and understand that complicated melody. The complication is something I enjoy because the song does not become tedious to listen to after multiple listens. There a part of this song that I can only describe as desert-like and it sticks out a little too much from the lusher mountain-like theme of the song however this difference in melody is one of the major things that grows on you so I cannot say its a bad thing rather a difference and perhaps it help tell the story better. Sorry if that doesn't make sense. My judging was mostly based on individual scores in the following categories: Intensity, Emotional Change, Consistency, Fit, Story, and Feel. The categories that correspond best with the official judging were Story and Emotional Change (Indecently, NickPerrin's Windswept got the 11/10 for emotional change and 10/10 for story also 2nd place in my list, one place above yours). Feel and intensity are the two top stats for making a song stand out to casual listeners. While Fit and Consistency are more likely to be areas where judges knock a song off for a negative reasoning.
In each category only 1 of the 80 songs can get an 11. Sanctuary received an 11 in the feel category meaning your song had the most feeling of the 80. I'm sure you can guess this from my earlier comments but the song did poorest in the consistency category getting a 7/10 7 is equivalent to a "strong attempt" (5/10 is supposed to be "average" 10/10 is "pretty much perfect") I speculate your song was knocked out of the official judging going from top 16 to top 8 via negative reasoning which is something I prefer avoid doing yet it is unavoidable and often necessary in large competitions.
So a quick summary comment your song does well with the average dude but not as well represented with official judges.
Now to stop myself from biasing my scoring too early in the song I would write whatever came to mind while listening and I will include that here: In the depths of the world a wandering jipsy passes by a rocky cliff face. He senses danger begins to run to escape something unseen. An ambush! His path is blocked so he turns around to run. Again an ambush. Running away montage. He hides inside a broken fortress but the depths of the place have a strange asortment of creatures. Are the creatures dangerous? He wonders as he walks cautiously by them. Perhaps they are, he escapes unnoticed to wander off again to a happier place.
Maybe that is of no use to you but that is a story I imagined by listening to this song.
Conclusion: Fantastic work 3rd in my list.

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Step responds:

Wow, this review is massive! Thanks a million, man, not only did you give me feedback on this track but you even wrote a scene for it and explained exactly why I came third in your list. I appreciate that!

"came up with my own noobish list of the top 32"

I know you didn't get much recognition for it in the thread or in your newspost, but I've got to say that the list you made is fantastic. The ones who didn't make it into the Top 8 were able to see where they stand in a wonderfully put together Top 32 list. You even executed your judging very professionally after many days of listening rather than just throwing together a list of thirty-two songs you liked at first listen. I'm sure everyone appreciates that a lot, me included :3.

"your song ended up in 3rd on my list"

Yeah I'm really happy I managed to make it all the way up there. I'm still pretty sad that I didn't make it into the Top 8 (I knew this would probably be the case, but when the realisation actually hits you, you do get a little butthurt). I listened to the Top 8 the judges chose and although I have my doubts why some tracks were in the Top 8 when there were other better songs which didn't make it in, in my opinion, I know that the artists in the Top 8 are extremely talented so it was only natural for them to make it in.

"So that is to say Sanctuary is a song that grows on a person as they listen to it."

Haha, I've listened to it so many times that I'm actually tired of it :P. I could say that I listened to it at least 400 times in all during the work in progress stage and hearing the final product. I like doing that with my songs because then if there's any little quirk that I want fixed, I'll definitely be able to notice it.

I see what you mean about it having an overwhelming melody. I think I did make Sanctuary a bit TOO sophisticated.

"There a part of this song that I can only describe as desert-like and it sticks out a little too much"

Lol yeah, this has plenty of different atmospheres and moods :P. The MAC specified to work on making mood changes, and I probably went a bit overboard! But I get your point about the different feel growing on you. I guess all of those changes might be what makes Sanctuary overwhelming at the beginning but then a little better later on.

"My judging was mostly based on individual scores in the following categories: Intensity, Emotional Change, Consistency, Fit, Story, and Feel."

Wow I'm really glad you think it has the best feel from all eighty submissions! And yeah I already guessed that I wouldn't do as well in Consistency. Ah well :P.

"I speculate your song was knocked out of the official judging going from top 16 to top 8 via negative reasoning"

Could be. Considering that my song had an obvious flaw being that in the first listen it could come off as overwhelming because of all the patterns and inconsistency, perhaps that was the problem. I do wish that the MAC would give reviews to everyone rather than just the Top 8 so that I could know exactly where I went wrong. That's why Echo and I, when organising our annual NGADM competition, we make sure that from up to the 52 submissions that would end up being submitted, all of them would get up to 6 reviews each, so that every winner will know why he won and every loser will know why he lost.

"that is a story I imagined by listening to this song. "

Awesome story, it fits really well with the mood intensity changes in the song and was similar to what I had in mind :3.

"Conclusion: Fantastic work 3rd in my list."

Thanks a lot for the really great review!

Alert, my english can be pathetic, you know i'm french.

Amazing... I dont know why, but it's sound like a The Legend Of Zelda song.

In one word : Eargasm.

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Step responds:

Yeah I really don't get it. You're the third consecutive person who says they might have bad English and then they write in great grammar :P.

Thanks a lot, I appreciate the review!

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Credits & Info


4.28 / 5.00

Feb 8, 2012
5:11 AM EST
File Info
3.7 MB
4 min 1 sec

Licensing Terms

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