First off (I'm posting this to everyone): Note that the scores might be a bit lower than what's typical for NG reviews - no one should expect a 10/10 unless their entry was absolutely incredible.
This one was somewhat difficult. There was little that immediately grabbed my attention when I first listened to it while also mindlessly browsing. Careful listening opened my ears to some neat details, though. Of course, the comments about the title and description of Bosa's entry apply to this one as well, though I must admit I found this one less amusing. Those things will not change my score for any of your entries.
I'll tackle the mellow first minute first: I did not enjoy the violin solo as I perhaps wanted to - this particular sound is very shrill and tiring to listen to in that range, I don't know if that's inherent to violin or if it's a problem with the soundfont/instrument you're using. I figure it might sound more pleasant one octave down, or with some kind of flute. The oboe (clarinet?) sometimes complements the string melody (I really enjoyed moments such as around 0:18 where the instruments collaborate with their own different leading tones to put together a nice resolution), sometimes not so much (from 0:45 it sounds dissonant and unfocused, like the instruments are just playing along for themselves). The deep strings play along nicely most of the time. The harp, when introduced, sounds rather meagre, and the reverb tail that ends the first section also disappointed me a bit. So overall there's some nice interplay between the instruments but nothing that leaves me massively impressed.
The shrill violin keeps going in the second section as well. This is where some of the more impressive stuff appears: the shift to 7/8 is done very well (I didn't notice it at all during the aforementioned mindless listen), and the staccato strings and bells give it that certain soundtrack feel too. The chord progression that I can't really figure out but that does contain an awesome tritone jump also adds an unique flavor to the piece. I also found it very clever how you changed the role of the staccato strings from being the main focus (1:06) to supporting the sustained chords (1:23) in a way that I can't really describe accurately with words. That whole transition is really my favourite thing about the song, the whole combination of changed instrumentation, mood and tempo is brilliant. In other words, most of the neat stuff is found in the second half.
The piece ends with a couple of solid minor tonic chords. No real surprises there. A straightforward and acceptable ending. ;) The vibrato of the lead violin rings out nicely, the sustained strings ended maybe a bit more abruptly and synchronised than you would expect from a real string section though. The harp that modestly chimes in at the very end is a nice touch too.
The mixing and the instruments used are a bit too flat and bland. The strings and especially the percussion have little punch and presence, leaving parts like the apparent climax at 1:06 far weaker than it has the potential to be. That is my main gripe with this submission.
7 points for sounds and instrumentation.
8 points for composition and melody/harmony.
7 points for theme/originality/other things that might impress.
Overall impression: 8.0
Yeah, I should have worked off a more powerful ending to the piece.
One of my major inspirations is a CD of "Gypsy" music from Romania... it has such expressive violin parts, using mainly the upper register... since listening, I have always wanted to create a slow piece that uses the violin's high end in all its glory, although I do greatly enjoy the lowest register of the violin.
Now that I listen back, I do feel that it does need a bit more reverb as well as more percussion. I generally master my percussion quieter than most people... probably because I listen to very little modern forms like rock which use very loud percussion and instead see percussion less as the "keepers of the beat" and more as "embellishers of the structure"- such as in the case of the timpani, which finds itself rotating around the piece both fulfilling chording and giving a deep resonance where needed.
As a composer, my style is generally more in tune with dissonance and minor melodies- dark and sour.
Thanks for the review and the comments, I really enjoy getting comments that are focused on the greater form of the music and the flow etc. like this. :)
Great stuff. I really like the somewhat desolate mood this track in the more tranquil sections.
The vln - oboe duet at 0:28 (or eng hn or w/e) is very nice in colour, but the writing and voice leading could be slightly better.
01:06 is awesomelly energetic, but the transition up to it should have something maintaining more of the energy. Also, a single violin will never be heard over brass chords in real life at that dynamic.. beef your melody up! Also, the orchestration otherwise is a bit meh, very much lower middle register, and somewhat little space between the brass parts from the sound of it, but it's hard to tell exactly what should be done without a score.
Still, loved the atmosphere of this, good job!
Because this is program music, much of the standard ideas of spreading and orchestration can be essentially thrown out the window (in my opinion) to accommodation the need for an emotional feel- in this case, provided by small intervals the higher register in contrast to larger intervals in the lower register, with very little in the middle. This creates an exceptional feeling of darkness and loss. If I had the middle filled up with chording or counter-melodies, it would detract from the pure beauty of the upper register. It is also a common belief that close chords make a more chaotic and bolder sound while broad chords make a cleaner and less painful sound... that is why the brass are so tight.
I might try touching up the transition into 1:06, perhaps making the timpani much louder.
Regarding the violin, you are correct. However, this is digital music and for all we know, the violinist could be standing on the stage as a soloist or have a mic hooked up to his instrument... the only purpose of his melody there is to accentuate the motion of the chords.
Thanks for the review and for pointing out some issues, I will consider making some changes to the piece after the contest or such. :)
Truly an epic and historical tale that is worthy to be taught in our schools today. I am quite surprised that you are so well versed in Orchestralian and Newgrounds history! Scholastic!
I cannot wait to hear the end of this noble legend. But on a more technical note, I very much enjoyed this piece. You really have developed your own inimitable style, and that is how you succeed in my opinion. I really don't see anything wrong with the structure of the composition, and I can tell you paid close attention to the instruments' detail. However, I feel a lamenting feeling while listening to this -- you portray the realism and truth of the story very well.
I couldn't resist building around the storyline you presented... I figured my more peaceful style would fit better as a prelude than a continuation... we'll know the results of the war when the round is over!
I find slow sorrowful music is one thing I can do well... violin + signature ridiculous timpani part + something in 7/8 pretty much sums up my style in its distilled form. XD
I guess we got that collaborative project in then... first half here, second half on your page.
Thanks for the review man, can't wait to see what the judges think on these pieces!
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.