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A Long Way Home

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Author Comments

I present to you my composition for Round 2 of the NGADM 2013, 'A Long Way Home'.

Firstly, I want to mention just how thankful I am for the response my Round 1 submission 'Blind Maiden' received. I'm really humbled, so thank you everyone! In Step's review, he mentioned that perhaps I focused too much on my vocals so that the instrumental parts didn't shine as much as they could have. With that in mind, I moved on to compose submission #2.

This composition in all technicality is split into three parts. My aim was to have the first part, singing the story of the feelings of the girl's journey ahead, with the piano composition representing the start of the journey itself. The build up in that whole piano part is there to symbolise the journey but the incohesion and interruption after the build up with this last part is my attempt to symbolise becoming lost along the way, hence tying in the title 'A Long Way Home'. It's almost ironic hopelessness despite the words that are sang in the beginning.

The female singer here is my lovely friend Joy, also known as JoyDreamer whom you can find with a quick search on YouTube. It would have been much easier for myself to perform the vocal parts indeed, but she has the perfect voice for the feeling I wanted to capture with the vocals in this composition.

A huge thank you to Joy for performing vocal parts alongside me and helping out with the Danish lyrics! She's a talent indeed.

Yet another huge thank you goes out to the wonderful BlazingDragon (best of luck in your Round 2 submission!) for performing the piano in this piece. I sent him the parts I'd composed using soundfonts and how he learned it so perfectly and sent it back to me is beyond me, yet another huge talent and an amazing composer in his own right. It's an honour to have him play the piano in my composition and by that I'm also humbled.

My music is still very much a learning process and I'd still definitely say I'm amateur at very best, but I'm still very early on in my life. I wanted to branch out in my Round 2 submission and working with others is something beautiful indeed. Sadly I don't have any expensive software like EWQL, I'm working with free soundfonts and my own imagination, but it's the best quality I can produce at this moment in time! ^ ^

Lyrics & Translation:
Et sted hvor solens stråler er fortabt
Hvor din styrke er din foragt
Hun daller ned og hør hvad du taler
Og hun ved du drives af en magt

Du følger kun dit hjerte og dit sind
Og de ved hvor du må gå hen
Et enkelt mål men så mange fjender
Det' den enste vej hvis du vil hjem

A place where the rays of the sun are lost
Where your strength is your contempt
She falls down and hears what you speak
And she knows you're driven by a power

You follow only your heart and your mind
And they know where you have to travel
One simple goal but so many fiends
It's the only path if you want to return home



The Good:
-Your singing is top-notch, just like the last round. It does sound like there's a bit of pitch-shifting at one point, but that's not really an issue. There's a lot of musicality in how it's sung.
-Nothing wrong with the way you use your strings, they sound fine.

The Not-So-Good:
-After all those natural and musically-sung vocals, you then have a COMPLETELY QUANTIZED piano and erhu at 1:07. I'm sorry, it sounds horrible in comparison. :(
-Some little mixing issue at 1:35, sounds like there were some misplayed piano notes an octave too high.
-This entire piece is REALLY reverb-washed and only not that muddy due to the few instruments.
-Off-key piano note at 2:16, sticks out like a sore thumb.

Overall: Score of 7.6/10. This is well-done, the singing is great, but the natural sound of it clashes with the quantized instruments. Your vocals are your best part - let them shine! This doesn't mean ignore the other instruments, you can still have them shine as well. You don't need to have them solo in order for this to happen.

This is an NGADM Round 2 review.


Yes. Just yes. You have improved on literally everything that Blind Maiden lacked. When I said focus more on your instruments in Blind Maiden I didn't mean make more instrumental parts; rather I meant to blend your vocals in a bit more rather than have them drown out the instruments - that said, you make brilliant use of your instruments this time. Your composition in Blind Maiden was a tad bit simple at times and occasionally generic, but that's certainly not the case here anymore - the harmonies and melodies are just exquisite. There is also nothing at all generic/overused about this track, except maybe the name but who cares about the name?

Let me also mention how excellent that vocal intro is. Joy has a magnificent voice, and your vocal harmonies work perfectly with it. I love your subtle increase in volume of the vocal harmonies, which made the intro progress very well, and by the end of the vocal passage we've got a wonderfully thick and rich vocal sound that I get goosebumps when hearing. The piano can't really get any better - huge props to BlazingDragon for that. The technical side of the composition such as structure, transitions, ending, etc are mostly nailed. Hearing some lovely japanese influences in your instrumentation/melodies by the way! Also heard a bit of it in Blind Maiden too - is it intentional?

Like your Round 1 track, this has a few issues here and there. Your use of reverb is a tad too heavy. It worked perfectly for the vocal intro, but once that was over it caused your track to be a bit muddy, and not just in the part that you intended to be incohesive. I would've preferred a better transition between your vocal intro and the piano. Nothing too smooth because, of course, you're trying to symbolise the start of a journey, but right now the vocal intro feels detached from the rest of the track. This detachment might work with the story you wrote in the author's comments, but musically it doesn't quite work. Also, a few clicks/pops in the vocal recording but nothing I'd reduce marks for.

This is an incredibly good track. As I said in a review response to you, you're swiftly becoming one of my favourite artists on Newgrounds. Excellent, excellent work.

Score: 9.3/10

Incredible! Wonderful start and fantastic singing. It hooked me from the beginning! Also when the singing gets polyphonic it sounds just so perfect from 0.00 until 1.06 - 100 percent!!!

I am not a big fan of erhu - i would have prefered some lofty solo violin. Some harmonic situations sound a little bit out of place for me:
- 1:31 - strange progression ... sounds a little bit inept for me.
- after 1:45 shoul be more movement in the piano - arpegios in the left hand or something. The harmonies are good but could have a more lush sound
- dont use strings as synth pads - keep them breathing. Change dynamics / velocity and moving. This would improve your works extremely!
- the end could have been stronger - epic slow percussions and the singing COMBINED with the singing style from the beginning would have been perfect.

So what can i say. An extremely good piece with little weak points, but overall awesome!

Keep it up - hope you will make it to round three - wanna see what you are upcoming with!

etherealwinds responds:

Thank you so much for the constructive points and your kind words! I'll address them each.

Violin would be lovely to put in one of my pieces, but I don't have any VST's or soundfonts that sound realistic enough. I think the erhu however does sound fairly realistic so I opted for that instead!

After 1:45, I wanted the song to slow back down after the erhu so that it could very very gradually build into the third part of the song to represent the journey of the girl. For me, more movement straight away wouldn't really have fit, as a journey doesn't start in the middle, right? ^ ^

My string work isn't too good at all, mainly because I'm limited to using Squidfont and until this composition, I didn't really know how to alter the dynamics of the strings manually. Thankfully BlazingDragon gave me a few tips that really helped!

The reason I decided not to have any vocal parts on the last part is due to the symbolism of having been lost. In the story of my composition, it would not have made literal sense. When it comes to using orchestral percussion, I actually struggle a little because I never know which to use and where to really place it, as well as not having very good soundfonts for them unfortunately :( I've never had much money to spend on such things, but EWQL would be the first thing I'd buy if I did!

Thank you Tatort! Your advice will really help me grow as an artist and I appreciate the time you took. All the best :)

Y'know, I'll be absolutely honest, you had me scared that I'd lose to you!

Impressive track and the vocals are very good! BlazingDragon did a good job with the piano too!
Mixing could use a little work in my opinion especially since you're stuck with soundfonts. I used to use only soundfonts too, so I know it takes a bit. Although if you want I can always send some tips and tricks your way! :D Don't worry about not having EW, it's the skill not the tool that counts. I still use soundfonts. ;)
If there's one thing about the track that I'd like to hear more of are the vocals actually. It feels like a vocal prelude followed by instrumentals, but it would have been nice to have heard a return of the vocals. Just my personal preference though.
Regardless of the outcome of the judging, I'll say that your track is amazing no matter what they say. I'm honored to have been matched up against you, and you've definitely earned yourself a new listener! ^.^
Keep at it!

~Phyrnna ^_^ <3

etherealwinds responds:

I practically had that feeling when I first listened to yours. As soon as the Uillean pipes came in I thought to myself "yeah I'm screwed". Who doesn't love an epic Celtic track? You certainly pulled it off amazingly and it's also an honour for me to have been matched up against you. If I don't make it this round, it doesn't matter because I had a lot of fun!

The reason I chose only to include only one dominant part of vocals is due to some of the judge reviews on Blind Maiden, my round 1 entry. It was very much dominated by a full vocal part the whole way through. Don't get me wrong, it did surprisingly well o_o but I decided for this piece I should have a larger focus on the instrumental side of it.

Thank you and all the best to you! Best of luck as well, although I don't think you'll need it =^o^=

Simply beautiful. The harmonies are balanced and pure-sounding, very lovely music to study to! I'm a sucker for different languages other than English, and I feel you really captured the Danish tongue very well here. Also, Joy is an amazing singer! I love the reverb you have behind her voice.
BlazingDragon's piano is also spot-on, as usual. You both have a flair for the whimsical and I'm so happy you collaborated! Need more of you guys together! :D
Best of luck, my friend!

etherealwinds responds:

EEE thank you! Your review makes me extra happy (but don't tell anyone!) I'm really glad you liked it. Collaborating with both Joy and BlazingDragon in one composition is definitely one of my prouder moments, they're both wonderful. Danish is such a hard language to grasp but it's really beautiful. It's always a challenge not to butcher a language that you're not too familiar with, but thankfully Joy's fluent so she was a lot of help! :) thank you again for your kind words Phoamy!

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Credits & Info


4.27 / 5.00

Aug 18, 2013
6:44 PM EDT
File Info
5.2 MB
3 min 35 sec

Licensing Terms

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