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the traveller

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The traveller is a song that tells a story.

0:00 -> start of journey
0:16 -> hometown
1:03 -> leaving home, travelling
2:51 -> entering the desert
3:29 -> taking the train through the desert
4:17 -> what's that?
4:40 -> showdown (on the top of the train!)
5:52 -> cliffhanger ending (lol)


So much to say about this one! Massive wall of text incoming.

First off, this is an NGADM round 3 submission, me vs midimachine.

A big thanks to all the judges of NGADM for putting on this event. I don't think I've ever been pushed to improve so fast at music as I have when doing NGADM, and I can't thank you guys enough for the opportunity!

Also a thanks to my friend Eery for again dealing with my last minute panic attack and giving me a bunch of good suggestions.

NGADM rounds sure don't get easier, do they? I have a ton of respect for midimachine because I think he's a great musician. So much so that I actually got writers block for like a week because I figured that I wouldn't be able to write anything good enough! I still don't think this is good enough to beat him, but honestly I wouldn't mind losing to him because he's super talented and deserves to keep going! (Though I would be sad because the NGADM has been an incredible learning experience.)

On the forums SkyeWintrest pointed out that a lot of entries were kinda unoriginal, which I decided to take as a personal challenge. I decided to do nearly everything different from my last two entries. For the first time ever I decided to write some heavily cinematic and orchestral music.

I realized that this was a bad idea:
1. While going heavy orchestral is experimental for me, it's the most popular genre in the NGADM so no one else is going to think it's experimental. lol
2. The judges are all orchestral guys, so they're instantly going to notice tons of flaws. Please don't kill me judges D:

Continuing to be experimental, I also decided to make some really complex chord progressions in the first half (most of them are 16 bars long), and I snuck in a time signature change too. Then I added in some vocal chops.

But that wasn't enough so I decided to draw on some world influences starting at 3:30. This was actually really enjoyable and I might dive deeper into World someday.

I drew from a ton of different influences. The Xenogears soundtrack, Leftfield's groovy beats, Shpongle's world music, heck, even Step's song "The Festival" a tiny bit for the neat percussion.


Writing this was a miserable experience because of all sorts of things that happened in my life. In the first week I was running all over the place trying to find an apartment, and in the second week I got sick. All that means that in the end I only had two days to really work on this song. Which was not nearly enough. Sucks, but I couldn't really do anything about it.

I also didn't have my MIDI keyboard the entire 2 weeks I was writing this song, because of traveling. I used the keyboard for pretty much all the songwriting that I've done in the past 8 months, I felt really limited. I started teaching myself acoustic guitar, which worked out alright, but then I had to leave that behind too (because more traveling). SIGH!


SkyeWintrest also said my fadeout ending last time sucked, so I decided to troll him and make the most ridiculous ending ever... and then I kinda just kept it in the song because it made me laugh. Take it or leave it.

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This track reminds me of wasting time on youtube by watching some harmless cat video... and at the end of it I click on some related video and keep watching... and then it goes on and on and 10 minutes later I somehow end up watching something that's really creepy and definitely not related to cat videos.

My favourite section is that starting at 1:05, and (seriously) the troll ending. It just warms my heart that despite being in a competition and trying to win, you still prioritize personal growth (by doing something out of your comfort zone) and having fun (by making such an ending). Adding that to the great work you consistently put out, it's just hard not to root for you.

Good luck in the finals!

johnfn responds:

The analogy to youtube videos seriously cracks me up.

But honestly I appreciate the second part of your review a lot, because you expressed exactly how I view NGADM (and music as a whole really). It's all in a long process to get better. :)

Thank you!

This is an NGADM Round 3 Review.


What I liked:
-I love the melody and chords you use in the beginning! The orchestration brings me right back to Final Fantasy for some reason, which is great.
-Love that bass around 3:30. (in fact that whole section is awesome).
-It was really cool that you switched to DnB halfway through, didn't expect that!

What could have been better:
-The initial chord progression was a used a little too long.
-It feels like after a really cool opening that things sort of die down in the midsection. It felt incomplete to me.
-I didn't much like the ending, but you trolled skye, so it's ok.

Overall this is a really interesting piece, and I very much enjoyed listening to it. You always put out great work!

Score: 9/10

johnfn responds:

Yeah the whole song should have just been that bit at 3:30, that was really the best part. The section after that was quite boring :D

IDK if it's possible to use a chord progression too long, I think what you mean is that it lacks sufficient variation to make it continue to be interesting? I could understand that.

Thanks for the review.

NGADM Review


This is such a happy track, I just love the feeling it gives me! Every section of the song sounds delightful and thoughtfully written (my favourite being the travelling section, especially at 1:14...so peaceful and slightly reminiscent of Pokemon). There are so many instruments to listen to that you never get bored! I like the level of variety in this track, it enables you to tell a full story with lots of imaginative detail. Each section has its own special charm and catchy quality. In fact, I think if you were to split up each section, you would have a full soundtrack to a video game...no joke (I love it). Though I felt it was a bit silly (I actually laughed), the little guitar lick at the end was great! Also, not sure if this was your intention, but I loved how the woodwind sounded like a train whistle.

There are some mixing issues, mostly with percussion though. The drums after 4:00 are just a tad loud. While I loved each section, and I think they are connected quite nicely, each transition could use some work in order for the listening experience to sound seamless. Now, there is one last thing that needs to be addressed: the cymbal! Unfortunately, the cymbal is not mixed appropriately and it is used a bit too much. Other than these things, this song is a gem.

Score: 8.5/10

johnfn responds:

You have successfully called me out. My goal was actually to write an entire video game soundtrack, then condense it down to 6 minutes and submit it to NGADM. Alright, that might not be true, but it is true that I was taking a lot of inspiration from vg tunes, which is all very apparent in the song. Also that I wasn't able to focus in on a single idea and instead combined a ton of ideas.

DRUMS CAN NEVER BE TOO LOUD! Alright they may be too loud. :v

I am definitely taking your criticism into account on future tracks!

NGADM Review:
Contrary to what you might think, this was actually a really really great effort at orchestral, particularly considering it's not your normal genre. You've got great ideas and really good instrumentation, and the overall structure was pretty well-worked, albeit a bit bland at points.

My chief complaint with this was probably the lack of depth. For an orchestral piece, it lacked a certain texture to it that's normally necessary. Chords, alternate melodies, backing instruments, etc would have gone a long way to solve this, instead of just front-side instruments and percussion. That being said, I love how you managed to mix in your normal style into something which is experimental for you, as I know that's not an easy thing to pull off.

Overall, great piece, with a lot of potential. You've definitely got some good ideas, and you put them to great use, so keep up the good work!

Score: 8/10

johnfn responds:

Hey Echo, thanks for the review!

I want to ask for clarification on one point though - what do you mean by "chords, alternate melodies, backing instruments"? Like, at 2:20 you're in the middle of a 16 bar chord progression (that's a lot of chords) and there are like 3 melodies going on. Do you mean I should have had a break in that section?

I also don't totally understand the difference between front and backside instruments. This is just because I'm an orchestral noob. Could you PM me or something? Thanks!

- NGADM Round 3 Review -

Oh, so pretty. And contrary to your statement, I am not an orchestra person at all! Rather I'm sort of torn between genres and so I find it easy to listen to multiple genres, myself. The good thing is that us judges are varied with our skills, so while we might agree on certain things, we'll not all hear everything the exact same way. Anyway! Back to the review.

I like the various moods portrayed in your piece. However, I halfway through, I feel like something is missing. I do like the atmosphere, and your sounds are lovely (I especially love your percussion and the guitar in the background, as well as that out of tune pluck at 2:54 and again at 3:12. And oh, your bass right after that. I loved when things sped up and wow that was just lovely. Your transitions are second to none.

At 4:41 oh, love it. Typical johnfn style! Everything that followed was just very you. Lovely mix of styles and everything. This is one of the few songs I've heard in this contest that gets progressively better - way better - as it runss its course. And oh, the ending was great. I didn't expect that guitar. Overall, I'm impressed with the song's flow and progression. Very solid track, for sure :)

Score: 9.5

johnfn responds:

I kinda forgot to respond to this review. Or rather, I did respond to it, but then I forgot to submit it and then I closed my browser. This actually happens more often than you would think...

Anyway I really appreciate the review! I actually liked it a lot because I felt like what you got out of the song was exactly what I was thinking while I wrote the song! I mean I can totally understand why other people may not have enjoyed certain sections, but I think it's totally cool that it all worked for you. Thanks for the great review!

Credits & Info


3.95 / 5.00

Sep 13, 2013
11:50 PM EDT
File Info
5.7 MB
6 min 12 sec

Licensing Terms

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