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Sjaan the Flying Doctor

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My entry for the first round of the NGADM 2014

It's dedicated to my dear friend Sjaan. After we went to see the Hobbit 2 together, we talked about what she wanted to do with her life. She told me she wanted to travel around the world and become a doctor. Preferably on horseback, because she's good with animals. I told her about the flying doctors (a tv series about doctors in a plane) and she said that sounded cool as well. Perhaps it's the influence of the Hobbit 2, but an image formed of Sjaan as a doctor on the back of a flying horse, exploring the earth and saving lives.

Unfortunately I haven't heard from Sjaan in a while. She flew off. I hope she's happy and has an adventurous future.

Edit 1 October 2014: Made a lot of changes. Added a fretless bass, replaced the strings with much more lively samples, replaced the guitar amplifier with a better one, tweaked the effects around, improved the mixing and mastering. Thank you Phonometrologist, johnfn, Step, Neon-Bard, headphoamz and midimachine for your feeback. I took all of your comments into consideration and it helped me a lot.

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I find it strange that I never reviewed this track. Well- now I get to write a review on the updated version! :D

The melody is very simple, but that is not a fault. It has a strong characteristic sound and I find it to be memorable. The flute harmonies were a great touch. I rather enjoyed the lead guitar. The climactic section was beautiful. The ending felt a little less well-contrived than the rest of the track, but it works fine and it does sound nice. Overall, the track has a great progression and never gets boring or repetitive.

Unfortunately, my earbuds broke, so I'm listening only with my muddy production headphones. Regardless, this track sounds great and well-balanced to me. Only one thing bothers me. There is some percussion that occasionally hits three times. That instrument sounds like a static pop in my headphones, and stands far far out of the mix from the other instruments. (You can see these beats as spikes in the track waveform.) It is even more offending that it stands so far out only in the left channel. For this, I'm taking off half a star.

It really does sound like a lot of work went into this track, and the result is terribly pleasing to my ears. I believe this is my favorite work of yours, and I look forward to more. :)

SourJovis responds:

Strange indeed :P

Anyway I think your review on the updated version is more helpful since with the earlier version I already knew I had to change a lot of the things.

I will update the song at least once more. I will replace the reverb with a new reverb effect I recently got. Also I will try to look at replacement for the saxophone samples at the beginning of the song. I'm sure that can sound a lot better.

I will take your comments into account. Especially that of the loud percussion on the left side. I think you mean the electronic kick. It pans from left to right, and back again, but it starts of loudest on the left. I think I should take away a little of the treble. Keep the volume a bit more constant, so it will sound less loud on the left, and you will hear it on the right. I think I know what you mean by "ending felt a little less well-contrived than the rest of the track". I feel the same, but I don't know what to do about that. This just naturally flowed out of the first section. I don't know how to make it more interesting or what instruments to add.

Glad you like it. I'll try to improve it, and make more, better songs.

Firstly, you have a good grasp over where you’re going with the song, and I like the story behind it! I enjoy the reverb on the saxophone as well, and the piano that plunks away diligently in the background suggests that this might be a sadder time. You have a nice synth chorus that chimes in as well.
I would say that the song is a little too rhythmically congested. It seems that you have a great composition here, but with the VSTs, it just doesn’t sound authentic and nothing flows as naturally as they would in real life. I know how hard that can be with virtual sounds, but it does take away a bit from the song.
The middle portion reminds me of something right out of an 80’s Kurt Russell segment, where he’s still thinking about how he can save his woman, and then yes, he’s made up his mind! It’s very headstrong, like making decisions, and it’s evident that you have concluded you might not be able to see Sjaan again, even though you both had a story together as friends.
The end is my favorite, with the flute and the bells ringing. It’s a very nice addition. The piano getting slower at the end, however, is what I would have loved to hear more of in the beginning, where the tempo might not be as static. This can help suggest that the tone changes or that there is something coming in the song to which we look forward.
I do agree with reviews; this is also my favorite from you! You’ve done well, and I wish you good luck if you ever decide to venture forth to find Sjaan. :)

NGADM Round One Score: 7

SourJovis responds:

Thank you headphoamz for your review. I have changed a lot about the song thanks to your advice and that of the other people who've commented. I finally got time to respond to you.

Glad you read the description. It helps put this song into context.

You may be right about the rhythm. Not sure if I've been able to fix that. All of the instruments are still pulled out of a computer. I did spend more time making them sound more alive, and I think that helped some.

I don't think this is the best song I've made, but with all of the changes I made recently it's one of the best mixed songs. That in combination with the memorable melody makes it one of my better songs. I'm updating several of my more recent old songs to get them up to my current standard.

I will venture forth to find Sjaan :)

This is an NGADM Round 1 Review:

-----

Like johnfn, you have a way with creating amazing melodies. Wizardry, I say! I had the main melody stuck in my for a while. You know, the song starts off with a very melancholic tone that seems to permeate a large portion of the song. It reminds me of older Final Fantasy tracks (such as Shadow's Theme from FF6). It's almost teetering towards being sad in a way, perhaps that's just my interpretation though (especially after reading the description). Anyway, I digress. I have to mention that the very best part about the track, beyond a shadow of a doubt, are your flute trills. They add so much detail to the song, in such a whimsical way that reminds you of flying! The minimalistic percussion in the first half of the song works well in my opinion, and the introduction of heavier drums in the latter half really helps move things along. The track as a whole doesn't get repetitive, thanks to your composition and surprising transitions. The guitar at 1:18 was a pleasant surprise!

The overall mix is a little bit off, nothing too serious though. You can hear that the drums are a little wet, but they never overpower the other instruments in such a way that it is hampering them, which is great. They drums do sound a bit sluggish during the transitions at 1:15 and 1:51. The strings at 1:55 are far too thin sounding, so they give off much less warmth than they potentially could. I would have liked for the conclusion to have a bit more depth, perhaps with the piano, but that's entirely a subjective thing.

Loved the song! I think it's one of your best yet. I can't wait to hear more man, keep me updated. :D

Score: 8/10

SourJovis responds:

Thank you Neon-Bard for your review. I haven't been able to respond to you sooner.

Other people have also mentioned the melody sticks, even after a few weeks. New melodies come pretty quick to me. It's everything after that takes time; song structure, instrumentation, accompaniment, mixing, mastering. I'll just keep spending time and practice to become better.

You're right, it does sound a bit like shadow's theme from ff6. It even has a rhythm guitar panned to the left. I didn't have that song in mind though. As a matter of fact I thought a little about Terra's theme from ff6 at the time.

I did start out somewhat sadly at the start, to make the rest of the song more uplifting. (kinda like Terra's theme from ff6) The ending is sad again, and a bit lonely.

You were right the mixing was off. I've added instruments that I felt were missing, and adjusted the mixing according. The drums are less heavy, and the other instruments sound stronger.
I think the transitions sound better now with more instruments. The strings more lively, and the bass adds some warmth to it. I hope it sounds about right now.

This is an NGADM Round 1 Review.

--

Man, I've always loved your melodies. From all the tracks I've heard from you, I've mentioned a few issues here and there, but every single time it's never the melodies. You've got a great sense of composition that shows in the memorable and catchy melodies you write and develop very well throughout the track. This has to be one of my favourite compositions from you. You've also got a very sensible yet decently unpredictable structure, starting off on a low key with lovely atmospheric touches such as those delayed drums and really neat flute-like trills/embellishments, and then build up gradually into a more expressive, power-ballad-like section with guitars, high strings and punchy drums, before ending with a small melodic phrase from your intro sax motif, which was a nice touch. Good stuff!

In terms of production, pretty good! You've got a very clear and breathy mix... but maybe too breathy. I feel like certain sections sounded empty due to a lack of low end, diminishing the power that they would've otherwise had, 1:18 and 1:54 especially. I don't think this would be suitably fixed by just EQing in more low end. I feel like you could've done a better job with filling up the mix with more accompaniment and intricate elements outside what's playing in the foreground. Not only will it give the track more depth but will make it more interesting to listen to, as long as you don't go overboard and detract from the experience of course. On an unrelated note, I feel like the progression was a bit dull. Not necessarily repetitive, but there was a lack of interesting things to latch on to for three whole minutes. It's not that much of a big deal, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Overall, a rock-solid piece of music from you with a pretty unique instrument arrangement, very memorable composition and creative ideas!

SCORE: 8.6/10

SourJovis responds:

Thanks for your review. Your's are always the best.

The song loses in low end at the second halve of the song. I'm thinking about adding a (fretless) bass there. I'm not completely sure what it should play tough. Something to make the whole song more layered and more interesting anyway. Maybe I should add some more instruments beside the bass. I could have some of the already present instruments play more interestingly. The strings can become more interesting I think.

I'll think about what to do with the song next.

These melodies are really beautiful. You've gotten quite a bit better since last NGADM! That guitar that comes in around 1:25 sounds super fake and I think a different instrument would have suited the song a bit better. Still... I really like this piece. It's very somber and pretty, kind of reminds me of an overworld view in some game when you're flying around.

SourJovis responds:

Thank you. I too think I've gotten a bit better since last year, but I don't think this song is the best example. The guitar is fake indeed. The sample pack I used should be pretty good, but perhaps I'm not using it right. Or it's the amplifier. A real guitar would undoubtedly sound better if I could find someone willing to play this part. I like the idea of a guitar as lead instrument for the second part. What other instruments do you think work better?

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SourJovis
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Uploaded
Aug 18, 2014
7:59 PM EDT
Genre
Cinematic
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6.8 MB
3 min 0 sec
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