Memoirs of an Old Dreamer

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Author Comments

I tried to follow the advice of the judges based upon criticisms from the first round. I tried to give the piece more of a theme. I hope you enjoy.


An old man sits in a dusty study. The evening sun fills the room with an amber hue, capturing every particle of dust that dances about the room. Before the man lay an old diary on an oak table.

The pages are whithered by age but he insists on turning the page as he dots his quill with another round of ink. His faded blue eyes gaze through large glasses as he brings the quill to paper and continues writing.

Emotions course through his elderly heart. He recounts his dreams and failures, his love and his sorrow. He writes down how his heart feels only half full through a life of failed ambition, leading to regret.

The room slowly becomes crimson, and the as darkness creeps in the man lights a candle. Scribbling his last thoughts and memories into the book he breaths a sigh. A clear tear forms in his eye, and meanders down through the creases of his aged skin. Lowering his quill the old man closes the diary and pushes it aside.

The elderly man rests his head on his arms upon the cold table and looks out of the window as he dies. The candle flickers illuminating the title of the diary - "Memoirs of an Old Dreamer". The candle goes out and the man his dead, all but for the remnants of life that lay in his memoirs.

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This is a NGADM Round 2 Review.

First, here's a breakdown of my score:
Production: 20/30 (Average)
Composition: 26/30 (Above Average)
Instrumentation: 12.5/15 (Above Average)
Originality: 8/10 (Above Average)
Interest/Emotion: 11/15 (Above Average)

Total: 77.5/100 or 7.75/10 or 4 stars (average)
The Good:
- The composition was rather pleasant as a whole, as was the nice variation through the orchestration. It was a lot more than the average fair for most of this type of music I hear compositionally and orchestration-wise.
- You had some nice ideas (Greensleeves, much?) and used them in acceptable traditional ways.
- There was a clear attempt to express emotion in the piece through a variety of means.

The Not-So-Good:
- The use of the virtual instruments was poor. This sounded like MIDI and nothing like an orchestra. Any and all attempts at emotion were quickly consumed by this lack of humanization. Always take the time to make sure the patches you select fit the compositional needs. Be sure to use dynamics and balance between all the instruments. Compose to work with what you have, not just with what you think, play to your strengths. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take some time to familiarize yourself with the patches in your sample libraries and compare them to real recordings to find what sorts of functions they are most suited for (harmony, melody, etc).
- The piano lines were bizarre and ruined the emotion, especially the chromatic stuff. Always remember, more heartfelt things must be SIMPLE. They must emphasize chord tones. Use leaps of fifths/fourths and passing tones. They must be something you would sing or whistle or hum and remember. Chromatics are only useful for tension and the application of atonal composition. Consider instead, the pentatonic scales, or perhaps, if you are daring, wholetone. These will much more give a feeling of wonder or dreamlike emotions.

Keep compos(ed/ing),

Jay-Turner responds:

Thank you for your review. I am entirely in agreement with you, I actually think this is perhaps the worst thing I have composed haha. Nevermind.

I think I tried to go beyond what my software is capable. I have extremely limited woodwind instruments, but what I had in my head was very woodwind inspired so I tried with what I've got. I don't think that was the wisest decision for a competition though (As in, not the best time to experiment). I think I realised that I was unhappy with it quite early on but I persisted, but beind fed up did make me do wierd stuff (like the chromatic bit).

Its funny you should mentioned Greensleeves, after I finished it and listened back I realised the same similarity myself.

So, overall I think you giving it a 4 star is very generous. Thank you. I'll heed your advice for when I next have time to work on some music.

This is an NGADM Round 2 Review.


This is a really captivating piece Jay. I think you did an excellent job with the execution of the theme, especially when you consider your wise choice of instruments. The harp/brass combo was a nice way to introduce the track, while the strings provide that foundation of emotion that sits at the heart of the song. There's definitely a memorable quality to your theme; I found myself humming the portion from 1:23 – 1:36 after I had listened to the song. The transition at 1:51 is well placed, but the cymbal here could be a little louder as it sits just below most of the other instruments. By the way, I enjoyed how you implemented the woodwinds to give off that enchanting story-like quality. Well done!

The overall mix could use some work. The strings, I found, were not as warm and pronounced as they could have been. The brass suffers from this as well as the choirs. The conclusion of the song was a little bland, and I feel it could have gone in a very different direction. It simply fades and then cuts out immediately. I understand that this fits well with the idea of the man passing away, but musically it doesn't quite work...mostly because it trails off from such a wonderful section to abruptness.

I appreciate the description you wrote for the song, it definitely added a great deal of depth to the overall theme of the song. Keep it up my friend! :)

Score: 8.25/10

Jay-Turner responds:

Thank you! It is flattering that you remembered my theme. I see what you mean about the cymbal. I generally feel that it is quite poorly mixed overall.

I agree very much with the sound of the instruments. I was really trying to push a sound that my VSTs weren't really capable of and I think that was a poor decision on my part (When I could have stuck to what I know sounds good in my library, I guess a contest isn't the best time to experiment, d'oh!).

Thank you for the encouragement and an honest review!

This is an NGADM Round 2 Review.


I am definitely in two minds about this submission. This has some wonderful qualities, but then there are some issues that take it down. I'm going to start with the good stuff. You develop the theme so much better over here than in your Round 1 track, as you mention in your author's comments. This is precisely the kind of thematic attention I was hoping for in your Round 1 track, and I'm very glad you decided to take the criticism and give it a shot. Your different sections flow smoothly and your various repetitions of the leitmotif tie it all together. The motif itself is a real pleasure to listen to and easily remains in the listener's head, and the transitions you wrote to lead up to it or come out of it are well-written!

All of your composition, in fact, shines. There are some beautiful harmonies, memorable sections and overall a strong sense of musicality that's present here. The 2:19 chromatic passages were quite a surprise but after a few listens they grew on me and I commend you for that bold idea! The instrumentation and voicing are, in my opinion, where the submission begins to fall short. I mean, some of your instruments do work well, whereas others, like the piano, seem to stand out like a sore thumb at times. What really peeves me, however, is your voicing among the various instruments. Various instruments just play together in unison, and there's a lack of supporting elements and intricate details behind your melodies that excite the listener's ears.

For instance, at 2:19 you start adding some proper voicing, call-and-response, counterpoint, etc, but it's short-lived, because soon after the melody starts playing again and it even starts fading out, which is another point by the way. Man, what a bad way to end the track (in my opinion, of course!). It doesn't even fit with what the (well-written, might I add) story you wrote in the description - the man dies - shouldn't you give this a suitable ending? Or, if you want to fade out to portray a feeling of continuation, then at least put a bit more effort into it rather than grabbing the melody and doing a master volume fade-out on it. The execution isn't quite as impressive as it was in your previous track either. The mix is muddy and the instruments sound a bit more lifeless and bland.

So yes, I'm a little torn with this submission. It performs well in areas that your Round 1 submission fails in, but conversely you executed some aspects better in that track than you did in this one. Either way, thanks for the pleasant listen and heartwarming story!

SCORE: 8.2/10

Jay-Turner responds:

Thank you for your review Step.

I'm glad that you like the overall piece. I agree that there are a lot of things that detract from it and it could be a lot better.

I've definitely learnt a lot about my own abilities from this piece. I'm dissatisfied with it in all of the areas that you mention so it is no surprise. For the voicing of instruments I reaaaally struggled as my woodwind and brass are all pretty naff. But, I had the idea that I wanted a really woodwind oriented piece, so I tried with what I had, albeit not the best decision I ever made. One thing I really feels horrible about the piece is that I tried to 'reverb' all my woodwind to beef-it up, which resulted in it having a very horrible strange sound.

The ending was definitely a bad call, I agree. I think I was running out of time so I did a rush job on the ending, and I was already generally fed up with it. My mix too, was terrible, I think thats one of things I need work on.

Thanks for the review again. It was definitely a learning curve.

Lovely! The instruments you chose go really well together and the arrangement is really nice!

Jay-Turner responds:

Thanks Chemiqals. Glad you like the instruments and enjoyed it :)

A very beautiful piece. Romantic and melancholic. I pictured a peaceful countryside sunset, then read your description and liked that better, hah.

Great composition; harmonies stand out.

Jay-Turner responds:

Its nice that you imagined a sunset as that was partly what I imagined as I wrote it :) As is conveyed in the description. Thanks for the review, I am glad you like it :D

Credits & Info


4.31 / 5.00

Sep 8, 2014
2:18 PM EDT
File Info
3.4 MB
3 min 46 sec

Licensing Terms

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