The Traveller

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My submission for the Newgrounds Underdogs Contest 2015, Knock-Out Round.

This track is a bit special, since it is based on a story I've been working on for a game, taking place in a sci-fi setting, but with a lot of fantasy elements – a universe where science and magic coexist. Honestly, I don't know if the game will be released someday, but this track really reflects what would be the musical identity of this game, blending sci-fi and fantasy together.

The structure of this track is based on the background of the main character, the Traveller. He is the only one known of his species, and decided to spend his life as an explorer, trying to find a clue about where he comes from.

0:00 – Walking alone on a red, arid planet, his oxygen reserves depleting slowly and his ship lying wrecked and irreparable behind him, the Traveller has no other choice than to walk to the place indicated by strange coordinates he found after years of research. More and more, his hope disappears, and he realizes he is trapped here, alone. Nothing awaits him here. Nothing, but a cold death on an unknown planet.

0:54 – While walking, the Traveller thinks about his past. About how he grew up, adopted by two people who found him, a little baby, in an unknown spaceship that arrived out of nowhere and landed chaotically not far from their home. About how, despite being raised by a loving family, he always felt lonely, with this void in his heart, impossible to fill, a void born the day he woke up in their arms for the first time. The only thing able to soothe him was this teddy bear that landed with him, this cuddly toy that seemed to whisper to him ancient, forgotten words during the night. The Traveller became a talented space engineer and worked hard to become an explorer, motivated by the haunting call of his homeworld. He spent years trying to find a clue, or anything that could give him some insight of who he was, before realizing the clue was there since the beginning, inside his stuffed toy. For the first time, he found something. Coordinates.

1:36 – This part is about the inner fight raging in the Traveller's mind. Is it really worth continuing ? Whatever happens, he is now trapped on this planet, unable to escape his death. Yet, he has to know. Torn between will and despair, he tries to ignore these voices in his heads claiming his stubbornness is futile.

2:40 – Whereas the Traveller is about to surrender to his despair, he sees something on the horizon...

Instruments used :
Orchestra : CineSymphony Lite + a small custom Kontakt synth library
Other melodic instruments : Shire Whistle, Olympus Elements, Hammered Chordophone, EWQL Symphonic Orchestra, Berlin Grand Piano, Blakus Cello, Celestia
Percussion and FX : TAIKO 2, Evolve, EWQL Symphonic Orchestra, Juggernaut, Stickbreakers Vol. 1
Synths : Alchemy, Unifyer, Underscore

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okay.... beautiful theme

Ylmir responds:

Thanks a lot ! :)


Ylmir responds:

Thanks a lot ! :)

First off, WOW. Just, amazing.

This piece REALLY spoke to me, as I have been an aspiring composer for as long as I can remember. It's always been one of those pursuits that I never took too seriously, as I've always been an avid horn player, and was always encouraged to take this route, since there aren't very many French Horn players out there. But I digress.

I can ALWAYS remember writing music, anywhere from writing little pep band arrangements in middle school, to absolutely FALLING IN LOVE with college music theory. Now I'm finally doing it seriously, but in a more...ah whats the word, lone-wolf, kind of independent way? But I've focused so much on electronic music as of late. Which I always try to take modern orchestral ideas into my pieces. But one of my dreams is to write Cinematic music, to score a film, to produce great symphonies. And this spoke to me for some reason, this is so well done.

A couple things I HAVE to ask you as a producer, I know you listed the instruments you used, and maybe you can P.M. Me about this, but during the large impact/build up, you have a distinct FRENCH HORN sound. I don't know if you identify it as a french horn sound but the MAIN brass instrument you can hear is INFACT, a french horn. What VST did you use for this? And in fact for all your sounds, could you give me some tips on how to get such a wonderful lush orchestral sound? I would love to write some orchestral pieces such as this one. (Maybe you can wait until after to contest to be safe)

I've never even thought about using my DAW to create a symphonic piece. I don't even know if you used a DAW, but, ah man, I don't have much more to say.

Well done, and congratz on making the final round of the NGAUC, fellow competitor! Break a leg....er....Speaker!

Ylmir responds:

Thanks a lot for your review ! :)

Actually, when I really began "composing" music, what I wanted to do was to share feelings, emotions and stories through music. Well, it hadn't always been great, but somehow, I managed to learn though experimentation how some things could work well for some situations, etc... I have little to no knowledge in musical theory, or at least nothing learnt the traditional way - so I won't really be able to explain things the technical way, I'm sorry about that.

I also don't know what exactly you know about computer-assisted orchestral music, so I don't really know where to begin. But if there is something that I feel is important (after learning to make your samples sound realistic, which isn't always easy), it is the way you orchestrate your piece. Some instruments will sound much better if used in a specific role or range, and understanding and exploiting this really helps a lot. Without at least a basic understanding of the orchestra, you can write anything you want, and it will almost never sound good, because you have the wrong instrument playing the wrong part. Then, once you begin to know well how to work with that, you can also try expanding your sonic palette by layering different sounds, making several sections play a specific part in unison. This will allow you to give new colors to your different voices. For example, in this track, this melancholic/mechanical sound has been created by layering a guitar/dulcimer like sound with crotales, a glockenspiel and a celesta. The melody you mentioned is indeed a french horn section, but is layered with the trumpets and the violins - I wanted this melody, and especially its last notes, to evocate a scream of despair, therefore I gave it to three powerful sections in the high register. These are examples of things you can do, especially when making computer-assisted (and produced !) music ; I'm pretty sure that if my track was played by a real orchestra, this voice would overpower anything else ^^

About the software I use, yes I use a DAW indeed ! My current go-to orchestral library is CineSymphony Lite, which costs about $400 if I recall correctly - but if you're a student you can get it at 50% off (that's how I've been able to afford it). This is a cut-down version of all the orchestral range from CineSamples, and for a cut-down version, it still sounds really great (though I really miss some true legato patches and the woodwinds sometimes have weird issues with the release samples).

A cheaper alternative would be EWQL Symphonic Orchestra (the silver version covers the basics and is sometimes discounted at -50%), but you will most probably feel really limited after some months (and their iLok thing is really a pain in the... well, sometimes I want to put this damn USB dongle somewhere else). Your orchestral sections won't sound as good as CS Lite's ones, but there are some patches you'll still probably use occasionally, a bit more like a toolbox. For example, the crotales, glockenspiel and celesta I mentioned earlier came from it.

And if money is not an issue, there are plenty of alternatives. You could go for the other products from Cinesamples, or buy the CCC or subscribe to the Composer Cloud at East West (but again, there is the iLok issue...), or buy L.A. Symphonic Strings, Berlin Woodwinds and CineBrass (this trio seems to be quite popular - and for CineBrass, I understand why)... Really, there is a lot of possibilities, but you should really read a lot of reviews to know if the sample library you're interested in really suits your needs and your tastes. Some will have an almost chirurgical sound, some a much richer one, some will sound voluntarily imperfect...

Oh, and if your computer isn't great, maybe you should think about upgrading it as well. CineSymphony Lite and EWQL Symphonic Orchestra are quite light, but once you'll begin to expand your arsenal with more instruments, RAM will probably become limiting - I'm more and more struggling with my 8Gbs of RAM, and I'm planning to get a new computer ASAP.

I hope it helped, and feel free to send me a PM if you want to continue this conversation ;)

Good luck for the final round !

EDIT : Holey sheep, I never sent anything that long on Newgrounds.

An outstanding piece of composition and production. You've outdone yourself yet again with this one, I look forward to your next, wondering and hoping you can take us even further.
Congratulations on getting the highest score again buddy!

Ylmir responds:

Thanks a lot mate ! Though, someday, these late mastering sessions (0:00 - 5:30 a.m., with the NGAUC deadline at 6 a.m.) will kill me. xD

This is a wonderful track, dude! o.O
I can't believe no one has reviewed it yet. with you here, we definitely have a new great orchestral composer to add to our lists, hehhe.

The mixing is splendid, and the quality sounds really good to me. I also like the atmospheric sounds (there was some birdlike sfx, for example). Even though the track has a slow (yet beautiful) intro, it develops into quite the powerful melody.
I have heard a few people here get a bit more power out of a climax. Maybe there's a slight lack of dynaics here? I couldn't do it better myself at this point, but I think the end could use a bit more emphasis on some points nonetheless. It would add not only realism, but it would also make it easier to really live into the music and feel it!

Otherwise, I loved everything, and I favorited the track. The melodies, the structure, and the intrumentation is great.

Great job, and good luck ;)
Keep it up!

Ylmir responds:

Thank you, it really means a lot to me ! :)

Actually, I love experimenting with sounds, this is how I ended up getting these sounds in the intro, for example. The main instrument is actually composed of four different instruments (celesta + glockenspiel + crotales + an acoustic guitar played unconventionally, the hammered chordophone from FrozenPlain), and the "birdlike SFX" is just a sine synth with some effects. For this one, I wanted to get a space-y feeling, something evocating a spatial transmission or something like that. And then I messed up with the glide setting of the synth, and loved this feeling of artificial life it gave. This second approach was maybe less coherent with the story, but I couldn't resist. xD

I think you're right about the dynamics. I spent a lot of time lately working on hybrid orchestral, and on this one I decided to limit the "hybrid" part of the most powerful section to some hi percussion and a string-like synth, yet I think I continued to work on it as I worked on the hybrid epic tracks I was mentioning, where I usually use my electric guitar to give more life to the track. But I'll definitely think about it, since it's always been harder to me to write something epic for a "conventional" orchestra, and it may be the cause. Oh, and by the way, I especially had a hard time getting the last brass/violin notes right - if you listen carefully, they still sound a little bit synthy IMO.

Thank you again for your review ! ;)

Credits & Info


4.25 / 5.00

Jul 31, 2015
11:25 PM EDT
File Info
6.2 MB
3 min 1 sec

Licensing Terms

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