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This is my entry for the final round of the NGAUC and the round of 64 for the NGADM.

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This is an NGADM Round 1 Review


For the record, this has amazing composition. There's something about your melodies and atmospheres that speaks to me. Parts like 1:20-ish and the outro have this wonderful ethereal texture that I can't get enough of, and your string-driven sections have strong composition and compelling emotion. This got you a lot of points in my books, along with the excellent variety and structure you've brought to the table. Like other competitors in the same genre as you during that round, you very effectively told a story.

I'm afraid that what doesn't work for me in this track is the general mixing and MIDI programming. Your samples might not be that bad, but your execution thereof needs work. The orchestra sounded flat and occasionally dry, the solo instruments sounded unrealistic (but I'll concede it's hard to make a solo instrument sound realistic without super expensive samples) and I would've liked a more masterful command over the mix in general. I want to feel the low/mid warmth of the strings, the brightness/airiness of the woodwinds, and so on. Right now everything feels held back and unrealistic.

That said, I can't stress how well-composed this is. That's great, especially for this genre. And hey, your mixing needs work but it'll improve over time! Just keep at it, and keep making use of those killer composition skills. Oh, and sorry for the late review!


SCORE: 9.3/10

NGAUC Review
First off, my apologies for the extremely late review -- but, better late than never!

What worked well:
- Touching, relaxing track.
- Excellent use of instruments.
- Harp and choir sections sounded fantastic.
- Highly atmospheric.
- Good mixing.

What to consider for next time:
- Dynamics: work on dynamics, and you'll be golden! This goes mostly for the strings and the velocity of those notes, but I don't want to beat a dead horse though, so I'll leave it at that.
- String sections could be a little more emotive! You could consider using the oboe a little more to augment the harmonies in the track.

I couldn't help but feel like I was temporarily wisped away to another land (a surprisingly Elder Scrolls-esque world)! That's always a good sign, when a song can do that. Keep up the great work DSyk!

Score: 8.8/10

DSykMusic responds:

Thanks for your review Neon-Bard! I'll likely go back and touch up this track with your (and others) suggestions in mind.

NGADM Review

So the track itself has nice composition as well as some great ideas and unique melodies. It’s an overall very relaxing track that I could see in a skyrim game if were just a little bit more relaxing in it’s soundscape and instrument choices.
Although the track is very relaxing, it didn’t quite move me emotionally. I think this might be due to a number of things. One might just be that there is very little dynamic in the volume or harmony throughout the track. A lot of emotion behind pieces is the unexpected dynamics among the harmony and volume, not expecting what should come next. It did change, and it did move my emotions during these parts, but only ever so slightly. This can also be applied to how diverse a melody might be, which could have also helped you more.
Also the violin lead patch could have been a tad more realistic. It was expressive, but every note didn’t sound unique like a violin usually would. Nice work otherwise!



DSykMusic responds:

Thanks for the review Ryan! Appreciate the kind words and critique. Dynamics is one thing I WILL be working on. I'll have to take a look at the violin too!

Production: 19/30 (Average)
Composition: 27/30 (Great)
Instrumentation: 14/15 (Great)
Originality: 9/10 (Great)
Interest: 12.5/15 (Above Average/Great)

Total: 81.5/100 (Above Average) or 4 Stars

A very well composed piece, like DSyk's other entries in the contest, but held back by the quality of the instruments in terms of production. As the samples used appear to be mostly if not entirely mono (although if they are EWQL SO, if my ears don't deceive me, that doesn't make much sense, as those are stereo... did you perchance try to pan the tracks or instruments yourself? You should never do that with EWQL SO, as all the mic positions come pre-panned for you) a lot more attention to mixing and careful use of reverb must be followed to create a work that is not too warm, bassy, or flat sounding, as this work unfortunately comes out rather intensely in all three. There is little "air" or "breath", rather ironically, in "breathe", and most of that breath comes from either the slight addition of room noise (to liven up the highs) or use of stereo samples. I think this piece would be vastly more emotionally appealing if it used stereo samples- there is a lot of interaction between lines that is left out when they are confined to their sides of the mix. For example, here's a piano piece with just one of the two mics (https://instaud.io/awH) versus both mics in stereo (https://instaud.io/7PB).

Compositionally, the piece is quite fabulous, and, I feel shows a very nice range of stylistic influences. I feel the quiet, gentle nature of the work does not make it boring, as so many works in that feel can. A good use of contrast, development, and form has made a solid work that is both an enjoyable listen (and re-listen) as well as a good example of refreshing and mature composition.


DSykMusic responds:

Thanks for your review Samulis! You were right about it being EWQL SO and it being panned. I never knew about this! This tip has pretty much changed the way I set this library up. THANK YOU!

So, you've made it to the final round. You've clearly proven yourself. Time to judge by NGADM standards - scoring will be harsher as a result. In any case, here are some pointers for improvement.

The Good:
-Well, this is certainly in your style. Very cinematic, and nice mixing.
-Fantastic choir effect and usage.
-Excellent classical atmospheres, and overall excellent instruments.

The Not-so-good:
-The strings sound much more like soundfonts in this piece, for some reason. Perhaps it's that they basically always use the same velocity and are fairly quantized. One suggestion I have for classical music, especially if you're without a midi keyboard, is to turn off the snap-to feature (automatic quantization) and instead put them in without rigid beat markers. That way, things can sound far more organic and realistic. Also try to vary the dynamics so that they're more natural. You do this in the second half, so I'm somewhat surprised at that.
-I'm really wondering where a theme is in this. In terms of displaying fantastic compositional capability, you definitely show your stuff with harmonies, but I can't help but notice the lack of any consistent idea throughout all of this. In classical music, and in most modern music, the most impressive pieces tend to have an ostinato that repeats as well as some kind of main melodic theme. This theme can repeat in multiple transpositions and with alternate harmonies (major -> minor or vice versa is insanely common). This would improve the quality of this piece dramatically.

Final score: 7.0/10. This piece has excellent mixing, excellent harmonies, and generally excellent instruments, but really needs more realism in the strings (some other instruments too, but the strings are by far the most obvious) and a solid thematic element.

DSykMusic responds:

Thanks for the review SkyeWint! I'll be paying more attention to dynamics/velocities as I move forward.

Credits & Info


4.28 / 5.00

Aug 13, 2015
7:35 PM EDT
File Info
8.6 MB
3 min 45 sec

Licensing Terms

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