The House by the Cemetary

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My submission for the NGADM 2015 knock out round.
This track nearly killed me (and my laptop). Anyway... it´s done. Thought about adding some woodwinds but it was already so full and my laptop would have exploded for sure...
It´s an oldschool creepy cinematic track with the right amount of cheese inside and it´s telling a story in different sections:

1: Outside (aka "it´s raining" aka "the thunderstorm")
2: Something is going on in that house...
3: It lives!
4: Run!!!
5: Just a few steps more...

I was quite happy about my idea with the shifting accents and the variing meters during the action part. Actually I used prime numbers to distribute the accents, although I think nobody would care ;) The problem with the irregular meters was that it was much harder to write melody lines above. Thus, I shifted to regular 4/4 at the end. I think this also gives a touch of an relieving feeling at the end. The track was fun at the beginning but painful at the end since my laptop started crashing and stuttering the instruments I added. My next track won´t be a full orchestral one for sure... Actually my orchestration here is the real horror of this track. Everybody teaching orchestration would kill me for that. I guess you would need like three string orchestras and two full brass ensembles to play it. The worst thing is that it doesn´t even sound so full... Furthermore no woodwinds used at all. Anyway, the track works how it is, now ;)

Is it possible too change the title due to the typo?

Artwork is by deathink. Here´s the link to it:

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1:55 and above i am constantly thinking:
I wish my band could play this omg it would be SOOOOO amazing.
Truly amazing piece with huge emphasis on story telling. you my friend, do not disappoint!

Azhthar responds:

Wow! Thanks again! Now you probably know what I meant when I wrote at the other track: This track is a bit untypical for me ;)

This is an NGADM 2015 Round 1 Review.

So! This song is awesome. I'm just going to lead off with that, because you've impressed me with your cinematic mastery. It's hardly subtle in its story-telling, but it gets the job done in an eerily satisfying way that I find pretty immersive, and on top of that it sounds great and is well produced. What more could I ask for? Actually, one thing - a creaky door closing sound effect when the rain stops. Might be a bit heavy handed but I just wanted it so much.

Anyway, I'll try and deconstruct the song a bit instead of just outright praising you. The first thing I noticed is that your thunder sound effects sound like they have a weird comb-filter effect on them, as though you've taken a stereo sound effect and made it mono. Obviously not a huge issue, but it did irk me a little as they also had no low end (possibly as a result?) and the deep rumble of thunder would have been appropriate here before the instruments took the stage.

Your dramatic intro really is lovely, though. The strings might get a little loud compared to the percussion, ambiance, and the following piano, but they do their job well; and while TaintedLogic has a point about the transition to the piano, I didn't find it too problematic. It's certinaly appropriate for the visuals you're intending the audience to associate with the piece, imo. That said, during this section I find the scraping ambient sound effects a little loud - I mean, they're not pleasant sounds. Might be resolved by cutting their highs a little, because I think they're a little detrimental to the musical aspects of the piece.

The crescendo approaching the awakening of the monster works quite well, too; though I wish you'd made the percussion a bit louder here. It's probably a little too loud at 1:50, though, and unfortunately it suppresses the strings and other instruments you introduce. Other than that, this section is great.

I think the way you ended it is appropriate, but sudden, which is a little unfortunate. Some kind of outro indicating the recovery of the character, now in relative safety, might have been appropriate. Failing that, you could have implied they were caught :P crunch crunch, you know.

Your production is great as well. At -14RMS, this track is fairly loud for orchestral (as far as I'm aware) and simultaneously it's quite dynamic and spacious.

I'm sorry if I'm nitpicking, because honestly it's about the most I can do. I don't spend as much time listening to much orchestral music, but at the same time, I think this is a great piece that I'm struggling to say much negative about anyway. Impressive work.

Azhthar responds:

So... finally I found some time to respond to your review. Your review was so detailed and positive that I had too take some time to write an answer :) First... Thanks a lot! I´m really glad you liked the track although you aren´t that much into orchestral stuff.
The creaky door is missing you´re right ;)
For the rain and thunder I have to be honest I more or less took the sample out of the box. It could be that what you´re hearing is some quite heavy EQ I put on it because I layered it with another sample before which was a bit hot at the low end. I played with the EQ but it didn´t work out so I took the layer out and played the sample naked. It might be that I forgot to remove the eq and this is what you´re hearing...
You really have good ears because actually for the scraping sounds I increased the highs to make them a bit more present. They were not supposed to sound very pleasent but to give the track a bit more creepy atmosphere. You are definitely right that musically and for the piece as a standalone work this was not very supporting but I think in the right movie scene it would work well...
I have to regret with percussion layering and balancing I still have a lot of problems. Especially if the track is already that full like in the parts you refer to.
If I now hear the track with a bit of distance the end is definitely to sudden. When I wrote it I thought it was conclusive but a bit of distance to a track is sometimes good to get another view what could have been done different...
Glad you liked my production because I actually thaought it wasn´t that good. When I hear music from other people around here their music sounds always so clear and loud and I´m always getting jealous :)
That wasn´t nitpicking at all, because everywhere you had a point ;) Thanks again for the review!

Okay. Right off the bat, I love the creepy, clashing chords and spooky mood. I appreciated the crescendo in the strings into :15 as well, but then I didn’t understand why you had this gloomy yet relatively tranquil piano part in there. The crescendo at the beginning made me anticipate a huge explosion of creepy wonder, and that turned :16 into a bit of a disappointment. The piano also drags on for a bit too long IMO. The strings at 1:04 add a lot to the mood, though. I like the more hard-hitting vibe you aim for at 1:27, as well as the subsequent effects with the clock. I think it would’ve helped the drama, though, if you had brought out the drum that was playing on the downbeats during that section a lot more. I think the drum needed a ton more reverb, and probably also some more careful equalizing so that it just causes the listener to freak out when (s)he hears it. You completely change the vibe of this piece at 1:52 – it’s a lot more energetic and frantic. Kind of has more of a Golden Eye feel than sneaking-around-Old-Lady-Wilson’s-house. The thing I like about these mood shifts is that it helps the music tell a story. The thing I don’t like is that it makes the piece lose some coherence. This piece is pretty short. I would’ve liked to see you flesh out these ideas a bit more if you wanted to incorporate these different moods. That way, the pacing will help keep the listener grounded instead of frantically flip-flopping between Old-Lady-Wilson-is-undead and James-Bond-infiltrates-the-bad-guys’-headquarters. Still, it’s a pretty captivating track, and the production quality is rather high. Nice work! Hope this helped, man, and good luck! ;)


This review was written for the Newgrounds Audio Death Match 2015.

Azhthar responds:

Hey! Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback. It´s good that you pint out a lot of critical points and actually I´m quite surprised that you gave me such a high rating with such a critical review. Thanks for that I guess ;) I already knew that it was a bit risky to throw that many ideas together, do to the coherence. That´s why I put a lot of work into the transitions to connect the contrasting parts. I also always tried to adapt themes from the previous parts to give the piece a bit more consistance. Actually I didn´t really have James Bond in my mind for the energetic part :) But maybe that´s because I´m in the age grown up with the "old" James Bond which had these typical "spy music" stuff (with big band and guitars and stuff). You are definitely right about the percussion in the middle section. At the end I think this part was a bit too crowded with noise in any case... The strings at the beginning were more supposed to show the creepy house from outside and represent some danger, while the piano "inside the house" should have more represented the "sneaky, spooky" atmosphere. Maybe a string decrescendo instead of crescendo would have been more consequent here... I was surprised that you meant this piece is pretty short because it´s about 3:20. Maybe the sections are quite short but I have to regret that I hate it, just to repeat sections, even if I slowly build them up. So... Thanks again for the input! I´ll try to build my track for the next round with more coherence but I can´t promise ;)

The quality of this track is simply astounding. I love every part of it, especially the ambiance and acoustic discord near the middle, just before the orchestral instruments come in. I don't think I could ever write something as amazing as this; I know nothing about music theory or audio mixing, and I've only ever purchased the Fruity edition of FL Studio.

In any case, this is a wonderful production, full of vigor. Awesome work.

*Stands, claps*

Azhthar responds:

Thanks a lot for your nice review. It means a lot and is very motivating if people really like your music.... I´m just listening to your track and you really don´t have to hide yourself. If you would hear the stuff I did when I started you would see you are already much better than this now ;)

this is amazing

Azhthar responds:

Thanks ;)

Credits & Info


4.69 / 5.00

Aug 14, 2015
9:12 PM EDT
File Info
6.3 MB
3 min 20 sec

Licensing Terms

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