Clockwork Waltz

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So... My track for the second round of the NGADM.

Imagine a house full of weird old clocks with mysterious worlds hidden in the clockwork.

Again I learned a lot while I did this track (for example how shitty a dry tuba sounds and how awesome it sounds if you add reverb...).

This was a funny track because I started with a totally different idea (was going to make a weird circus track with bass singer, barrel organ and accordeon). I didn´t really like the result and tried the same composition with a music box and clock ticking as percussion. From this point I just continued. When I reached the climax I realized that my melody could sound like "pirates of the caribean" if I just change the harmonies I used before (what a few major chords can do in a track which didn´t use any except for dominants...). Four measures of pirates was enough for me, so time to slow down again.
Ahh.... and the cuckoo clock at the end is a flashback from the cuckoos at the beginning.

Artwork is from gopherguy.
Link to original work:

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NGADM Review:

Hey, sorry I'm a day late on this. It's been a while since I've listened to this but I am a big fan of the track. Sonically, this song sounds really awesome. The instrument combinations in the beginning sound really awesome. The bassoon and violins really work together quite well to create that quirky feel. I felt the lower instruments were a little bit too loud for my taste, but it didn't take away from the feel in my opinion. At some points during the song it sounded a little messy like around the 2:20 mark. It was just a lot clashing frequencies and messiness due to reverb it sounds like. The instrument realism is REALLY good. I'm really pleased with the dynamic shaping of the woodwinds and brass. Really nice work man.



=== This is an NGADM Round 2 Review ===

This piece is great! It is a small but realized world all of its own, and compared to a lot of the music that I hear it really has a unique vibe going on. It reminds me a LOT of ZipZipper and a little less of SteamPianist, but perhaps a little less insane than either of them.

We launch off with a little melody played on the music box, which is joined by some orchestral elements and gradually elevated until we get into the main section at around 1:30. I have to say, the chord choice at this section is just awesome. Your entire song has this totally fantasy-sounding vibe to it, like we are flying through another magical world. In fact, come to think of it, I could totally see this song in some Harry Potter soundtrack - it's got exactly that magical and wonder-filled vibe.

The little details that you put into the arrangement - the ticking clocks all over the place, for instance, add a lot. I'm also a fan of the choirs in the beginning of the piece. Yeah, the timing is slightly off, but you can fix this by bumping the pattern ever so slightly in the other direction in your DAW of choice.

Honestly, I really dig the section around 1:30. It's so nice that I wish that you would have stayed there a little longer and explored the melodic space a bit more. Perhaps a modulation into another recapitulation of that theme could have made this song better? Just a thought.

After the initial, magical 1:30 section, we move into another section based around speeding up the tempo. The composition here is, again, very strong. The chords somehow become even more awesome as you develop the piece. I really dig what happens around 2:20 - suddenly we have some cool sounding majors that add even more to the awesome vibe of this song. But as much as I like the chords, I feel like this section is overall somewhat unsatisfying. It's too short! Just when we're just about to really get into it, the song is over. This is incredibly disappointing! I can only imagine how good this song would be if you would have properly fleshed out that section.

The above is a good segue into my main critique about this piece as a whole: the arrangement is unsatisfying. I have to admit, the first few times I listened to this track, I didn't think it was special at all. Eventually, when I sat down and analyzed it, I realized it was much better than I was giving it credit for. The reason I didn't appreciate it initially was because of the arrangement.

A song that is arranged very well will very emphasize the best parts of the song - either by dynamics, by transitions, or something else. This song is the opposite - it hides all of its awesomeness because the transitions and dynamics do not emphasize the good bits of the song. We don't even realize that we're in the 1:30 climax until the climax is over because there's nothing in the arrangement that says "hey, this is a climactic moment!" This takes away a lot of the satisfaction of listening that this piece could otherwise have. It instead makes us disappointed because the good part is over before we could even realize it.

The funny thing is that my initial critique of this song was simply that it was too short and needed more development. As I think about it more though, I'm not sure how much of it is due to the length and how much of it is due to the arrangement not showcasing the development that is already there.

Anyways, arrangement issues aside, I think that in terms of composition and overall feel of a track, you more or less nailed this. Keep it up!

Score: 7.5

NGADM Round 2 Review.


- Mesmerizing sound design.
- Fun composition.
- Wonderful atmosphere and mood.
- Creative percussion.

Ooooohh this sounds so magical, I love it! I used the word 'fun' to describe this, because this piece is just plain fun to listen to. It has a real mischievous yet lighthearted vibe to it, yet it is also haunting. I can't seem to shake that wonderfully unique sound that you've created here. It sticks with you even after the track ends. Now THAT is a sign of something immersive and masterfully written.

What to consider:
- Soft parts = strong, loud parts = slightly weak.
- Nice reverb, just needs to be tweaked a bit!

Geoplex and Step have made a really solid point; the softer passages of this piece are far stronger than the louder portions. They've covered everything that needs to be said about that, so I'll move on. I agree with MetalRenard about the reverb, it seems that the music box in particular should sound closer to the listener to create that feeling of having it playing right in front of you. That would enhance the creepiness! I will say that the sound is spread across the stereo image evenly though, which works perfectly.

Excellent work, Azthar. Keep up the spooky work! :)

Score: 8.8/10

Azhthar responds:

Hey! It´s review weekend (like christmas for musicians).

Actually I really intended to keep the music box a bit more distant at the beginning and to have the impression that it comes closer later. At the end I used a different, closer reverb setting... But you got a point here since this intention is way to subtle I guess it´s just better to have it close from the beginning.

I definitely have to work on that louder parts... I´m relly bad in mixing percussion in these tutti sections which is probably a problem, too...

Also I´ll try to keep up the spooky stuff but actually at the moment I´m working on something completely different. It´s more happy lighthearted kitsch to be honest but I was in the mood to do something like that ;) It will still be my typical instrumentation though ;) And helloween isn´t that far anymore, too.

Thanks again! Glad you liked it!

This is an NGADM Round 2 Review


While this style is certainly not something I'd consider unheard of when it comes to your music, I've got to say that the most alluring characteristic of this track is definitely its uniqueness, especially compared to most other tracks this round. This sounds creepy, tense, and extremely descriptive, with beautifully-written melodies/harmonies, an excellent flow that isn't interrupted even in tempo changes like 1:45, and a strong sense of instrumentation/voices. I consider this one of most well-executed tracks I've heard from you. It's really damn good!

Pretty much all of my complaints are in the production. For starters, I agree wholeheartedly with Geoplex that your softer passages are far stronger than your louder ones. There's a lot more subtlety and a better blend in the softer parts than in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" part you were talking about. I also feel like, as a whole, there's a significant lack of low end in this track. Lastly, some of your instruments have attack times that are unfortunately a tad too long, namely the choir in the intro and the strings that carry the melody.

Anyhow, this is a super solid piece and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We've reached the stage of the NGADM where I'm bummed with pretty much every matchup since I want both contestants to win haha. Wonderful work.


SCORE: 8.7/10

Azhthar responds:

Wow! Thanks for the positive feedback! Actually I wasn´t so sure about this track anymore since I now hear all the flaws it has... If I will do a reissue of this track I´ll definitely work on the tutti/crescendo speed up part. I really feel it´s a bit overloaded here. Sometimes I want to much and then I write a melody fill this up with countervoices until I have the harmony and then afterwards add different ostinatos which expand to melodies, too. At the end you are just confused and you don´t hear anything of it anymore...

The attack times of some of my instruments are indeed a problem. Especially the strings. I just have some parts from 8dio s adaggio series which I got when they were on sale... They sound awesome in some way but they have tons of flaws. First: It´s just a really small string ensemble so it isn´t that good for big epic scoring. This is Okay for the music I usually do. So not a problem for me. Another thing is that there are some problems with the panning of the samples. If you want to play legato they usually throw a transition sample in between the two connected notes. Sometimes this sample is panned differently than the normal notes playing which sounds really weird... This can be handled if you just avoid these notes or if you bounce them in mono and repan them. The main problem is the attack times you and Geoplex mentioned. They are horribly long in some points and fast legato sections are not playable at all... If you have any idea how to handle this issue this is really welcome... I think it would be stupid to save for another strings library only due to the attack times. For the choirs I didn´t realize that actually but I guess I can get into that.

I´m really glad you enjoyed it! It was a pitty to get paired against IglicaV since I really like his music, but that´s the game ;) His track was awesome and had such a professional sound that he definitely deserved to win this round. Not everybody can pass but it was fun to join (Actually I didn´t even expect to pass the round of four with all these awesome musicians around...)

__--=***NGADM Review***=--__

I enjoyed the orchestration, it had a bit of a Banjo-Kazooie vibe minus the weird stuff but still with some sound effects etc. (could be due to the instruments used... If anything I just wrote makes sense). It sets the tone quickly. I liked the detail in the highs (the ping-pong echo of the small metallic instrument for example). The strings sounds good too, but I would have preferred if they were a little louder, the woodwinds totally dominate in this and pushing them back a bit would have really smoothed out the whole thing. I'm not sure about the reverb used either but I guess it sounds ok, I would have gone for something a little "closer" (not so "roomy") maybe.

You may want to snack on your 8.5/10 with a side of lettuce and vinaigrette.

Azhthar responds:

Jay! Second review for this round! Jay! lettuce and vinaigrette! Thanks, glad you liked the orchestration. I like doing weird orchestrations. Maybe that´s the Banjo-Kazooie, although I didn´t really had the soundtrack in mind when I did this one.

Strings louder in general or just in the middle part? Actually I didn´t use a very big room (about 2 secs or something). Maybe I just added a bit too much reverb in general? Or too much compression on the reverb and it got to dominant? Anyway I´ll check that out.

Thanks a lot for the review! I´ll wait till the others drop in and try to adapt all the suggestions. Then I can resubmit it for next years auditions ;)

Credits & Info


4.51 / 5.00

Sep 7, 2015
12:52 PM EDT
File Info
6.4 MB
3 min 28 sec

Licensing Terms

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