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Facing the Foe

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Author Comments

Dem0lecule:

Hello again. This was the original idea left from Round 1 of NGADM, that sprouts to become this majestic and wonderful work of art. LSD has single handedly created this track without my help. He could prove that his ability and talent are not bound to whether there are good tools or not. Let's say, he has shown me the way. After what we have gone through, I'm very confident LSD could handle himself in NGADM especially after the result of this round. The orchestration and composition are superb, way surpass what I could do. This track, I promise, would bring you wonders and fantasies.

LucidShadowDreamer:

Whoah. How do I start after such a description? Thanks to dem0 for the the amazingly nice words :p
We ended up uploading the version that I made myself from start to finish (solo piano, to orchestraion, to mixing). Although dem0lecule did give me a few mixing opinions at a few points, which were helpful.Thanks to LunacyEcho as well, also for some advice and for listening to several versions of the track in the making.
The reason we uploaded this version, is because we didn't have time to make the other one -with demo's intruments and mixing- good enough in time. He has been busy with work and computer issues, while I've been busy with my University and endless partying (Students + Finland = Alcohol, times infinity).
So almost all the instruments you hear here, are from EWQLSO Silver Edition, with my far from perfect mixing. Somehow, I am so slow at working that this track took me 40+ hours to make...
We will upload the other unfinished version some time after the judging for this round has ended ;)

Here's the artwork that I ended up using as the cover art, once more painted by SkyrisDesign:

http://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/skyrisdesign/scythe

I didn't aim for realism in this track, as much as on general enjoyment, so the panning is just however I felt like it should be (to recreate this in real life, you'd need quite many marimbas, next to eachother, to create moving panning [that, or we could invent a Marimba on wheels and a motor XD], and the poor marching band would have to run at a few points to move position in the midst of all the other instrumentalists).
It's a shame, but I didn't have time to humanize the drums. Other than that, snares, gongs and crashes are pretty much all I have in terms of percussion that could fit this track, which is why I totally overused all of them :p

However, when we come to the composition and structure of this track, I think it's way more on the positive side. It's a complex track, with melodies besides other melodies, so it may take a few listens before it sinks in. I know that some people will complain about the lack of repetition, but that's kinda how I roll XD
Especially in this track, as it's a JRPG-style battle theme (not a boss battle though, despite the dramatic beginning). If this was in a game, people would hear it hundreds of times, so I think it would have enough playtime to get too repetitive ;)
I also kinda made this kinda loop. It's not perfect, especially not with the tempo and semi time signature change at the loop, but I don't really have time to make it better XD

I like the intrumentation, the melodies, the chords/harmonies, and the progression. I also think I leveled this well enough to bring out the elements I wanted to bring out the most.

But enough of boring speculation around the track! Take a while, listen to it, and try to enjoy it for yourself ;)

Here's for hoping that we get to the next round, even though I went solo on this one!

Reviews


I've been listening to this over and over and it took me ages to even realise it was a loop. That's how good this is. You should totally remake this with the skills that you've developed over the past two years because this is genius.


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LucidShadowDreamer responds:

It means the world to me to hear that from you, knowing your love for the games and the music that inspired this. I've actually been planning on remaking this, along with a few other of my older orchestral pieces. Thank you <333


NGADM Round 2 Review.

-----

Good:
- Amazing composition!
- Fantastic mood and atmosphere!
- Highly memorable piece.
- Whimsical and magical in its own regard.
- Near flawless looping.

I love RPGs of all kinds. I've played my fair share of JRPGs, and I must say that you've delivered with all of the elements that make a great RPG battle track. A solid melody and overall composition, a wonderful and often magical blend of instruments, and great percussion to tie it all together. I can't help but think of titles such as 'Final Fantasy' or the 'Tales Of' series.

The main melody/motif is just perfect, I cannot stress that enough. It has the right amount of tension and imagination to bring it to life; I am beyond impressed with this track!

What to consider:
- The mix could use some work!
- Weak percussion.

Since there is so much going on, the mixing process becomes terribly tricky process. The overall mix is quite good, but there are times when the percussion falls flat (namely the snare drums). I feel as if the percussion should have been far more outstanding and those crashes should have been met with more force from the strings and organ.

What an awesome track. Please make more like it! ;)

Score: 8.5/10


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LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Hey!

Glad to hear that the composition and atmosphere are great.
Memorability is of course always good too, as it can bring people back to listen for more. Once again, I'm positively surprised that people actually like the loop :D

RPGs really are wonderful, aren't they? I actually studied quite a lot of battle tracks before making this, especially the orchestrated verion. The Final Fantasy series is the main inspiration, but there are just so many wonderful games that make use of this kind of a nostalgic sound :3

It's awesome that the main motif hit home, as I think it's what makes the entire track.

Yup. The mix could certainly use work, as does the percussion. I agree with everything you said in this review, actually.
I definitely had a hard time mixing this, as I'm already pretty bad when it comes to simpler stuff. Layers upon layers of instruments playing at the same time didn't make things easier XD

I am sure I will make something similar sometime in the future, hopefully with better production!

Thanks a lot for the encouraging review, as well as for judging in general. Keep at it!


NGADM Review:

So I absolutely love the RPG style you guys went for. And the idea of going for it with the sound samples you used makes it even better. However, I do have to say, it feels a little messy at times as MetalRenard said. The composition is really lovely, but it's a little bit difficult to follow because there's always so much going on. Despite all of this though, the melodies and composition IS lovely. I do have to say despite, my love for the SNES like samples you used, it makes the track sonically not as pretty as it could be, and in a full orchestra arrangement, this could absolutely beautiful. Anyways, I really enjoyed this. Nice loop also :)

8.6/10

-Ryan


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LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Phew. Thank you for leaving a slightly shorter review! I've been responding to these for a while now :)
I think you still managed to say everything you needed to say, so it's perfect.

I'm glad you like the RPG style. I was pretty sure you'd like it too, having heard several of your game music inspired tracks as well.

I agree with the messiness too. I think that it's okay that there is much going on though, as I'm sure that in a real game, after listening to this a few times, you'd know every part by heart.
Once again, I'm glad to hear that my melodies and the overall composition hit home, and same goes for the loop.

I definitely agree that a great vst library as well as great production skills could add so much more to the track :D!

Thank you for judging, as well as for the review :)


This is an NGADM Round 2 Review

--

Oh man, the Final Fantasy vibes are strong here! I'm going to get this out of the way: the composition here is among my favourite from this whole round. You had an idea, a style, a mood, and you executed everything perfectly. The structure is rock solid, the transitions are all perfect, the instrumentation is fitting... In the composition department, this just excels. I also appreciated the more daring compositional nuances and ideas, like the various modulations, 1:29's totally unexpected Picardy third (that's echoed again at 1:56), and how you pulled off that INCREDIBLE loop with those really neat chord changes and organ fade-in. The intro is just a totally different key and tempo but you kept your cool and nailed it, which really impressed me.

I'm afraid that the production of the track is where you lost a couple of points, since its execution isn't even in the same league as the composition's. I think you've done pretty well for yourself, but a combination of somewhat poor mixing and a lack of more contrasting dynamics gives this a somewhat "held back" impression. A classic example of this is 2:33, where the music audibly rises in composition, but sonically, it remains at roughly the same level, leading to a very unsatisfying and anticlimactic aftertaste, as everything feels held back from what it could be. There's a lot of potential in this track that isn't realised.

I hope I've explained myself properly. While I was rooting for both you and Chrono (happens a lot at this stage of the NGADM haha) I do think you had the slightly better track. Excellent job, and good luck in this next round!

--

SCORE: 8.7/10


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LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Whoo!!!

Final Fantasy indeed. Definitely my main inspiration for this track, even if there are some other series which have great inspirational battle music in them as well.

The thing that is the most important to me, is that people enjoy the compositional aspect. I plan to gradually improve my mixing and production based skills, but I feel that when it comes to composition, I already have something going.
I'm glad that the style and structure is consistent this time as well. I think it helped that I was really in a flow when I made this.

I pretty much modulate automatically nowadays. I don't know why... I think I've always loved modulations of all kinds, and try to find ways to fit them in. They can also give a new feeling to every variation, as even if you hear the same track, but in a different key, it will sound different. Also, transitions somehow get so much more powerful with the right modulation!!

1:29 and 1:56 are nice catches. I felt that even though I wanted to keep the same rhythm and drive going throughout the track, it needed a few places where that structure is challenged, even if it's just for a moment. The same goes for 2:43.

That change in rhythm and tempo for the loop is really weird. I'm surprised myself that it works. The only reason I knew it would, is because for some reason it worked on the piano. I mean... It's such a weird transition o.O

And aah yes, the inevitable. The production is definitely lacking on the parts you mentioned, as well as in general. in a summary, I think what Geoplex said about the track lacking power, is the simplest way of putting it. Also, some points really fall a bit flat XD

I did the best I could for now, but I hope that in about 5 years, I might finally have an inkling of an idea of what I'm doing :p
I definitely agree that 2:33 is the best example, and the most unbalanced part of the mix. I'm impressed you heard the music rises in volume (but not sonically) though; if I didn't know, I totally wouldn't have noticed it. I fade out the percussion there, which shows just how much it adds to the frequencies it's prominent in, and how well the lack of it shows. That section definitely didn't even get close to having the effect I wanted it to have :D

Don't worry, you definitely explained yourself well. I was rooting for both Chrono and dem0 and myself as well, so I totally get that. I would probably simply lie down and die from judging, because I'd often end up rooting for both competitiors :)

Thanks a lot for the review, as well as for the high score, not to speak of organizing this whole thing!


This is an NGADM 2015 review.

This is a great RPG-sounding piece. I have to praise your melodies, and how you keep things going at a steady, consistent pace, but without repetition. You're creating a theme that repeats itself in many different ways and incarnations but without stagnation. In a lot of ways this is absolutely perfect for a game soundtrack, because you've got this continuous feeling where the song isn't broken up into sections but also isn't repetitive. I'm finding it difficult to get tired of it. That, and it even loops! Good lord. This is so fantastic because were I listening to this while playing a game and not really paying attention to it, it'd be difficult to tell when it looped; where it ended and where it began. This creates the illusion of a very long, very complex song that almost always surprises you no matter how many times you've heard it. I love it. In many ways, it's the conceptual holy grail of looping soundtracks.

The production side of things is pretty good, too. Your mix is pretty well balanced, there are very few instances where anything is too loud or quiet specifically. I think the mix lacks power, partially because of the percussion (I think instead of the rapid militant snares you'd be better off with bringing your deeper, tom-based percussion to the forefront; but that's more of an opinion.) The only instance that stuck out to me in terms of mix/balance was the section from 2:33-2:55. Almost everything, but especially the brass, felt too quiet there. I feel that it was probably intentional to pave the way for the semi-crescendo toward the end, but the change in level is definitely perceptible to me and felt a bit odd.

Anyway, I can't really say this song has any real flaws. I don't like the choirs at 2:45, I think they're used improperly and sound a bit digital, and I didn't think the hats in the intro were thematically appropriate at all, but honestly those are such tiny opinion-based problems that I only mentioned them because there's just about nothing negative to talk about. Most of what I've said already has been pretty subjective or mentioned in johnfn's essay :P

You've got yourselves a nicely self-contained, incredible piece here. Keep at it, dudes.


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LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Well then, time to respond to these, hehhe.
First off, thanks a lot for the effort you guys put into judging; without that, the competition would be nothing.

Weird. I usually have a really easy time responding to reviews, but I find it hard to come up with anything conclusive. I'm honestly pretty surprised by the very positive reception in general. I knew that the melodies are pretty good, because I had a real flow when I made them all. But I'm honestly very glad that people appreciated the fact that the structure isn't repetitive! I very often get comments about me using too little repetition, so it's refreshing to hear that it worked for most people with this track. I guess that as you said, the track has enough of a drive and a solid base for variations to be enough.

I'm also surprised that people seemed to like the loop, in general. I am usually pretty good at looping stuff, but I was uncertain about this one. my only problem with this loop, is that it is a climax. It's great for a standalone track! But if I were to really use this in a game, I'd probably go for a calmer section, which would be the intro and the ountro, where the loop would be pretty much unnoticable. But in the heat of battle, you probably wouldn't pay attention to the loop indeed. Because I've played games that have used music that loops horrible, but while actually playing, I've very rarely noticed it.

It's good to hear that my production is improving slightly, as it used to be extremely horrible. There's still a long way to go, but steady progression is enough for me :)

I agree 100% with all our complaints. Part of the problem with the percussion, is that I simply don't have any good percussion libraries yet, and another one is that I'm horrible at both creating and mixing percussion XD
But if I eventually get my hands on Stormdrum 3 or something like that, I'll make sure to practice my skills.

As for 2:33, all I can say is "yup".
That's the place I personally have the biggest issue with as well :D

The choirs at 2:45 are indeed not very good. But you should hear them in dem0lecules version! It's the best part of the track. He really is a choirgician. We will probably still upload it at some point while this years competition is over for us :p
Same goes for the hats; probably a bad idea XD

Thanks a lot for the review!!

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Credits & Info

Agitat0r
Inspiration

Listens
4,338
Downloads
103
Votes
26
Score
4.86 / 5.00

Uploaded
Sep 8, 2015
8:20 PM EDT
Genre
Cinematic
File Info
Loop
8 MB
3 min 29 sec
Tags

Licensing Terms

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