Good God. First of all, I deeply admire your majestic title, there. Clearly this holds a lot of personal meaning for you, too...wow. To be honest, I wasn't such a huge fan of the string sample toward the beginning, especially when it hits some of those high notes during the first 1.5 minutes. I'll also mention that I think you needed a little more spacing between the movements instead of just leaping onwards (although this is a relatively small detail). The piece does have some amazing harmonies and progressions, though, and I can see it's well-inspired. As with a lot of your pieces (yes, I'm talking to you, LSD), it's a little hard to follow the structure sometimes, but I think it could make a great soundtrack for a dramatic silent film or something. I think you did a good job of giving the piece a change-of-pace at around 6:32, which made that part with the lower strings really stand out. It almost served like a bridge in that way. The very end with the high, thin, and wispy-sounding piano also stood out. You captured either innocence (or grief, or both) there perfectly. Small detail: I am of the strong opinion that the scoop-up scale at 8:21 does not fit with the light, slow, and raw emotional vibe of the coda. Sorry. Nevertheless, this is a valiant effort, and I admire your determination to make a piece for the competition that means something to each of you, without being obsessed with winning. Keep up the good work! ;D
Hey, dude! Good to see you around. Things sure are busy around Christmas, huh? I still have your PM to respond to. I hope I'll be able to get to that by the start of the new year. I also have like 3 of your tracks left to review, as always XD
Yeah, I think out of all the tracks I've made, this one holds the most personal meaning to me. There are some other ones that come close though.
I would actually like to remake this track with better samples, and better automation. This 9 minute track was made in a hurry, after all. I disagree about the arrangement needing much change, personally. But that is because I have a clear story in my mind when it comes to this piece. You know how movie tracks follow the movement of the film? This is kind of like that, even if it has different movements. We never intended to write this piece like we would any pop formula; I think that people with a good imagination can easily visualize a story of their own while listening to this. The different names for the movements give a hint to how I imagine things though :D
"it's a little hard to follow the structure sometimes"
I plead guilty XD (As would dem0, I'm pretty sure).
That said, I don't think this is the kind of piece that needs to have a clear structure. I feel that music like this is something someone could just listen to, and lose themselves in the piece. It doesn't matter if they can or can't predict the next move based on the structure, to me at least.
I'm glad you like 6:32! After that climatic section before it, I wanted there to be something less heavy, while reintroducing an old theme from earlier in the piece. Also, it had to be like this for the "story" I imagine to take place.
Innocence, grief, adaption, moving on. I feel like all of that and much more is covered in the emotional spectrum of this track.
Hmm, I didn't think that 8:21 was so distracting. It was actually something I just happened to play in the moment; this is just one take, after all. But I figured it was soft enough not to be distracting, and there was still a while until the very end, so I though it was fine. That said, I guess I can understand where you are coming from. I don't know if I'd call it a coda though, as it's basically just a repeat of the very beginning. Unless you just mean "coda", like "ending", which I guess is another way the word is occasionally used.
Thanks a lot for reviewing this. And Merry Christmas!
This is an NGADM Round 3 Review
Geoplex makes a really good point; how the hell is this a product of two people? It sounds like the result of a carefully-planned piece by a single mastermind. It flows so well and the melodies and harmonies are super well-thought-out, so I'm very impressed with how you guys both put this together. Would've required no less than perfectly coordinated teamwork. I'm actually curious - how did you two tackle the song? Did LucidShadowDreamer finish the whole piano part and send it to dem0lecule to add strings? Or was it a more progressive collaboration (one of you finishes one part, the other finishes another, etc)?
Anyway, that aside, time to judge the meat of this track. I actually find it quite interesting that this was paired with Jacob's and Chris' track, because both are similar in that they're very hard to judge in my opinion. This is a behemoth of a track, with nine minutes of beautifully written and heartfelt composition. I am actually genuinely impressed by the melodic and harmonic content here, and the brilliant use of motif. It's so easy for piano and strings to sound like noodling/improvisation, but it's clear that you put a lot of thought into this and structured it sensibly.
I have two main problems with this track. The first would be those strings. Compositionally, they are very good and fit wonderfully with the piano, but in terms of execution? Poor at best. They sound dry and artificial. The legato strings in the foreground are in desperate need of legato transitions between the notes, too. By contrast, the piano sounds excellent. Good sample, humanisation is all there, velocity work is solid (except maybe at 2:30 the piano gets a bit too grating)... but yeah, while compositionally the strings and piano are at a very high standard, the strings struggle to keep up in the production department.
Another issue is that I think this piece struggles from having TOO MUCH content. I usually complain about a song not having enough, but in this case, as much as I love what you've given us here and think that you did a great job keeping it interesting, it just comes off as overwhelming and tiring to listen to. I particularly find the section from around 3:00 - 5:30 to tire me. The song seems then transitions to an awesome climax, followed eventually by a well-placed reintroduction of theme, which allows it to pick up the pace a little, but that particular section overwhelmed me personally in terms of the sheer amount of content and super serious demeanour.
I really had a hard time judging this track and your opponents'. In the end I had to be a wuss and give each of you the same score. I think you and your opponents all have extremely solid and memorable tracks. Even though you guys didn't make it through, it's sad to see you go! Great work getting so far, and it's been a pleasure!
Thanks a great deal for yet another wonderful review :)
We've tackled our different collaborations in different ways. For this one, here is what we did:
I came up with a few ideas, and had dem0lecule come up with a few ideas as well. His ideas were string based, and my ideas were focused on the piano. But I interpreted his ideas in a way that allowed me to make them fit with the piano, and planned the piano parts around the string melodies he sent me. Especially the third and fourth movement are based closely around his original string ideas. But I think that the main reason this is so consistent, is because all of the piano was played by me in one sitting, and the arrangement of the piano is all mine this time. That said, I have no idea how dem0lecule managed to write so great string melodies for the entire piece in just one night. I did edit certain parts, and for the fifth movement I changed it and added my own ideas, but other than that, it's mostly the same. And even if I hadn't changed such parts, it would've still sounded just as consistent (yet different), because I have an older version I can listen to as well, which already sounds great.
But we were both of a similar mindset, and the intention behind the track is mostly the same for the both of us, which is why I think it was pretty easy for us to get a good structure. And once again, I am sure that playing the piece on a piano makes pretty much anything sound like it was made by one person, because I have a certain style of playing that really shines through whether I want it to or not.
Yeah, I definitely get that our tracks would both be difficult to judge. We're very happy that you appreciate the melodies and harmonies, as those along with the arrangement, are the core of the track. I spent a lot of time working on transitions and structure especially. I am at a point where chords and melodies seem to come to me much easier than a good arrangement. So I made sure to really focus on having a motif, and a few other kinds of more hidden repetition. But I'll get more into that when I eventually gather enough time and energy to respond to johnfn's massive review.
You're definitely right. If you compare this to my unplanned improvisations, there is a huge difference.
And yes, of course. The strings pain no one as much as they pain me. But, life came in the way. That said, I have talked with dem0lecule, so when things calm down, we'll put aside some time to produce this properly, with his intruments (though I might just use my electronic piano as the piano sample). I really appreciate those tips though. I produced this very quickly in the last minutes, so even I could do so much better, but I still need as much advice as I can get for the future. Dem0 has things more in check though XD
The piano power at 2:30 is definitely intentional. But with this particular VSTi, maybe it doesn't sound as good as it could. Maybe slightly different EQ settings at this part would've made it better. I actually didn't change the piano velocities manually at all, which may be a mistake. But I felt I played it well enough, and that removing a few mistakes would be enough. And for the strings, most of my time that last night went into editing the velocities. But as Geoplex pointed out, the ADSR humanization is totally lacking.
We both knew from the start that making a track this long would be tiring for many people. But we also didn't really care, as we didn't set out to make a pop track. I get what you mean with 3:00-5:30, but I think that those parts are also very important to convey what the piece is intended to. I feel it wouldn't be at all complete without them. Maybe better production would help this too?
There is a lot of new content that doesn't really repeat much in the middle section, which is why I think you and others might find those parts especially tiring to listen to :)
I'm glad you noticed the climax after that though, even if the mix doesn't really bring it out as much as it should be!
Yeah, I figured that you had a hard time picking one of the tracks to give a higher score to. I might've given a higher score to Chrismus based on the production alone. Then again, I personally like the structure and harmonical/melodic content in this track more. But I am obviously incredibly biased XD
But I totally get what you mean. I think it's fine that you decided to score both tracks alike, and both dem0 and I are super happy with your high score, especially as the score is so high despite the length and the production.
So once again, thanks a million for organizing this awesome contest, for judging, and for leaving great and helpful reviews. It was a blast to participate, and we seem to have done pretty well in the end, which is all fine and dandy for me. In fact, I'm almost personally secretly a bit happy that we lost eventually, as I had soooo much other stuff I had to catch up with o.O
I'm still only barely managing, but I'll soon have some free time again.
I'm sure we'll definitely participate (separately or together) if you organize this again next year!!!
It has been a pleasure indeed :3
This is an NGADM 2015 Review.
The idea that even two people together can create such a long and varied track in such a short amount of time is almost frightening to me… in an impressive way, though. What I find most impressive about this song is how seamlessly your movements transition to and from one another. They’re structured in a way that makes sense, and on top of that they’re not jarring or inconsistent with one another - you move between them as though they were never intended to be distinct, and yet they definitely are. I find it amazing that this song moves through so many emotional states, while staying strong and consistent. It goes from dark to light multiple times, but subtly. It's almost as though there's no single point I can call it dark or bright, because often it moves so quickly and sneakily.
This song is so long and subtle that I’m not really sure where to start. Movement 3 is definitely my favorite part, and the building piano crescendo you have leading to it is just lovely. The way it sort of climaxes around 3:05 makes me wish there were something lower in the mix, even if it were just more strings - something to give the section a little more power and impact. It probably isn’t the appropriate place for a climax, though.
Speaking of, and I know this is probably against your intention, but I do feel this song would benefit from some explosive chorus. The long, slow build, the rise of emotional tension throughout the song - it would be nice to release it with something huge. I do understand that this was almost certainly an intentional decision on your part, though; and I can respect that - you’re letting your composition do the work, keeping it simple. On that note, your song is ridiculously dynamic, and so it definitely has no shortage of powerful sections.
When it comes to production, it’s hard to go wrong with piano and strings; and I don’t think you did. The piano especially sounds quite good, though I’m uncertain about the strings you’re using. The sound itself is pretty good, but the ADSR on each note sounds just about identical and consequently they sound a little artificial. Your levels are great, though. My subjective yearning for something in the lower end of the spectrum aside, you’ve got a solid mix.
I like that you ended things with soft, drawn out piano; the way you started it. It was an appropriate conclusion. Excellent work, of course, on this song - while I might not have been able to relate so well emotionally (I’m less inclined to see music that way than some, I think) it’s easy for me to hear that you’ve made a powerful and emotive piece.
Man, this is a wonderful review. Thank you so much for writing it!
And yes. Two weeks is definitely way too short of a time. It took 9 days to get the piano part together, and 2 days for the strings (dem0lecule literally assigned strings to the entire track in just one night, and I edited them the night after that). The problem came during the last 3 days, when we both had to go away for the weekend, and we still didn't have a decent production. So during the last night when I got back, I did my best during a few hours to level and mix the piece. But Indeed, the ADSR is pretty much identical all the way through. Hopefully, we'll get time to remake the track with dem0's intruments at a later point, to bring out the best sound quality we can.
I'm really pleased to hear that you like the transitions, and how smooth they are. I am pretty used to working with different kinds of transitions by now, especially when it comes to piano compositions. But I almost always end up making several of them when all the parts are finished. This track was not made in entirely order, but a little bit here and there, until I could make sense of the structure. And the last days I spent mostly on arranging the parts and adding/changing transitions, also based on suff that dem0lecule sent me.
It helps a lot that I get to play this on my electronic piano and just transfer the MIDI file. Not only does the playing stay very dynamic, but transitions work so much better when you play them IRL, as you kinda just feel how to go about them with tempo and velocity.
We definitely did our best to keep the track consistent too. The strings only have a few points of repetition, but the piano actually has quite a lot hidden in there. And the harmonies and moods that we used make sure that there is some atmospherical consistency too. Of course, the structure helps a lot in this.
You're definitely right about the dark/brightness. I wouldn't necessarily call a different part darker or brigther, except for the 4th movement, which is slightly darker at least in the later half, and actually used a darker string section for a short while. But that is the only point where we really have a relatively strong low, so you may be right about the lack of such. If we could've used dem0's cello, it would've sounded much more powerful in the dark areas, which was the original plan. I had a hard time giving it too much power though, as it interefered with the rest of the mix when I tried :(
Many people have liked the third movement. It's definitely one of my favorites as well. It's based around a string part that dem0lecule sent me very close to the start of the process of composing. I think it stands out a bit from the other sections, and has a pretty clearly defined melody that actually repeats itself a bit within the movement itself.
I do think that there should be a bit of a climax though; more than there is now at least. There actually is one, but I didn't bring it out enough in the mix. With great production, the part between 5:38 and 5:52 would sound great. Other than that, there's the main theme that returns at 7:43. But it's a bit too messy to be powerful in this mix. There are some other points where more power would do good too, but I decided in the end to keep this consistent, as I didn't have time to bring out the places I wanted to as much as possible.
It does make a bit of sense for the third movement to have a bit of a climax, which is also why we made it into one of the more powerful sections. The fourth movement after that goes into a different kind of mood, but for the intention behind the third movement, some more power would do good, and maybe indeed something in the low end. The third movement represents when a person realizes that everything around her/him isn't that simple and defined, but rather, pretty complicated grim, so it definitely makes sense for it to have some explosive chorus :)
While the mix is okay, there is definitely a lot to be yearned for procutionwise. I wouldn't change much in the way of composition or structure though, as I'm very happy with what we've done there. But as this track had a deadline, it currently looks like it does. When we eventually do try to produce this better, we'll make sure to take your suggestions to heart!!!
I'm glad that you noticed that the ending is a replay of the beginning (essentially). It's the only way I could see this piece ending, to be honest. It's fine that you don't relate much emotionally; I feel that the song is comlex enough for people to enjoy it even if they don't live into it as much.
Once again, thanks a lot for the review, and for your judging in general. Great job! :D
dude, this song is better than anything i could ever hope to do! I am a person just starting out as a 'song writer/maker' and i really find this inspirational! This is so full of emotions, full of life, that several millions of people will connect to it! Keep at it man, one day, i hope you will look back at the review/comment section and think to yourself, "I have reached out to so many people, touched their hearts.... no, touched their very souls, and changed them for the better." Don't give up on yourself, keep pushing on, and become the best song writer that we know!
I listened to some of your stuff. It's pretty good! And you're a pianist too, which is nice, and you're already quite good. We're honored that you enjoy the piece. But I am also certain that if you keep on playing with passion, and really assign some meaning to the compositions you make, you'll be able to make something just as good. As many people know, there comes a point where something isn't really "better" than something else. Especially not when there is an honest intention behind the music. Sure, production and such can always be improved. And some pieces may be more complex. But what is really important, especially in a recorded perfomance, is the spirit behind it.
But once again, thank you so much for the heartwarming review. We both very much appreciate your words.
Both of you outdid yourselves in my opinion. This is truly a good work of art and rather or not you win some dinky little contest it seems to me you have won something much more wonderful.. The admiration of your fans. Talent shows, contests and any other form of the like in my opinion are popularity contests. When people enter them and win it's most likely that the judges know the contestant. You both are very talented and this music is beautiful. It brings out so emotion in me. I will even download this for a better nights rest, thank you. Thank you so much for putting this awesome song together.
Thanks a great deal, IamKorry.
That is definitely how I feel too. I'm actually a bit relieved that we lost, as I have had a great lack of time lately. We are hoping to create a better produced version of the track eventually though :)
I do think that the judges in general have done an okay job. Everyone knows everyone a bit here in the audio community, but there is still a bit of bias sometimes, but that's okay. It's just a contest, and I can tell you that we certainly didn't lose because of bias.
We're very grateful to hear that you enjoy our music, as well as that you took the time to write such a nice review. So thank you once again, also for downloading and for allowing yourself to indulge in our world of music.
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.