AIM - Theme for the Keeper of the Reef

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Author Comments

This contest has been a joy to be a part of, and I'm super grateful to everyone who helped create and execute this idea. I went through my fair share of struggles when creating this song (the worst of which involving one of the soft synth presets I created being deleted halfway through щ(ಥДಥщ)), but damn if I didn't finish it. And I managed to have a good time while doing it.
I owe a debt of gratitude to user Carrion for creating the artwork that inspired this piece. Check out their account if you want to see some other amazing pixel art. Also, big thanks to VST programmer Xoxos for building Phybes, the awesome, free mallet percussion synth you can hear throughout the song.
Tools used:
Acid Pro 7 (DAW)
Garritan Aria (VST)
T-Force Alpha Plus (VST)
Phybes (VST)
Stock Sony tambourine sample that I pitched down super low
Stock Sony clicking sound sample (might be a rim tap?)
Crisp Ocean Waves, a public domain field recording by Mike Koenig

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I like the aquatic theme, manifested in the wave samples. Nice job establishing the mood - it’s very tranquil and dreamy. Instead of adding onto the dreamy pads, though, you replaced them with this square, wandering synth, which I thought was questionable. The progression thereafter is a little slow-paced, and I wasn’t a fan of the short pause at 1:33, which halted the flow IMO. The sound design here is really interesting, but the minimalism really doesn’t help this piece. Almost 3 minutes in, I have yet to hear some strong melodic content. The piece also has very little coherence, and the structure seems like somewhat of a collage of ideas. I really would’ve liked to see you carry those pads with you throughout the piece - they really could’ve helped tie the piece together, which you made a last-ditch effort to do by bringing those wave samples back towards the end. It wasn’t enough for me. The numerous different directions of the piece make the listener’s experience jarring. Clean up the structure and coherence of this piece, and it has some serious potential. Otherwise, your quirky instruments and well-crafted mood gave you a lot of points. Keep at it, man!


Maverickmode responds:

Well, thank you for the encouraging words and honest critiques. That pad synth you were talking about is the one I lost about halfway through. I would have liked to use it more, but it's lost to time.

A.I.M Judging Review
Really liked the atmospheric feel of this. The ocean samples are great, and very well recorded and mixed into the song. The entire song does a great job in creating a atmosphere and it really helps that the mixing is great. I wish there was a bit more rever on the lead synth to make it sound even more atmospheric.
This really is a minimalistic track done right. Shows that it's possible to make something without thousands of layers, but still having it sound great.Really don't have anything to deduct here.

Maverickmode responds:

Thanks a lot for the review! I was actually thinking I wanted a little more reverb on that synth too, but the mix ended up getting a little too muddy and it started to drown out everything else. I wanted everything to be mixed evenly so no part seemed more "important" to the ear than any other, even though that lead synth was essentially supposed to function as a background. So, in essence I ended up having to compromise between getting the mix I wanted and having the synth sound the way I wanted. Oh, and the reason I turned the reverb completely off during the atmospheric sections with the low tambourine was that I wanted the synth to function more as a melody instrument there and stick out, rather than blending in with everything else.

Y'know...It has its own personality to it while still acting as an underline to the character itself. Interesting that you took a more cutesy route to embody the artwork, because to me the character looks more menacing lol. Also, ocean waves as ambience to any minimalist song makes me instant loves. The altered tambourine sample was a great idea as well. Nice work here!

Maverickmode responds:

Haha yeah I totally see what you mean about the character looking a little more menacing than the way it's portrayed in this song. I probably took the route I did because I found myself imagining this creature's surroundings along with the way it fits into them, and to me a reef is a place that's colorful and bright. I'm glad you liked the tambourine, I thought it sounded like the creature's claw snapping together deep under the water.

Wow, something really emotional from the start of this thing that really hooks me. Great atmosphere and use of notes. It definitely fits the artwork in a way but shows so much more. I like how you added a synth to kinda fit the retro style of the artwork. This is beautiful. I would've added more reverb on the strings at 57 seconds in, just slightly so they don't sound as dry.

I love how this is gradual and feels like this takes you on a journey. I haven't heard a track like this in any AIM contest before...really something special! :) I love everything in this song, it creates a real atmosphere. This would be great for a game. Amazing work.

Maverickmode responds:

Thank you so much for the kind review, it means a lot to me! I'm really glad that you appreciate my song.
For a while now I've wanted a chance to produce music for either films or games, but I didn't have any experience doing it and it didn't seem like anyone was interested in what I had to produce. This contest provided the perfect chance to try out those skills, and now I feel even more motivated to go out and try to pursue my goal of creating music to accompany films and games.

Credits & Info

4.04 / 5.00

Jul 13, 2016
10:46 PM EDT
File Info
7.9 MB
4 min 19 sec

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