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Invasion of the Court of Hearts

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My entry for the NGADM 2017 round of 64.
Couldn't open the file of the final version, anymore, so I made this out of earlier versions.

EDIT 07-15-2017: Because of the technical difficulties I had, I was offered to upload a new version before the weekend. I still couldn't open te final version of 7 minutes I made. Took to long to recreate what I had with less cpu demanding instruments, so I just made some minor changes.

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These brass samples, choir, and etc. have attacks that are making my ears twist in agony. Also kind of sounds like some old disney movies I've listened to. I can't think of which. That chip synth run coming in confused me as well. I almost wish you'd come in with the metal bits first. Sounds more like punk than metal though. Once that's in, I'm enjoying myself. Unfortunately my PC shut off while I was writing this review so I forgot what else I wanted to say.

SourJovis responds:

The samples could be better. I'll see what I'll do about it. I was thinking about using snes soundfonds instead, to better match the 8-bit sytnth that comes in later. Maybe that way people will be less surprised about the style shifts, since snes soundfonds are already electronic sounding like orchestral, instead orchestral samples that just sound bad. I don't know though. I think it helps when the song is completed anyway, because then there will be more coherence. Maybe I'll make the introduction of the 8-bit part shorter. I've had at least two other people complain about it. Didn't listen to Disney movies for inspiration so I don't know what movies in particular this sounds like, but that is the kind of mood I was going for indeed. Now you mention it, I suppose it sounds more like punk indeed. I'm not good with genres. It reminded me of Aux Raus, who combine rave with punk and use lo-fi midi orchestral on later albums as well. Too bad your computer shut down. I'd wanted to hear the rest of what you had to say.

I commend your attempt to integrate metal with orchestral elements. I wasn’t a huge fan of the orchestral samples you used, though. They sounded pretty inauthentic, and also didn’t seem to allow for the note lengths you really should’ve used here. For example, the string sample at :27 doesn’t carry all the way through until the next note, which may have been intentional, but I don’t think it helped the flow and victorious mood of the piece. I also think the transition into the electronic elements at :54 could’ve been a lot smoother, and a lot of the instruments there weren’t great. The bass bomb of a kick and the thin, frantic synths really didn’t work well in the texture IMO. Equally as sudden is your transition into the metal part at 1:22. The cheesy sweep at 1:33 was a bit wonky given the rock-influenced texture, and overall this piece has very little coherence or melodic content. When you try to integrate the electronic and metal elements at 2:04, it sounds very dissonant and distorts the mix a bit. The pause at 2:35 was awkward, and then there’s very little thematic connection to the orchestral part at 2:38. I think you decided to take on a little too much at once with this piece. I’d suggest consolidating your ideas a bit more and focusing on providing some melodic content that grounds the listener in a more predictable refrain-based structure. Keep at it, SourJovis! ;)


SourJovis responds:

Thanks for the review. It's not a song I'm proud of. Because I was allowed back into the NGADM very late in, I had only a few days to complete this song, most of which I was still on holiday. It was a hectic process. I had some great ideas worked out in my head and at the beginning things went smooth and I was pretty confident about the outcome. During the production I ran into some technical problems. My computer wouldn't open the most recent file that was 7 minutes long, I've tried for over 5 hours to re-open it and mix it properly. Right before the deadline I had to go back to an older file, and try to brush that up as much as I could to make it sound presentable.

The intro is the only part that survives from the original most recent version. It's a render I've made before I had a chance to mix it properly. If I could re-open it, I would've panned some of the instruments less drastically, and balance it better. The melody is okay I think but the harmony is too dull. Too many long chords without any rhythm. You're right the samples I've used aren't the best. With my cheap string sample pack I can't compete with the packs other people use that are 20 times more expensive. I know I should invest in better orchestral packs, but that's not something I can do in the short run. Maybe best to avoid trying orchestral for now. I was thinking about doing the orchestral parts of this song with vintage soundblaster midi, or a snes sound, so it doesn't sound like I was trying to make it sound real. But I don't have anything to create that kind of sound with, and that's also a tricky thing to do. Would be cool though.

The synth part is actually something I'm very fond of. The transition could've been better perhaps. Maybe some of the orchestral parts should cary over into this part. I think I would've if I could open that file. Other than that it sounds exactly like what I've had in mind. IMO the best part of the song. Too bad you don't like it. What exactly do you mean by “a lot of the instruments there weren’t great”? It's all one instrument, an 8-bit nes soundchip. Do you mean you don't like the sound of that chip, or you don't like the settings? But no matter what, I won't change them anyway.

The transition into the metal part I don't think is really that sudden though. Besides, it's about an infiltration of an idylic kingdom on a sky island, by retro video game monsters, so it has to be sudden and contrasting, to depict that. “When you try to integrate the electronic and metal elements at 2:04, it sounds very dissonant and distorts the mix a bit.” True, and that's the point. The notes are all in the right key, and in terms of Eqing and panning it all fits like a glove. I assume that was a possitive comment. “The cheesy sweep at 1:33 was a bit wonky given the rock-influenced texture “ It's not just a rock song. There are just as many orchestral and electronic influences. The sweep is aslo a nes chip. I may replace it for a more interesting sweep though, because technically the polyphony of the nes chip isn't high enough to produce another sweep on top of the sounds I've already had it make. It's mixed seperately from the other nes sounds anyway. Better use a diffent synth for the sweep, thanks for the suggestion.

“The pause at 2:35 was awkward”
Yeah, I will time it differently and start the next part earlier. This is the part where I revisit the main theme introduced at the beginning, but this time as a sad part to show the carnage the invasion is causing.

“and then there’s very little thematic connection to the orchestral part at 2:38.”
Wait what? Now I a 100% dissagree with you there. First of all, your comments suggest you there's a connection between the 2, so you know there is, otherwise you wouldn't have mentioned it. So how can you say there is no connection when you apperently noticed there IS ONE? It's the exact same melody and harmony as the intro, except that it's now in minor and a different key. Originally I made this part with the same orchestral set-up as the intro, but with only strings and woodwinds, however since I couldn't open that file anymore I had to recreate it with an instrument that was faster to work with. Still it's the exact same part as the intro, so how much the same as EXACTLY THE SAME do you want it to be?

After the sad part the rock part continues, starting with a synth solo (not an nes chip this time, but a more advanced synth) played over it. After this the rock part continues but with the chords and melody of the main theme. This time a hopefull version that shows the people of the Court of Hearts are retaliating. This is played with the rock instruments, as well as the synth form the solo as a lead instrument, and many of the orchestral instruments to back it up. Now I'll admit this part still needed a lot of mixing, but I couldn't do that because I couldn't open it anymore. I didn't even have enough time to recreate it without the orchestral instruments (frankly I wasn't motivated anymore either)

“overall this piece has very little coherence or melodic content” Now that's harsh... I understand you don't think this song is incoherent, because the transitions could've been better and I didn't have time to remake the second halve with the synth solo and the revisit of the main melody, but I think the melody of this song is good and very memorable. That's one thing I'm missing from the songs on NewGrounds. Most songs have no recognisable melody. Even the ones that are really popular, only set the right mood, string together some pleasant sounding presets and expensive sample packs and use some high end mixing effects and techniques. Yet, they don't have any distinguisable chord progression or melody. I for one, even with cheap sample packs and inferior production value, always strive for melodic content. Including with this song.

“I’d suggest consolidating your ideas a bit more and focusing on providing some melodic content that grounds the listener in a more predictable refrain-based structure.”

I will definetely not do that. I will finish this song someday when I've got time, but on my own terms, in my own vision. I will smoothen out the transitions, but I will keep the contrast between the friendly people of the Court of Hearts and the hiveminded invaders. I will keep the shifting mood, from the peacefull kingdom, to the chaos of the attack, to the grief of the carnage, and the hope the retaliation brings. I will also keep the melody which I feel is very recognisable. The sweeps I will replace the sweeps with more complex ones from a non 8-bit chip. The bad orchestral samples I will replace with snes sounds if I can get a hold of them. The harmony of the orchestral part I will improve to give it a more interesting rhythm.

Thank you for all of the suggestions. It helps me think about the song. I will incorporate all of the parts I agree with.

The choir pack you have is vivid. What are you using for that?
The strings sound a little off, and the break leading into the rock section is a little too long.

As a whole I like the idea you have. The mixing seems a little underworked or dry, but there is a charm to this piece.

SourJovis responds:

The choirs are Soundiron Olympus Micro Choir. It sounds okay, though unfortunately it doesn't have legato. I had to use a pitch bend that went up from at the end of the starting note, then use a different sample of the note that it was moving towards to, and start with a pitchbend down, going up. That way both the starting notes and the notes it was moving towards to sounded right and not have that weird "chipmunk effect" you usually get by using a pitchbend. I had to use a crosfade inbetween the two notes that was exactly in sync. Took forever to make it sound remotely presentable. I use Zampled Euphonic Strings for the string sounds. I actually like that sample pack better than the choir pack. Though I must admit the results here are a little disappointing. Maybe I wasn't using them correctly. I'll have to take a look at that.

I've changed the breaking leading into the rock section since your review. It's still as long, but I've added a reverse guitar power chord. I think that makes it more interesting, so it doesn't seem as long.

The mix could've been better. I was only told 4 days before the deadline I was allowed to enter the NGADM, and that's when I started working on this. I was on holliday at the time, so I was woring on my laptop in the nights and mornings, so I didn't have much time. Besides the project was so heavy for my computer it couldn't play it back properly. It kept hampering, so I couldn't mix it very well. When a bunch of plugins crashed, I had to close the program and restart it again. But there were so many samples it wouldn't open the final file anymore. It took 45 minutes to an hour to load, and every time I tried to render it, some instruments crashed and were missing from the render. In the end I had to use an earlier project file that didn't have all of those orchestral instruments you hear at the beginning, and work with that. The sad piano part was supposed to be played by orchestral instruments, and after that there was supposed to be another rock section with orchestral instruments played over it. Together they played a more epic version of the sad part. All in all the song was a little over 7 minutes long. I hope to be able to render the full version sometime in the near future. So far I haven't been able to open the most recent file, and I have other priorities/deadlines to make.

Credits & Info


3.79 / 5.00

Jul 11, 2017
11:43 PM EDT
Heavy Metal
File Info
8.2 MB
3 min 35 sec

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