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Author Comments

This composition took a long time to create, and it was a blast to work on. It seems our collaboration bore fruit, as we probably wouldn't have gotten this result had we been composing separate pieces. We also doubt we could've made this without the inspiration we got from the artpiece. It's amazing how such a simple style can depitct so much emotion. We did our best to turn that into music for you, so we hope you enjoy our work!
This piece follows the story of the artwork, trying to capture all the emotions that come with the journey. The artwork can be observed panel by panel together with the music, with some musical illustrations being longer and some shorter. Let us know what you think!

Here is the wonderful artwork by IrinaEihwaz:

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Official AIM Review!

Oh, trepid little violin -- perfect intro, fitting of such a broad and varied presentation. I found myself wanting a little more volume on the trumpet stabs at 00:36, maybe a bit more panning.

00:48 transition seemed just a little abrupt, as do some other transitions into other motifs and themes. At some points it seems almost as if two or three fantastical compositions are being spliced together! Of course, the artwork has several panels, and these must be conveyed, but at times I did find myself wanting a smoother transition.

Trumpet hard-panned right at 52 seconds enters a little over the top.

Loving the solo violin throughout. Just fantastically written, and fantastic synth.

01:21, not sure what oboe synth you're using there but you may try Synful Orchestra for a more natural sound. It's one of the few I've found to do any woodwinds convincingly.

2:13 choir synth stands out in a very positive way on those first 2 notes. Third could probably have used a bit more velocity play as it's a little more naked.

Fantastic dynamic range. 2:21 sub drop was perfectly executed. Felt like traversing a chasm.

This piece is an absolute journey. Really appreciated what sounds like an ocarina or irish tin whistle solo over the outro -- transitioning in to piano.

Overall, stunning piece. Great work you two!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thanks for the detailed review!

We still can't get over how nice that violin VST is. That said, the brass instruments we own, while decent, aren't the best out there. We tried to do what we could with the mix, and we can try some improvements after the competition. In the future, maybe Cinebrass or something like that could be a nice alternative (once our wallets makes that possible, haha)!

As for transitions, we don't particularly mind them being abrupt, as long as they tell the story. While we think our piece does work as one, it's not fully meant as a standalone work. Sometimes it's nice to hint transitions so the listener is prepared; at other times it's fun to surprise the listener! :D

Nice catch at 0:52. It's probably part of the articulation, but it can sound a bit thin, especially in the mp3.

The solo violin is Embertone's Joshua Bell Violin. It's a Stradivari played by a classical violinist, and it's fantastically programmed. Highly recommended (in fact, probably the best digital instrument on the market)!

At 1:21, we used Native Instruments' Woodwind Essentials. It's alright, but there are certainly better oboes out there.

Another nice catch at 2:13! Maybe the note could start a few milliseconds earlier, as there is the slightest amount of emptiness there.

As for the sub drop, it's one of maybe 2 or so electronic-ish elements we used in the piece. It works well, but we wanted to keep the electronic additions to a minimum. It's great that the drop seems to have done its job!

The wooden flute is indeed an old Irish instrument, from ERA Medieval Legends I (not sold under normal circumstances at this point). It has a nice sound! A bit different from the rest of the orchestra, but we didn't want to be sticklers for traditionality; we focused more on conveying the art.

Thanks again for taking the time to listen to all the parts so carefully!

I now understand why this piece won CHIPS 20. I'm surprised that this is my first time hearing this piece in it's entirety (or at least I can't recall listening to it back when it was going on lol). I love it, it's so clean and pure, and it brings together two people whose music I completely enjoy. So I'm going to get into the review, from my second time listening, start to finish: I like the buildup at the beginning, how it's suspenseful, but I feel that there could have been more of a rise to the brass at 0:23. I can then hear slight dissonance in the brass, especially the higher instruments, which in this case I love because it highlights the opening tension. And the electronic sounding thing at 0:34 sounds really good, the only thing I could see being an issue is it being slightly out of place compared to the acoustic nature of the piece as a whole. I like the feeling afterwards, though. I also like what follows, at 0:48, but it somehow is a hasty transition to a new feeling that's different than what's immediately before (unless that's the monster coming out of the darkness/curtain). Following that, at 0:59, it almost transitions into a fancy ball-sorta thing, which I can kinda visualize the dance going on behind the curtain (assumption on the art). This goes on for a while until 1:32, when the music changes up, and I can see the girl now hugging the darkness (again, assumption on art). The mood changes again at 2:04, when I assume is where the transformation from darkness to man occurs. I enjoy this part, but the voices that come in at 2:13 seem out of place, mainly because they aren't loud enough to be leading nor soft enough to be in the choir. Moving on, the pause at 2:21 leading into 2:23 was a nice touch, and I assume it's the girl falling into the now-man's arms. Eventually, that leads into the feeling of the girl being carried by the guy, and then at 3:32, them going into water (the water is another art assumption). I really enjoyed the ending, namely 3:54 onward, but the end of the piano solo at the end, from 4:08, is a little dragged out in my opinion. I feel like a much shorter and simpler ending would do here. Overall, though, I like this piece a lot. Good luck to you both in AIM ;)

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Hi there! Thank you for reviewing this piece, not once, but twice :O!
Since we didn't on chips, we'll respond to your critiques more properly here!

"but I feel that there could have been more of a rise to the brass at 0:23. "

=> Sure, we can hear what you mean. That said, we also feel that applies to the piece as a whole. We have lots of things we feel could still use some improvement too, but we decided not to focus too much on the small things once we felt we had managed to express the emotions (we gave quite a lot of attention to details though!). One of the downsides with using VSTs is you have a limited set of samples. There's only so much altering that can be succesfully achieved through EQ and whatnot. That said, we also intend to improve the mix a bit after the competition, in general!

"And the electronic sounding thing at 0:34 sounds really good, the only thing I could see being an issue is it being slightly out of place compared to the acoustic nature of the piece as a whole."

=> Using hybrid fx in an orchestral piece that mostly sounds realistic is definitely unconventional, but taking the theme into account, we don't feel that it's out of place. If we ever remade this for an orchestra we'd use a drumroll, and maybe some wild brass/strings/choirs to get a similar feel instead (We'd also have to heavily alter the panning :'D).

"I enjoy this part, but the voices that come in at 2:13 seem out of place, mainly because they aren't loud enough to be leading nor soft enough to be in the choir."

=> I assume you mean the tenor solist, panned towards the left? That part is definitely packed with a lot of things! It's meant to be kind of like a duet beween the tenor and the violin, while there are still a lot of other instruments playing at the same time.

"...but the end of the piano solo at the end, from 4:08, is a little dragged out in my opinion."

=> It was fun to see how you interpreted the art for the different parts! 0:48 is totally the monster having fully come out of the curtain, aka the start of panel 4 (as mentioned in the response to TL), as you speculated. Aside from that, the story moves a bit quicker for you than for us, it seems. At 2:23 you see the girl falling into the man's arms, while for us it symbolizes the girl being determined about helping the dark creature (a few panels earlier). Since you reached the end of the story quicker, it might explain why the piano part felt like it dragged on a bit, to you. Either way, it has been fun to see people interpreting the parts differently! It shows how people think of music in different ways as well. We should make a video at some point, borrowing the artwork, switching the panels when we feel it's appropriate :)
Basically, the piano section is bittersweet, partly because there's no definitive or happy ending. We wanted to portray the pensiveness and ambiguity associated with the final slide.

Thanks for your thoughts, and for the good luck wishes! Hopefully this makes up for us not responding to your previous review ^___^

---Official AIM review---

I like the emotion at the beginning and the suspenseful mood. Build-up into :35 was really drawn-out, but eventually worth the wait. The rich texture at :35 was great, although I think the transition at :48 could’ve been smoother. The harmonic pace is very fast for the most part, but you guys really told a story with this one. The singing violin at 1:45 was a highlight for me. You guys have paid a lot of attention to the details, and it shows. The production quality is amazingly high here. I also like the more apprehensive tone of 2:03. The build-up at 2:21 really lost its momentum with the extended pause. That said, the brass and percussion were nice additions to the texture in the subsequent sections. You’ve showed off quite an amazing sense of harmony and melody, and there is a fair bit of cohesion in the melodic content to appease sticklers like me. That said, 3:32 is another instance where the extended pause (as well as the addition of new effects) dismantle the flow. I was led to believe that you were taking the piece in a different direction, but 6 long seconds later you come up with a final melodic flourish that is quite harmonically connected to the adjacent section at 3:15. The piano section at 3:54 was a nice touch that really grounded the emotional appeal of the piece, even if it was quite a reversal from the fast pacing of earlier. Overall, this is clearly strong work. Musicality and production are both top-notch. A couple compositional details here and there constitute the entirety of my complaints. Keep up the great work, guys!


LucidShadowDreamer responds:

||| Hey there! LSD here, did you get the email I sent a while ago? Your inbox was full at the time, so I just wanted to make sure you don't think I ignored your message or something :'D
Anyway, back to the piece. |||

Thanks for the detailed perspective!

We discussed your review, and felt we wanted to address few remarks.

"I think the transition at :48 could’ve been smoother."

"The build-up at 2:21 really lost its momentum with the extended pause. That said, the brass and percussion were nice additions to the texture in the subsequent sections."


"That said, 3:32 is another instance where the extended pause (as well as the addition of new effects) dismantle the flow."

We just wanted to make sure that you considered that this is the AIM, and that the piece is not a standalone work. Maybe you reacted to something that musically just didn't work for you! Either way, here's how we think about it:

For us, the transition at 0:48 represents the start of panel 4, in the artwork. That's where the girl is shocked (thus the rough transition) about what stands before her. Then, gradually in that panel, you see she isn't exactly scared. That's why the piece (this time more slowly) transitions into something more heartwarming; because of the empathy the girl is willing to show even to a being that looks that scary.

The part before 2:21 is a dark one, because it's starting to become clear that the girl is being hurt by helping the other character. The section after that brief pause symbolizes her determination in her sacrifice (it's not clear if she dies, but either way it's not easy on her). That is why the transition builds a stark contrast, showing that her determination wins over her pain.

As for 3:32, there is indeed an extended pause (which can be a great tool in music). For one, we don't feel it's a bad thing if the listener is surprised by the piece, and doesn't always hear what they expect, as you mentioned. Basically, the pause represents the transition between the penultimate panel, and the very final panel. As you can see in the story, the frame disappears from around the characters, and there's somewhat of a leap in the story to the next frame. That's why we feel the transition couldn't be more appropriate in the music. It comes right before everything is tied back together. The piano after that, symbolizes the bittersweetness that arises from the sacrifice, contrasted with the hope and potential the girl has given the other character.

If you listen to those transitions with that in mind, do you feel that they fit any better? We'd be stoked to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for the detailed breakdown in general. It's always fun to see how different people react to different parts :D

P.S. How, how can you possibly keep up with so many competitions and reviews? :VVVVVVVV

Okay, so first off, you guys have done a fantastic job with this AIM collab! The track had me enthralled from start to finish, and it possesses so many wonderful melodies that mesh together beautifully. The overall feel of the track changes so smoothly and effortlessly, from soft and light to big and epic, and back again. The track ends so prettily with the sound of crashing waves followed a sweetly nostalgic refrain. Quite the journey you have both painted for us with your joint musical canvas!

Like others before me, I do need to echo the somewhat thin quality of the mix and overall master. Most of the elements seem to exist more or less in the center of the mix, and I feel that the stereo field could have been put to greater use to make the overall sound even richer, fuller, and more expansive.

That said, the palette of instruments meshes together in a highly organic manner, and I adore all those little grace notes and subtle touches that beg for more than a single listen. In fact, I am currently on my third!

Such a gorgeous piece, LucidShadowDreamer and BlueOceans! You two seem to make an excellent team, and—as always—I really look forward to hearing more from both of you in the future. Best of luck in the AIM and all you do going forward!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you for all the lovely words, Chrono-chan :3

Fun story. Those waves are supposed to be a breeze soundeffect. We just downloaded a royalty free sound quickly, because symbolically it fit so well. We might update it to sound better in the future, even though it's not bad now. Also, it's no issue that you heard waves. Once again, symbolically that expresses the same thing, in this instance ^___^
Huge props to the art for the story, btw! We love it. That's why we wanted to translate it into music :)

It's possible it might seem like most elements are centered, because many of the melody instruments are within 50% from any extreme. Even more than so, some compression can probably be lowered a bit, and the reverb reviewed a bit. Sequenced also gave some good advice on discord.

It's awesome that you love the details! We put a lot of effort into making instruments play articulations in ways that both fits the piece, and feel natural. It seems like it paid off! :D
Aww, thanks for them listens!

We really debated a lot of parts in the track, until we were both content with them (arrangement wise, and regarding details). It's a somewhat painful way of doing it, but it means we held each other responsible for making the piece as good as we could, given the time! We're looking forward to hearing more from you as well! :333

P.S. Your NG page looks so cool now :O!

I'm with sequenced on the mixing & mastering but you will always hear that crit from techno snobs. Great work you two. The strings were epic as fuck. Smart move to have two authors working on this given that the artwork seems to have a hard duality.

I had to speed through it a second time when I noticed that lovely piano melody at the end. Was that the only part to feature a piano?? Maybe the mix would have been fuller with some underlying piano chords or little piano motifs through out but given how intentional everything seems, perhaps it was decided not to do so? Either way this is a smart piece and I love it :)

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Sure! We're always happy to consider serious mixing advice, so that's great. The violin we used is just something else (Embertone's Joshua Bell Violin). The rhythmic strings are Native Instruments' Action Strings, for the most part. We probably used like a million plugins.

Fun story. We went through maybe a hundred artoworks from our own favorites in order to figure out what we both loved, felt inspired by, AND knew we could allow our own styles to shine through. We both feel like this artpiece is perfect in all those regards. There's some crazy good art on NG for sure.

I (LSD) felt like I wanted to include a little homage to what I'm perhaps most known for musically; the piano. There's something natural about playing an actual instrument (which hopefully adds to the emotion). Composing with a computer can certainly be great too.

There is some piano at one other part, but it's only light and a bit hidden. It's easiest to hear between 3:07 and 3:12, slightly to the right in the mix, playing the same melody as the violin. Other than that, we didn't feel the piano fit the other parts that well. The mix is probably not as much an arrangement issue, as a production one. We'll work on that some, after the competition. Thanks for listening, and for the neat review!

Credits & Info


4.54 / 5.00

Jul 9, 2018
8:08 PM EDT
File Info
9.5 MB
4 min 27 sec

Licensing Terms

You may not use this work for any purposes.