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The Elvenking’s Prayer

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Well it's that time of year again, contest time! This submission is for Round 1 of the NGADM 2018 and my first submission of 2018!

Recently, I worked in Sindarin for both a Forest Elves project and a track for my album (soon to be released within the next month) and I really wanted to work with the language again. Releasing the other track on our channel led me to getting in touch with one of the commenters, who just so happened to have studied the language for functional use, so a big thank you to Cellindir (Peter) of the Tolkienian Linguistics community Vinyë Lambengolmor over on Discord! :)

The intention was to have Merry join me in singing harmonies and eventually when there isn't a deadline, I'll have a few other friends join in the harmonies to create a little choir of elves ha, but for now, here's a solo version! The story was based on the lore of the LotR from the perspective of Thranduil, the Elvenking, who resides in the Mirkwood with the elves. Sauron's presence has filled the Mirkwood but for the north and for hundreds of years, they've managed to defend themselves, just about. Thranduil sends his son Legolas to Imladris to put a final end to the darkness. There's a story.

I've always wanted to compose an atmospheric song with just a single drone and haunting vocals :)

Lyrics:

I auth cýra
(The war renews)

Morn ui charon sêdh hî
(Darkness from the south rests now)

Ach rû dandolatha
(But soon it will return)

Beriathab i noss vîn
(We will protect our people)

Beriathof i vaeth bîn
(We will defend our struggle)

Ai, gûr e-daur, togo na len i galad bîn
(Ah, heart of the forest, take with you our light)

Sílo trî vorn fo garnen
(Shine through darkness before it is done)

Berio ven
(Protect us)

Maetho aphen
(Fight for us)

Dandolo ammen
(Return to us)

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This is an official NGADM '18 Round 1 Review:

This review is going to be quite different compared to my other reviews. Mostly because if I were to do it in that fashion, I wouldn't have found anything to critique on to correctly (take that as a compliment). I don't know if I could have said much other than the production is on point, the composition and structure fits not only your intent, but the lore of this as well, and you have an interesting sound design to use for this (more on that as later), and I could listen to this over and over without getting tired of your voice. So I'm going to need to revert to other methods.

So know I see that this song is formulated with Lord of the Rings lore. Fortunately I am a LOTR enthusiast, meaning while I'm not an expert in this subject by any means, I have had my fair share of homework to look into as I read through the trilogy and the Silmarillion for a LOTR class I took in college. Unfortunately I didn't pay that much attention to Thranduil as much as you did so I had to do a small bit of research…. Which I think you've outdone me on that too…

So now after watching a few LOTR scenes and songs, I've come back to listen to yours and the thing that sticks out the most is your choice of music. I bring this up because I know Tolkien was very keen on what music was like in his world. Similarly with the languages he used to portray different regions (for example middle earthen language was more harsh and violent while elven was more romantically Latin sounding). With all that being said I find it very interesting that you used what sounded like middle eastern elements used to portray Mirkwood sourced music.

After some other research I found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Depf1gKhBno
Now this song is not from Mirkwood, but it's still elvish and I would argue that the styles should be similar enough to know that while they would be different regions, they should still have the same elvish feel (btw, especially to bystanders reading this review, that's a really cool song).

Now depending on what part of you're song I listen to I feel like it could go both ways. You start off with a droning cello which I think is excellent. The root note also gives it a good Celtic drone as well which fits within the Tolkien universe. The vocal inflections and trills are perfect, but the key you use is what I question along with some of the instrument choices. The key your using I'm sounds like I'm guessing is a harmonic minor (again, based on some Youtube research, you're really stretching me with this one). In itself a great key for describing the mood you're trying to convey, but it misses getting the right feel of it being a Mirkwood elven song in my opinion (refer to previously linked video). I think this probably would have had a better effect if you picked more of a natural minor which I'm assuming that linked song is in.

As a smaller second point, the heavily reverb background instruments you have as a type of response to the lyric's call sounds middle eastern in a sense. Not the Irish strings or flutes I would expect for this type of song, but this is more of a continuation I feel of the previous paragraph.

So all of that to say I only really found one issue I could have with your song and it's that it doesn't have the right LOTR feel in certain spots, but I had to show you how much effort it took me to get to that conclusion and why I thought that. Aside from that, beautiful song and well made. I definitely appreciate hearing LOTR artwork since there's such a big rabbit hole to travel you could dive into, and I appreciate it so much.

Ending comments: It really sounds like the verse starting at 1:11 was really hard to sing. I thoroughly enjoy LOTR lore based music and this is a good example I think.

Score:

Total - 9.25
Production - 2
Sound Design - 1.5
Composition - 1.75
Structure - 2
Replay - 2

etherealwinds responds:

Hey hey!
Sorry for taking so long to respond to this - I meant to respond sooner but as I mentioned, I was travelling when I read it and intended to respond to it later. Meeting LSD was quite the distraction!

Thank you for putting the effort into reviewing my track so thoroughly and it's especially nice that you're familiar with the source of inspiration in so much depth! :) I'm happy you liked the technical musicality of the piece so much.

Yikes, I remember trying to read the Silmarillion and I really struggled with it. When I was writing the lyrics, luckily the Sindarin speaker that helped me with the translation also had a lot more knowledge of the lore than I did myself. In that sense, it comes in handy being a purist; something I can't really define myself as on any level!

In terms of how I went about deciding to compose in the way that I did, I didn't really think too much about referencing it back to the films' soundtracks and the specific locations. For me, I decided to focus on the mood of the piece; the darkness and the desperation, yet also the hope. I wanted to incorporate a sort of call and response to ignite a sense of interaction between Thranduil, the elves of Mirkwood and Legolas; I also wanted to carry that call and response element not only in the vocals but also in the instrumental to cut through the drone. I myself don't tend to think Irish strings or flutes when drawing on the darkness of the lore, but I would say that comes down to personal interpretation. I suppose it also depends on how you mix and compose those parts! I just felt the deep weaving performance of the stringed instrument really brought out the mysteriousness and darkness that perfectly conveyed the tone of the piece for me. It was really interesting to read your different interpretation as well! I'm happy someone managed to really get into the depths of the piece.

Once again, I'm sorry it took so long to get to this review and I hope it doesn't put you off putting as much effort into any future reviews - I really appreciated this one and I'll endeavour to respond promptly in the future! Have a wonderful day :)

It's cool that a song with eerie vibes can be so relaxing. I love your vocals as usual, and the instrumentation is perfect. I tend to prefer songs with more variation, but the execution is so good here that I don't mind the static nature of it.

etherealwinds responds:

Thank you very much :) hope you're well!

Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky...

Thranduil may not have ever possessed any of the Elven rings, but this prayer for the safe return of Legolas and the downfall of Sauron is most impressive. With its slow cadence and somber drone, it speaks well to the plight of the elves and how long they have suffered under the Dark Lord's keen gaze.

The prayer itself is decidedly succinct, but the slow tempo stretches it out considerably, adding a depth of emotion that can only come from such a slow, chant-like rhythm. While the instruments are minimal, the sound is deep and rich, truly showcasing your vocal talents within the mix. Unlike Sequenced, I actually quite like what you've done at the 2:22 mark, melding your voice with the ambient drone.

I do feel as though a little more variety on the instrumental side could have added to the track's overall appeal. Something in a slightly higher range, like flutes or bells, perhaps. But still, your voice provides quite a bit of subtler nuance. I shall indeed be looking forward to your "choir of elves" in the future! Best of luck in the Audio Deathmatch.

The road goes ever on...

etherealwinds responds:

One ring to rule them all should be my tinder bio.

Thanks for the review!! I've always wanted to make a track like this but one concern of mine was, especially in a competition like this, that it could be too samey. I mean, effectively it's literally just one drone for three minutes. That being said, if drone-y songs are done well, then at least for me, I can say that I enjoy them a lot. I thought about adding some other instruments into the mix, windchimes, flutes, etc. but I found that they actually took away from the atmosphere. It was like adding stuff for the sake of it and it ruined the mood, so I decided against it as they were just too distracting, even subtly, for me.

I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the luck! <3

This is enchanting. Why hast thou bewitched me?!

etherealwinds responds:

well, seeing as you're bewitched do you fancy baking me an apple pie? cheers x

I love the bassy intro and ambiance. The Middle Eastern flavor is really cool, and the dissonant layering at 1:16 really considerably to the texture. I love the lyrics, too. Your description of "haunting" fits this piece in many respects. The drone-like quality of the piece limits the ebb and flow of the composition, but you did a good job of incorporating melodic content between the vocal phrases that filled in the texture. Nice job with the production, too. What exactly is the language you're using, btw? Google Translate tells me it's Kurdish, but I don't trust Google Translate. XD Anyway, keep up the great work and good luck in the ADM!

etherealwinds responds:

Thanks for your review TL! It's in Sindarin, a language created by Tolkien used in the world of Lord of the Rings. :)

Credits & Info


Listens
732
Faves:
7
Downloads
25
Votes
20
Score
4.41 / 5.00

Uploaded
Jul 21, 2018
10:01 AM EDT
Genre
Cinematic
File Info
Song
7.7 MB
3 min 23 sec
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