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Rising Star

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Fourth submission for Pixelday 2019.

Remake of the song Dreams of Splendor I made in 2012. That song was made for the Dreams of Splendor contest hosted by Bosa, and it was my very first song made for a contest here on Newgrounds. I liked the melody and vibe of that song, and I always planned to make a higher quality remake of the song, but since the lo-fi electronic vibe was its strong part, I decided to keep using lo-fi instruments like 8- and 16-bit instruments, but use them in such a way they sound really phat and pop music like.

I wanted to make a song that fits a first level of a game. Since most good game music isn't designed to sound like game music but rather pop music, I wanted to make a pop song that sounded like a game song that didn't sound like a game song but a pop song. Therefore I used a pop song structure, vocals and lyrics that fit are about a first level in a game, but are actually a metaphor for overcoming obstacles and pursuing your dreams in real life.

I replaced every single instrument of the 2012 version, re-recorded the lyrics, restructured it and added another 2 minutes.

I've used snes sounds for the choir pad
a Nintendo Gameboy/nes routed through a rotary speaker as a sort of organ like instrument
a Yamaha DX7, which uses the same FM modulation synthesis as the 16-bit Sega Genesis does. I've used this for various instruments with effects like guitar and bas amplifiers, phasers, distortion, reverb, chorus, etc.
a Casio RZ-1 drum computer, which is an 8-bit drum computer that handles samples in a similar manner as the snes does (short 0,2 sec long and very compressed).

Lyrics:

Verse 1:

The quest has just begun and
there are so many obstacles.
but at the end of the tunnel
there shines a light very bright.

If you have dreams of splendor,
all you have to do is reach out.
Because at the end of the
night there is a light.

Chorus:

Bright light glowing bright bright light.
Bright light burning bright bright light.
Bright light shining bright bright light.
Bright light very bright bright light.

Verse 2:

Uncharted worlds lay ahead,
looking out for your arrival.
Waiting to be freed from evil
that oppresses all creatures.

Countless enemies block the road.
You have to walk in darkness.
But don't give up because at the
end there is the light.

Bridge:

Rising stars are gonna make it far.
Blazing light is gonna shine so bright.

Chorus x2
You will be shining so bright

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Lacks colors. Lacks variety. The very end of the song is where something is really happening, but then again, I can sense some kind of fear of experimentation. Don't be afraid to take risks.

Edit 01: Before the in-depth stuff, I have to make you notice you also use samples.
Now. to help myself (and you too) going deeper in your soundtrack, I decided to decorticate it:

I- Intro (00:00:00 to 00:02:30) A perfect intro.
II- Verse A) 1 (00:32:30 to 00:56:30) You made a musical segment and duplicated it so it can last enough for a verse. The only variation is at the last 4 notes of both segments, so there's something that can be improved (you could take risks). Except that, it works fine.

III- Chorus 1 (00:56:30 to 01:08:30) The most awful, yet most important part of the song. It is less "lively" than the verse, so you should invert the "life" you put into chorus and verse to never loose the "breath" of the song. Just imagine that the song breath must blow calmly yet not too much for the verses, intensely at the chorus, calmly at the bridges and badass at the solos.

IV- Verse A) 2 I (01:08:30 to 01:20:30) It's the exact first half of Chorus 1.
V- Verse A) 2 II (01:20:30 to 01:32:30) It's the exact second half of Chorus 1, but you added some synth pad melody (it's called a melody filler) to make the repetition less boring. Even though, you still didn't save it from the monotony of the repetition (you could take risks).
VI- Bridge (01:32:30 to 01:56:30) A perfect Bridge to create a variation in the song.
V!!- Solo 1 (01:56:30 to 02:29:30) I give a 9/10 for this section. You truly show your tremolo, bending and dropping skills. The only thing I found less interesting was the long notes without effect that were put to fill the lack of creativity between your awesome parts. It's really a tiny default that you can legitimately underlook and keep going.

VIII- Solo 2 (02:29:30 to 02:41:30) That's a solo filler you should be worried about. Arpeggios-like solos can be really effective if you take more risks and keep it less repetitive, so I'm sure it could be so much worth improving. The whole solo part would gain a lot of power (you could take risks). I do create some of my arpeggios note-to-note to be sure I make its dynanism going crazier. Of course, it's not every composer that can seize it and I'm modest enough to admit I can get issues about it.

IX- Solo 3 (02:41:30 to 02:47:30) Your talent is back at this section! :) I smiled to it. You even composed something more intense for the other samples, so you blew it.
X- Chorus 2 A) (02:47:30 to 02:59:30) The counter-time rythm of the battery composition is great, but could be even more chaotic to really throw the song end in a powerful blast (you could take risks). The chorus main melody needs more legato in it's downs, so you could make it more intense, yet not too sostiphicated.
X!- Chorus 2 B) (02:59:30 to 03:10) The solo filler is too weak for that moment of the song. It must to blow everybody away (you could take risks).
XII- Conclusion 1 (03:10:30 to 03:16:30) The second best part. It's the necesary conclusion that concludes perfectly the song.
XIII- Conlusion 2 (03:16:30 to 03:17:00) You tried to make it a conclusion, like many American composers of the 20th Century. You could just remove it, since it's a short repetition of the same note for each used sample. It's exactly where you could make it a 4-notes crescendo.

CONCLUSION: You perfectly mastered the introduction, the bridge and Conclusion 1 and you almost perfectly mastered the solo. But... You messed up more or less all the other parts (the necessary ones, such as the verses and the chorus). I'm looking forward in your next creations / remakes and wish you to take me seriously (by the way, thanks for your critic on my submission for the competition).

SourJovis responds:

Thank you for taking time to listen and comment. Not sure what you mean though, because the words you use to express your feelings are abstract and can be interpreted many ways. Your not very specific. You say you sense "fear of experimentation". I've listened to your own song to get a better picture of what you like. Compared to your song this isn't experimental no. I'd say I'm not "afraid" to make an experimental song, I just didn't want to. I don't say this to demean your music, because there's nothing wrong with your style. It's just not what I was going for with this. I wanted to create a catchy thought out melody like you hear at the beginning of the song. I see you like the improvisation at the end of the song better. I don't think it's better than the beginning of the song. That part was simply the right moment for an improvisation.

Personally I like the way the song turned out, so I don't feel like changing it to please others, but maybe if you could be clearer and more specific with what you mean, I could do something with your advice.

Reply to Edit 01: Sure I'll take your opinions and advice seriously. Don't worry. I appreciate you took the time to write such an extensive review of my song to explain what you meant exactly. I appreciate that.and I will analyze your review to learn from it. I will think about what you said when I'll make a new song. I don't know how much of your advice I will use in the end because I think we have very different tastes and opinions about how music should be made or sound.

I'm happy you like the intro, the solo and the early part of the outro. A 9/10 for the solo, wow. Thanks for the compliment. I don't think that's deserved. I'd give it a 7/10 at most. I'm a bad soloist, but I made one because the song demanded it. It does the job, but it's nothing too special. I don't mind the long notes. They're intentional. I viewed this solo the way a bird flies. Alternating between gliding (long notes) and flapping (faster notes). Also the long notes become higher and higher, forming interesting harmonies in combination with the chords to create a sense of rising tension and going up, which fits the theme of this song of course.

Too bad you didn't like the verses. Those are still my favorite parts of the song. I don't mind repetition at all. In fact I think repetition is a very important part of creating memorable melodies. Neither do I mind the second verse is a repetition of the first one with different lyrics, additional instruments and a little variation in the drums and bass. Nor do I mind the drums and bass playing a constant rhythm. It's supposed to remind you of the auto accompaniment you hear on cheap old Casio keyboards. Simple yet with a catchy groove that supports the melody perfectly.

You say the first chorus is the worst part of the song. I agree with you on that. I don't actually hate it though. Also I didn't want to distract too much from the main melody I like so much. I think it helps to hold the listeners attention if you give them small breaks. The first chorus serves that function, as well as a subtle introduction of the melody of the chorus before it returns in full at the end of the song. I think it helps the lyrics and the melody are simple and easy to sing along with. That's called a hook, by the way, but I'm sure you knew that already.

I disagree with you the chorus should always be more lively than the verses (if that's what you said) This is usually the case, but every song is different and rules like “always this” or “never that” don't apply, because there's always (I know) a musician who will successfully break the rules and create something great and unique. Actually I think you even contradict yourself, because earlier you said I should take more risk, yet you say I fail at something because I didn't do what every other musician does. You can't fail without taking risks. (Neither can you win without taking risks.)

I like those repeating four notes at the ending. Sometimes times it's time to surprise the listener, and sometimes it's time to just give them what they expect. Like you mentioned it's a very overused ending, so in this case listeners expect it so badly it would be like cheating them if you didn't give it. It's so wrong it's right.

You said “Before the in-depth stuff, I have to make you notice you also use samples.”

Well spotted. I have used various samples:

The first one is the ORCH5 orchestra hit from the Fairlight CMI which was a sampler released in 1979. Wikipedia has this to say about ORCH5: “The Fairlight CMI synthesizer included a sampled orchestra hit voice, which was later included in many sample libraries.[11] The voice was given the name ORCH5, and was possibly the first famous orchestra hit sample.[19] The sound was a low-resolution, eight-bit digital sample from a recording of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite[7] – specifically, the chord that opens the "Infernal Dance" section, pitched down a minor sixth and at a reduced speed.[20] It was sampled by David Vorhaus.[20] Music magazine The Wire suggests that the prototype sample is owned by Vivian Kubrick.[21] “. It's probably the most overused cliched orchestra hit in musical history, and in my opinion the best.

I've layered the orchestra hit with an impact hit labeled “Imp Slam 1” which is a default sample from the from the Propellerhead Reason Factory Soundbank. Unfortunately I can't find any information about that sample, so it's probably not as iconic as the ORCH5, but it's been around since very early versions of Reason (1.0 or 2.0 I think) so it must've been used a lot by now. At least it gives it more impact ;)

The third sample is the choir sound. Not sure where the original sample is from, but this is a re-sample.It's a micro sample of about 0,2 seconds that are looped and is heavily bit crushed, because it's processed by the snes sound chip (spc700). That's because this song was made for pixel day and because I just love the lo-fi, synthetic yet strangely human sound of snes choirs.

I've also used the default sounds of the Casio RZ-1 drum computer released in 1986 which is a sample based drum computer which processes it's samples very much the way the snes soundchip does. I love its recognizable lo-fi impactful sound.

Of course almost every musician uses samples, but I think part of my signature style is that I use old, lo-fi, cheesy, overused samples or instruments. I always process them very heavily myself to make them fit the mix better and to give them more character, but I still keep them recognizable and nostalgic.

Sorry if this reply is too long. I don't write this to defend myself or change your mind. I just like you to understand what was going on in my mind when I wrote this. Cheers.

I thought of Green Hill Zone the SECOND the vocals came in hehe XD.
Great track but def vary it a bit more. Songs tend to sound similar of course
but that song is just too iconic, so if this song was to get insane exposure
too many people would comment on that fact.

Still great effort tho and I will check out some of your other work :)).

SourJovis responds:

Thanks for the review. Glad you liked it.

I know it sounds like Green Hill Zone but I didn't realize it would be such an issue. I just like that song and wish there would be more songs like it. So I wanted to make a song with the same vibe. It has the same kind of groove and sound. I synced both songs up side by side to hear how similar they actually sound, and I think they are different enough. If I'd change it it just wouldn't sound the way it needs to sound and becomes an entirely different song.

Interestingly, in an earlier version of this song nobody compared it to Green Hill Zone, but rather to things like Mega Man (though I didn't really hear that myself), and it's only since I used lots of Yamaha DX7 sounds (which sounds similar to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive) people made the connection. The groove of GHZ itself is actually one that's very common in pop music but hasn't been used on a Sega as far as I know, so I suppose it's just the combination of the two.

Anyway, there are other songs that sound much more similar to each other that haven't become a problem. On the other hand there are also songs that sound completely different from each other and which presumed similarities are totally incidental, that have resulted in some unfortunate court cases. So yeah, you never know...

If 2 songs sound alike it's called unoriginal. If a hundred songs sound alike it's called a genre. If more than 10,000 songs sound alike it's called basic music theory. It remains an interesting subject.

There are at least 4 other songs that have consciously inspired me as well to make this song that sound just as much like this song as GHZ does. Nobody has discovered them yet so I wonder who and what's next.

I think it's still an art to combine all of the different songs you like, give it a brand new melody of course, use a structure and style that's still coherent, bring some things unique and personal to it and yet retain the feel you like so much about the songs that inspired you in the first place.

Is it me or do I sense Green Hill Zone vibes in here? :D
Great arrangement and composition.
Some synth sounds didn't fit that well to my ear, but it's a great song nonetheless.
Especially loved the solo!
Good work. :)

SourJovis responds:

You are the first to make the connection between Green Hill Zone and this song, but I completely agree.

Like I mentioned I went for a first level type of song. The kind that is catchy so it draws players in so they want to continue playing and which is the song that immediately comes to mind when they think about the game. Green Hill Zone is such a song, but with a pop-music vibe many other game music of that time lack, and which is what gives Sonic a cooler image than say Mario for instance. I bet it also helps this song uses a lot of FM modulation synthesis, just like the Sega Genesis does.

What are the synth sounds you felt didn't fit so well if you could describe them?

Thank you for the feedback!

Credits & Info

SourJovis
Author

Listens
1,172
Faves:
8
Downloads
23
Votes
26
Score
4.15 / 5.00

Uploaded
Jan 23, 2019
12:06 PM EST
Genre
Pop
File Info
Song
7.7 MB
3 min 22 sec
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