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Shout out to @travsaus for megaphone tankman!

Tethered to the Past

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Author Comments

What a fun piece to compose, not to mention to play!

I recorded this today, and I've spent most of the time since morning running into technical problems with my slowly dying computer. Thankfully, none of that affected the actual end result. I used some new settings with the piano VST to suit the style of the piece, and I'm quite happy with the sound.

If you'd like to see me play this piece, I just uploaded a video to YouTube:


Thank you for listening, and good luck to all the others in this year's NGADM!

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I like the ominous tone at the beginning. Nitpicky thing: at :11, there’s this really low-pitched harmony line that sounds pretty indistinct. That might be on purpose, but it sounds to me like the notes are spaced a little too close together. I thought it was really clever when you transitioned into an oom-pah line at :17, which in turn progresses nicely into the more flowing and melodic vibe at :26. Stylistically, this is a rather eclectic piece, but you’ve really showed off your knack for storytelling and fluidity. I loved the frantic pitter-patter at 1:00 too. One transition that may have been a tad sudden for me is at 1:09 when the piece gets a little darker in tone again, but the ritardando into 1:28 was an effective way of foreshadowing the injection of energy thereafter. My favorite part of the piece is probably 2:08, which just sounds really cute. I also like how it gradually meanders its way to a lower register before launching into another more flowy section. The doodling at 2:50 is pretty impressive, but also wasn’t a particularly climactic way of concluding the piece imo. I would’ve liked to hear something with a fuller texture that united some of the disparate themes of the piece a little more. Still, the somewhat comical ending seemed fitting in its own right. Like I said, you really told a story with this one. I can envision the protagonist fighting with himself over whether and to what extent to let go of his past. There’s the stagnant, cyclical-but-enthralling parts of him that need curing, yet also the volatile, uncertain-but-optimistic prospects that the future holds. Anyway, fun piece, LSD! Keep it up. ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
Instrumentation and sound design
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
Originality and uniqueness
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
Composite score

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you for the review, and sorry for the delayed response! I was teaching for four weeks as part of a university course, so I've been really tired whenever I've been at home :'D

Now that that's over, I hope I'll have some more time for music again!
As for your nitpicky thing, I don't hear what you mean there, as I'm just playing octaves. But maybe you were talking about 0:13, where the left hand might be a bit understated. I'm playing power chords there, but they might be somewhat quiet :)

The oom-pah thing is really fun to play! Believe it or not, I hadn't really developed that technique until now, so I'm glad it's in my arsenal.

Personally, I disagree about 1:09, as I feel like it's a natural place for the song to return to the intro. But it might've been unexpected, which just makes it all the better in my opinion!

2:08 is a callback to 0:31, and I agree that it's stylistically quite nice. Probably one of the most traditional parts of an arrangement I think I've ever composed.

I can see what you mean with 2:50. Seems like a lot of people also liked it though, so I guess it could be one of those flares that speaks to some people, yet not to others.
The way I see it, the climax of the piece is pretty much at 2:20, and the rest is just a fleshed out outro. I do however, feel like the outro draws the piece together, as 3:04 is pretty much the same as the intro and the middle section of the piece :3

"I can envision the protagonist fighting with himself over whether and to what extent to let go of his past. There’s the stagnant, cyclical-but-enthralling parts of him that need curing, yet also the volatile, uncertain-but-optimistic prospects that the future holds"

=> Wow, that's actually pretty close to what I imagine the piece being about, myself. I'm glad you caught on to that!

Thanks again for the thorough review, as well as for all your hard work!

Masterful composition and rendition.

I love how the arrangement follows a variety of structures that, while cohesive, express quite different nuances.

You have your ominous bits. Your victorian classical bits. Your defiant heroic bits. The romantic bits. The ride off into the sunset bits. The slightly whimsical adventurous bits.

I find it really inspiring how, with just one instrument, you are able to put so much color and variety into a song progression.

Your evolution throughout the years has been fascinating.

*eager clapping

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you!

Your track for this round is awesome too. Good luck, as you're up against the top scorer from last round ^___^

I do enjoy a lot of variety in pieces like this! Sometimes I prefer sticking to a single theme to give a more coherent message, but for this track, I think it's more important that it's fun and unpredictable.

I had to refrain from playing the piano properly for almost 3-4 months during the summer, as I was travelling. It feels great to be able to play it whenever I want to, again!

Thanks again for all the praise!

A wonderfully played piece. I cannot fault the playing.

I will suggest that you apply some reverb, maybe a stereo exciter.

I don't know what VST you're using, it's a good one. If you need an alternative try Piano One.



LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you!

I have some reverb on the piece, but I kept in minimal, since I wanted a fairly realistic performance sound for this composition.

I have plenty of piano VSTs :)
This one is Embertones 'Walker 1955 Concert D'. I used to use the free Piano One in the past, and it's quite nice for what it is! But it has some problems, and doesn't have the same depth as some of the really carefully sampled (or otherwise created) piano VSTs that are out there on the market. Thanks for the tips though!

what the hell i REFUSE TO BELIEVE you played 2:58 live omg

nice fun song!! gl :D

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Would it surprise you to hear that that's actually fairly easy? It's just one of those ;) secret techniques ;), ya know!

The octaves at 3:04 are tricky though o.O

Thanks, and you too!

There you go again...showing off! xD Honestly, I'm just overjoyed that I get to listen to another original piano piece by you, Alex. You really love to mix it up and keep us on our toes! And I absolutely love every minute of it.

Speaking of which, that was the shortest three minutes I've ever spent. From start to finish it felt like maybe one minute, and that's always the hallmark of a great piece of music. What can I do when it's over so quickly? There's nothing else to do but play it again! Despite how incredibly daring it is to go with a solo instrumental in the NGADM, if anyone can pull it off, you can.

I love the pacing, all the fantastic chord progressions and key changes, and quite simply the way you play and infuse the music with such raw energy. Even if you hadn't mentioned how much fun you had composing and playing this, it would still be evident in the sense of joy that it exudes.

The only thing that doesn't really resonate with me is the title, and that's probably just due to my own personal preconceived notions about the idea of being tethered to the past. C'est la vie. This is a gorgeous composition, and you play it masterfully. Best of luck in the competition! ^__^

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Haha, yeah. This piece was definitely a bit of a technical exploration. Surprisingly, I never really properly learned the left-hand pattern at 0:16, even though it's really common. I used this piece as a personal excuse to learn it, and now I can do it quite well! I learned a few other useful things from composing this track as well.

That is an incredible compliment indeed; one that I find to be very true when I listen to music I adore. I must thank you for listening not only once, but several times, and leaving a very uplifting review on top!
I think it's really fun to compose on the piano, despite the extra time I need to spend on learning to play the more tricky parts, as well as on memorisation.

I am also quite happy with the piano VST I used. Usually, piano VSTs aren't very great at conveying that raw power that real pianos have when you slam the keys dramatically. But this one does at least a decent job :3

I can see your point about the title, but that's exactly what I like about it! I have my own thoughts and reflections upon the meaning, but I feel like it's very much open for interpretation. This piece in general, I feel invites people to have their own take on it.

Thank you for your continued kindness!

Credits & Info

4.61 / 5.00

Sep 7, 2019
4:34 PM EDT
File Info
7.5 MB
3 min 17 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.