Tethered to the Past

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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

Zelazon's Official NGADM Super Review!

Is the song constructed well or avant-garde?

Masterfully constructed. This is as close to professional that I think really encompasses great composition that shows a level of expertise and education in a way that many artists here on newgrounds could dream. Where it goes into the nitpicky territory is how strong octave (C4) is in comparison to the rest of the octaves used in the song, which I will go into more detail about in the production section. The video on youtube showing yourself playing the song is a nice touch by the way.

How creative are you with your melody?

The melody in this song are both solid and complex, which engages the listener in a way that evokes an emotional response to the design of the chords and melodies together.

Are the drums and percussion, if used, varied?

There is no drums or percussion used in this song.

Is there more than whole notes with the bass?

While there is nothing easy about this song, as a solo instrument, developing the bass notes is not as challenging as working with multiple instruments or having to balance the sounds together in a way that most orchestra music would encompass. In this case, the bass is doing its job well and I think that there is enough going beside just being whole notes.

How’s the ending?

Provides a nice fluid ending that show both skills and expertise in designing a song that takes a masterful approach in composition. Overall, the song is designed nicely, but there are a few issues that hinder it from being a perfect 10.

Score: 9


How does the waveform look?

This is where some of the issues begin to appear with this song. From the 400 to 3k hz range, the song shows a bell curve that is amplified quite a bit that makes the mid range sound overburdened and detract from some of the higher notes that are playing in the song. I’ll get into this more on the question of muddied, which will share some of my details about ensuring listenability for each range.

Is there any peaking happening at any parts of the song?

Peaking in this song happens around 1:51 to 1:52 and around 2:28 to 2:29. While the peaking isn’t necessarily troublesome, it does show that the song was not properly mastered to the accepted levels of either -0.1 db or -1 db that helps to keep the frequencies in check. However, because this is a solo instrument, it’s not as impactful as it would be if other instruments are present, but it is something you have to pay attention and address when you see it occur.

Are there any parts that sounds muddied?

The question of muddiedness is one where I feel like the song slightly struggle since the song feels mid heavy. This isn’t strictly limited to the octaves of the song, but also the frequency that encompass that range. When I look at the spectrum analyzer, it tells me that either if it was recorded on an actual piano, that the mic was centered on the mid range of the piano, or if it was recorded with VSTs, that the vst priorities the mid range. I would recommend that you look at focusing allowing the melody or high range to have its own space to give it more of a distinct sound and ensure that some parts are not overwhelmed by other parts.

Are there parts that are too loud or too quiet?

The high range feels a bit overwhelmed by the mid range, and not as significantly by the lower range. This was discussed in detail above.

Score: 8

Sound Design

Has the balancing between each part allow the listener to understand the song well?

For this song, being a solo instrument, I think there isn’t too much to balance aside from the frequencies issues discussed above. With the spectrum analyzer, I can see that the panning of the notes corresponds with the keys being played, which is a nice touch to make sure that the listener feels each of the notes in their respective spot. However, the issue of balance with the frequency blend into this area as the overwhelming aspect of the mid range provides to be a burden on the other aspects of the song.

Are there any sounds in the background to provide variety to the song?

Not really, and it’s hard to argue for or against where background elements should be added to a song like this. The reverb on this song is minor and maybe could have used a bit more than what it is currently doing. Right now, from what I hear it does sound a bit flat as well, which can detract from the wholesome feel that the song is trying to give.

Is there any elements that could be added to create a fluid design?

Aside from the extra bit of reverb, I’m hard pressed to state what other elements could be added to it.

Score: 8.5


What is the artist doing to keep the song interesting?

Aside from wonderful piano playing, what else do you need? This is the kind of music you can continue to listen to without having to take a break or figure out if you really like it. However, since the song is heavy on the mid range, the issue starts to become one of fatigue since the chords are pretty heavy on the ears and maybe aspects of lighter playing may have helped out on the dynamics of the song.

Is what’s being done with this song original or similar to the same genre of music? If similar, is there anything being produced that stands out?

While this isn’t the first time I’m hearing a solo piano (it’s been done for many years by professionals throughout the ages), the skill with the composition makes it one that’s easy to understand and appreciate.

How enjoyable is the song?

I don’t think anything else aside from the dynamics could make it more enjoyable, but the dynamics is something holds the song back from reaching its true potential. I’m not sure if it’s an issue of automation or just making that microphone capturing the music is properly placed, at higher levels of the competition, it could be the difference between a win or loss.

Score: 8.5


Is there more than one chord progression being used?

The chord progression is dynamic and always changing with this song. This allows the listener to retain attention with the song and ensure that they are constantly engaged. While there are many different directions that the progression could have gone in, I think what has been done here is masterful in itself.

If no chord progression are being used, what is keeping the song cohesive?


Does the artist push their boundaries or stays safe?

As a solo instrument, I’m going to go with safe. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is noticeable.

Score: 9

Total Score: 43 x 2 = 86

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!

Credits & Info

4.63 / 5.00

Sep 7, 2019
4:34 PM EDT
Solo Instrument
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.