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Staying with You

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It has been a long run, but it seems like this year's NGADM is soon coming to a close. It has been great to compose new material in quick succession, but I'm secretly looking forward to not having deadlines on the creative process for a little while. That said, I definitely gave it my all with this composition.

The composition was originally about being willing to focus on one goal, and doing whatever it takes to get there. A song about triumph and sacrifice, if you will. But somewhere along the process, the meaning of the piece changed a little. The original title would've been something along the lines of "All the Way" or "Whatever It Takes".

As you can see, the final title is "Staying with You". That is because I realised that while we're always aiming for something in life, it's not the goal itself that stays with us when we look back at our achievements. Rather, it's the journey there, and the people we meet along the way that we remember. Naturally, the title has room for other interpretations as well, which is all well and good.

That also sums up how I feel about this year's NGADM. It's an honour to get to go up against such talented musicians. There are so many different approaches and genres that I end up getting lots of new favourite songs every year. On the same note, I would like to wish my opponent, vocaloutburst, the best of luck in this final round!
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I decided very early on that I wanted to compose solo piano pieces for every round, for as long as I managed to stay in the competition. During the previous years I focused on my weaknesses so that I could develop them, whereas this year, I wanted to focus on my strengths.
That is not to say that I didn't challenge myself or search outside of the box for creativity; if anything it's the opposite. Because I restricted myself to the piano, I knew that I had to create something very different and inspiring for every round. In this round, I combined some elements from my previous pieces, with all new stuff. That's what I love about the NGADM and the Newgrounds Audio community. They allow musicians from all walks of life to challenge themselves and improve, and on top of that receiving honest feedback on their work.

In short, I've tried my best to hone my piano playing and composing skills throughout this NGADM. The results of my work can be heard in this piece. I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for listening ^_____^

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TL;DR: Here's the video of my performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qxwSaNckj8

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I just realised how long it's been since i last commented on one of your composions. I love it! also i am very curious, what do you record with? it's so delightful! Very well done indeed

I like the evocative riff in the upper register at the beginning. Almost reminds me of a piano representation of an alarm clock - a somewhat repetitive ringing sound distorted by a state of being half-asleep. I like the simple descending progression at :05, which contrasts nicely with the more rapid ascending melodic patterns at :20. The rhythm feels a bit square until :45, and I like the lighter fare at around :59. I also appreciate the harmonic liberties you took at 1:10. The jazzy minimal section at 1:40 is fun, and you’ve really started to capture the emotional appeal behind the theme of the piece at the 2-minute mark. There’s a great moment of arrival and release at 2:15, which feels reminiscent of the beginning of the piece in a way. That moment of arrival is short-lived, however, and honestly I sometimes wish the pacing of the piece was a bit slower. The piece really starts coming together at 3:10, with a rich range of frequencies and a powerful and victorious tone. I thought some of the progressions and foregrounded content were a bit cheesy in the last minute or so, especially the frantic descending line at 4:16. The ending also feels a tad too drawn out imo. That said, some of that content also helps add some cohesion to the piece, which is hard to detect at other times in the melody lines. There are certainly some rough transitions in here, but I’ll commend you for the rather effective harmonic framework and pleasant melodic riffs. You’ve created a lot of variation around the bass lines and motifs, which gives the piece a strong narrative flavor. What else can I say, Ale? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to and reviewing your work throughout this competition, and I absolutely look forward to hearing more of it in the near future. Congratulations on your effort and good luck with your future projects. ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
2/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.5/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
1/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.75/1
Composite score
9.5/10

This is an official NGADM Judge Review for the Final Round.

As always, I tend to like to read song descriptions before listening to pieces that I need to judge. When I read the description here and saw that you were combining elements of your previous entries, the bar was set pretty high, and like always, you managed to knock it out and away. This piece sells emotion and really shows how flexible of an artist and player you are - the faster sections have energy, the slower ones have all sorts of smoother textures, it really works. It's a piece that leaves to the imagination a unique story. And I will even say the run at 2:22 is top notch - it must have been hard to perform that, considering that you have to keep the intervals while rapidly heading upwards. I've listened to this multiple times, and it's absolutely worth listening to plenty more
I just have a couple of complaints: firstly, the transitions between the faster, energized portion into the slower one (at 1:38) was a little bumpy for me, even after going back and listening a few times. It happens again at around 2:54, but it's a little smoother there. A little ritardando should help make the transition a bit easier to handle. Second, the sustain at the end of the piece, while a good idea, did include a rogue C6 from the repeat phrase that was in the beginning (I did like the callback, though), and it kinda left a sour taste because of it clashing with the B and C# from the phrase, so just make sure to be careful of that when doing something like this again.
Overall, though, this is a genuinely great piece. I love it a lot, and I know I will be coming back to it again and again. Good luck in the final phase of NGADM, and thank you for coming out this year!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

It's nice to see that someone reads the descriptions I write. They're not for everyone, but I feel like it's a chance to look just a little bit into the artist's thoughts behind a work, regardless of its format or presentation.

To me, this composition signifies a journey that's full of learning and interactions with all kinds of things and people. So to show my own growth as a pianist and composer throughout this NGADM, I felt it was only right to incorporate some of the element from my previous pieces. I'm glad that you felt that this piece succeeded in conveying many emotions, especially since it's filled with positive feelings, which can be difficult to convey believably with just a piano.

As for 2:22, it's a difficult run indeed. Thankfully, it goes straight into a short pause, which makes it easier to focus on it whilst playing; I don't need to think as far ahead.

I agree that 1:38 is a bit of a sudden transition. The way I imagined it, the person that's experiencing a rush all of a sudden gets struck by a thought/memories, and everything slows down for a moment while they reflect on it. As for 2:54 (2:57), I was trying to convey the feeling of determination. You're probably right in that it could've been a bit smoother.

And yeah, I should've been a with more careful with the sustain pedal and the reverb with the few end notes. I don't really mind it too much there, but I can see how the slight distortion that occurs because of it can leave a slightly sour taste, especially since it's the end of the piece.

Thank you for pointing out where I could improve the composition, and I'm glad that you enjoyed it. Thank you for the well-wishes, and for helping the competition along by judging.

This is an official NGADM '19 Review

Composition:
This piece felt intricate and masterful in terms of your playing and compositional ability. Listening to the song I could imagine a type of triumphant and joyful scene from a musical. It feels grand and celebratory mostly. The runs are well played and it feels also like a modern style of piano music.

Production and Sound Design:
I don’t have much to say about this. It's a solo piano, and it's sounded the same as your other piano pieces.

Structure:
Good use of energy dynamics. I also like the contrast of styles especially in the first 2 minutes. The first 40 seconds are really technical and even, and well contrasted by the swung and polyrhythmic section that followed. Then what you have as the most contrasting section of the whole piece between 1:00 and 2:11, which has a lot of emotion backed into it. Afterwards though I didn't feel like there was as much contrast or energy dynamics.

Emotion / Conclusion:
After listening to it a few times, what I kept feeling was that the song felt a little more on being technical than it is emotional. At the end of the song, what I take away from it was some well played runs more so than a theme I could latch on to. I still enjoyed it, and I could still pick out parts here and there that felt really genuine. You still did well on conveying the intended emotion, but it may have been lost a little bit

Composition: 9.5

Production: 8.5

Sound Design: 9

Structure: 8.5

Emotion: 8

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you for the review!

I tried to put together everything I've learned from composing for this year's NGADM in this piece, without forcing anything of course. I'm glad that the 'triumphant' sound came through. I often write melancholic pieces. This time, I wanted to challenge myself to write something mostly positive. Perhaps this is why you felt it was less emotional overall, since it plays on very different emotions. For me, personally, I'm quite happy with the atmosphere.
The intro was a little bit inspired by some of the techniques used in Liszt's "La Campanella".

As for the production, I actually spent many hours trying to get the right sound for this piece. I used a piano I don't think I've used previously this year, and was a bit obsessed with getting the sound like I wanted it. I'm afraid that maybe I overproduced it a little bit though! I'll have to think about how to best achieve a good sound for solo piano pieces.

You're right in that I wanted to contrast some of the faster sections of the composition, with the slower parts after the one minute mark. I feel that it's the parts like that one that really 'make' the piece, since they provide a well needed break from everything that's going on. I tried to do something similar at 2:57 and a few other later points, but maybe I should've taken a slightly longer rest in those parts.

While I agree that there are many technical elements of the song, personally I feel like that was in an attempt to portray emotions and an atmosphere that I couldn't otherwise get across. But I understand how it can also feel like a bit much, and that maybe more focus should be put on clearer melodies. I like trying out different approaches though :)

Thank you for listening, and for diligently judging throughout the competition!

Fantastic :) Whether you win or not (you will), you are a master pianist. I think you could end up being one of the best in the world if you keep going strong with it.

I also really like the competitions. Years ago, I submitted my "best" song. It did poorly. At that point I made the big step forward by actually purchasing proper software and began working towards creating quality sound. Since that first time, I've mostly submitted semi-experimental songs to get proper feedback. I've never even made it through any of the first knockout rounds for any competitions :S Each failure has been something that has pushed me further. One of my songs called "Bastard" was very well received and frontpaged on this website. That song was actually my response to a certain judge's HARSH criticisms. Basically my way of saying "fuck you". To my ears now, that song has some big flaws, but it is still one of my songs that I am most proud of.

Since then, I believe I have improved myself quite a bit. I still can't get through any knockout rounds, even with songs I viewed as great, but I'll keep trying and improving until I eventually make it through. I don't think I will have the success that you have, but there is something about these NG events that really helps people push forward with their art.

Without the NGUAC and NGADM, I would still be using FL Keys on a Trial version of FL Studio lol. It's all thanks to a random message I got from TaintedLogic in 2016, inviting me to the NGUAC. I view it as genuinely life-changing.

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you for the confidence you show with regards to this piece!

I feel like I am a fairly good pianist, but the more you learn about something, the more you realise how far you still have to go! I will continue learning on the piano, but I feel like I am a composer first, and pianist second. But, since my compositions require more and more complex playing techniques, I have no doubt I will continue learning ^___^

I'm happy to read about your passion towards the competitions! I used to lurk around Newgrounds for years without actually creating an account, before I even started playing the piano. But after I had been composing for a while, I wanted to find a place to share my work and listen to what other starting artists were up to. I then came across Step's music (Step, ofc, being one of the people who started the NGADM) on Newgrounds, through an animation competition that he had made a track for. I thought, "Wow, people on here can make such amazing music". Not long after, I was following the NGADM of 2013. I eventually created my own account, and started uploading my music on Newgrounds as well. Not long after, I involved myself in the community and took part in all kinds of events, some of them not even music related.

If you go back and listen to some of my first uploads, it's easy to see how far I have come since, and so much of that development is thanks to the NG community, and competitions like the NGADM.

I went back and listened to "Bastard". I can see why you like it so much! I also listened to one of your newer tracks :)
Don't be discouraged by not making it through many rounds. The music competitions on NG are tough! I remember that I didn't even get into the NGUAC one year, even though I would've been put in the "allstars" category at that point. Some other astounding musicians have fallen of at all kinds of different points during the NGADM too. Sometimes you meet the eventual winner in the first round, for instance. Life can also come in the way, as the competition is so long, and you need to be able to compose a new track every three weeks or so. That said, I wouldn't stop trying if you're motivated! I find that as I have developed, I have in the very least been able to get further in the competition for each year. Last year I got third, and this year I will get second place, in the least. If I'm lucky, I suppose I might win too. Basically, what I'm trying to say is, keep it up!

TaintedLogic is a prolific guy indeed. He always leaves proper reviews, and can send hundreds of messages when necessary (and not in a spammy way, ofc). I'm glad to hear that you appreciate these parts of the NG community as well! :DDD
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Credits & Info


Listens
886
Faves:
12
Downloads
20
Votes
25
Score
4.90 / 5.00

Uploaded
Dec 1, 2019
11:30 PM EST
File Info
Song
11 MB
4 min 49 sec

Licensing Terms

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