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A Dream


Author Comments

This song depicts a dream that recalls the final moments spent with a deceased loved one.

I made this in 7 hours today without a break.

For the main strings, I used a combination of Tundra strings, Cinematic Studio Strings, and BBC Symphony Orchestra strings. I love the chilly sound. I also used Sospiro Strings and English Bass by Ben Osterhouse.

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Icon art by Xaolan

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I like the melodies in this one, and the harmony is bitter sweet. It's catchy and the arrangement is good and it's reminiscent of some love themes within a 90's adventure film I've heard in the past. I mean that positively as this writing isn't done in today's cinema. You show moments of light immediately resolving into despair that makes this fit the description accurately. This is tough to pull off in realism. You would have to automate the tempo quite a bit for each motif. Slow down and speed up in a way a string section would play the melodic contours. Moreover, I'm constantly fighting string samples to make them sound more real by automating the volume in the beginning of each note so it doesn't sound so abrupt when they play. There should be a wave in the volume automation for each note as a string player moves the bow on the string when it's a slow piece like this, because it sounds like a producer playing the notes on a keyboard with each note being released as the finger lifts up from the keys. That's what it sounds like for example in the opening lines of the string section. Each note is played the same way whereas a musician playing to your piece would slur these notes a bit more and add vibrato to make sense of the melody. I say this to you, because this is universal among all those that have to deal with samples to create their beautiful orchestral pieces. You kind of have to compose toward the strengths of the sample library as opposed to on paper and trying to make it fit.
If this is a bit long winded, just note that I'm writing to you as if I were writing a journal entry since this is what I struggle with. This is why lately I'm leaning away from bigger orchestral writing as I now just want to write for instruments that I have access to if I were to perform in person. Production and mixing has just a big of a part in the feeling of a piece as the notes themselves. How often I hear a mediocre, uninspired piano piece on Youtube with much following simply because it audibly sounds well. And no one wants to hear Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata via Midi. To the general public, simply having superb production and realism in the timbre of a piece will alone draw an emotional response. The fact that you can convey emotion in your piece here shows how strong the melody and arrangement is. If only we can hear actual musicians playing your piece would we find the flaws in the composition to be beautiful as human.

Everratic responds:

Thank you for the review. I enjoy reading your thoughts about music in general as you seem to have an excellent ability to sense a composer's intentions, and you know a lot about maximizing emotion.

If you recall the name of the film, I'll definitely check it out.

I totally agree with your comments on the lack of realism. I automated the expression on all the legato and long patches, but my efforts are clearly insufficient. Tempo automation is not something I could have done at the time as I was working on a mid-end laptop; fortunately I have a high end pc now, so I can automate the tempo as much as I wish, within FL Studio's limits - I hope to buy Cubase in the near future. The high strings note at 2:09 is the worst offender; I hate listening to it. I imagine it will take a lot of time to master tempo automation, but I think it will be worth the effort.

Due to this problem, lately I've taken an interest in dynamic arc patches, specifically from 8DIO's Adagietto. They evoke a lot of emotion on their own, and I don't have to do much humanization besides changing the start times of each note. These patches are quite limited in use, but can sound beautiful in the right contexts.

Having musicians play one of my pieces is a dream, and one of the things motivating me to improve. I'd be very interested in the tempo variation and vibrato usage.

Thanks again!

Wow.... this track is so sad. I've pictured my own concept.

The music could adapt well also in a sad death scene: anime style, mc and his soulmate, main douche villain kills soulmate, heart-ripping scene and final goodbyes. That kind of scene, yeah.
Imagine then this music followed by Sheol (Xtrullor feat. Panda Eyes), where the mc gets enveloped by uncontrollable rage. I get shivers only by thinking about it.
Powerful composition.

Everratic responds:

Thank you for the review! I'm glad it had that effect on you.

This is a NGADM Round 2 review.
All scores are out of 10, for a total of 50.


The piece feels quite short, and restrained. The melodies played by the strings and other lead instruments are singable and memorable. The chords do feel like they repeat a fair bit. There's some slight deviation in the middle when the glock appears -- a welcome change, for were it not there, I daresay the piece might have sounded a tad samey to me.

Nice rallentando to bring in the main melody again.

Your soft-loud and structure are on point. I do wish that the piece were a little longer, as the melodies you introduced here, as well as the theme of grief and clutching at memories in dreams, are things worth expanding upon.


Wide, atmospheric, and bringing out the physicality of the instrument -- I have no complaints as far as this piece is concerned.


The composition and the production here both give me a feeling of sorrow, the weight of mourning and loss on my chest, and the squeezing feeling that comes with it. The flute that comes in feels suitably mournful, reminiscent of someone singing a plaintive final chant to ease the loved one's soul.

1:31 brings to mind slightly happier moments, with that more playful glockenspiel -- they are fleeting away, like the physical proximity we had to a person we lost. The flute reappears again, losing some of its air -- almost as if the flautist playing is choking up, trying to muster breath to play in between the tears and the weight of sorrow on their chest.

It's back to the weight in my chest at about 2:31. I do feel my tear ducts filling, and the more I type about this, the more they fill.

Props to you for bringing about this visceral reaction of sorrow in such a noticeably short piece.


Sad mournful pieces like this are ubiquitous in VGM and films, and elegies with slightly scherzo elements are uncommon, but not unheard of. Shorter pieces with restrained melodies are also quite common.

That said: you owned this well, injecting a lot of visceral emotion into this mix, something which most pieces of this kind do not do. In my last review of a piece of yours I spoke of the physicality of an instrument; I sense it again here.


I remember every melody. I remember every articulation of each instrument, and the feeling it gave me. I remember the feeling of being squeezed with pain. I also remember how short it is.

Will I play this again? On its own, yes, but I would argue for a longer version in future. Will I recommend this to others? Yes, for the subtle emotional detail, and the feelings it gives.


TOTAL: 44.5/50


EDIT: Following up on your response, I would vary. Vary, vary, vary. Give me the squirming of tremolo strings, give me the full vulnerability of a soul singing with their beloved before they part ways forever, into different planes. Go down musical paths less trodden. Write this with a LOT less restraint than you are doing, if possible. Grief is not a solemn, stately emotion a lot of the time. It is loud, it is uncomfortable, it rouses others to grief and compassion. It is also often unseen, and can ring like screams into the night. Imagine what it'd be like if you managed, through some emotional feat of strength, to pull this off — to go into the dream and to spare no emotional or environmental detail!

I'm saying this to you as a guideline. Don't just give me any song of grief. Give me *yours,* with every inch of tears and hard feelings and bitterness that stays for years to come. If the dream is pleasant, capture the gleam of the sunlight, the rippling of the water, every little detail, in as cohesive a form as possible, and taking us on a journey (which is what I'm expecting you want to do). Because right now, this is not something that many do, if this is done at all.

Uniqueness, to a great extent, is not just about blending influences. It's about defining what your own musical voice is, and letting that be drawn out. I know you will probably be searching in your soul for this; it can take a short time, it can take a long time.

Everratic responds:

Thank you for the review again! I appreciate your hard work to help make participation in this competition beneficial and rewarding.

I'm curious, what do you think I could have done to earn a 10 in uniqueness without changing the composition fundamentally?

edit: Those are good points, thanks for the follow up.

Official NGADM '20 Review for EverErratic

Composition and Structure:
That intro is gripping. Without reading any of the description it instantly threw me into a different world, and all it took was 7 chords. I kept wanting to repeat the intro and really savor in how much, and you're use of 4/4 really gave it a largely different feel from your other works. Ugh the more details I notice the more I like this. Like what you're done a lot with a lot of your 3/4 and 6/8 works have generally had a swaying to them, something that gives the sense of dancing most times. Here you really get the feel of how heavy every beat is. Especially once the driving low strings start really playing in full force at 0:28, and it really drives home the emotions that would come across like what you have in your description. The 1:27 temporary key change into a major key felt kinda alien in the flow of the structure, but with the description I can see how it's a nice nod to happier times. Without knowing your intent with the song it might have made some more sense if you temporarily had the driving low strings stop for that moment until you brought the dark tones back in maybe since it feels like the person the song is being told through is of someone who temporarily ties to pick themselves up in vain and is quickly thrown back to the original state. I want to sit here for a good half hour just eating up what you're doing with the chord progression.

Production and Sound Design:
I'll admit one of my weaker judging points because I don't feel like I know what to look for in orchestral pieces still. I don't believe I'd be able to distinguish it from a live recording. The sounds are all very warm and rich, but the only thing that I probably don't like is maybe the harp is a little muddy in the end with the mix. Otherwise no complaints from me.

This song hurts good

Composition: 10
Production: 9.5
Sound Design: 9.5
Structure: 8.5
Creativity: 9.5
Total: 94/100

Everratic responds:

Thank you for the review!

I'm glad you like appreciate the use of 4/4. I didn't think about it at the time, but I see how much of a difference it makes now.

The key change represents a change in the stream-of-consciousness narrative. The person reminiscences the happiest moments with their loved one and realizes they are in a better place. Then the sadness returns.

The harp was difficult to mix. I've seen professional orchestras up close, and the harp tends to be far off to the left and is barely audible. I tried to replicate that placement but with a higher volume because it's an important line. I made sure to control low-mid resonances and cut off a bit of the low end, but it could still sound better. Maybe reducing the stereo image could help.

Thanks for being a judge and writing many reviews :)

Woah. Just woah, this is an extraordinary work. Both of your orchestration and composition skills really improved a lot.

Everratic responds:

Thanks for all the support!

Credits & Info


4.83 / 5.00

Aug 30, 2020
6:06 PM EDT
File Info
6.3 MB
2 min 45 sec

Licensing Terms

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