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The End of Decadence

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The Fate of Empires

"… There does not appear to be any doubt that money is the agent which causes the decline of this strong, brave and self-confident people. The decline in courage, enterprise and a sense of duty is, however, gradual. The first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one. Money replaces honour and adventure as the objective of the best young men. Moreover, men do not normally seek to make money for their country or their community, but for themselves. Gradually, and almost imperceptibly, the Age of Affluence silences the voice of duty. The object of the young and the ambitious is no longer fame, honour or service, but cash. Education undergoes the same gradual transformation. No longer do schools aim at producing brave patriots ready to serve their country. [ Or to discover great things for all mankind! ] Parents and students alike seek the educational qualifications which will command the highest salaries."

-John Bagot Glubb

Clip of inspiration

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So right off the bat, I want to hear a possibly simpler violin melody so I can be immediately engaged from the very beginning. Unfortunately, it’s hard to anchor to that solo violin without chords because of how unorthodox that melody and those chords are. Now, I’m not saying the chords don’t work because they definitely do and they’re beautifully orchestrated as the layers keep being added on. Maybe instead of going straight into that violin melody at the beginning, you can write a calmer, less busy intro. Don’t be afraid to maybe use a violin quartet to simply sustain the main chords in an expressive way then slowly add in more layers on top of them, probably with the solo violin being one of the first ones. That way I’m already reeled in by the chords AND I’ll want to hear how you’d grow upon and embellish that. Anchored and engaged are the two keywords.

A few small notes for you through my 3rd and 4th listen through include a lot of nitpicking.

At the 1:51 mark, I hear some slight staccato strings that I think you can bring out a bit. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if you made that a whole staccato section with the legato melody still going on (until maybe around the 2:25 mark), a small change in pulse like that would add a bit more diverse meaning to the melody and help with keeping the listeners engaged.

Also, anytime I hear the piano do an arpeggio in this piece, I think it should be replaced with strings or some midrange woodwinds. The timbre of the piano kind of disrupts the smoothness of all the other layers a bit.

Again, those are nitpicky things so they definitely aren’t substantial notes.

I also think the use of dark sound effects in your production really helped create a consistently melancholic atmosphere. All the elements worked really well together, I think you have a knack for atmospheric storytelling, your way of structuring and layering was very well executed. Overall, very well done!!

Phonometrologist responds:

Your reviewed made me smile. I don't disagree with what you would have preferred as they are all fair points. The Viola melody in the beginning is ambiguous as it slips down in a descending motion. The melody outlines a chord, but the higher notes descend in a chromatic fashion. Even the chords are not stated so clear in the beginning. Not being anchored to it makes sense. Sometimes when writing in a certain frame of mind, you don't really intend for anything as I try to remove myself from it. I never know how others will take it.
I think what would help tremendously to being engaged to that busy line is a performance of it. The musician would emphasize a clearer pattern in the melody with the use of heavy vibrato on certain notes. With this library that I was using, I could not control vibrato and even with the vibrato they have that happens naturally in the audio sample isn't heavy at all. Phrasing is difficult in sample libraries.
I would like to experiment with actual musicians on the point you brought up about staccato. I didn't like it on the sample library because the weight of the piece sounded to dissipate. Needed to keep a weighty bass to keep the balls from dropping off. Think the piece would sound too deflated as it reached a climax.
The piano does play a smaller role in this. I was using it to accentuate the beat a bit more because it all started to get muddy in terms of movement and drive. Again, I couldn't mix what I wanted with the string library I was using. Perhaps I'll commission an actual string quartet in the future when I can drop a couple thousand. Then hopefully I would feel comfortable not adding that piano. Didn't have time to think too much about it while writing for the contest. I'll definitely play with it more in the future keeping in mind the points you have made. I appreciate your perspective so I can listen to this fresh and more analytically as you go over my blind spots.
Thank you very much.

Didn't expect to cry today

Phonometrologist responds:

I'm flattered. If we were to approach someone or something with an expectation to feel a certain way and it fulfilled that, could we truly express it?

Hey you wrote something about the collapse! Didn't know it sounds that beautiful :O

Honestly, I wish I could reach that melodic power you have, it's just so amazing to listen to your work. There's something about them that last for long time and there ain't a boring moment whenever ppl listened to them. I guess that's why your work have that quality that very few people on NG have (certainly not me) Because it's just so telling and soothing, like a table story that you share with your family, but in the sense of comforting people, that everything is gonna be okay, no matter how fucked up our world right now. It's my feeling, not just this track but whenever I listen to your work. But this track is very special on its own.

Thank you.

Phonometrologist responds:

Beauty is measured by subconsciously knowing that all things evaporate eventually. I would make a case that the reason people find beauty in things such as ice sculptures, flowers, and sand castles is because they are not permanent. Just like a photograph being a snapshot of a time that has already passed, life is beautiful because it is fleeting. This music may be beautiful for some and it may not be for others just as a collapse would be beautiful for those that have been oppressed by the very thing that promised them justice as opposed to those that have prospered from it. Who am I to say? I really don't know for sure how life will turn out, but I do know a hope. The greatest miracles happen in secret.

You mention melody and quality that you find lacking in your own, and it just makes me really want to share with you. It's something you can do. I don't have anything unique in terms of creating music. You're just hearing the end result of a very simple process. If you were to hear what it sounded like as it was coming together, that would help get rid of the mystique. I do understand that it's your way to express praise toward it and I thank you very much for it, but please don't view me on a pedestal. We just need to practice listening. Everyone has a voice, but listening only to our voice may be deceiving. It's the reverberation that happens around us when we scream that we are to pay attention to.

Darkness approaches
As Summer yields to Winter
My fate sealed in blood

No tears left to shed
Cold wind bites my skin alone
I play for the moon

I am become Death
Night Creatures' vengeance is swift
I hear their skitters

The melody fades
Only the Reaper wins here
Gone in the cold wind

Phonometrologist responds:

A poem of the wise about the inevitability of all flesh. Wisdom within the one that realizes this and lives with this present in mind.

Now this is something you don't see on Newgrounds every day. This is such an incredible piece and I salute you for writing such bone hallowing music. Really great name, too

Phonometrologist responds:

I'm humbled; thank you for sharing your thoughts about this.

Credits & Info

4.66 / 5.00

Aug 31, 2020
2:22 AM EDT
File Info
5.2 MB
4 min 35 sec

Licensing Terms

You are free to copy, distribute and transmit this work under the following conditions:

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You may not use this work for commercial purposes. *
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*Please contact me if you would like to use this in a commercial project. We can discuss the details.