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Hand In Hand- NGUAC 2020 Final Round Submission


Author Comments

I got asked by a friend to compose a song for their wedding with lyrics tailored to them as a couple. He only asked for a an acoustic recording but as i need a song for NGUAC 2020 Final Round I decided to produce it into a full production (as well as an acoustic recording) which i imagine he will be over the moon about. All instruments, composition & production done by myself.

I first started off with writing the lyrics, i was given certain things which were wanted in the lyrics so i wrote around those ideas and phrases.

Once i had the lyrics i picked up the guitar and composed the harmony and melody, i went for a Damien rice feel, simple chords and only 2 parts, and focused on the dynamics and lyrics as the main feature.

Once i had the song written, I jumped on the drum kit and recorded without a click (to get a more dynamic feel with fluctuating tempos), and used my memory and vision of how the song goes dynamically as a guide.

Then i recorded a rough guitar and vocal reference as a guide for when i layer the instruments.

Started with bass, played around till i found lines that i like.

Then Acc Guitar doubled panned.

Then Nashville strung guitar doubled panned (only on the chorus)

Then Electric guitar, improvised around until i found parts i liked.

Then lead vocals, then i tripled them with different mics panned (only on the chorus)

By now i have gotten rid of my rough guitar & vocal track.

I used my mixing and mastering tricks i know using Waves plugins and Izotope 7 Mastering module.

My main focus was to capture the emotion, dynamics and feel. An organic vibe, A love song that isn't too sappy. I was thinking of adding cello and violin but decided against it, i felt it was nice to have the emptiness in the verses and the chorus felt full enough, and i also thought i might make it a little soppy love song which i was trying to avoid.

Thats my process in a nut shell Good luck to all for the competition! Thanks for having me!

And a special thanks to all the judges, you have been tremendously fair and professional with your rating and reviews, and i massively appreciate the time you take to do in-depth feedback and reasoning behind your score! Thank you!

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Wow that went to the rite Persian for a song that was nice of you

I like the soothing guitars at the beginning and melodic flair and syncopations. The vocals are a little soft in the mix, but I like the sense of climax into 1:09 and the strong beat. There’s a good sense of contrast in intensity between the chorus and verses, and I like the extended refrain at the very end. After a while, you overuse the guitar riff that pops in at 2:07 (and other places), and I also would’ve liked to hear some more variety in the harmonic framework later on. That said, the drawn-out lyrics at around 3:30 were really nice for some variety in the pacing, even if they didn’t introduce much in the way of novel harmonic content. Overall, this is really strong work, Connor. I’m loving the sound design, production quality, and emotional quality in the vocals. If there’s somewhere I could download this, please PM me a link. :)

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

ConnorHeather responds:

Excellent, thanks for the time to leave such great constructive feedback really appreciate it! I'm thinking of making this part of an album i am recording, but i can send you a link to download, to say thanks! PM you email address.

Really nice clean playing for those acoustics in the opening. Very nice production. I personally would have liked with the vocals as naked sounding as they are, bringing them up in the mix. I have a lot of issue understanding the lyrics and hearing them as the lead instrument. It does have a nice, bar-rock blues meets country feel.

From what I've heard of you, live mixing is probably your best strength. I personally feel on bigger sections, your acoustic chugging rhythms are just a bit too far pushed up in the mix, contributing to the muddiness of the very dynamic vocal.

That said, absolutely love that you've written it for a friend's wedding. That's super cool man.

Thanks for coming out to NGUAC!

ConnorHeather responds:

Excellent thanks for the great constructive criticism i will take everything on board it helps a lot, ear fatigue is a real thing and is difficult when you do it all by yourself, having fresh ears and perspectives is a big help thanks! Will most likely go back and take onboard what you said for the final mix.

Thanks for all the work you guys do to make NGUAC happen! It's been a pleasure to participate!

-Official NGUAC 2020 Final Round Review-

Welcome to the Final Round! You’re the first contestant I’m scoring.
Your piece is pretty interesting, not something you see on Newgrounds really often: I really like the direction you decided to go into with your concept, giving some Springteen/countryroad vibes. The guitar is well chosen and mixed, I wonder if it’s real of from a VST; either way, brilliant execution. I like that you updated your track in the meantime as well; beforehand your voice was a little detuned in the beginning, but now the intonation is correct, and that is going to benefit your score a lot!
The instrumentation is solid and blended properly as well, with various and originally blended drums, despite the mix having a little downside; in the chorus sections at 1:09 and 2:44, I think that the vocals are a tiny little downpowered. To be clearer, I struggled to hear the lyrics a bit. Everything else seems more than alright to me: the mastering and balance are spot on, the ending is very well done, and I overall had a good experience with your track. It’s nice to begin scoring with a good note ;)

Originality: 2/2
Composition: 2/2
Structure: 2/2
Tecnicity: 1.7/2
Impact: 2/2
Total: 9.7/10

ConnorHeather responds:

damn! what great feedback thank you! much appreciated! To answer your thoughts, it is real guitar, everything is recorded with live instruments, This one in particular uses no midi.

Again thank you i really appreciate the time you take to go in-depth about the 'how and why' behind the score!

Wow. This was quite emotional. Absolutely loved it. Congrats to your friend for their wedding and I wish you success in this round!!

ConnorHeather responds:

Aw you're too kind! Thank you!

Credits & Info

4.45 / 5.00

Sep 5, 2020
9:00 AM EDT
File Info
10.4 MB
4 min 33 sec
  • SM57
  • Ozone
  • Logic Pro X
Misc. Kit
  • waves
  • Ibanez AF55
  • Tascam US - 4x4
  • Boss ME-25
  • Fabfilter
  • Mackie Speakers
  • Pearl Forum Drumkit
  • Taylor 114e
  • Roland Micro Cube Bass Amp
  • Harley Benton Bass
  • rodes NT-1
  • Rodes M3

Licensing Terms

You may not use this work for any purposes.