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Reviews for "This is Not the End"

- NGADM Round 3 Review -

The strongest part of the song is its melodic content during the first half of it. Very beautiful, and soulful. You've got some good compositional ideas....but the way you have played them out is not so good. You do have some unsmooth transitions (1:38 being the worst offender), and your piano melody becomes repetitive after a while. At the section during 2:25, the mixing of the strings and piano was unclear, and made neither stand out in its own way, really. I don't think there is much off about the sound of the piano, itself, except for those high notes at the end, which sound a little hard-hit. I think once the repetition issues are out of the way, along with smoother transitions, this piece could be more improved.

Score: 8.5

ChronoNomad responds:

Thanks for the review, AS. I'm wondering if it's based on the original version or the newly updated one with improved piano, but I guess it's more or less academic. I really like this piece for what it is, whether anyone else agrees or not, and that's fine. It's not perfect, and doing a piano-driven piece when all of my pianos sucked at the time was probably ill-advised.

I've already been dragged through the proverbial mud on this one review-wise, so everything just feels comfortably numb at this point. It probably could be further improved, but I've stuck a pin in it so that I can move forward and concentrate on other things. At least the piano's better than it was! :)

NGADM Review:
---
Melodic content is definitely the biggest high point of this piece. You've got excellent melodies, and a good use of orchestration and harmony to get the effect you want. The piano moved smoothly and fluently, albeit with a few awkward transitions, but all in all it developed nicely and progressed into different sections, each of which were well-structured and elegant.

That being said, the piano lacked realism, which is important in a piece where it's pretty much the sole focus of the listener. I'm not saying it's entirely robotic, but something just doesn't sound real about it. Quality wise it's great, but it lacked a human feel to it, particularly in the rigid tempo and velocities, a few random tweaks of which could have made it much better.

Overall, you've got a lot of potential and a clear understanding of melodies and orchestral ideas, but the key problem you have is humanization. A little work on that and you'll be making awesome stuff in no time.

Score: 8/10

ChronoNomad responds:

Well, I guess I'll just have to figure out how to add those little random tweaks in FL Studio, won't I? Maybe once I've been using this DAW for a year or two I'll be a master of all the ins and outs, but for the nonce I can only defer to what I know. I'm learning bit by bit, but there are only so many hours in a day, and ultimately I guess that's what hurt the most here. Looking forward to flaying everyone else in the NGADM alive in a few more years! Am I being figurative? Hell no. It's a Death Match, so let the blood rain down and paint the world crimson! :3

Pseudo insanity aside, thank you for the review. This one just plain wasn't going to be as good as Tir Na Nog no matter what, and I probably never should have gone for such a piano-driven piece when even my best version of the instrument (at the time) was apparently the musical equivalent of a steaming pile of shit. Lesson learned. I'm mostly just frustrated at myself for blowing it, but there's a lot of good here to chew on and learn from. The world has moved on...as have I.

Hello. I'm sorry. This is the end. :(

The Good:
-Your melodies are very pleasant, I like them quite a bit.
-I like the change at 1:09, it feels very nice. Similar for 1:32.
-The clear theme is very nice, I'm liking this a lot after all the pieces lacking them last round.
-AN ENDING! A CONCLUSION! I am happy about this. :D

The Not-So-Good:
-When focusong on a solo instrument, realism and atmosphere are both EXTREMELY important. This took a severe hit on the realism front.
-The piano doesn't sound like it has much dynamic contrast or change in velocity layers. Even with a basic piano you can have more emotion simply by using dynamic contrast. Also, some tempo automation would do wonders for realism.
-Strings are buried behind the piano at about 0:25. Less reverb on the piano should fix this up. You can automate the reverb to decrease at that point if necessary.
-Transition at 1:38 is a bit sloppy in that it's too sudden, only two notes leading up to the abrupt switch.

Overall: Score of 7.8/10. The absolute biggest hit was the lack of realism in the piano, seeing as that's the instrument carrying pretty much the entire piece. Everything else is background, so that piano needs to have some serious emotion behind it.

ChronoNomad responds:

I really want to respond to this in full, but every single time I read that first line it makes me thoroughly disgusted. Whether you meant it to be sincere or sarcastic, it just comes off as being both unnecessary and offensive. Maybe you will understand if someone ever has the lack of decorum to use one of your song titles in such an unfortunate play on words. That being said, after having it done to me, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

So we got off on a really bad foot in this review with poorly chosen and thoroughly unprofessional words. Moving on, it's nice to see that there were some things that you actually liked about my Round 3 submission. This is one time when I wish the bad news had come before the good, but it is what it is.

It basically seems like I am being penalized for my SoundFont piano more than anything else when you speak of 'realism.' Maybe this doesn't apply to all the judges, and if so I apologize, but I distinctly remember Step mentioning that instrument quality was not going to damage our scores. This is the best piano that I currently possess, and I put a lot of time and effort into my velocity dynamics, which are constantly changing throughout the entire song, so this basically just leaves me feeling frustrated. I suppose if I knew how to add tempo automation I would have done it by now, so at least that gives me a vague idea of what to look into, but the velocity dynamics are plainly there for anyone with ears to hear...especially where the melodies speed up and slow down.

For the strings that gets buried behind the piano, here I'm being penalized directly for using velocity controls and softening up that cello, so trying to be more dynamic is apparently a lose-lose proposition. Finally, you refer to the two-note transition at 1:38, one that I feel works perfectly well and sounds lovely, as being a bit sloppy. I just plain don't understand how the term applies, but it certainly sounds more like a personal nitpick than anything else. Nevertheless, I respect your opinion in this regard and will simply agree to disagree.

This has been, by far, the most difficult review that I have ever responded to. I think I've managed to work out most of my frustrations just by 'talking it out,' and I apologize for any discomfort this may have caused you. Losing to etherealwinds had less sting than reading this to be quite honest, so hopefully you won't begrudge me a bit of honest indignation. Thanks for (most of) the review. :)

This is an NGADM Round 3 review.

--

I am instantly going to start this review by saying that your melodic material is magnificent. Graceful, elegant, and the chord voicings in the background are lovely (1:50 especially). You'll be delighted to know that I think the generic quality of your previous tracks is not present here at all (*high-fives*). There are a lot of piano + string/pad tracks all over Newgrounds and the rest of the music industry, but this one has enough distinct characteristics to take away any predictable or generic factors that may have unfortunately resided in your other submissions. The contrast between the more fast-paced and trill/ornament-filled sections, and the soft, contemplative sections is beautiful, and shines through spectacularly during both the subtle changes of pace (such as 1:38) and the more abrupt ones (such as 2:33).

It wouldn't be nearly as beautiful if your transitions weren't so silky-smooth. The song flows delightfully, making for a piece that's quite easy to listen to, but still takes a few listens to comprehend fully, because there's a fair amount of detail and length in the composition. On a related note, both the intro and the ending are great. Your intro sets expectations for a soft piano piece, but really picks up after a few seconds, and without much of a gradual change, providing the awesome contrast I mentioned above. Ending the track by slowing down the arpeggios was a splendid idea, but I would've liked the final note to be held back a little more, just for a more satisfying ending.

On the production side of things, everything is clear, like it should be. You have a piano sound that's very bright. I agree entirely with Kor-Rune that the piano could do with being a bit deeper/warmer. I don't think it's a matter of EQing - the piano sample itself isn't very full-bodied (or it might just be because you don't use the low register as much). It's nevertheless a nice piano sound, and is backed up well by some decent strings that are a bit thin and low-quality but do the job. You've got a bit of unused headroom at times in this track, but that's not a problem at all for an emotional, dynamic and expressive track like this. It's soft, and even when it picks up the pace, it doesn't become a powerhouse, which is good to hear.

I had a hard time writing a full length review for this because there isn't much substance in it. While there are plenty of melodic changes, you recycle certain melodic ideas a fair amount in this track, and while some serve to bring the structure of the track together very well, others just make the whole thing a bit repetitive (like the excessively long 1:38 section). The texture of the track is also relatively samey. The melody of the piano is almost always in the high octaves, and you don't have many other instruments or sounds supporting the piano. It feels like the potential of this track is a bit restricted at times, both in composition and instrumentation.

Small issues aside, this is a truly beautiful track. You've delivered a musical experience that, I feel, is an improvement over your Round 2 track, at least compositionally, and I already liked your Round 2 track a lot. Each NGADM track of yours seems to improve over the last, and I'm really really enjoying your work. Consider me a fan!

Score: 8.8/10

ChronoNomad responds:

Thank you so much for so much thoughtful and impassioned feedback, Step! It seems like the one thing that really backfired on me was my "less is more" approach when it came to instruments, and that was something that I had decided on pretty early on, but I didn't quite want it to be nothing but solo piano. That being said, you've hit on a lot of salient points, and have given me a very well-received and appreciated mixture of praise and criticism.

The section being most criticized for its sameness (1:38) is one of my favorite parts, and my hope was that by continuing to layer new things over the main melody it would feel less repetitive. What works for me, ultimately won't sound as good to others, and I can always accept that. I was prepared to bow out gracefully from the instant I was matched up against Jordi in this round, but - interestingly enough - I felt much more confident in the last two rounds. I love what Jordi does, and losing to him while doing my best leaves me with no regrets. A hint of sadness of course, but I'm very happy for him.

I'm really glad that you like this track as much as you do! I've enjoyed being a part of this contest very much, and I have learned a lot about not only myself, but also many other great artists here on Newgrounds...some of whom I didn't even know about previously! I have learned a lot and done some growing, and I intend to keep on doing just that as I keep cranking out music for a long time to come. I hope that you'll stop by and visit me from time to time, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a fan! I'm looking forward to being right there with everyone else to see how this whole thing ends.

EXCELSIOR!

Nice work - very easy theme but also very effective. The combination of piano and celli always rocks :D This track reminds me of the movie "the truman show", when jim carrey reaches the door out of his artificiant world into reality. Nice flair and very nice harmonic work. Keep it on!

ChronoNomad responds:

You nailed it right there, Chris; simple yet effective is precisely what I was going for. I love The Truman Show, so that's a pretty excellent compliment in my book! That's by far the emotional centerpiece of the entire film, and now I'm imagining the scene with this composition behind it. Yeah, that's thoroughly awesome... Thanks for such an incredible comparison!

No worries there! I have no plans to ever stop making music. :)