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Reviews for "Facing the Foe"

I actually notice a lot of repetition in the song on my second time listening. I don't know much music theory but I still enjoyed the song a lot.

The loop sounds normal to me, but maybe more experienced composers will notice the flaws.

I listened to this on headphones and I think the mixing is acceptable, but it needs some adjustments to make certain instruments sound clearer.

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Nice! It's cool to hear that you noticed the subtle repetition! Many people listen through my tracks without really appreciating the repetition in structure, melody or chords that I use, because it's not exactly the same as earlier. Thanks for this :D

There's nothing really wrong with the loop, other than the fact that it's too noticable for something that is essentially an active background track. That is, I should probably not have put a climax at the loop XD
But the beginning was the first part I composed for this track, so I felt I kinda needed to leave it in, as the rest of the track was born from it :p

Sure, I agree about the mixing. Thanks a lot for the review, dude :3!!!

Could just join neBSounds oppinion. The intro is awesome! It pulls you directly into the track and you´re right that this would definitely fit into a JRPG game. I have to say that the sounds actually remind a bit of retro PS1 games, which actually wasn´t that bad for this track. Actually I was surprised to read that this is EWQLSO because I always thought they sound a bit more... modern? But I never worked with EWQL so I don´t know. Composition wise there is not too much to say. You got a catchy theme and continue and vary it nicely without it getting boring. I love the fast marimba lines. Sometimes the transitions are a bit abrupt like around 43 sec. Actually this is the only part in the track where the melodies appear a bit random while they are very conclusive all along the rest of the track. It also sounds like you switched from minor to major without introducing it which feels strange but maybe my ears are tricking me here and I´m wrong... I have not the best ears sometimes :) The loop in general works fine. It loops more or less seamlessly. The only point is that you maybe realize the looping point because of climax in the intro but I guess that´s fine because there so much more musical content in this piece. Maybe some countervoices would help in some points to make the melodies a bit fuller. Sometimes you do this but sometimes the melodies feel a bit naked. I think already an unisono with different instruments in diferent octaves could help.
I think 40 hours of work is not too much time for 3:30 minutes of music with so many voices and much content. Of course there are people who might do this faster but they are mostly professionals, doing this there whole life every day (and probably repeating themselves a lot). Production wise I think it could definitely be mixed and mastered a bit clearer but I think as I read your text and I know from your other works you know this yourself already ;) I also wouldn´t give lower score because of mixing issues because I think a good composition is much more important. So... all this said. This is an awesome track again from you. Congrats!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Cool!
Great to hear that people like the intro, even if it's a bit much.

This track was from the very start designed to fit a JRPG game, so I'm glad to hear that it shines through. Eh, the reason the sound quality is like that, is probably just because of my not so existent mixing skills. On one hand, I tried to mimic the sound I've heard in both newer and older games a bit. On the other, I probably crammed too much together, but still wanted to keep some kind of volume. Keep in mind too, that this is just EWQLSO Silver, which is pretty limited, even if you get around. I also used next to none reverb for this track, as I found that most of the sounds are pretty wet on their own. But for slower tracks that use less intruments at once (or if you can manage with it in general), you'd probably want a bit more reverb than there is here. But I am not displeased to hear that this sounds a bit old school in quality XD

I like that you use the word "catchy". That may come in handy for one of the judges, hehhe... I definitely aimed towards making melodies that stick with you, even if specific repetition is a bit lacking in the track.

Interesting point about 0:43. While I don't think it's random, it is different than many of the other parts in the track. As is the next part, with the trumpets and horns. The different segments were generally inspired by different tracks from different composers/from different games, roughly. While there are parts that follow a kind of a main feel of the track, I tried to include other things in between as well. I don't have a real breakdown in this track (a slower part with strings would be pretty nice), but instead, I try to keep it varied, and killed the percussion (mostly) at a few spots too. 0:43 is kind of a segway in between that leads to the next part at 0:54, I guess. 0:43 uses a bit more Kingdom Hearts:y melodies, I'd say, while most of the rest has a more Final Fantasy vibe (though with more KH-ish feels, as well as some other stuff). Maybe this part sounds better on solo piano though, on which it was originally composed? (Oh, and this track constantly moves between major and minor, so I don't know that it needs any specific introduction every time, as this is more of a fast paced track, than one that progressed gradually, except for a few points). As for other seemingly random parts in the track that are just kinda there, there's 2:33 too :S

Yes. I agree that there is too much climax in the intro. As a standalone track, that's fine. But if this really were to be in a game, I'd change that, and make the intro (and the ending) slower parts, so that the transition would not require as much attention from players. I just wanted to include that intro, as it was the first thing I made for this track, and ended up being the last thing I tweaked too.

I get your point with the countervoices, although there's a reason I didn't do this for the most part (at some points I did though, as you mentioned). If you pay close attention to the track, you'll hear that more often than not, there are two or more melodies, playing at once. A bit like you might hear in a slightly more complex piano solo piece. Mostly, I used the french horn, or the backing track in general, for the second melody. A good example is 0:54, where while the trumpet holds the main melody (in two octaves, if I recall correctly), the french horn is playing a slower, similar melody, more in the left ear, and at a lower octave (or simply the last big segment of the track, with the violas and horns). This goes on in various forms throughout the track, be it at 2:09, where the backing track is playing a completely different melody in a different rhythm than the solo viola, or be it at 2:47, where there are at least 3-4 melodies playing in the same rhythm. At other points, like 1:34, I really wanted that solo violin to bear the entire main melody, though a piano is layered more in the background, playing the same thing. There are several other parts too, like 0:43 that was mentioned earlier, where the marimba is partly playing the same thing as the cello. Also, nudity is okay in my book if the melody looks nice, hehhe... (Forgive me, please).

May be that 40 hours is not all that much, especially if you consider the pace of the track. But it felt like a lot, especially since I just started my studies :s
I also know that indeed, some people could do this in waaay less time. That is what I am aiming for, as I couldn't hope to be putting this much time into every NGADM round ;)
Thanks for the encouragement though!

Yes, mixing especially I feel I still need to grasp. In general, I'm fine with the balance between the intruments. All of the marimba/harp/piano (even a secret timpani) aren't necessarily meant to be super clear, but more aim to help move the rest along. But the sound quality in general, could be so much higher!!!

I do think this needs to be judged partly on mixing too, of course, as it's part of what everyone is being judged by in the competition, even if I definitely agree that composition is more important. I wish that my complex composition will make up for some of the worse mixing, but you can't erase all of it. I don't feel like the mixing is horrible though, just that there's tons to improve. I've, so to say, both heard and done worse :3

Thanks a lot for the pretty long and awesome review, and sorry for the super long answer! XD
I promise I'll get to your track at some point in the relatively close future ;)

I love the intro!! just jumps straight into it and those arpeggios are awesome. Love all the different instrumentation (marimbas were a nice touch) and I love all the different progressions, they work nicely together and are always creating a sense of tension and release. I know you didn't have time to humanise the drums but I really think it would be worth going back to and doing because they're the only parts that get in the way for me. Rhythmically everything is spot on and varied too. nothin feels too repetitive, it's really well structured and it loops perfectly!!

Great job on this one dude.

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Hello!
Great to hear that you like many of the different elements in the piece. I tried to use very varied intruments, while still keeping a solid base that rolls on through the track :)
I aslo tried to work in some dynamic contrast where I could, be it rhythmically, or with volume or progression.
As for the percussion, I think I'll go back and do that some time after the competition (as well as swap out those hi-hats for better hi-hats, if I ever get my hands on any). I definitely would like to humanize the snares, at least a little bit (the gongs and cymbals are already humanized enough). I'll have to do it in seven different renders/parts too, which is nice XD

Thankyou for the nice review! I totally listened to your ambient track right when it came out. I haven't have time to review it yet, but I'll try my best to work in in there at some point not too far in the future ;)

MOTORIMBA
I'M ON IT

Brilliant intro, great composition, solos, everything! As usual for you, it's a perfect loop. :P The only nitpick I would make is that the percussion could use a little more humanizing - especially those hi hats at the beginning. But seriously, great work! Man, ChronoNomad better start runnin'! :D

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

"...but I didn't have time to humanize the drums."

Just sayin', I was saying what you was sayin' before you was sayin' what I was already sayin', although you already were sayin' that before I was sayin' what you ended up sayin' despite me having said it since you was sayin' so earlier.

I also best be sayin' I'm pretty sure CN would be sayin' that he ain't gon' run from nothin' just 'cause you's be sayin' he betta get runnin' (just sayin').

Thanks for the review 'n' for the sayin''s mid-makin', dude! :Dn'

Wooooow. Maan. Let me tell you, and sorry if it's just a bias...the beginning 10 seconds had so much pent up energy and power, especially with that organ and (harpsichord I think) that afterwards, all of the sweeet intricate percussion work, and just the overall soothing complex orchestrated score was overshadowed. Again, maybe this is just me nitpicking, but man, did I experience quite a mood shift after those first 10 seconds. If I just listen to the piece without the first 10 seconds, it's a very well thought out, and amazing piece deserving of all 5 stars. The first 10 seconds also deserves 5 stars...but together? I'm not quite sure. I wonder what other guys who are more musically inclined think of this piece? Otherwise, keep making art!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

You, I have seen you reviewing everything lately (especially on some of the latest art)! Wonderful job :D

I totally get your point with the beginning. But it also makes me happy in one sense, because that means the true vibe of this track shines through as what it's supposed to feel like. You see, the first 10 seconds feel like they build up for a boss battle. But this is actually a more light, normal battle theme ;)
The 10 first second bother me more because they're distracting, than because they'd be too good XD

I think that parts like 0:53-1:16, and 1:33 through 1:56 are actually waaay better, because of their pure melodic/harmonic and compositional value. So the first 10 seconds kinda give you a distorted image of the true feel of the track. Give it a few more listens, and I'm sure you'll learn to enjoy the other parts as well ;)

But don't worry, this is a loop! So the first 10 seconds show up every 3 and a half minutes!
That said, it's quite a fun distraction, those first 10 seconds. The first time the track plays, it's a powerful introduction, and every other time, it's like to become a sort of wake up call grabbing the attention of the listener, which is actually okay in a battle track, which is not supposed to be only relaxing. It depends more on where you're going with the design, I think. Even if this works as a stand alone track, nothing shows how well a video game track works better than it being featured in an actual video game ;)

Are you making good progress on Nami: Espisode 2?

Thanks a lot for the nice review :3