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This is a VGM Challenge review. I'm sorry for the long wait! Some unfortunate things happened in my life lately.

The intro sounds innocent and blissful. The piano has a clean, pure quality. I imagine the main character peacefully wandering around a frozen lake. I like the way some orchestral elements are introduced before section 2.

Section 2 and 3 sound like uplifting battle music. The ethnic woodwind combined with traditional orchestral instruments doesn't make me think of the Northpeaks environment in particular; however, I do imagine a large, natural environment, which is appropriate.

For the most part, I like your approach to mixing. The mix sounds wide, spacious, and fairly clean. I can tell you are conscious of the mix during the composition stage. Your use of percussion is excellent; it complements the rest of the composition rather than acting as a foundation. This shows that one doesn't need gargantuan percussive hits to produce epic-sounding music. I like the use of soft timpani hits to add some weight and accents.

There is one problem that relates to both the composition and mix. There is a lack of focus throughout the piece. Most instruments sound quite distant, and the instruments playing important phrases and melodies are not at the forefront of the mix. I suggest adding some soloists and/or use a higher close-mic mix panned relatively close-to-center. When the string section is playing staccato without much backup, I suggest layering soloists on top of it to achieve a more defined rhythm.

I think the piano outro begins slightly too soon.

I had a lot of fun listening to this! Keep up the good work :D

This is a VGM Challenge review.

I like the double bass (I think) rhythm. The upfront, sharp transient percussion sounds out of place in this ambient orchestral context; furthermore, it's relatively dry to a point of distraction. I like the other percussion a lot; it seems you used string instruments percussively. The song makes me imagine exploring a dungeon in a rpg that takes place in a medieval time. I'm not getting strong Northpeaks vibes, but I suppose this song would indeed work in a dungeon environment in such a game.

I like the eeriness of the flute lines. It helps establish an otherworldly, creepy vibe.

The song lacks a proper intro and outro, and it doesn't seem like it's meant to loop. I would like to hear more sections and development, but this is a good start.

WakerLink responds:

thanks for the feedback man, really appreciate it. Yeah, it does indeed kind of lack intro and outro because it was somewhat rushed due to the fact that I joined the challenge VERY late, so I was mainly trying to get the main idea/feeling down that I had associated with the theme and develop it to make it at least somewhat coherent. Thanks for hosting this challenge, it was pretty damn fun

This is a VGM Challenge review.

Composition:
I'm blown away. How did you make a song this good with freeware? I almost always find something lacking in songs that are composed exclusively with freeware, but in this case, I have no gripes. You masterfully used what you had on hand.

The intro effectively takes me to the environment stated in the description. I sense the undercurrents of danger while simultaneously imaging the beautiful scenery. The climax is powerful without being overly dramatic.

The plucked instruments instantly establish medieval vibes, and the raw, earthly sound of the strings enhances this setting.

The one instrument I find a little confusing is the trumpet. It sounds like it belongs in a 19th century United States setting.

Production:
Everything sounds properly reverbed, as far as I can tell. You managed to avoid clashing frequencies and excess mud thanks to a solid composition. The mix sounds full when it needs to and the dynamic contrast is just right.

Utility:
I think this would fit nicely in a video game based on my prompt. My only suggestion would be to make it a bit more loopable - it doesn't have to be a deliberately seamless loop.

This is amazing work!

vermeen responds:

Hey Everratic! Thanks so much for the write-up and kind words. And looking back I agree with the trumpet sounding pretty out of place, hehe! At the time I probably must've wanted some kind of "main voice" to be featured on the track and I stuck with that instrument, oh well. Can totally hear the unintentional Civil War-ish vibe it gives. A thousand thanks again for making this event and prompt! I learned a lot about composition in the process of making this track.

This is a VGM Challenge review.

Composition:
The first section effectively established a cold, eerie atmosphere. It seems like the character is moving with stealth; the song's ominous vibes hint that his life could end at any moment. The introduction of the choir adds more tension and suggests a greater state of danger. At 3:08, it seems the character is realizing that he will get caught and begins panicking. He indeed gets caught. The climax is appropriately chaotic and effectively conveys a sense of great danger. I really like the rhythms and choices of percussion. I'm not so fond of the very ending as it's quite ambiguous, and not in a way that seems deliberate. The loud tubular bell feels arbitrary to me.

Production:
You created a fantastic atmosphere that I believe would lend itself well to an immersive video game experience. Some elements, such as the pluck synth at 2:52, stick out for being too dry. When I created this challenge, I assumed all the submissions would be primarily orchestral, especially considered the Skyrim influence, so I'm glad you took a different approach. I would have never imagined hearing a track like this one, but it works!

Utility:
I find it difficult to see how this song would be implemented in an actual video game. It effectively tells a story based on the events in this theoretical game, but as you know, video games are not movies. I can't imagine how this track would fit with a player experience that has many variables, and I can't think of many cut scenes that are this long. This is not a critique per se - I just felt that I should point it out given the nature of the event.

Thanks for participating, and keep up the nice work!

CryNN responds:

Thanks for the review! It was a fun experience

I love the sound design and expression of the leads. You masterfully changed the timbre and vibrato overtime and varied the articulations of the leads like a musician would with an instrument. Nice work!

johnfn responds:

Thank you! You know how much I love vibrato and pitch bend and articulation stuff!

wow

The piano and guitar playing sound lovely. This is pretty relaxing to listen to.

MisterJames responds:

Yerrrr Everratic! Thank you so much dude, I'm happy to hear about the relaxing vibe :> I've been listening to Jobim for the past week to channel that feeling

The piano and harp playing is lovely. I like the structure, and the climactic sections have a magical, mysterious vibe. I think the solo violin needs a lot of treatment, particularly dynamic EQ. Moving the composition down a few semitones could also help alleviate that harsh, piercing sound quality.

FateModified responds:

Thanks! That’s a great idea to automate the EQ. I think I’ve only ever tried that in a couple of my songs, and they were EDM type songs. I never thought to try that on “natural” instrument VSTs like the JBV for some reason. Thanks for the tips! :)

This is one of your best songs! It sounds really professional and makes me feel like I'm playing an intense turn-based battle in a rpg.

AceMantra responds:

Thanks so much! I'm glad you like it.

The composition is perfectly suited to represent your description of Melanie :) I look forward to hearing this developed more.

Hi. I'm a self-taught orchestral composer. For commissions and other inquiries, contact me here or at everratc@gmail.com

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