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Legend of Zelda: A Symphonic Poem - The Creation of Hyrule

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Hi Everyone. 

This is my second post in this particular forum.  Owing to the sheer size of this piece and the number of soundtracks and tunes used in it, I very much doubt this piece will ever be considered for use in OCR by the Judges if submitted, but I wanted to post it here and tell you a little about it.

This work is a Symphonic Poem for a full Orchestra, entitled "The Creation of Hyrule".  It is based upon the music and Soundtracks of several games in the Legend of Zelda Series, and was inspired, in part, by the music of the Symphony of the Goddesses Concert.

In May 2013, I attended the Symphony of the Goddesses Concert in London.  The performance was by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eimear Noone.  The event had a huge impact on me; it really opened my eyes up to how powerful the score of a Videogame Soundtrack can be, and how an Orchestral force can truly magnify the music that an 8, 16 or even 32-bit systems can only hint at.  Later on, as Technology developed, music seemed to be taking a more prominent place in the Videogame industry when an increasing number of series employed Orchestral recordings as their soundtracks.  The music really takes a listener on an amazing journey through Hyrule with Link, and was a roller-coaster of emotions for me.  After attending the Concert for the third time in April 2016, I decided with complete conviction, while standing outside the SSE Arena in London (where the event took place) that I wanted to be involved in such a wonderful and incredible venture, and thus decided to write a work of my own.  I was trained in Composition, Orchestration and Conducting at University, and I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to put my skills to use, to show the Producers and musicians involved what I could do, as well as what I could potentially provide them.

I hit upon the idea of writing a Symphonic Poem.  A Symphonic Poem (or Tone Poem) is, by definition, a piece of Orchestral music, usually in a single continuous movement, which illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source.  While many Symphonic Poems may compare in size and scale to symphonic movements (or even reach the length of an entire Symphony), they are unlike traditional Classical Symphonic Movements in that their music is intended to inspire listeners to imagine or consider scenes, images, specific ideas or moods, and not (necessarily) to focus on following traditional patterns of Musical Form.  In short, the composition tells a story through the music.  I chose the name "The Creation of Hyrule" as the structure and scope of the piece was inspired by the Symphonic works of the composer Gustav Mahler, who equated his Symphonies as "Symphonic Universes", where each Symphony simulated the construction of a World.  I attempted, out of my love for this ideal, to replicate this in the music.

I initially set out to write a 25-30 minute long composition, which I estimated would take 6 to 7 months to complete.  It ended up being double that length, taking just under fifteen months.  I simply hadn't realised just how much music there was in the Legend of Zelda Series!

The work itself is half Composition, half Arrangement.  It contains original work of my own, as well as numerous themes from many different games in the Legend of Zelda series; some as they are in the game, others slightly altered, or even simply the melody/rhythm used, sometimes combined with work of my own to provide a contrapuntal counterpart.  But for the sake of the Disclaimer, I am attributing the work to Kondo Koji and Wakai Hajime Senseis, who composed the majority, if not all, of the themes included in this work.

It is also my wish to offer my deepest and most heartfelt thanks to those whose talents and actions have inspired and motivated me to create this piece, and for bringing the already magnificent music of the Legend of Zelda to the World in such a way.  Without doing what they have done in becoming part of this amazing Concert series, I would never have been inspired to write this work.  I really owe them so much in the way of thanks and hope that this work upon which I have laboured out of love for over a year can go some way in expressing that thanks.




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Let me start with the constructive feedback this time, as I got a few (but only very few) things to say in that regard:

  1. Sometimes the orchestra sounds a bit too artificial IMO. I do fully understand, that it would cost quite a lot to record such a piece with a full orchestra in a studio, so that's nothing I would have expected anyway. ;) But being a conductor you certainly know many musicians. Maybe you can get some of them to record some parts and mix it with the samples you use. They did something like that for the music in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and it worked like a charm. Like that you will have some real attacks and sustains with more life and variation and it will add a lot while the samples still give you the impression of a full orchestra.
  2. This time in opposite to your other Zelda song I reviewed here, it's a bit too film scorish for me, but as this may have been your intention and it's just a personal thing, you can of course fully ignore this. :D 
  3. Some more mallets and percussion would be nice (especially mallets, the amount of drums is quite okay).

I thought I heard a Star Trek TNG opining reference somewhere after 12 minutes. Is it on purpose or just my imagination? However I liked it because I'm a total fan of the Star Trek series.

At 31 minutes it reminds me a bit of The March by Manowar (which is inspired by Richard Wagner who had probably also some influence on your piece).

The whole piece is absolutely in harmony, in the sense that the transitions work very well and your own compositions merge flawlessly into the original Zelda compositions.

Very impressive work!

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Thanks very much!  In response to your points, I do know a fair few musicians, but I'm not sure if they'd have or make the time to play/record the music I made here.  Maybe I should have waited until I got a better sample library!  Interesting point about the Star Trek reference as I've never heard it.  That section was a development of "The Sky" from Skyward Sword!   The part at 31 minutes is a section where the Violas play a variant on Zelda's Lullaby, if that's discernable.  The scope of the music was more influenced by Gustav Mahler than Wagner, although I am a great fan of his!  Again, never heard the March by Manowar...

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... holy shit, this is a 54 minute epic symphonic poem, isn't it? The largest track I've had to judge was a 20 minute Tomb Raider track (though that had more sources - something like 30 to sift through), so this is off the charts. Before I even begin, would there be any way to break this up into significant movements (much like most traditionally long music, from Requiems to Oratorios to Symphonies), then request they get released together as something like a single song album similar to other traditional music releases (like Haydn's "The Creation", Briton's "War Requiem" or any of Strauss' tone poems)? That would scare the judges FAR less than seeing a 54 minute single track pop up on their radar! It's not impossible to post in at least some form or another, but you'd likely be stuck in panel limbo for years with something like this as a single track rather than an album.

Furthermore, you must post timestamps of where the source was used, as well. Fortunately, this is a widely known soundtrack so I can personally verify that the sources are well represented for much of this, but that's not a given among the rest of the staff. From a basic listen I can at least tell this is within our source usage bar, but we still need to know exactly what sources you used in this, what games they're from, where they were used in the arrangement, etc.

*Ahem* On to the (actual) eval!

First thing to note, this is a really, really good arrangement, with some solid orchestration, to boot. When I'm really familiar with the material it stands out just how the motifs are interweaved throughout, as well as how you transformed them to keep them fresh. Being that I've not played all the Zelda games I do feel like I'm missing out, though, and a lack of a detailed source reference in the post (what games, what sources, preferably where each is used in the arrangement) makes it impossible for me to double-check to see if it complies with OCR's requirements. It sounds great regardless, but you ARE responsible for posting what sources you're using specifically. Upon a rough, uneducated listen I think I can hear the source clearly in more than 50% of the track, but without those sources or timestamps it's nearly impossible to tell for certain. :)

Is that some Holst "The Planets: War" inspiration at 43:46? I think it is, don't think I didn't catch that - that chord at 44:39 in particular is iconic.

From what I can ascertain, the strings do sound a bit artificial, which keeping it real does impact the track. They're not the worst (they might even still be passable for most of the arrangement), but when they're the only thing playing (like at the beginning, for example) it's pretty noticeable. Obviously a live performance is pretty tough to get a hold of for something of this scope (it would be incredible if you could, obviously!), but overall if you ever plan on getting a hold of a better sample library that would do this arrangement wonders. I normally don't suggest purchasing better sample libraries as a fixall solution (not everyone has the dough to spend), but the amount of work it would take to hand-craft the human touches to something of this magnitude would be completely impractical, likely spanning years in personalized edits. Beside that, with your overall talent otherwise that would just be a wise investment; companies in need of composers would definitely take your music even more seriously with solid instrument packs behind it. I hear the articulations, and I hear the dynamics, so a more advanced sample library would likely give it that much more life and push this far over our bar for realism.

On to the other instruments, the woodwinds sound alright, though the brass all sounds extra bright and tin-ny. A small amount of low-pass would help keep them in check. Not too much lowpass, but just enough to make them tolerable to sensitive listeners. Overall the instruments used in this sound pretty good otherwise.

Aside from that, though, it's still quite good - even as is, it would have a good shot on the panel. The thing is, though, simply due to the breadth of the arrangement we'd likely need to release this as an album rather than an individual track. That's not at all a bad thing for you, per se - there's more advertisement space provided for something like that no OCR - but it WOULD mean breaking up the tracks into smaller parts (which affects the tone-poem element of the track). Upon a single listen of this I could parse a few places where segmentation would make sense (31:04 and 48:20, for example, have nice clean breaks one could take advantage of for this purpose - hell, 48:20 - 54:57 makes a great standalone arrangement, in itself!), so this isn't unthinkable, even if it cuts off some of the motivic callbacks sprinkled throughout the entire track. Rather than using the front page as a place to post the entire thing, using it to put up a few of the more enticing stand alone moments (like that ending) and telling the listeners in the commentary to listen to the whole unbroken album for the full experience could be a reasonable way to get something like this posted.

This "album" method also will allow the less realistic moments that cause some issue in other sections of the piece to be covered as "album only" moments, with the juicier, fuller parts being posted onto the front page with virtually no hassle. There are a LOT of advantages to posting this as an album. If you want to go this route, get in touch with me; I'll see what I can do to help make it a reality. You're right, there's not enough music like this on OCR, so perhaps you can help fix this. ;)

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Mwahahah, I picked the right time to take a vacation from evals.

Man, I thought I made long tracks. That's probably why you haven't been getting much feedback. People are scared of it. I've yet to listen to it myself, I'm just dropping by to laugh at Gario. Looking forward to listening, though, when I think I have the time.

Also, I suggest you sub the full-length thing to ocr. Maybe a regular remix release isn't the best way to release it, but I want to see what the judges have to say about it. :D

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From the point of view of a patron of this site, I would personally say OCR should definitely be open to posting long-form pieces as long as they fit into submission guidelines. There's a strong recommendation of length between 2-7 minutes, but that's still just a recommendation! Longer stretches of music are more difficult to pull off, but there's a ton of value there if it succeeds.

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8 hours ago, evktalo said:

From the point of view of a patron of this site, I would personally say OCR should definitely be open to posting long-form pieces as long as they fit into submission guidelines. There's a strong recommendation of length between 2-7 minutes, but that's still just a recommendation! Longer stretches of music are more difficult to pull off, but there's a ton of value there if it succeeds.

We're open to posting things like this, but it would take quite a long time to post. If the issues that I brought up in here were enough to sway votes to a NO, it would take some time for the panel to reach that decision (possibly even years), by which point the artist will likely have moved on, dejected. Even with an unanimous YES vote it would definitely sit on the panel for some time prior to posting (longer than the average track). This potential issue is what the submission standards is alluding to when they warn "Anything longer [than seven minutes] and evaluation may be delayed."

It's not impossible to post, nor does OCR reject tracks based purely on length. However, very long, complex tracks take much longer to review and submit than many short songs of equivalent length - that's just how a human volunteer panel on things like this works. I've got to keep it real on this front, since it does no one any good to say such a long track won't hit some bumps in the road upon submission solely due to it's breadth. Hopefully, some of my advice averts these particular issues.  :)

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Apologies for the double-post, but here's the TimeStamp:

0:33 - Song of Time (Ocarina of Time)

2:46 - Song of Time [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

3:05 - The Creation (Ocarina of Time)

5:24 - Main theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

6:10 - Introduction (Legend of Zelda)

7:06 - Sunrise (Ocarina of Time)

8:16 - Serenade of Water (Ocarina of Time)

8:54 - Prelude of Light (Ocarina of Time)

9:08 - Minuet of Forest (Ocarina of Time)

9:23 - Requiem of Spirit (Ocarina of Time)

9:30 - Nocturne of Shadow (Ocarina of Time)

9:58 - Ballad of the Goddess [fragment] (Skyward Sword)

10:19 - Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)

12:00 - The Sky (Skyward Sword)

13:50 - Variant on Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)

14:22 - Power of the Gods [fragment] (Link to the Past)

14:57 - Gerudo Theme [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

15:11 - Ganondorf's theme [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

16:58 - Hyrule Castle [fragment] (Link between Worlds)

17:40 - The Great Deku Tree (Ocarina of Time)

18:41 - Melody constructed from fragment Power of the Gods (Link to the Past)

19:56 - Power of the Gods [fragment] (Link to the Past) and Main theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

21:19 - The Legendary Hero [fragment] (Wind Waker)

22:17 - The Great Sea [intro/rhythm only] (Wind Waker)

23:05 - Main Theme [fragment] (Breath of the Wild)

23:43 - Gerudo theme [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

23:59 - The Legendary Hero [fragment] (Wind Waker)

24:30 - Lorule Castle (Link between Worlds)

27:27 - Ganondorf appears (Ocarina of Time)

27:46 - Ganondorf theme (Ocarina of Time)

28:36 - Ganondorf theme [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

29:16 - Variant on Ganondorf's theme [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

31:05 - Melody based on a mutation of Zelda's Lullaby (Ocarina of Time)

32:22 - Zelda's Lullaby (Ocarina of Time)

33:22 - Power of the Gods [fragment] (Link to the Past)

33:46 - Farore's Courage [fragment] (Skyward Sword)

33:50 - Zelda's Lullaby [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

34:14 - Variant on Ballad of the Goddess [fragment] (Skyward Sword)

34:55 - The Great Fairy's Fountain (Ocarina of Time)

35:33 - Song of the Hero (Skyward Sword)

36:10 - Variant on The Great Fairy's Fountain (Ocarina of Time)

36:50 - Main Theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

36:54 - Zelda's Lullaby [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

36:57 - Variant on The Great Fairy's Fountain [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

37:07 - Main Theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

37:11 - Zelda's Lullaby [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

37:14 - Power of the Gods [fragment] (Link to the Past)

37:17 - Variant on the Main Theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

37:20 - Fi's theme [fragment] (Skyward Sword)

37:37 - Introduction (Legend of Zelda)

38:04 - Hyrule Castle (Link between Worlds)

39:52 - Variant on Hyrule Castle [fragment] (Link between Worlds)

40:30 - Hyrule Castle (Link between Worlds) and Lorule Castle (Link between Worlds) [simultaneously]

41:04 - Variant on Ganondorf Theme (Ocarina of Time)

41:42 - Ganondorf Theme [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

42:41 - Main theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

42:50 - Ganondorf Final Battle (Twilight Princess)

45:05 - Power of the Gods (Link to the Past)

46:47 - Main Theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

47:22 - Variant on Zelda's Lullaby (Ocarina of Time)

47:52 - End Credits [fragment] (Link to the Past)

48:21 - Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)

50:36 - Main Theme [in its entirety] (Legend of Zelda)

51:53 - Zelda's Lullaby (Ocarina of Time)

52:41 - Zelda's Lullaby [fragment] (Ocarina of Time)

53:33 - Main theme [fragment] (Legend of Zelda)

54:01 - Zelda's Lullaby (Ocarina of Time)

54:26 - Zelda's Lullaby [fragment] and Main Theme [fragment] simultaneously

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So let's see, this thing has 29 sources, from my count, being:

Song of Time (OoT)
The Creation (OoT)
Main Theme (LoZ)
Intro (LoZ)
Sunrise (OoT)
Serenade of Water (OoT)
Minuet of Forest (OoT)
Requiem of Spirit (OoT)
Nocturne of Shadow (OoT)
Ballad of the Goddess (SS)
The Sky (SS)
Power of the Gods (LTTP)
Gerudo Theme (OoT)
Ganondorf's Theme (OoT)
Hyrule Castle (LBW)
Deku Tree (OoP)
The Legendary Hero (WW)
The Great Sea (WW)
Main Theme (BotW)
Lorule Castle (LBW)
Ganondorf Appears (OoT)
Zelda's Lullaby (OoT)
Farore's Courage (SS)
Song of the Hero (SS)
The Great Fairy Fountain (OoT)
Fi's Theme (SS)
Hyrule Castle (LBW)
Ganondorf Final Battle (TP)
End Credits (LTTP)

Nice timestamps - this will be VERY helpful in the future, I promise. :)

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  • 2 years later...

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