Action Contest: Kurotsukihime

Here is my entry for the action music contest. First, just a quick thanks to @Mikael for these contests; I’m having quite a bit of fun doing them, learning a great deal as I go, and I think having a specific theme and a deadline makes me focus more and develop a vision faster.

For this piece, ‘action’ instantly brought to mind some dark, Cyberpunk type of music and since I really like composing to visuals, I used the image below as my inspiration. From there I decided to write a piece that was kind of a dark hero/heroine, 1980’s TV type theme. I also decided to try my hand at writing it so it could loop and be used as video game music. Weather it worked is another story :sweat_smile: The title is Japanese (pronounced KUro-ts’ ki HEEmeh) meaning roughly “Black Moon Princess”

Musically, the overall key is C minor, mainly harmonic minor, and the main theme plays around with a Cm-Ab-Fm progression with a pentatonic scale run at the end to give it a bit of 1980s cheesiness! Not sure exactly which pentatonic scale, but it runs 1-2-b3-5-b7. I used a lot of minor 2/major 7 intervals to create the dark dissonant sound as well. Tempo is a steady 159bpm throughout and in 7/8 meter.

Brass: Audio Imperia Nucleus elements/Cinematic Studio brass (for horns)
Strings: Audio Imperia Nucleus elements
Percussion: NI Action Strikes, Soundiron Apocalypse Percussion Micro.
FX/synths: NI Rise and Hit, Heavyocity AEON/Evolve, Audio Imperia Jaeger, ProjectSAM Symphobia free orchestra, u-he TyndallN5, Valhalla Room reverb.
Written/recorded in Studio One 5, mastered with Ozone 9 and Mastering The Mix Expose


Overall, the music is very good. A clearly defined rhythm pattern that is consistently active. Clear sound effects - brass rips and bends -, very nice dissonances at 1:44 in the violins. The tempo is very well chosen and the time signature gives the piece something unusual. And a clearly resounding theme in the violins.
However, the entry of the topic seems too late to me or after the intro the topic does not stand out enough. The theme could be given more emphasis.
A small note only on the tone scale:
1 - 2 - 3b - 5 - 7b is not a Pentanic scale that I know of. I only know 1 - 3b - 4 - 5 - 7b and it’s pentanic minor.

A thought on the process
At about 0:42 the dynamics of the piece decrease and the end of the piece is a fade out. A fade out is not aggressive enough for me.
I read you are already working with Studio One 5 I am a bit behind with the upgrade but I will also get the latest version of Presonus.
Your other equipment is interesting. I don’t know any action strikes at all. I also find AEON and Evolve very useful and very good.

I hope the few thoughts are useful and helpful

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Hey Klaus thanks for the comments. Technically any five note scale can be considered a pentatonic and you’re right that the 1-b3-4-5-b7 is the standard minor pentatonic, but there are indeed other pentatonic scales. I know of one other that goes, 1-2-b3-5-b6, so maybe the one I used I made up :laughing:

As far as the fade out, I was thinking of video game music for this one, where the music would be playing until you finished/conquered the particular level/boss, so the music has to continue until that point. A hard ending would make it a bit awkward as there would most likely be a short silence be for you completed the level while the music restarted. So the fade out was necessary since my goal was to loop the music, otherwise it’d go on for infinity! I get you though. I normally don’t like fade outs either; I like having finality. Thanks so much for listening!

Matt - great track! I like the fast tempo and 7/8 time, the hybrid orchestra and cyber bits (not sure what sound that is but is cool). My only constructive critisicm: a nice big crescendoing moment near the end or a big finale would have been nice.


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Thanks for the compliments and feedback Brandon. My original thought was to have a build up and then a big fat orchestral chord to end, but I decided to challenge myself and try to write in a way that would allow the piece loop back from where it fades out to the part right after the intro and repeat, like it often does in a video game, while trying to keep it interesting by making small variations in the main theme and creating two separate bridges between them. Maybe I could have added a third bridge that had a more epic build up? Or would that start to make the piece a bit tiring?

wow definitely in with both feet here, good impact.lovely sound separation between the different parts too. Very pleasing use of change rhythmic passages. The main vibe works well through the piece.

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Interesting and cool that you already thought of and wrote around the logistics of looping in a video game. Something I need to learn more about no doubt.

At 1:43 you have some nice dissonant chords. Perhaps you could have gone bigger and longer with that part. Instead, it kind of does a break down shortly after. Although the variety is nice, it lets off on some of the energy.

Listening again, there are some sounds I didn’t notice before and well done. ie. the pulsing bass(?) sound. How did you change the sound or filters with that patch? Was this programmed by velocity or mod wheel or ?


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Yes, going back and listening to it after these comments, I do feel the energy drop off, so maybe I’ll edit it later to do a bigger build up. I felt that doing anther bridge may have been too much or made it tiring, but perhaps not.

As far as the bass parts, there are two; I used u-he TyndallN5 as a straight-up dry synth bass largely as the main bass line, instead of the contrabass which mainly accents the cello lines. The other, probably the one your hearing, was a preset sound within Heavyocity’s AEON Rhythmic, which has both a loop preset and a single note preset and I used both and, if I remember correctly, I adjusted the EQ to cut the bass frequency so it wouldn’t interfere with the other bass line and also set the sequencer to get the pulse and accents.

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Thanks so much Cliff! Glad you liked it!

Awesome track. I love the cinematic feel it gives, but at the same time keeping the suspense throughout the entire piece. :clap:

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Thanks for the nice words Mirza, glad you liked it. It gives me some encouragement to keep working hard!

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Huge action theme. Adding intensity and changes by layering sounds and keeping a constant tempo. Intelligent creation. Perfect for a game action. Brilliant percussion. One of my favourites. :clap: :clap: :clap:

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I’m humbled by your words Vicente. Thank you so much!