21 Day VGM Challenge, Final Day is Tomorrow! What I learned wrap up

Tomorrow is the final day of my 21 day VGM Challenge and I was debating waiting until next week to do the wrap up post or just doing it  day before it was over.  But I figure, what I learned during the challenge isn’t going to change overnight so I’ll just do a post about the things I learned during these past 21 days in a nice bullet list format!

 

  • Biggest thing I learned was no matter what, if you want to write something, just sit down and write.  This doesn’t just go for music, it goes for anything:  If you want to write a novel or fanfic, or blog, just sit down and write.  You’re not going to like the first thing you churn out, but you’ll have something to grow and learn from, and you’ll get your brain working in a creative way so you can actually be in the proper mindset to work on the piece.
  • For music, don’t be afraid of hitting a road block!  There were so many times during this challenge I hit a snag while making a melody or chord progression, but instead of getting frustrated, I stopped and said what I had was going to be my bars for that day.  A few times, the next day I came up with something I could use for the thing the day before, so just stopping and taking a breather instead of banging my head against the wall helped loads.
    • This is a huuuge one that I see a lot of musicians and creators struggle with, and it’s a constant battle for us but honestly don’t be a perfectionist.  There were a few times I made a mistake, and it made something even better than I was trying to get because instead of giving up because it wasn’t “perfect” I forged forward in spite of   the “imperfections”.  Especially in music, flaws show character, and can make something great out of something you may have thought was garbage.  So really try and check your perfectionism at the door, and just get out there and create!
  • I was getting burnt out halfway through the challenge, but I forced myself to keep on moving forward.  I know people think that creativity should be some sort of muse, or flash on inspiration, but it’s really a muscle you need to flex so it can get developed enough to come up with ideas. Whenever you need to.  If you want to make this your profession, then making music when you’re not “inspired” is a must have skill.
  • I’m slowly learning how to develop better melodies and figuring out how to make things more dynamic, and I wouldn’t have known that without this challenge.  I also wouldn’t have figured out the sorts of VSTs I want to buy for the type of music I make without it either, and wouldn’t have figured out writing for different styles isn’t as hard as I thought.  I put off doing a few other projects to keep my momentum going for this challenge, so I will probably do this sort of thing every so often to get a lot of ideas for songs.
    • As it stands, I’m going to work on some collabs, some other covers, and also work on fleshing the ideas I got from this challenge out (I already have at least three things I know where I want to go woo).  I’m really happy I did this because as you see, I learned a lot from it, and enjoyed it a lot and defs will do it again!

 

If you want to check out the ideas I came up with during the challenge, you can check out the playlist I made for them here!

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21 Day VGM Challenge, The Halfway Point!

Today is day 11 of the 21 day music challenge I’m doing, and it’s been decently smooth sailing.  I had a problem coming up with something last night so I just made something up really quick, but that was the only time I really had issues with jotting something down.  I went back and listened to my stuff up to this point, and gotta say I’m really happy with what I can do with everything!  I heard a few parts I think I can put together to sound like a decent track, a few that I can easily flesh out into a full piece, and some that are just really nice chord progressions that remind me of techniques I want to practice more.  The runner of the event has been sending out tips, and I had to use a few of them to get my creative juices flowing again:  but all of them are really good tips that helped loads. A few good ones are using a drum loop to start and building from that, just using your voice and recording something down, and looking at genres of music from other countries to get inspiration.  I especially liked that last one because of how heavily I’m into Celtic and Japanese music, but I never think of composing from those angles unless I’m doing something lyrical.  It honestly was nice to have that little stumped moment last night because I was forced to write something no matter what to have done something for yesterday and it showed me that even if you don’t like it, you can just get something done, relisten when you’re in a better mood, and see if you can do anything with it later or if it really is just meh – I relistened this morning and went “Hm, yeah, I think I can do something with this” which also isn’t something I would think of doing before this challenge.  Before I’d be like, “This is garbage, next!” so that mindset change was nice, and unexpected!

 

One thing I’ve taken away from this that isn’t something I can suuuper change though, I need more VSTs!  I have a few freebies, but my 2 paid ones are honestly the best sounding ones (with good reason, they were expensive)  but ugh not having the money to buy some good woodwinds or something is driving me nuts.  I know I’m probably  going to have to buy instruments in bits and pieces, even though that will cost more than buying a full pack of orchestra instruments because I don’t think I’ll be able to save enough to get the sort of pack I would want anyway, so might as well get more Sonivox stuff that I really like (I’m eyeing you woodwinds and brass).

 

In other news, I got a really nice YouTube comment today!  And a new subscriber.  But they found my Radical Dreamers cover, said they were glad they stumbled across it, and subscribed.  Then went on to say they liked my Final Fantasy and Xenosaga stuff!  I know I don’t have a big subscriber count, but the quality of my subscribers always amazes me. That comment made my day, because they liked all the ones that I put a lot of effort into and aaah this is why I make music, I can’t describe how happy it made me they liked all of those covers!

 

That’s all I have to say about the challenge today!  By next week it’ll be over dun dun dun.  I’ll do another update post plus wrap up, and then start working on making these musical sketches into full blown tracks!

If you want to hear what I have so far, you can check out a playlist of my challenge pieces here!

The 21 Day VGM Challenge has Begun!

And it’s been loads of fun!

 

If you haven’t seen me mention it before, the 21 Day VGM Challenge is an event put on by Video Game Music Academy, a blog and facebook group that specializes in helping people improve their composing skills, specifically for composing in video games.  This month, a challenge was set forth to create music for 21 days.  It has to be 2 to 4 bars, and the entire thing is designed to get into the habit of making music every day, to get your composer juices flowing.
And I gotta say, it’s working super well for me, in more ways than one!  Not only is it helping me come up with ideas, but it’s helping me learn how to play on piano in different ways.  It’s also stretching my brain to look for different chord progressions, melodic structures, and ways to play both on the piano.  I hadn’t realized how much of a practicing piano slump I had gotten into, until I started this challenge.  I still play daily, but I was having a hard time finding things to teach myself that I hadn’t already figured out.  With this challenge however, I’m doing things like mirroring left and right hand playing, looking for different chord voicings, figuring out how to do a different tempo in one hand as opposed to the other, and overall just striving to teach myself things I wasn’t really thinking of, because I wasn’t stretching my brain to think outside of the box.  I’m much more of a teach yourself something when you need it type of person, so this write a melody or chord sketch a day process is working extraordinarily well for me!
On the Facebook group, people are sharing what they’re coming up with, and it’s really cool, and inspiring!  It’s interesting to see how people are approaching the challenge differently:  some people are doing simple piano sketches like me, other full blown tracks.  Some people made a theme the first day, and are building upon said theme with the rest of the bars they’re making throughout the challenge – a great idea that got me thinking, I’ll see if any of my ideas can merge together after the challenge is done in such a way – and that’s the cool thing, too.  Seeing everyone else’s compositions is giving me so many ideas just by listening to them.  The crazy thing too, is we’re only four days in!  There are so many pieces of music to listen to, the event is going awesome so far!

 

That’s basically been my experience thus far.  I’ll write a wrap up post when this is all over, talking about what I learned and enjoyed and sniz in this little adventure.  But honestly, I know I’m going to be doing this again on my own.  It’s an awesome experience already, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

If you’d like to hear the musical sketches I’ve come up with, I’ve made a playlist for them you can listen to here.  Fingers crossed I don’t run out of time on my soundcloud before the event is up XD

Sad Serenade – Original VGM Inspired Instrumental

Sad Serenade [Original Instrumental] – Crystal Dennis – YouTube

 

I really don’t like going a month without posting anything, and since my other covers are taking time in the video editing phase I figured I’d just throw this together real quick and post it.  I’ve had it done for a while and just wasn’t sure when to post, so glad I had it as a sort of backup piece for a delay like this with my other covers.  I need to do that more often!

 

Not gonna lie, I’m really proud of this one.  I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction as far as my style goes, and it’s going to be interesting to hear it against my next two uploads which are also two things that are steps in the direction of my style.  Which, I guess is folk…acoustic….simple instrumentals?  Still haven’t pin pointed it down yet XD

 

I had the track loop because I thought it’d be nice for people to be able to have it on in the background or something, but I feel like next time I may cut it down a little and maybe fade it out on the halfway point through the second playthrough of the track so it doesn’t feel like it drags on.  I honestly didn’t realize how long it was but like I said a little note for myself for next time.

 

Not much else to say, hope you enjoy!

21 Day Music Challenge is Starting soon!

So I didn’t post on Thursday particiall because I forgot and partcially because I didn’t have much to say.  Last week was pretty chill, and honestly it was one of those days where I logged onto my computer, was like oh yeah I need to post something then did other stuff and remembered at like 10 PM I hadn’t posted something but then went “Eh, I really don’t have anything to post about today so I’ll be bad a skip” lol.
But I’ve joined a really cool challenge that is starting on July 1st, and I can’t wait!  It’s a 21 day music challenge, where you come up with music ideas for 21 days.  They don’t have to be full on compositions, but 2 to 4 bars of music that are musical ideas and sketches you can use.  It’s a challenge to get your brain into coming up with musical ideas, and I really can’t wait!  I’m debating whhhether or not I want to post them on YouTube, because 21 days of music sketches in a row seem like they may annoy peole lol.  But I don’t really know where to post either, I’m thinking google drive?  I really want to post and share my ideas (that’s part of the challenge too – sharing) but I’ll figure it out.
I got off my butt and recorded video for two of my covers and I need to actually edit one set of the footage.  I have one that my friend is editing and I’m excited to be recording footage again.  Still in my on a video to video basis thing but gotta say once I stopped dragging my feet it was nice to record video again haha.  I really want to get better lighting though, that’s the one thing I’m like eeeerk about XD
That’s pretty much all for me today, can’t wait to get my new covers out there and start this challenge!

This Track Drove me Crazier, But I Think I’m Done With it!

Recorded extra vocals on Tuesday, still didn’t get the effect I wanted.  So I sat down at my piano  last night, and tried to get a strings progression I liked.  It failed miserably rotfl.  But, luckily, I have amazing friends who come to the rescue!  One of my more musically inclined friends recorded a chord progression for me I really liked, but I just couldn’t get it down on keyboard so I did something similar enough and called it a night because I literally had been trying to record and fix up that one strings section for four hours and by 1 AM I was frustrated nearly to the point of tears.  I really need to not drive myself to that point but…it happens, what can I say?  When I want to finish something, I get really determined to do it even if it’s to the detriment of my sanity lolol.

 

With the strings added, it sounded better.  Not how I wanted still, but better.  I wanted to add more vocals to the 2nd part of the song but it just wasn’t working for me…until, I went, aha!  I can use that same chord progression my friend made, only make it with my voice instead of strings!  I did something I never have done before, and rolled out of bed to record the extra layers I wanted to test out.  Partially because I want this to get done, and partially because I needed to hit really low notes, and a tip I got years ago from a fellow singer was when you need to do that, just roll out of bed and use your morning voice.  I had never tried doing it before, but it totally works!

I have to see how everything sounds after mixing it later today, but honestly at this point, I’m done with this track.  I still find it a bit jarring as of now, but I think I’m always going to feel that way about this cover in particular because it’s the exact opposite of how the original sounds.  Honestly, I’m proud I took the leap to do something this experimental, whether it sounds good or not.  It’s at the point where I’ve worked so hard at it I’m posting it regardless of how I think of it.

 

I think I’m letting my nerves get to me too.  Like, I’m really iffy about posting this and people being like “Ugh, this sounds nothing like the original!” I’ve heard covers that sound drastically different than the original though and really enjoyed them, it’s just the 2nd phase of the track sounds so much different than the first to me, but at the same time, I like how it sounds?  It’s difficult because I really can’t go to the original and be like ok add this part because they both have completely different stylings, so I’m having to borrow things from the original, rework them, and fit them into the style of my cover.  I’m happy I’m doing this because I’m really pushing my music muscle, but ugh XD  Lol this is the most conflicted about something I’ve ever been, which usually is a good thing when it comes to music.  I did a more folksy cover of another Final Fantasy track (not a battle song) I need to post too, but with that one I can see it sounding the way I’ve covered it.  This one, I took from being high energy battle music to being haunting piano, vocals, and strings so really I’m just nervous about how people will perceive it.  But I know someone who has a YouTube channel where they do nothing but make battle arrangements of different music, so I guess me doing the opposite to a battle theme isn’t much different XD

 

TLDR:  I’m over thinking this entire thing, I like half of this track, am ok enough with the 2nd half and am going to post it anyway once I record video.  Need to record video for the other Final Fantasy song I’ve had done for like a month, I’ve been majorly slacking hahaa.  I really need to get a schedule going for this sort of stuff.

 

In other news, I got a statement from Soundrop, and I got some money from someone buying my tracks online, woohoo!  My first 78 cents, I’m in the money XD but in all seriousness, I’m super excited someone bought one of my tracks, super exciting!

This Track is Starting to Drive me Crazy!

Remember when I mentioned that I was working on a rendition of a Final Fantasy battle theme?  Remember when I was like “I’ve got it, it’ll be great!”.  I was…half correct in that assumption, because it’s freaking driving me crazy!

 

Well, let me rephrase that:  The very end part is driving me crazy.  I really like the meat of the track, but the phase two of the thing so to speak, isn’t’ going so well and I have no clueee how to finish it up.  I thought, ok, add vocals to it and just have one piano line, but I recorded vocals for it last night and ugh it just doesn’t sound right.  I tried adding some strings to that section, sounds blech.  Tried extra piano, sounds bleh.  At this point, I just don’t know what to do!  I’m going to mix what I have so far, and see if that helps.
My initial plan was to have everything drop out, just have the base piano line, and fill it with a lot of choral bits.  When I tried that last night, the harmonies just weren’t coming together.  I think I may have figured out the backing harmonies I want for it that I’m going to record tonight and hope they fit but if that doesn’t work….no clue what I’m going to do XD I may just scrap it for now if that doesn’t work, because I’ve been trying to get this done for like a month and it’s just not coming together at the end.  At the same time, I know this track is super experimental, probably the most experimental thing I’ve done and I’d like to finish it to see how it’s going to turn out.  But, we’ll see how I feel about it after mixing, I tend to have a better picture of how to fix up a track after I’ve heard it post-mix.

 

In other news, I also recorded a few episodes of a fun behind the scenes podcast I’ve been planning!  I go through my recording and arranging process, and how I decided to cover a certain song in it.  The podcast is a patron exclusive, so if you’d like to hear it, consider becoming a patron over on Patreon.  You can get other rewards, as well, and give as little, or as much as you’d like!

 

 

That’s it for today, We’ll see if on Thursday I’ve finished this cover, or if it drives me mad XD