Silent Night – Single Release, and YouTube Video!

 

Every year on my YouTube Channel I have a little celebration of Christmas by doing 2 to 3 Christmas covers every year.  I usually use a backtrack for this, but this year I felt like doing something a bit different, but not out of my comfort zone and did 2 a cappella arrangements of two of my favorite Christmas Carols.  What I did do that was out of my comfort zone however, was release both tracks for purchase on music stores!  It was a goal of mine to release music for purchase this year, and I slacked a bit on it due to lack of confidence, erfectionism, and just not knowing how much it took to put music out there for selling, so stopped trying.  Next year, however, I’m turning over a new leaf, and going to start releasing sellable music on a regular basis!  I want to make a separate  post talking about my music plans for 2018, so will just leave it at that:  but I’ve learned a lot this year, and grown exponentially as an artist, and can only improve from this point forward.  There have been some ups, been some downs, but overall I had a great musical year and can’t wait to continue growing!

 

But that aside, here are the purchase links for the album.  Silent Night is the only track on YouTube right now, but the 2nd track on the album will be released in the next week or so, but if you want to hear it early, and want to support my music in other ways, consider streaming on Spotify (it’s free, and gives me money!) or purchasing on Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes.  Links are down below!

 

Spotify

Google Play

Amazon Music

iTunes:  Coming Soon

Hope you’re all having a great holiday season, and have a Merry Christmas!

 

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Getting “Nothing Done” Isn’t Always UnProductive

I just finished up a recording session on the piano, so with my instruments instead of recording vocals, and got seemingly absolutely nothing done.  I say seemingly, because a lot of us creatives think that if you’ve recorded nothing, written nothing, drawn nothing, in a session of creativity, you think you’ve done absolutely nothing and it was a waste of time.  It’s discouraging, and sometimes it makes you want to give up on whatever you’re working on and get frustrated.
I thought it was important to write this experience, and this post for other creatives, because in “getting nothing done” this recording session, I hashed out some arrangement plans. In fact, I figured out what I wanted to do for the track wasn’t working at all, and that the other idea I had for it was far better for the entirety of the track.  I originally wanted to start out with a capella vocals, then bring in some slight strings and have other vocal layers as a choral sort of thing for this.  Trying to record strings for it, it just wasn’t working, and I decided to just go fully a cappella with this track like the good old days of me arranging things XD but in hashing that out, I realized that maybe I’ll do all my Christmas covers as a cappella arrangements, because I’ve never done that before!  I’m confident in that choice, and now am re-energized, re-motivated, and already getting so many ideas bouncing around in my head and am thinking of other Christmas songs to do, perhaps make a series of a cappella Christmas for this year.

 

And I would have never come to that conclusion, if not for “botching” recording the strings for my original arrangement plans.

 

I have another arrangement I’m working on that just wasn’t coming together, and instead of trying to push it, I decided to move on to making my Christmas tracks, and push the release date of the album I was working on to January so it can truly make it the best I can before release.  Same with the Christmas tracks:  I want to polish them, and make them the best they possibly can for release, and wouldn’t have figured out how to do so without a few sessions of trying to figure out how I initially wanted to arrange this, which for me is brainstorming sessions – which, once again, I wouldn’t have realized that’s how I brainstorm if I didn’t just sit down and try things at my keyboard!
Like I said, I’m writing this because I think it’s an important lessons for us creatives to learn.  Sure, sometimes we’ll get discouraged with our music, with our blogs, with whatever we do, but it’s important to take something away from your creative sessions – even if it’s “This isn’t working, how can I fix it so it does”.  People are such crazy perfectionists nowadays, I’m also very guilty of perfectionism stopping me from taking steps forward every now and again, but it’s so so so so important to know  how to problem solve yurself out of slumps like that:  Maybe you need to add more chords to a section of music?  Maybe add an extra scene to the post or story you’re writing.  You’ll never realize that unless you initially try to do something and figure out the way you’re doing it isn’t working.
So don’t let bad creative sessions get you down, go out there and create!  Whether it’s good or bad, it’s something you can learn and grow from, and be a better artist for it!  I for one, can’t wait to get to re-arranging said track I was working on today, and mix my first a cappella tracks in Reaper:  It’s going to be loads of fun!

Forest Harmony – New Original!

I’m going to make an active effort to start posting more frequently on here because the fact that I was so consistent  with posting for years and just sort of fell off the past few months has been bothering me.  I usually write up my posts in a word document then copy/paste them, but I literally have a few posts waiting in the wings I just haven’t posted so that system hasn’t been working for me lately it seems.  So instead, going to try just writing straight In WordPress, and hope that not having to take the extra step to post something will motivate me to post more frequently again!

 

I was planning to post something else more talky, but I spontaneously decided to just make a quick stock footage video for an original I made a few weeks ago.  I finally got to one of the melodies I liked a lot from that 21 Days of Video Game Music composing challenge in July, and finally sat down to work on another original!  Gotta say, it’s been nice to write something original again, even though I do love making covers.  Not gonna lie either:  I think this is probably the best original I’ve done!  This is also teh first thing I’ve fully mixed in Reaper, and you can be the judge of this, but I really do think something as small as mixing with better stock plug ins that Reaper has makes a huge difference in the quality of my tracks.  It’s also really nice to be able to monitor my effects going on in realtime without the program crashing on me all the time, because that was a chronic problem in audacity for me.

 

Going to go into more detail about my Reaper journey so far, and other music updates in another post, but until then, enjoy this original track!

 

Arranging a Cover From the Ground up

I’ve talked about making a cover of a song your own before, but can we talk about how difficult it is to do so at times?  Why am I asking:  We’re going to talk about it in this post!

 

I’ve been working on a track for another Pixel Mixers album, my usual fair of adding lyrics and making the track folksy.  But, I sent a not so great version of it to the person who runs the album making and low and behold, there’s a new feedback committee that lets you know what you can fix in the track to make it better, and what you need to fix in the track to get it done for the album!  It came out of the blue, but honestly it was a nice surprise because I took a little bit of everyone’s notes and made the track, what I think, is a lot better than before and something I really enjoy listening to now, instead of the first draft where I was like “This is garbage, but what else am I supposed to do with this ugh”.  It made me realize how valuable getting feedback is – I needed that as a reminder, in all honesty, and made me realize another thing.

 

If you’re going to make a cover your own, you’re literally going to have to build it from the ground up.  There will probably be one, or two chord progressions  from the original that are majorly iconic, like Corridors of Time and Schala’s Theme from Chrono Trigger, but other than the main chord progression that is the driving force of the song, if you want to do something drastically different, it might as well be like writing an original track.

 

For this track in particular, I couldn’t figure out what else to add to the track as a whole.  I knew there was something missing, but just couldn’t figure out what until I got feedback, and tips on what instruments to add.  It made me see how far I have to go before I make something polished, that I enjoy, and how inexperienced I am with using actual instruments for arranging things.  But, in doing so, I found a really good trick for my composing workflow!

 

When I told my friend I was having a hard time finding a progression, they said something to me along the lines of “You need something that compliments the vocal, like think of it like adding vocal harmonies”.

 

And that got me thinking, why not literally just sing the chord progressions I want to add first?  Since I’m used to hearing an acappella arrangement since that’s how I used to do things before I had access to all these instruments, I went back to my roots and sang the chord progression I wanted to add with my flute VST.  After I did that, it just all clicked!  I usually try to find a progression by playing things on the piano, and that doesn’t always mesh well with what I’m making.  But, going back to a song writing tip I read a really long time ago, your voice is your best instrument to make music with.  If you have to sing a chord progression to make sure it fits, then do it!  I found this really works for me, and I’m going to make an effort to go to vocal harmonizing first for when I get stumped – because I was stumped pretty hard on this one!

 

Arranging this track reminded me of when I was majorly changing up that Final Fantasy battle theme in the beginning of the year (still need to release that ugh).  It’s just such a different process making a cover the way you want to hear it, and not just making a cover that sounds like the original – which I’ll never get, why are you going to watch a cover that sounds exactly like the original?  I’m going to listen to the original for that experience!

 

I guess the third thing I took away from this IS I have a lot to learn still.  I kept on telling myself “I Wish I knew more about music theory, it would make this so much easier” but in retrospect, I honestly don’t think that’s the case – I really just need to write more music, more consistently so I can practice and master skills.  I really think this was one of the more challenging things I’ve done, and it’s more rewarding at the finish line because of it.

 

I need to keep on writing music, but more than that:  I need to stretch myself with my arrangements, and in doing so teach myself new things.  I recently forgot I had some pretty cool electronic sinth instruments!  So I think I’m going to challenge myself and make an all-electronic VGM themed track.  I’m going to go more in detail on this in another post, but I’m so excited that I’ve found a more fleshed out screen reader script for Reaper – a far more advanced mixing program than audacity, and I can finally learn how to use it!  So I’ve been teaching myself the basics the past few days, and I’m amazed at how easily my brain is clicking with Reaper this time around.  There were abandonware  scripts for a really old version of Reaper that I used to use but I could never wrap my head around doing more than just recording tracks with it, so this is majorly exciting!  I don’t know if it’s because my audio brain has evolved or something, but it’s just really easy for me to grasp the concepts now – in part thanks to some awesome tutorials that weren’t around a year ago!

 

But like I said, that topic is for another post.  I’ve learned a lot from fixing up, and writing this cover in general.  I hope your journeys, musical or otherwise are going well!

An Eciting Surprise!

I got a statement email from Soundrop, the site where I distribute my music to selling/steaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play etc etc.  Now, I only have 2 tracks up to distribute – one the Smile Bomb collab I did months ago, and the other my Terra’s Theme with lyrics.  I would get occasional updates from my collaborator on Smile Bomb, saying it streamed this much on Spotify and things like that and it was cool hearing how much people were listening to it but I didn’t really think of the actual money being made because I knew it wouldn’t be that much.  And, I knew Terra’s theme wasn’t doing too well – last time I looked at it, it had made one cent USD.  It doesn’t bother me at all, but like I said, I just posted up on distribution platforms, realized doing singles wasn’t my thing (I’d much rather make full albums of covers so I don’t have to get a piece of album art for everything I do and realized that while getting Terra’s theme together).  I figured, “Distributing music really doesn’t make a difference, no one is going to buy my stuff anyways because I’m some nobody that if they did want to support me, they’d just listen to my videos on YouTube”.
Until I got my first payout from Soundrop!  Wooooo~

 

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting this at all!  You have to hit a certain payment threshold before Soundrop pays out any money to you, and it isn’t a big threshold but I hadn’t hit it yet.  I need to still look at the stats for Terra’s theme, but I’m like 100 percent sure all the revenue is from Smile Bomb, and it’s so cool!  It made me realize that no matter how small an amount you think you’re going to make, it’s worth putting stuff up there on platforms you can get paid for because someone may just be looking around and see your song or something.  Like it’s so cool to me that this is 100 percent passive income, and all I did was pay the 9.99 to distribute a few months ago and got this money now!!  Not something I really ever foresaw happening, but it did and it’s amazing!!

 

I’ve been thinking about making music to be able to sell/license  out royalty free style, and also been thinking about releasing compelation Eps/albums of my covers from the year I’m able to make money off of (aka the ones I made myself, using no karaokes for).  I think God was like “Yes do iiiit” with that because I log onto my computer today and see this, and it just inspires me to not slack on making music, and vocal warmups, and really hone my craft so I can make whatever amounts of money at this that I can.  This payout wasn’t expected, but such a blessing!

 

Don’t know how to close this post out because it’s really just me gushing and being excited so…I got my first Soundrop payout today!  Wooooo!!!

Give Me Jesus Cover

 

I’ve been working on getting this out for the past week, and with the help of my Mom, we got it out!  I’ve really been feeling a pull to start doing more music sharing my faith, and started with this song because it’s my favorite hymn.  It’s a lot of firsts for me:  I haven’t asked for help from my Mom to make a video in a long time, I haven’t just done a simple cover like this in a long time, and I haven’t been so open about my Christianity in ages.  I want to start doing so however, and I find that the way I profess my faith the best is through music.  I hope God blesses you in whatever you do, and have a great day!

Bubbly Clouds Kirby cover

Bubbly Clouds Cover [Kirby Series] – YouTube

 

I’m knee deep in teaching myself renpy/python coding in which I mean I have just barely gotten down making 2 types of menu choices and am now reading up on making variables in python when it’s still pretty intimidating to me, but ‘tis the way of things when you’re used to teaching yourself things.  I’m so used to the initial struggle of the learning curve that I’m just saying to myself “You’re going to be able to look back on this one day and say man, I can’t believe I struggled with doing that, it’s so easy now”.

 

But those are musings for another blog.  For this one, I continue Kirby month with a cover of Bubbly Clouds!

 

I say “continue” but this is going to be the last cover for the month.  I was hoping to do one a week for Kirby cuz I love him so much, but the other two covers I wanted to do I wanted to put more time into arranging because I have a lot of ideas for them.  I love this and Green Greens, but they’re both pretty simple in terms of my usual arrangements as of late.  Not a bad thing, but the other two I just really wanted to be a bit more…artistic than these two, as hipster as that sounds haha.  I don’t really have much to say about this one, it was a lot of fun to put together!  Not gonna lie:  I love how cute my upbeat Kirby covers sound, and this one really captures the floating bubbly feeling Bubbly Clouds gives me.  I feel like I can’t do a Kirby cover that doesn’t sound cute, they just come out that way XD

 

Finally got to use my shakers in something, so that was nice!  My musical style uses really scarce percussion usually so whenever I try to add shakers to something, they just never fit.  This was the first time I recorded them and said “Yeah, this sounds like it fits in here” so I was like woooo I finally get to use these things I purchased months ago lol.  Using the claves for that click clack bubble pop sound was super fun, too!  And a lot easier than trying to do it with my tongue clicking noise, that was a heralding experience.

 
Happy Birthday Kirby, you’re amazing and cute and I love yoooou!  Now back to my learning code cave~