The Witching Hour (Original) Smile Bomb! And General Music Update

The Witching Hour [Original Instrumental] – YouTube

 

Smile Bomb!  – YouTube

 

A few musical updates today!  There was one more collaboration I could have linked but I really don’t like how it came out and it deserves a post all its own if I ever wind up posting it to be completely honest.  Not a bad experience, just an annoying one lol.  But, This collab is another story!  I met Chris through seeing a friend of mine link her collab with him.  I commented on the video, he emailed me and asked if we could do something together and my answer is always “Yes!”.  After that, we got talking, and we get along really well!  He’s really nice to work with, and I definitely am happy to have a new friendship with him (an working relationship, as well!) it’s really nice to have people to talk to about all this music youtube business who’s into it too, I’ve already gotten loads of help and support from him, and doing this collab was amazing.  Yu Yu Hakusho is an anime I loved from my childhood, and when I saw Smile Bomb on the list of suggestions he had I was like “I love that song, let’s do it!”.  Overall, I just feel really open about talking to Chris, and working on improving our channels together, and this collab is hopefully the first in many more collabs with him!
This is another huge milestone, because it’s the first thing I’ve done that’s on iTunes and Spotify and other music distribution sites EEE!  I couldn’t stop myself from listening to the preview over and over again on iTunes, it’s so cool to see it there!  I can’t wait to see more of my stuff go on those stores as well, it’s a dream come true!
On that note, I got all of the distribution stuff situated for my next cover.  I had to get a bit aggressive with Soundrop, because I emailed them three times before they responded – and they only responded when I tweeted at them about my problem (which was pretty entertaining to see, I must admit hahaa).  They fixed it yesterday, and my next cover is now in the process of being listed on stores!  So after that’s done, I’ll be posting my Terra cover on YouTube (finally!  I’ve been working on this for so long).  They said it could take up to a week to get it to stores but I’ve seen other friends have a turnaround of a day or so, so the cover will be going up next week, woo!

 

Because Terra’s theme wasn’t ready yet, I opted to post the other video linked above.  I mentioned working on this track a while ago, and got my awesome animator friend to make an animation for me.  The first custom one he’s done, yay!  (Side note:  If you want him to be able to do this a lot more, consider supporting me on Patreon – he also made my album art for Terra’s theme).  I put this together a few weeks ago probably, just in a 3 hour span of time.  Figured out all of the melodies just by noodling on the keyboard.  I figured out the piano background first and was like “Oo this sounds spooky, what else can I add to it” and just kept on building on it until I got this.  I half improv, half made the main melody.  Not sure if I could even redo it haha but I really liked how it came out for my first attempt at an all instrumental track!  Let me know what you think J

 

It sort of just happened this month, but I really liked the amount of content I released!  I got one original track, one cover with backtrack, and one VGM/anime cover arrangement done.  I’m not going to concrete say I must stick to this schedule, but at the same time I kind of want to.  If the licensing goes smoothly, it really wouldn’t be a major hassle because this is all I do for an…attempted living 😄 I’d love to try and get a video out a week, but I don’t think I could do that with music all the time so may look at doing some how it’s made behind the scenes stuff, who knows.  Either way, I’m really happy this month of music is over, because hoo boy was it stressful haha.
That also was a lot longer of a post than I expected, but like I said a lot has been going on!  Hope you enjoy these videos, more will be coming soon!

Weight of the World Cover from NieR: Automata and Mini Experiment

Weight of the World cover from Nier Automata

Late post today, because I’ve been recording video all night.  Recording video is one of those things that I always dread getting ready to do but then love doing when I’m actually doing it haha.  Recorded for two collabs, and one of mine which I was going back and forth about recording for and got really good results with tinkering with my video settings and setup, so woo!
But enough of that, here’s a cover from NieR Automata aka the best game of 2017 so far.  I loved the first game, and the first games OST, and this one only amps up the quality of awesome it has with its music.  Definitely going to cover more from this series, loooove it!
I’m also doing a mini experiment with how I uploaded.  As you see, I uploaded this one with a still image.  So, since I’m a weirdo who really likes to see how things work, I’m going to track this videos view progress and put it up against the view count of my last on cam video, which would be the Inuyasha cover.  Do they both get the same amount of views in one month, and how many do they each get in the first upload day?  Right now, the Inuyasha cover has 189 views in a month.  It had 31 on its first day so let’s see how the NieR cover is doing so far!

 

Views for Nier cover in 1 hr: 14

In 8 hrs:  24

11 hrs:  27

23 hrs: 33

2 days:  41
So far, both videos have gotten about the same views in one day.  At the end of its first upload day (Sunday) it had 27 views.  Inuyasha had 31, so only a 7 view difference.  By the morning of the next day, Weight of the World had 33.  So as of now, doesn’t seem like either video style really makes a difference in view count, but we’ll see at the end of the month if Weight of the World reaches 189.  I know there are a lot of other variable’s,  like how popular the song is etc etc but still  they both got about the same amount of views in one day so who knows how much that actually matters.

 

But enough of my weird “science” lol.  Hope you enjoy the cover!

 

Extra Note:  Just saw my Inuyasha cover and it’s up to 193 so I’ll use that as my base number for this since I posted this today lol.  So we’ll see how Weight of the World  does in comparison!

Almost Backslid, but Stopped Myself – Progress Yay!

So as stated on Tuesday I’ve hit 100 subscribers on YouTube.  I think that’s in major part to starting to arrange my own covers, and recording myself on camera for said covers.  I also set a goal to post 2 covers a month, and this month I had two…technically.  I had one arranged for the longest time, but for some reason I didn’t record the vocals for it until last week.  I was going to record video footage for it this past weekend, but didn’t get to it, and there starts my dilemma.

 

I usually record video on the weekends.  Like, I’m pretty sure I’m conditioned to do that because the thought of recording video during the week just erks me, and I’m not motivated to do so.  I think it’s because I gear myself up to prepare to record on Sunday (but I’ll probably do it on Saturday this weekend, I want to get it done) because I do vocal warm ups all week and take a break on the weekends to rest my voice.  So I take that time to do other things, usually bake or record video depending on what I need to do.

 

So back to setting a two covers a month goal.  I totally misscheduled!  I know it’s entirely my procrastination’s fault, and if I had recorded vocals and mixed like two weeks ago I wouldn’t have this problem.  I recorded the actual piano like last month and just have been sitting on this, so legit the only reason I didn’t record vocals and get this done was laziness.  And that made my brain go into paranoid overdrive, because I thought of doing videos in my old, still photo style.

 

I’m planning to license  this specific cover to be sold on digital music distribution sites, and had my friend do some art for that.  So I was like “I’ll just use that instead!” and I went back and forth, back and forth about doing this.  I don’t mind using animation’s for covers still, because there’s movement involved in that and it isn’t just a still photo.  But I really want to stop using still images as a crutch, and almost back peddled into doing so, but I stopped myself!

 

Last night, I made the video really quick.  I wrote out my video description, even uploaded it onto YouTube, had it unlisted to share to patrons, but when I was doing all that, I got this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I started getting super nervous that the quality wouldn’t be good, that this video wouldn’t get as many views as my last two, that I wasn’t doing my best.  The first two were just me being wonky, but the last one I think was my brain going “Cryyyyystal you know you don’t want to do this stop stressing out over your self-imposed deadline” because even though I want to do two covers/musical pieces a month, the fact of the matter is, I didn’t plan well enough for that to happen in March.  If I’m going to post a video, I want it to be one I’m not going to second guess (something I did a lot last year) and I want it to be the quality that I want, with guidelines I set forth.  I’ve never done this before, but I kept the video unlisted, deleted the video and told myself to just record this weekend, and post the video next week.  After that, I felt a lot better about my decision, but was glad to have gone through that process of uploading, not feeling right about it, and deleting, because if I hadn’t I would have been debating with myself about what to do about the video for ages.
One of my main reasons for not recording video was just because I wasn’t feeling being on video this week.  But, that’s ok:  I’ll wait until I feel better about being on cam and record.  I’ve also set some guidelines in place for my video styles, because I don’t want to have a mental battle like this again 😄 so I figured I’d do it like this:
For arrangements that I worked super hard on like what I’ve been doing recently:  Record myself on video, because those videos deserve to have me on video for them, because I’ve worked really hard on them!
Originals:  Either choose to use an animation, or record myself on video.  More leaning towards an animation, if my friend has something that I can use for certain originals, because I like the idea of having a scene playing while some video game inspired music is playing.  Because, let’s face it, any original track I do that isn’t a song with lyrics is going to be RPG/JRPG inspired, that’s just my esthetic haha.  On that note, I finished my first all instrumental original, and in March too!  So I got my goal of getting an original track done in the month of March.  I really like how it came out, even though it’s probably pretty basic!  Once I finish up with this video, I’m going to work on releasing that one.

For covers with pre-existing backtracks:  Haven’t decided yet, maybe a still photo?  Or maybe I’ll set this one to have the option to choose between recording myself singing, animation, or still photo.  But still using a still image just doesn’t sit right with me anymore, but we’ll see when I do a cover with a pre-existing backtrack how I feel.  I think I’d probably just record live singing, though, but want to give myself flexible  guidelines because I realize that’s just how my brain works.

 

In the End, I realized this was a really good thing that happened, because I touched on something I probably needed to deal with.  Setting guidelines, and limitations for myself, and finding out that that sort of video doesn’t appeal to me anymore is a huge step forward, because I remember when recording myself on video just didn’t appeal to me haha.  The fact that a still image vid wasn’t up to snuff is a great improvement on my YouTube mindset, that can only improve from here!  I also learned that it’s ok to miss a deadline you set for yourself and make sure that missing the next deadline doesn’t happen again by having better time management.  Next step:  to not chicken out about licensing my covers, and to figure out how to master tracks for releasing on those platforms!

I’ve Reached 100 Subscribers on YouTube!!!

I did it guys!  After almost 2 years of YouTube, I made it to 100 subscribers!  I checked, and my YouTubeaversary is April 17, so almost two years.  I’m SO FREAKING PUMPED!!!

 

At the beginning of March, I noticed my subscriber count was at 95, so I randomly decided to set the goal to get to 100 at the end of March.  Usually, I’d just set a goal and hope it happened, but this time I was a lot more proactive, linking my channel all over social media, asking people to share my channel, and people to subscribe if they hadn’t been subscribed already.  I was pleasantly surprised to see so much support come through from old friends, family members, and acquaintance’s.  My brother kept on retweeting my link as well, and he got a few of his let’s player buddies to subscribe too, which helped loads:  one of his friends was my 99th subscriber, in fact!  I can’t see who my 100th subscriber is because of their channel preferences, which is ashamed because I’d really like to know, but I’m also not complaining because AHHH I’m at 100 subs!  In doing all of that, I realized hustling to get something accomplished wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.  In fact, it’s actually pretty fun!  Doing this helped me get over my trepidation’s in regards to sharing my content, so that was a major bonus in just deciding to get to 100 no matter what this month.
One of the cool things you get when hitting 100 is a custom URL.  So instead of my channel link being some weird user ID, it’s now /c/crystaldennismusic.  Which, to be honest, is the whole reason I was pushing so hard to get to 100.  I really wanted that custom URL, and seeing it there is so amazing.  I’ve typed it in like ten times today and squealed every time my channel has popped up, it’s sooo cool!

 

Now that I’ve hit this milestone, I feel like my channel is finally going somewhere.  100 people like my music enough to be subscribed, and that’s an amazing feeling.  That’s like, the size of a concert!  Getting the amount of views I get, now that I’m recording myself is great too, and I feel like it majorly contributes to people’s readiness to help me out.  I could kick myself for not doing so before!  I’m not going to do every video on cam, like I don’t think I’ll do it for originals, but maybe I will, who knows haha.  I want to branch out and start recording in outside locations as well eventually, just have to plan it a bit better.  But overall, I’m super excited that I’ve hit this milestone!  I’ll shoot to hit 200 by the end of the year!

 

In other music news, a random tune popped into my head last night.  I’ve been obsessing over NieR Automata’s OST and story, because I’m a huge fan of the first NieR, and the OST for the 2nd game doesn’t disappoint!  The story doesn’t either, it’s freaking beautiful.  I’ve been soaking in NieR lore, watched the entire games story on video, and have been watching all the boss fights because ugh I love this game so much, and wish I had a PS4 to play it.  That tangent aside, I think this tune that came up is really inspired by NieR’s instrumentation style:  melancholy and haunting.  For my first piano original, I was trying to do a video game type of track, but it didn’t really click until I was practicing piano last night and ran across some really gorgeous sounding key combination’s.  So, I grabbed my USB cord, plugged my keyboard into the computer and recorded a few layers of melody.  Tomorrow I’m going to fine tune it a bit and see what I can come up with, so excited!  The tune is a bit simplistic, but as I’ve stated before:  I think simplistic, acoustic folksy stuff is just my style haha.  I never find a need to add more than about six instruments to a track, and I’m finally feeling like that’s ok.  So woo for progress in my musical self-esteem!

 

Long post, but ugh I’m just so excited.  EEEE I got to 100 subscribers!  My channel can only go up from here, can’t wait to make more content this year!  This milestone has given me major motivation, can’t wait to get my next video out so I can start working on other projects!

A Cool New Resource – Video Game Music Academy

Today, I thought I’d share this really cool resource I found by googling a few nights ago, Video Game Music Academy!  It’s a funny story how I found it.  I was looking up tips on how to compose fantasy music, and the article on the site that went in detail about the different music theory concepts you can learn from the theme of Final Fantasy VII popped up.  Being the major game nerd I am, I just had to click on that title!  It was a really in depth, interesting read on the different music theory concepts you can learn from how the theme was composed.  Some were concepts I knew, some were refresher courses, but all was really good information, because it was all in the context of video game music.  I’ve read about music theory before, but couldn’t entirely grasp every concept explained.  Through hearing examples via some of my favorite video game tunes however, I’m understanding concepts I’ve read about before a lot better.  And, I’m learning tips and tricks about composing video game music, which is right up my alley!  I’ve been trying to work on something video game inspired, like a town theme or something like that, so reading up how composers do it has really gotten my composing brain going!

 

Not only does the site have composing tips, but it also has interviews with video game composers, tips on networking and marketing in the industry (can be useful for any industry really) and just overall helpful advice on things like not getting burnt out.  Of course, my favorite section is the music composition tips and tricks, but that section is rather sparse (the blogger posted an article today, so I hope we get a lot more of those in the future) and really, the site is just fun to explore.  There’s also a resources section too!

 

 

I hope you enjoy this resource, and if you have any other resources to share, feel free to leave it in the comments!

March Piano Update

Quick piano update because I’m feeling a bit under the weather today.  Also a bit of a YouTube update!

 

In my last post, I mentioned adding more movement in my playing by having my left hand play a cord progression, while having the right play another part that would probably be considered the melody line/embellishment bits in whatever I’m playing.  I’ve found that instead of some sort of structured warm up/exercise program for learning, I work a lot better just noodling around on the keyboard and seeing what happens.  So I did that a few nights ago, and decided to try playing a chord with the sustain peddle on one hand, using the sustained cord as a backdrop for playing a few embellishment keys, then going to the next chord.  It worked pretty well, but I need to get down transitioning to the next chord after doing that sort of thing:  my fingers weren’t nimble enough to do a few separate key presses, then hit the full chord again, but it’s something I’m going to start practicing.  I’ll record it also to see hwo it sounds, and share it with you guys!  That’s pretty much it on the piano playing front, at this point most of my practicing comes with making up arrangements and noodling around with different chord progressions, adding things to said progressions.  I’ve stopped being afraid of using the black keys with things, and wow what a difference they make!  So I’ve been seeing how doing the 1-3-5 chord is with a sharp and flat in there, seeing how the chords I’ve learned sound with those augmentations and they sound so much different, I’m a little annoyed I was nervous to use the black keys before!  When you just start plugging them into chord progressions you already know, they get a lot less intimidating than AHHH they are black keys AHHHH.
But yeah, excited to see how adding the black keys to arrangements will change the dynamics of arranging things.  I’ve been trying to work on arranging for original pieces, and just working through that has made the thought of doing so not as difficult as I originally thought.  Will I have an original piece by the end of March?  I’m hoping at least a demo, but we’ll see if everything comes together by then.  I work better when I have lyrics written first, so I’ll probably work on that as well.  But I just wanted to get used to hashing out chord progressions for something not a cover, which I’ve been working through decently well.
I’ve been sitting on an arrangement I need to just record vocals for and mix, which is a Final Fantasy VI cover with lyrics I wrote for the character theme.  I’m going to get it out by the end of March, to keep my two covers a month upload schedule.
And that’s pretty much it!  Small, but important strides both with YouTube and piano playing.  Fingers crossed I can get a demo for an original song done by the end of March!

Inuyasha Piano and Vocal Medley

Inuyasha Piano and Vocal Medley – YouTube

 

This cover has been an interesting journey.  It took me a month to get every part the way I wanted it.  Initially, I wanted to just make it Kagome’s theme, and also initially, I had a lot less dynamic playing:  When I first recorded this, I was only using the right hand pattern and when I went to record a demo of vocals over it, it just didn’t sound right to me.  That cover was recorded before I had recorded the Lufia cover, which has a pretty basic chord pattern as well, but I really wanted to practice more dynamic playing on this one, so went back, and added the left hand chord progression underneath the right hand melody chords and this was my end result for Kagome’s section.  And I hope that made at least a little bit of sense 😄
For the Inuyasha’s theme section (the middle section) it was really straight forward,  For the Kagome section, I made it a bit different than the chords played in the original, but for Inuyasha’s theme, I legit just copied the chord progression from the original verbatim.  So no major hurdles to jump over for that one, It didn’t take me long to record.

 

 

Now, the Kikyo section has quite a tale!  When I’m arranging a track, I do everything by ear, so I was listening to the original version which as a background, had descending scales consistently going.  I think maybe because this version uses strings and woodwinds as the main melody, that simplicity wasn’t working with my voice.  I was ready to scrap adding Kikyo’s theme to this, and just make it its own cover at a later date, but then I ran across the version of her theme that has vocals, and it clicked!  So I used a variation of that as the chord progression for her section…and played it entirely too long 😄 I didn’t want to completely edit it down (I had to do some editing regardless, but some cuts were just plain awkward and not fitting) so had to figure out what to do near the end.  In one of my late night inspirational strokes, it hit me again!  I was singing along to the track when I realized:  both Kagome and Inuyasha’s themes fit really well as counter melodies underneath the last round of Kikyo’s  When I recorded demos.  So, when I went to record for real, I did that, added the last bits of embellishments, and bam, my medley project was complete, and five minutes long!  Wasn’t expecting that length to be honest, but it was cool to see all of my work turn into a full-fledged track when I had been working so hard on it.

 

That being said, I opted not to record myself playing piano on this one.  By the time I was recording video for it, I would have had to re-teach myself all but Inuyasha’s section, and didn’t really want to put the effort into doing so.  So on this video it’s just me singing, but I did play the piano on this track, regardless.
It was really cool with this cover, too, because it’s the first post that I set to be charged to patrons over on my Patreoen Page!  Not going to lie, it was a really great feeling being supported by my patrons, and sharing my cover early with them, conversing with them etc etc.  I’m really excited to make more content for patrons, and grow both my YouTube and Patreon pages this year!

 

And that’s all for this cover.  Eventually, I’d like to make videos detailing stuff like this, I’m wondering if you guys would be interested in that?  Also, I’m trying to think of different ways to stage recording video, so if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!