Cover vs Original Music Composition Observations

The difference between making an original piece of music and making a piece of music form pre-existing has just hit me and it’s so interesting.  With original music, you’re free to make your own thing, not feeling pressured to “Stick to the original version” because you’re making something from scratch.  With a cover, you’re making something from scratch in a way but also not really.  If you want it to be your own spin on a cover, and not just you covering a song verbatim (I consider this more arranging when you add your own spin on it).  I think making a cover your own is definitely a puzzle in itself, trying to figure out what pieces of the original piece you want to keep the same, if any, and what you want to make different.  Do you want to make an upbeat song somber and orchestral?  Want to make a sad song or emotional piece rock?  Then you have to listen to the original track, picking the piece apart for parts of the song you want to use, and parts you want to make your own.  Want to just make the entire thing you own?  Well then, that’s a whoel different animal!  Time to start playing different musical ideas until you find ones that fit the tone your going for.

 

I find I hit road bumps whenever I want to change something a lot.  With that battle theme I altered I mentioned a while ago (I still need to post that) it was upbeat and high energy, and I wanted to completely shift that to something haunting and somber.  So taking chord progressions that fit that tone from the original was really interesting because I had to fit my concepts of how I wanted the track to be with the basic melody structure of the piece.  In the end, I got something that sounds completely different from the original, that is definitely something my own while still sounding like it’s that track because of me using aspect of the original track to form that idea.    And I hope that made at least a teeny bit of sense XD

 

But I’m hitting the same road blocks with this new cover I’m working on I did with that one, and even though it’s frustrating, at the same time I’m like “Well the more I struggle with this, the more I make it my own and it will get easier with time”.  I don’t want to rush it, but I think I’m finally forming an idea of how I want this to sound.  At first, I really wanted to use an iconic chord progression in the track, but got some good advice from a friend when I asked if it would matter to leave it in or out.  The basic progression will be there unless you drastically change the initial melody of the track, so don’t really worry about it.  I found something close to the chord progression that I will probably use for my version of the song, and am heavily taking inspiration form Laura Shigihara’s version of the track as well (which is also really different to the original but still sounds like it’s that song) so like I said, won’t worry about it.
I had a lot of these musings while trying to hash out getting this track down, and have found some interesting work arounds to trying to figure out how to write a track!  Breaking down the original version by listening to each track of it individually is something I figured out I didn’t know you could do just by importing midi to reaper, so that was cool!  Now I have a new way to learn parts of songs, and come up with ideas for stuff.

 

Really just wanted to share my findings with this whole thing and my thoughts on the subject.  If you have any, would love to hear in the comments!

Happy Birthday Kirby! Green Greens Cover

Green Greens A Cappella Cover [Kirby’s Dreamland] Crystal Dennis – YouTube

 

Happy birthday Kirby!  August 1, 1992 is when Kirby’s Dreamland was released in North America, so since that’s the date I would’ve gotten Kirby that’s the date I’m saying is his birthday – the same month as mine, woo!  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but I looooove Kirby.  I have a lot of Kirby merch, and any time I need to color coordinate my room I always make it Kirby pink.  If I need a darker shade, then it’s the pink that’s his feet haha.  I just love how happy, sweet, and cute Kirby is, he just always makes me so happy and since this year is also his 25th anniversary, I thought it would be fun to make this month on my channel Kirby month!  Which means both the covers I’m posting this month are going to be Kirby, starting with this one.  I also thought it would be fitting, since it’s the very first stage track we ever got in a Kirby game!
For this one, I really just wanted to have fun.  So it may be a little silly, but whenever I listen to it I’m honestly really happy with how it came out – I was going for capturing that high energy, happy feeling Kirby always gives me, so hope I did!  The Kirby noise at the beginning I did before recording a certain take, and it was more of a blooper but I left it in because I liked what it added to the cover XD

 

But yeah, hope you enjoy!  Happy Kirby’s birthday to aaaaall~

Hands of Gold Game of Thrones Cover

Insert link isn’t working for me for some reason so here’s the link in it’s raw html glory:

 

I’m not really into Game of Thrones to be honest but my friend who is showed this to me and I really wanted to cover it haha.  It’s the first time I’ve churned out a cover so quickly, so big landmark in my YouTube career I suppose 🙂 I did this all in like, 3 hrs, just really wanted to get it out quick to ride the Game of Thrones hype.
Hope you enjoy!

Final Fantasy IX The Place I’ll Return to Someday Cover

[Final Fantasy IX] The Place I’ll Return to Someday [Home Sweet Home] Folk Cover – Crystal Dennis

 

Hurray, it’s finally out!  This track has been done since May, and the only reason it took so long to get done is the sheer amount of procrastination that went into this haha.  Like I said, actual song was done 2 months ago, got in my recording video funk, then got off my butt the middle of June and recorded video.  The person who usually does my video was busy, but another friend of mine graciously offered to do the video on this one for me, and wow did they go above and beyond!  My Mom described how the video came out and it’s so perfect.  I didn’t tell him what to do but it’s the type of video I always want for these sorts of covers, just an amazing job!

 

Not only   is the video so well done, but this cover is another big step for me.  It’s the first time I used my percussion instruments in something!  I whipped out my tambourine, djembe drum and claves and went to town with them XD was lots of fun, and I think they really added to the arrangement.  This is the first folk style cover I did also, and I felt so good doing it.  At first, I was afraid it was so much different than the original people wouldn’t like it, but it’s been getting a good response already, and like I’ve said before, I’m definitely getting my style down with this cover.  If I do high energy stuff, this would pretty much be it, I think.  Still need to keep on getting better of course, but I know I’m on the right track with this and it’s super exciting feeling.  Can’t wait to do another cover in this style, and get better at it!  I guess I just have to realize:  Folk and Celtic are pretty much my genres XD I’d throw in acoustic atmospheric stuff too if I knew a proper name for it, we’ll just call it acoustic for now haha.  Indi?  Who knows.  Either way, those are my top 3 genres, for sure~

 

 

I’ve said everything I can about this cover and video I think, so hope you enjoy it!

If you’d like to support me in other ways, why not consider becoming a patron over on Patreon?  You’ll get cool rewards like access to my behind the scenes podcasts, early access to videos, demos of unreleased songs, and MP3 downloads of my tracks!

My First Behind the Scenes Patreoen Podcast is up Yay!

Just wanted to pop in real quick and say that my first patreon exclusive post is up that isn’t a video or MP3, yay!  I’ve been trying to figure out a structure to recording these behind the scenes podcasts, and finally found my groove with it.  The first one is up, and available for 3 dollar or more patrons, so if you’d like to hear any of my musings for my covers in audio form, it’s a pledge away!

 

You can listen and pledge here.

 

As always, not pledging doesn’t mean I’ll stop making videos.  If you’d like to support me monetarily  and get some cool rewards however, check out my Patreon page 🙂

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!

Nier Automata Possessed by a Disease Cover, plus Mini Music Updates

[Nier Automata] Possessed by a Disease Cover – Crystal Dennis – YouTube

 

Posted this cover last week.  It’s been in the works for like, 2 months, and let me tell ya it’s probably the most intense cover I’ve done with a pre-existing backtrack.  I adore Nier’s music, but the reason I tend to not cover things from it is the sheer amount of work that goes into doing so.  The Chaos language is something you have to pick out by ear because there aren’t really any lyrics around, so it’s like learning a song in another language which, I always have to learn phrase by phrase.  Luckily, this song is in Enka, which is a real language but still…same concept applied.  I wanted to cover this song so much though, it’s my favorite piece of Nier music.  So not only did I learn this one by ear, but I took the time to write out the phonetics of the song so I could get as close to the original as possible.  Is it perfect?  Nope!  But it’s as close as I’m going to get with pronouncing the lyrics in this song so I’ll take it XD
The other troublesome thing with this one was mixing.  I only have access to Audacity for mixing due to like, no other DAW being 100 percent accessible (get on the ball for PC some DAW come on) so the original mix of this was garbage, and I hated it so much. I hate not being able to use a more advanced DAW in general but I use what I can to the best of my ability and that’s another story for another post, but one of my friends offered to mix this one for me because of that.  When I heard this mix, I was floored!  It was just how I wanted it to sound, love how it came out.

 

The last step of releasing this one was the step I always debate over the most lol.  The dumb video!  In the end, I did a still image because I just wanted to release it and have been stressing out over what types of videos to make for eeeevery video  and honestly, at this point, I’m starting to re-evaluate what style of video I want to make for my channel.  I had this epiphany  last night when I couldn’t sleep:  I honestly don’t remember if recording myself on camera singing was something I wanted to do, or just did because everyone on YouTube forums and subreddits said I should do it to engage the audience more.  Seeing my view counts for certain videos, I feel like that isn’t exactly the case for my channel:  the highest views I have on any cover is close to 1000 views in a year, and that’s a still image video, same with the second video with the most views on my channel.  I like the idea of giving back to the artist community in a way by commissioning artwork to use in videos, using animations of friends and acquaintances  and things like that, and when I think about doing that for videos, I get excited to make things.  When I think of recording myself on camera, I think of how much of a hassle it is to get everything set up, and that it’s ridiculous how much I’m stressing over it when I really care more about producing music.

 

I know I talk about this particular thing sooooo much on this blog so if you’re tired of hearing it, sorry XD I know I’m tired of thinking of it, so yeah!  I’m not going to for sure say I’ll never record on cam again, but like I said I’m definitely going to re-evaluate what type of videos I want to predominantly  feature on my channel, and make sure they’re videos I’ll 100 percent be alright with and proud of posting, regardless of what they are.

 

That being said, if you watch cover videos that use animations or still images, I’d love for you to describe the style they use to do so!  I know some way bigger YouTubers use minimal art and animations for vids, so if you have a particular YouTuber you like that does this I’d love to hear why.  It’s hard for me to figure out what style could work for me when I can’t see others videos XD

 

And I told myself I wouldn’t blog about this when I posted my tangent on facebook at 5 AM, oy…

 

 

Some Mini Music Updates, to finish off this post:

 

Piano Practice update:  I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I hit a major landmark the other night!  I’ve been struggling with playing and singing at the same time, but the other night while practicing, I was able to do so!  I was so happy because that was something I was majorly struggling with, so just being able to do it was so cool.  It’s weird how it doesn’t seem like you’re progressing in something, but then something like that happens and you go “Oh, guess I actually am improving”.

 

Original Music Update!:  I’m working hard to churn through my backlog of melodies I’ve recorded and not finished.  I finished up a simple piano and strings piece last night and really like how it turned out.  It’s some more VGM inspired music (aka loopable music lol) so be on the lookout for that soon!

The best piece of advice I’ve read is to just finish up compositions,, no matter the quality.  You learn something from every piece, and can move on knowing you completed something.  So I’m going to work hard to do that with all the melodies scattered across my computer!

 

Song Writing Update:  I have five or six originals I wrote probs about 2 years ago.  I didn’t have a keyboard, or drum, or any way to use VSTs that was accessible with my screen reader, so I did them all a cappella.  But I always dreamed of going back to them, rearranging them with instruments, and re-releasing them.  I got inspired by a critique on one of them to stop procrastinating on doing that little project, so we’ll see how this goes!  Aka I hope I don’t just procrastinate on doing it more XD

 

I wrote a companion piece to the very first original I made that I need to work on too.  I’ve just been slacking on it. But I feel like I should probably redo the first original then work on that one so the styles match.  But once again, we’ll see how that goes haha.  I’m trying really hard not to procrastinate on these things though!  At the same time, I need to pace myself and doing all of these will probably lead to burn out if I’m not careful so yeeX D

 

Mmm, don’t you love when posts get far longer than you expected them to?  Tends to happen to me when I’m talking about music.  Anyway, hope you enjoy the Possessed by a Disease cover, and see you guys on Thursday!