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

More YouTubeness

So this is going to be me talking about YouTube video stuff so if you’re sick of reading about it (I don’t blame you if you are) then go ahead and skip over this post, I’ll see you next Tuesday XD

 

But After dumping out my feelings about the video stuff this Tuesday, it helped clear my head a lot.  That’s generally the reason I keep up this blog, it’s really cathartic and helps clear my head.  But I was thinking about my whole stupid overthinking of making videos and came to a realization that I just need to play each upload by ear.  Before I mentioned having a certain type of song be one video format etc etc but I think doing it that way is silly.  For example, there’s a song I’ve had finished last month and I really like.  I don’t know why, but for this video in particular, I want it to have imagery  that isn’t me singing in front of cam.  I feel like this song would lend better to some animated visuals, but it’s a cover I arranged from scratch so my brain kept on going “You have to record youself on cam, dems the rules!”.  But I really wasn’t feeling it for this one.  So instead of realizing I needed to do another format for it, I dragged my feet on the upload of it and it’s a month late, which is ridiculous!  I think I just need to go with my gut, not force certain videos, and like I said just do what feels right for the song.  I get the same amount of views, at the same speed over a month so why not just post what I feel is right for the video.

 

There’s another video that I have in the works that I’m super excited to do.  For this one, I really feel that recording myself on video for this one is the right decision.  I’m excited to record on cam for it, so that’s what I’m going to do.  Just like the video I mentioned above:  I didn’t force it, and recording on cam just came to me as the right decision.  So I’m just going to go with what I feel is the right call on a video to video basis, and see how I feel about it.  I already feel good about it just writing this down, so I think it’s definitely the right call.

 

I’ve also realized, that the type of music I do lends really well to a simplistic style!  Since I do folk, acoustic, and Celtic stuff usually, when I do record myself on cam having it set up the way I usually do is fine.  Because folk music is really Earthy and raw, I feel confident that I can keep the format I have and it’ll work out.  Not sure if I’ll throw in playing some instruments along with me singing, I think I’ll play that by ear too.  May shoot outside sometimes, as well!  Just to get that nice folky vibe in my videos.  Once again, I feel confident this will work well, and can’t wait to get back on the video saddle again, feeling a lot more confident in the production of my videos.  Before, I’d make a video, but I’d be so uncertain about making it.  But I want to go into the second half of this year confident in what I’m doing, no matter what it turns out being, and for me going with my gut instinct always winds up being the right choice for me:  Sometimes I second guess myself, but whenever I go through a cycle of doubt I always circle back to what my initial choice was.  Silly, I know, but it just happens haha.

 

So the second half of this year (it’s crazy it’s already June) I’m going to focus on what I already planned to focus on, making my videos the best quality I can.  I know now that doesn’t mean be on camera at all times, but instead if means do the video you think will fit the song, and do what you’re comfortable doing for each song on a case by case basis.  And, get some better lighting, so I feel good about recording on video.  Also, don’t stress out about being in full makeup every time I record, because that has been a huge deterrent  for me wanting to record sometimes as well.  All in all, the lesson I take away from  this is: Never give up, trust your instincts!

 

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!

I Finally Wrote a Song with Lyrics on Piano, Yay!

Note:  Said song won’t be in this post, because I still need to work on the mix, but I was excited and really wanted to blog about this because I’ve been struggling with it.

 

For some reason, when I tried to write a song with lyrics on the piano,  it just wasn’t coming together.  I can write an instrumental fine, but lyrics I just was drawing a blank.  I started searching through different genres of music, mainly video game, celtic, and folk, and listened really closely to how the chord progressions in each worked.  It wasn’t until my Mom was listening to this old folk band, The Seekers (who are amazing, check them out if you haven’t) and writing a song clicked.  I don’t have to use a bajillion chords, I can use as little as one and put my vocals over it!  Thank you, The Seekers!

 

I actually stumbled into writing this song duo to my ability to never sleep at a reasonable hour.  Sometimes I sing when I lay in bed and am frustrated when I can’t sleep and a few nights ago I just started singing “Insomnia-a-a-a” and came up with the melody and everything.  The next night, worked on the backing, and kept it simple.  I used the exact same chords, just as different types of inversions and the chorus is just the chords being played all together, and bam!  Got my song.  It was really cool to see it was that simple to have a song form into…a song haha.  Like legit I only used six keys on the keyboard and a song was made!  I thought of adding some strings or something, but as is the song is pretty goofy and quickly put together (in about 2 hours) but I really wanted to just write a song and get it done.  One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is to just work on a piece of music and finish it whether you think it’s good or not, then you can grow as an artist lol.

 

But yeah, really happy I got it done!  Not sure if I’m going to wind up sharing it or not because it’s just such a  weird song haha.  But at the same time, I really like how it came out, it’s super cute and catchy to me XD

Baked Good of the Month – Yeastless Bread

This month I went for something not sweet, because I’ve had the recipe for a while.  I have yeast now, but when I looked for this recipe, I didn’t have yeast, and wanted to know if I could make bread without yeast.  I found a country style bread recipe I’ve had saved for months, and decided to give it a go!  I’m surprised that you can use baking powder instead of yeast to make bread, it comes out exactly the  same to me.

All in all, it is a really good recipe!  It’s super flexible, too:    You need 1 and ½ cups of any liquid for it, but it literally can be any liquid.  If you want a tea time bread, use a juice, want a more traditional biscuit taste, use milk or water (can be non-dairy milk, also) and the same goes for the fat you need to use.  You need ¼ of a cup of a fat, so like oil or butter.  I opted to use vegetable oil.  My brother says he likes the taste of the bread with the oil, but I think next time I’m going to try using butter because I’m not a huge fan of being able to taste the vegetable oil in the bread.  Other than that, it comes out really flaky and tastes great!  It’s an awesome base recipe, like I said, and I can’t wait to do other t hings with it, like dust the bread with sugar and cinnamon or actually use juice as a liquid.  One of my favorite things is getting a super flexible recipe  (like my cookie bar recipe) and using it a ton of different ways.  I’m sort of running out of recipes to try that I haven’t done already, so I really need to look for some more haha.  I have a few different cookies I haven’t done, and some different ways to make cheesecake, and pies and banana bread I really want to do. Oh, also custard!  So I guess when I think about it, I do have a lot of things I want to bake still XD

A Musical Musingf

I’ve been in a music making funk and  a video creation funk – which, at this point, I’m probably just going to make some music slide shows and post my music like the good old days because the amount of time I’ve been slacking on recording video is ridiculous and I just want to get my music out at this point.  I’ve had a lot of half made ideas I’ve recorded, a lot of ideas with written lyrics with musical ideas forming in my head also, that I just haven’t gotten to recording and fleshing out.  And, I have to say, aren’t half thought ideas the worst?  I literally have about four melodies recorded and just can’t wrap my head around how to go about fully fleshing them out.  I record them regardless, because I hope to make them come of use one day:  I really just need to sit down with them, and get them done.  A major thing I always struggle with is whether to make a track have just music and lyrics, or just music, or just vocals and that’s honestly the snag that I’ve hit with another cover I’ve been working on also.  So basically, I think my brain needs to chill out XD

 

But anyway!  The mental snag I was having with this cover is that I was trying to make it more intense then I had to with instruments I think.  It’s a weird concept:  I’m taking a battle theme from a Final Fantasy, and seeing what I can do with it as a sadder, stripped down arrangement.  The initial chords of the track are really easy to pick out, and I’ve had the first chords and strings recorded for weeks:  I was going to record the main melody as piano, and then go into the second phase of the arrangement with all vocals, basically all a cappella with some minor instruments.  But that didn’t seem to mesh to me either.
Until it hit me:  Why not just do the main melody with all vocals, along with backing vocals as the intensity factor?  I have strings and piano recorded, and add maybe a tambourine or some jingles and just have a lot of vocal layers and see how that comes out, I think I’ll get more the effect I was going for.  I think I’m going to drop out the piano for the 2nd half of the arrangement, and only have strings:  or maybe an ascending or descending scale of piano with a ton of vocal layers, I think that would be good!  I find it funny because when I was making my Lufia cover I had this same dilemma:  I wanted to have a woodwind as the lead melody, and when I was playing back the track I thought my voice would sound better as the lead here (which honestly I find I do a lot lol – I guess that’s just the esthetic I like music wise).
But yeah, I’m going to try that, and see if finishing up that arrangement works out that way.  Still have to work on 2 videos (which like I said I may just make a picture slide show but still not sure).  But I reall hope my May funk doesn’t follow me into June, because I’ve really felt meh and not wanted to do anything productive this month ugh.

Song Writing Road Blocks, aka Some More Music Talk

I realized right after opening this up to type that my blog has been dominated with music related thoughts as of late, but it makes sense considering all of my free time has pretty much been dedicated to one of two things:  Reading novels or fanfic, or looking up, working on, or learning to make music.  Which has both been lots of fun, but somewhat frustrating when I want to apply certain things I’ve found to apply. Aka, another music post ahead, feel free to skip if that isn’t your thing XD

 

I’ve been having soooo much trouble trying to add lyrics to my originals!  Or rather, writing a song with lyrics.  When I go to cover a song it’s fine:  I just go off of the pre-existing song’s melody and structure, add lyrics if I want and work off of that.  The next cover I’m going to post is really interesting to me, because for a while I thought it was eh because the tone of it sounds so different than the original:  my rendition of it is definitely more folk, when the original is more medieval sounding.  I’ll be interested to see what people think of it when I post it honestly, it’s my first step into making something that I’d consider “my style” the stuff I’ve been doing lately is definitely along those lines, but I stuck to the structure of the original versions a lot more than with this one.

 

That track was pretty easy to make, I mean, I hit a few hurdles on the way, but I overcame them fairly quickly, and got this track done in two weeks give or take.  I…need to get better at recording video footage because at this point that’s really the only thing that holds me back from posting consistently.  But, I went on that mini tangent to say, it’s so much harder for me when it comes to forming something from scratch!  I feel like The Witching Hour was a fluke:  whenever I want to use chords to form a song, or even another track, my brain just hits a road block. I’ve recorded multiple beginnings of tracks, but my brain just can’t wrap itself around making a phase 2 or 3 of the melody:  or, I’m not sure if what I’ve made as the 2nd phase of the melody really counts as such sometimes.  And when trying to write lyrics with a song, don’t get me started!  I have no clue why it was so much easier for me to write songs with only my voice.  I have some old a cappella originals I did about a year or two ago that I’m tempted to redo because the mic quality is so bad haha.  But those came so much easier to me, and I have no clue why.  Over thinking, maybe?  There are a few of those old ones I want to restructure, because some are just too long or too wonky but once again, when I think of restructuring them, my brain draws a blank on how to do so.  I think I will make it a mini project of mine to retool at least two of those old tracks, along with fixing up some lyrics I’ve never used before to make them usable for a song because right now they’re the length of a poem and not really structurally sound to be lyrics.
To top it all off, there’s another “original” that’s just coming so easily to me, I don’t get it!  I put original in quotes, because it’s something I wrote based on a set of cards in Yu-gi-oh XD I wrote a bard’s song for the set of Gaia the Fierce Knight cards, and finally got to fixing up the lyrics, and fine tuning it and after fixing up the lyrics, the music is coming so easily in my head.  This one is another case of “Crystal, get off your butt and record the music already” because it’s basically completely formed in my noggin and I just need to get its parts recorded.  But once again, why does something like that come so easily, and an original not based on something not?  Over thinking again?  Too much pressure on myself when it comes to originals?

 

I really think I need to figure out what works for me song writing wise.  Maybe trying to come up with the chords first just doesn’t work for me, or maybe I should record demos of chord progressions with my voice and that could help?  But at the same time, sitting at the piano and noodling around for progressions just comes so easily to me, so like I’ve said multiple times this post I wonder what my road block for song writing could be when writing music with, and for pre-existing materials comes so much more easily.

 

Any song writers out there? Would love any advice!  I mean, I’m gonna keep trying, but blarg this is getting annoying XD