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!

How do Our Musical Tastes Effect Our Composing and Critiqueing? Some Musings

With this music challenge I’m doing, in the VGMA Facebook group there’s a daily post where we all post what we’ve written.  When I post something, I like to go through the previous posts to see what everyone else is coming up with.  Today after doing so, it got me thinking about each person’s music tastes.  Everyone is doing different takes on the challenge with genres they’re into – may it be fantasy music, electronic, classical – but all in the vain of making it sound like it can loop in a video game.  But that also got me thinking:  How does the genre of music we compose in, and the genres we prefer effect our composing, critiquing, and musical dispositions?

 

Me, for example.  I grew up listening to country music.  So when I listen to a song, what I look for is good storytelling, an impactful emotional tone, and tend to strive for minimal arrangements with basic chord progressions.  When I build on something, I rarely change up the chord progression of one instrument and instead add something else – like a double strings harmony, a tambourine, something varying the texture of the sound over going into a different phase of the chord progression already there.  My comfort zone is doing an ABAB song writing structure – verse, chorus, verse, chorus with an occasional bridge if needed.

 

I like good vocals, but vocals over good emotion and storytelling have never been my thing.  I’ll take an ok enough sounding vocal full of raw emotion, over a belting power ballad that sounds like someone is phoning it in.  Once again, I think that’s because I grew up listening to country music, and it’s what I’m used to and favor.  Jumping to Celtic music when I was older wasn’t really a surprise, because country and Celtic are close cousins genre wise.  Same with folk, and indi:  all different branches of the same genre of music.

 

So even when I compose something video game themed with repetition, I go for that folksy feel, or an emotional, acoustic sound.  But I notice when I’m arranging something, even when I plan to make it sound all orchestral it always winds up being about 5 instruments or less because when I try to add more, in the end I like how it sounds with less.  I struggled a long time with that – thinking my arrangements aren’t good enough with more sounds but now I realize that’s just how I compose things, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

There’s been a lot of buzz in the VGM cover community about when a track starts “Not being a cover anymore” and my opinion on the subject?  As long as there’s part of the pre-existing melody in there, it’s a cover.  The VGM cover community is by far the sweetest community I’ve ever been a part of and the discussions on the topic lately also got me thinking of this topic.  Like my favorite music is acoustic and folk, and whenever I see acoustic guitar cover artists in VGM I always get excited because they’re also channeling that folksy, minimalist feel I love.  Now when you do something high energy like say, a battle theme, it’ll sound completely different on piano or acoustic guitar, even if you’re still keeping the same energy and vibe from the original track up.  So does that still make it a cover?  Yep!  In my opinion at least.  I saw a really cool way of phrasing this though.  The original music is like a canvass, and you’re painting with the source material.  You can go as basic with the source as you want, sticking to the original as closely as possible, or you can get abstract with it, adding your own take on it, expressing your style and spin on the track on it.  My last cover was like that, and my next few covers will be like that, as well – and to be completely honest, I’m really happy they’re going to be.  I’m really excited to be putting my own stamp and style on tracks that I love, and have gotten the most challenge and enjoyment from composing my last few covers, and in doing so have gotten lots of inspiration and motivation to do more covers in my own style that doing a note for note arrangement wouldn’t, and hasn’t gotten me in the past.

 

But yeah, all of these musings just sort of popped into my mind this morning and decided to make a blog post about them.  Didn’t really touch on how this effects how we critique things, but probably  along the same lines as why we compose in certain ways – no matter how unbiased we try to be, we’ll always have some sort of preference to wanting to hear something sound like the genre we prefer.  Not saying that’s always the case, but I know for me at times I have critiqued something wanting something I prefer thrown into the mix lol.

 

I’ll stop there, I honestly could go on about these topics for ages!  What sort of music genres did you grow up with, or are into that you think inspired your musical inspirations?  What are your thoughts on covers that are a lot different than the original, also?

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!

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!

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!