EPs, Original Music, and an Overall Musical Update

If that title doesn’t say it all, read on for more of a break down!
I’m currently in the process of uploading one of the Final Fantasy EPs I’ve been working on for the past few months to online music distributers, and can honestly say I’m very excited to be done with it’s production.  I love Final Fantasy music, but working on copious amounts of it for as many months as I did took a bit of a toll on me.  It won’t be the last Final Fantasy EP of mine this year, but I have to wait for another album I’m contributing to to drop before I can release that one (a track on the EP has to be released on said album first before I can do what I want with it).  I’m really happy I pushed myself to make these EPs though, because they gave me the confidence, and format of how I want to do the rest of my EPs this year.


While working on my ambient Final Fantasy EP, I kept on trying to add a fourth track to an EP that already had 3 tracks.  For some reason, in my head, the EP just had to have four tracks:  probably because that’s how I always see EPs formatted.  But no matter how hard I tried, going through at least six, if not more attempts at arranging a fourth track, nothing was working.  I got frustrated, and almost gave up…until I thought back to an article I read from a DIY musicians blog that had talked about doing what they called a 3p – you guessed it, an EP with three tracks, instead of four.  Their reasoning was, because you can work on 3 tracks fairly quickly, experiment with genres, song writing, etc etc, and not be fully committed to making a full album.  You can then release that content, have things for people to stream and purchase, and in the mean time work on another project of yours.


And that’s when my arranging slump had ended.  Because I already had a third track recorded, and just had to add vocals to it.  But re-reading that article gave me the confidence to just go and make a 3p:  which, according to soundrop, is still an EP.  A single is 1 to 2 tracks, an EP is 3 to 4, and an LP is 5 tracks or more, aka a full album.  So that was even more perfect!  Now I have a huge weight off my shoulders, and am just waiting for the tracks to get on stores.  And, with that creative hurdle done with, I have so many other ideas for 3Ps, including originals I can group together in that format that I already have recorded, ideas for EPs that I didn’t have before because doing 3 tracks at a time seems to be the magic number for me, and is a really manageable  amount for me to work on at any given time.  I can do 3 tracks in a month, and have consistent content coming out, and keep my creative juices flowing.  All win-win scenarios for me!


Another awesome thing I can do now, is hire my friend to do art for me!  I am beyond excited to have the budget to be able to do that, and to have someone reliable  to hire for said art on an ongoing basis.  Getting art done is my least favorite part of the process, because I don’t like having to hunt an artist down, if I’m being completely honest, so just having an awesome friend that I’m glad to hire for stuff is a good thing 🙂


My next musical projects are a little up in the air.  I’m deciding between doing a spiritual hymns EP, or re-recording originals of mine and releasing them as an EP:  I wrote them back in 2015 when I had no virtual instruments, not nearly as much  composing knowledge as I have now, and my voice has definitely gotten better, along with my mixing and production quality.  So I would really like to revamp, revisit, and release those tracks.  I’ll wind up doing both eventually, but I’m just deciding which project to do first.  I’m leaning more towards the original redos, because that’s what I’m inspired to do right now (and I have album art done for it already I got done waaay back when I wanted to release the acappella version of one of the tracks  and chickened out lol).  I’m debating recording a third track with lyrics I’ve had written for years for that, or just writing an entirely new song for it.  The EP would be based on different stories about different warriors, is the idea I’m having so we’ll see if I wind up writing something new for it or just redoing stuff.


I really want to get back into writing original singer/songwriter songs with lyrics too.  I love my covers, but I also love writing originals, and I haven’t written a non VGM based orig in foreeeeever.  So I really need to get my writing chops back up to par so I can get back to that, I miss it tons – luckily, I came up with a chorus as I was listening to music tonight, so fingers crossed I can get that turned into a nice song!


A rather big post, but I’ve been busy music-wise.  I’ll post again when Ambient Fantasy is available to stream/in stores!  I hope all of you are doing well, and having a great year so far!


YET ANOTHER Musical Revelation

Sometimes I feel like I go through the same revelations over and over again but with different aspects of it becoming more relevant to me at a certain point in time, because this definitely lines up with my play easy instruments and make them dynamic revelation I had a few months ago.  Either way, it’s coming up again, so time to blog about it!


While working on a recent arrangement, I wanted to mess around with guitar chords for it.  The guitar VST I got is…well, not that hot (it was really cheap so not surprised) and I started being like I need to learn some basic guitar chords grr grr I’ve had one just sitting around my house for years (seriously, I bought one in 2013 and have touched it maybe twice) when it hit me.
I really don’t want to learn to play guitar.


It’s not that it’s a bad instrument, I love the sound of it.  I just have this aversion to learning guitar, that I don’t have with playing piano.  To have a strings instrument to strings instrument parallel, I don’t have the same aversion to learning the mountain dulcimer – which is a beautiful sounding, folk instrument that you play like a piano.  It’s small, it’s simple, but something about how raw and Americana the sound is just speaks to me in a way that the guitar doesn’t.  Or rather, that learning the guitar doesn’t.


I can see myself using it for arrangements, when using guitar is something I have trouble integrating when I think about using it.  Will it be easy to integrate?  Probably not as easy as I think, but I’m far more open to learning to play the mountain dulcimer than I am the guitar, and I shouldn’t fight that.  I learned that the hard way with the recorder:  It’s a nice enough instrument, and easy to play, but at the end of the day I really wanted an ocarina, so why did I buy a recorder in the first place?  Well, I figured it would be easy to integrate also, which it sort of is but just haven’t found a reason to use it.


So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re going to go the learn to play an instrument route, be sure it’s something you know you’ll really enjoy!  If you can, go play one at a music store, but if it’s inexpensive, why not just buy one and see how you like it?  Once again with the recorder, I would have always wondered if it was for me if I didn’t buy one.  The mountain dulcimer, you can purchase a starter one for 70 dollars or less, so no huge investment to see if I’d like it.  Plus, looking at how to play videos makes it look super easy, and it’s in my current comfort zone of instruments I’d feel comfy buying and playing.  The last instrument I wanted was a stringed one to get my folksy, indi, one woman band complete, so I think that stringed instrument is going to be the mountain dulcimer as far as physical instruments go.  For guitar and other things, I’ll just get virtual ones to use.  If only all of these were free, that would make my life easier~


I also know a few people who play guitar, so if I want something more authentic sounding I’ll just ask them to play for me.  In fact, I’ve done that for a cover I’ve been wanting to do for years, so I’m majorly pumped for that!

Piano Playing + Music Update

It’s been 3 months of playing keyboard, I believe?  I’ve lost track of time, but figured it’s about time for another update!
Mainly, I realize I need to start just arranging things to get better at piano.  Like, doing warm ups and stuff is fine, but when I was just doing warm ups it wasn’t really interesting to me:  I got bored, not in a way that made me want to stop playing by any means, but in a way more like “I want to keep playing, but can’t figure out what to play”.  After getting my computer back, and being able to record music though, I have a lot more fun playing sections for arrangements!  It makes me think more of how to add movement, and dynamics.  Like, as an example, there was one song I was working on that I just recorded a very simple chord progression for, but when I went to record vocals over it, it just sounded so bland and uninteresting to me.  So, I went to re-record the track, only with more dynamic playing (aka, playing with both hands, instead of just playing with my left) and the difference was night and day.  I wanted to share it here today, but I’ll be releasing the track as a whole later in March so…you’ll just hear it then 😉


On that note, I’ve been working on so many things.  Like I literally have about six project waiting in the wings, and need to record vocals for them.  It annoys me a bit with my mind set sometimes, because I listen to some of my arrangements with like, just an acoustic sound and my brain goes I need more stuff in here for it to sound interesting ugh” so I constantly have to keep on telling myself that it’s perfectly ok to just use a piano, or a piano, strings, and minor percussion.  I have to realize that doing that folksy acoustic stuff is a specific style, and not only that, but it’s a style that I really enjoy doing.  It’s a style that I see other cover artists do also, so why feel like it’s not enough doing the style I truly enjoy doing?  And that thought got me thinking last night:  I have a lot of original tracks that I never released because they were all a cappella, so why not you know, actually release them this year as an EP?  I think I’m actually going to go through with it this year!  I set a goal to release original music to sell every year but have always chickened out.  But this year, now that I’m doing bolder things, like launching my patreon and recording myself on camera, why not go all the way and release my music as well?  Worst case scenario is people won’t buy it, but just having it sit on my laptop where no one can hear it is a lot worse of a fate for it, in my opinion.  How will people hear it if it’s not out there to be heard?  I have album art already made for it last year, so I think I’m going to commission an acquaintance of mine to master the tracks for me, and possibly mix another that I’ve had the raws for years also just sitting on my computer.  I guess 2017 is just my year to take risks, because I’ve usually stopped myself in the past but this year I’m like no do it do it!


This piano update just turned into an overall music update XD I guess all I can say is this:  Here’s hoping I get everything done I want to get done this March!  I’m going to set a goal to start uploading two videos every month instead of my one, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to do that and get a consistent upload schedule!

YouTube and Music Update

Now that I more or less have my anxieties about recording myself on video singing done with, I want to move on to working through other things via camera.  The two things I really want to work on is actually talking on cam, like in vlog format, and being able to add facial expressions and be more animated while singing.  For the ladder, I think it’s fine to not look animated when all you’re doing is a lot of “oos” and “ahs”, but with songs that have lyrics, I really want to look like I’m invested in the song.  It’s frustrating though, because every video I’ve looked at says look at yourself in the mirror and practice, but I can’t do that and haven’t found any alternatives.  I thought of recording demos on camera and sending it for advice, but not sure how that would help unless I know someone who could give me pointers on how to perform a song with more than my voice.  This is when I wish some sort of acting class was in my area!  Though I really just want to know about how to perform a song, I think it’s something I need some one on one coaching with, and I just can’t wrap my head around being able to find some help, other than like I said shooting camera footage and asking for advice and hoping who I ask knows a little about performing with facial expressions.


I found one interesting tid bit that I am probably going to try, where it was you make a character for yourself while singing the song by reading the lyrics beforehand and putting yourself in the characters shoes.  Also, staging what you’ll be doing before performing the song as well:  I know for some things, I’ll just be playing an instrument, but when it’s just me sitting and singing I’d like to have something to look like I’m invested in the song because that’s been a chronic issue for me, even back when I did live gigs.  SO my new goal since I will be back on the saddle of YouTube this month is to work on those things.  In the back of my head, I always say “Just don’t put yourself on camera because of those issues” but then I realize that so many YouTubers started off by being awkward, and maybe meh looking while doing their videos, but they only learned by putting themselves out there, and having an audience that gave them critiques, and an audience that they were accountable to so they were more likely to want to up their quality of content.  I guess since I actually want to upgrade my performances and quality, I’ve gotten to that point too!  Only took a year of YouTubing XD


For the vlogging, it’s weird because I used to podcast and didn’t have a problem talking there.  But with the camera on me, it’s a whole other animal, and nerves tend to get me to stammer and stumble.  I can always edit things out, sure, but I tried that on a test video and it’s really tedious and annoying, so I’d rather just do things in one take, then if I want to talk more, stop that and do another take.  Because having to go through like an hour of footage because I just kept on talking isn’t something I’d like to do. And, since I would rather not put my friend who would be editing stuff for me through the torture of me rambling, if I vlog I think I’d do that multi take format, and write down an outline of what I want to say.  On my test footage I didn’t have an outline, and it showed because I just was talking with a lot of ums and ers and it was so awkward XD  As I did different takes it got easier, so that’s why I think an outline to bounce off of would work best for me if I do vlogs.


But I’m excited!  Next week is when I’m getting all of my audio equipment, and I’m probably going to go to Guitar Center and see what hand drums they have there, and hopefully I can grab one to drag home.  With that, I’d have a whole mini percussion section I’ve been wanting, and with the keyboard, I’d be good to go!  I got some virtual instrument VSTs that were on sale for a dollar (they’re usually 100) and one has strings in it, the other an array of instruments.  I can use my keyboard as a midi controller, so I plan to do that with the virtual instruments, and hope it works well enough to just be able to flip through the different instruments with my keyboards keypad and play them on my keyboard.  I’ve tried VSTs in the past, but on a computer their accessibility factor has not been very good.  So I’m hoping with a piece of  hardware, where clicking with a mouse won’t be a factor, I’ll be able to use them to the extent of switching instruments with the keyboards keypad and using them, then mixing them with effects on my DAW.  I was sooooo excited to find those two VSTs for such a steal, I was like “I don’t care if they are accessible or not, they are a dollar so I will buy them and use them” haha.  I need my computer fixed before doing that, but I have my keyboard until then so nbd~


After picking up a drum, the only other physical instruments I really, really want are an ocarina and a mountain dulcimer.  The ocarina because Legend of Zelda, come on (I also think it’s overall just a beautiful sounding woodwind, as is the recorder) and the mountain dulcimer, because it’s from what I’ve read, the easiest string instrument to play, but once you learn it you can do complex stuff with it.  It also sounds so beautiful and folksy, and really fits my aesthetic of Celtic-folk style that I love!  An ocarina is very inexpensive, so I’ll be picking one up this month.  A mountain dulcimer of good quality is a bit more pricy, so I’ll be buying it a bit later.  Really happy that my one-woman band is starting to come together though!  So cloooose, just got to pick up some things to get the ball rolling woot woot!


That was a lot longer of an update then I expected haha.  I’m just so excited February  is here, because I can finally start arranging covers on my own again, only this time the way I’ve wanted to with actual instruments!  I know it won’t be super easy, as I’ve seen from singing along and playing piano to some arrangements I’ve been hashing out, but I’m ready for the challenge.  I’m really excited to grow as a musician this year, and onward!