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

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.

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!

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!

Piano Playing Progress – Two Weeks

I thought it would be fun to keep a log of my keyboard/piano progress, because what else is a blog for if not for doing something like that?  I’ll be updating with this little feature every 2 weeks, or every month, haven’t decided yet.

 

Surprisingly, it’s a lot easier to play than I expected!  Like learning the chord progressions I’ve got down for the most part, at least in the major scale.  I’m still working on training my fingers to play minor, inverted, and diminished cords, and getting the layout of the keyboard memorized a bit more.  Like, sometimes I hit the right cord, and sometimes I jump down to half a step more than I was expected.  I think that’s mainly because I start thinking about where my fingers should be:  Instead of letting my hands take over and sort of have my brain check out.  When I over think, is when I start to trip up, so I need to get more out of my head.

 

What’s been frustrating me (and I know it shouldn’t since I’ve only been playing for 2 weeks) is hand coordination.  I want to be able to play with both hands already!  I’ve been focusing on training my hands to play together, because I saw this really helpful tip about doing that where your hands really aren’t playing different things, you’re using the same fingers to play the cords, just on different spots on the keyboard.  And, that trick has helped me a lot!  I’ve been doing this warm up where I use my right hand to play a descending  progression, while my left does the harmony cords.  I can do it fine fast, but when I slow down for some reason it’s harder for me to keep both hands going.  But once again, I’m being too hard on myself and hand coordination is something that will grow over time.

 

I’ve been hashing out some song melodies and stuff too, which has been fun.  A few have gone well and a few…not so well, but I feel like I need to read up more on song writing and music theory just to refresh my memory.  It’s annoying when you have a melody in your head and try to play it on piano and just can’t though grrr.  I’m trying not to get overly frustrated, because I honestly think I’ve made a lot of good progress over the two weeks I’ve been playing, and the things I’ve been trying that I’ve failed at have been some decently advanced stuff.

 

But yeah, that has been my progress so far!  I’m excited to use my keyboard in a cover, I’ve been practicing some patterns for two or three covers that I need to just record.  Am excited and nervous to have my lacking keyboard skills be shown in a video XD

AHHHH AHHHH I Finally Have a Keyboard!

Not gonna lie:  I knew I was going to get this, because well, I picked it out.  But my Mom has this annoying thing where she wanted me to “open it” on Christmas, because it technically was a Christmas gift.  I thought, “OK, well at least I get to open a big old package on Christmas!” but nope, I come out in the morning and it was already set up for me to play booooo.  I got to open up the survival kit like a present, so I guess that’s something that was fun.

 

But yes, I finally got a keyboard!  I’ve been playing it all yesterday, and practiced for a bit today as well.  I figured, I’d practice 1 to 3 hours a day, and hopefully I’ll be able to play a song in a few months.  Just from the little bit I’ve played it though, it’s surprisingly easy!  I’m still getting acclimated to the keyboard, of course, but I’m already playing different cords, and doing a lot of warm ups/practice sessions that are just me learning how to play cords with the right fingering.  I’ve been watching a lot of helpful YouTube videos, as well, and the fact that I already was practicing chord progressions on a virtual keyboard on my computer has helped tons, too.  Having it all laid  out in an actual piano format helps me so much though, and I’m so so so so sooooo excited to use it in covers, and be able to play it in general!

 

I think my major two things I will have to work on, are getting my right hand to move like my left one on the keys:  I’m left handed, and I noticed that it’s a lot easier for me to handle that side of the keyboard because of it.  So I’ve been focusing on building up the muscle memory on both hands (but more on my right) and it’s helped already, I can tell.  Getting my fingers to not knock other keys has been a minor issue too, so I’ve just been going up and down the board with scales and when I hit two keys, starting over again.  All in all though, it so much easier to pick up than I expected.  I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve been really into music lately or something else, but I’m not complaining!

 

The Yamaha survival kit is kind of an annoying add on you have to buy, because it comes with the AC adaptor.  It also comes with a sustain peddle, and some headphones you can plug into the keyboard so you don’t bother people while you’re practicing, so it was a good extra purchase.  And, once you buy it, it can be used for any Yamaha Bran keyboard, so worth the extra money.  I really like the tonal quality of the grand piano base setting, it sounds great.  The extra keyboard voices are…hit and miss (the brass section is so ugh XD) but I was surprised that a violin voice in there doesn’t sound terrible.  Haven’t gone through all of them yet, because I’m more focused on just learning to play, but it’s nice they’re included on their nevertheless.

 

I got sidetracked this year, but I really want 2017 to be a year for music.  I’m excited to continue learning how to play my keyboard this year, and I plan to buy other instruments to compliment it.  But AHHHH AHHHH, I finally got a keyboard!

 

Did you get any Christmas gifts you’ve been wanting for a while?  Would love to hear what you got in the comments!

A Musical Update

I’m having one of those awesome weeks where stuff is starting to come together, and I don’t think I’ve done a straight up music update in a while, so here we go!

 

I’ve been working on a few collabs the past few months, and I got to hear the one I was most looking forward to hearing a few hours ago.  It’s from a Final Fantasy game, and is going to be on a Final Fantasy album for next year, and ugh I am just so excited to be able to hear it completed but now I’m like aruuuug I can’t share it with you guys until the album is released and it’s killing me.  I will say, everyone involved put in their A game, the track is so amazing.  It’s my favorite track from that particular Final Fantasy, and it’s a very different take on the original track.
It’s doubly exciting, because I provided both vocals, and lyrics for it!  I told the person mixing it that they could use takes with lyrics or with just straight up ooos for the melody, so I was super excite to hear the lyrical takes on the tracks.  I wrote a lot more verses than were used in this version of the track, so I may do another version on my YouTube Channel with all four verses I did for this certain track.

 

I’m also working on a duet with someone that’s coming out great so far!  I haven’t done my parts, but their parts sound really good and I’m excited to get to work on that once I learn the song.  I also finally got a few instruments recently!  I picked up some shakers and a really nice tambourine, and I know for sure I’ll be getting um, something pretty musical for Christmas I can’t wait to start learning how to play.  I also picked up a recorder, so once I learn how to play that, it’s going to be sooo much fun making covers.  But I’m the most excited to start learning to play my Christmas gift XD

 

My main focus for next year and the end of this year, is going to be music.  I got side track this year by a lot of side projects, and silly insecurities, so I’m going to make it a point to not have that be the case for next year.  I’m so happy that I’ve decided to tackle some things I wouldn’t normally do (like doing all of these collaborations, for one) and I feel like my music is going in a great direction.  Here’s hoping it stays that way!