Manually Adding Drums in Reaper, a Blessing and a Curse

I realized something guys.


I can’t deal with playing drums on a keyboard, both piano and computer.  Any time I tried to add drums with my VST through playing, it was such a headache to line things up.  Eventually, I just gave up on adding any drums to stuff.  That is, until I watched this video series on how to write a song in Reaper with midi, live instruments, and all that jazz.  The first step that the person took in the video, was opening up the piano roll and clicking in the notes with the mouse.


And that’s when it clicked!  No pun intended~


I can manually add things in with the keyboard and keystrokes.  So I started doing that, and boy what a difference!  It takes up more time of course, but for the most part for drums it’s more manageable for me.  It’s still a headache regardless, but it’s better than not using them at all.  I know it’s something I’ll get the hang of – have only been doing this method for a few days – and two major problems are having the notes completely line up with the time signature, and figuring out where the notes fall when you add new ones.  I’d love to be able to just add a ton of notes and then go across the timeline and add the midi information on blank notes in each bar.  Now keep in mind this may be highly possible, but as far as using it with the scripts I need to use Reaper I haven’t seen a way.  It’s just the learning curve thoUGH:  I just add one note to the next bar and then move said note around, kind of have to figure out how it works because right now new notes I add always wind up on beat 4 lol.


But it’s been nice!  I have just been making simple drum loops, and due to the nature of the original music I write, I copy and paste the loops.  Have to get the hang of that now too, but it’s a new method I’ve been doing after learning how and it saves a lot of time.  I don’t have to play and play and play the same thing over and over again, can just play one verse worth of chords then copy paste to the next verse, saves lots of time.  I’m a little nervous to record vocals to my new tracks for a number of reasons – one of them being I’m afraid it just will be a garbled mess of drums and strings and I have never done a non acappella original track with lyrics, so a bit of stage fright there.  It’s a little irrational,  I know, but just something I have to do and hope for the best lol.  Can always add more to it later!


I’m working on doing originals right now, and doing originals with lyrics and vocals, and VSTs is new territory for me.  That’s another reason I’m getting recording cold feet:  will my old originals sound as good the way they are now?  Is it all garbage?  Should I just suck it up and record (yes) it’s just one of those internal things I have to work through, and will.  I like to have all the music done first though, and still have one original to finish the instrumental for.  I’m like half excited half nervous about it, so yeah!


And that’s been my midi experiences as of late.  Music, and midi actually haha.  Fingers crossed I get all of these tracks done by the middle of April!


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!

RE-Learning When to Take a Step Back from a Creative Project

I feel like I’m just going to post on here when I have something to say.  That’s a decent amount of time mind you, but my old post 2 times a week on specific days plan wasn’t working for me the last few months of 2017.  However, for now at least, it seems like posting when I have something to say, and telling myself post 2 to 3 times a week works, so that’s how I’m going to run this blog for the time being.  We’ll see how it goes!  But anyway, onto the post~


I’ve been working on a project that stumbled into my sights a few weeks ago.  When reviewing all of the tracks set for one album release, there was one that just wasn’t meshing with the rest of them.  After having a few trusted people listen to the track listing, we decided to pull one of the tracks in question off, and leave the other track in question on the first album.  So having just one track floating around my harddrive with no album to call it’s home, I decided to make an ambient album of tracks to fit that track on, and have another EP to release later in the year.


Didn’t realize how much of a learning experience this would be!


I tried so many arrangements of different tracks, and hated them all.  Yesterday, I just went “Forget it, maybe doing this album isnt’ for me” but then I got a message from a friend who I had told about the album, and they said they were super excited for it.  It’s going to be full of ambient Final Fantasy tracks, so they mentioned the dungeon/cave themes of the franchise, and we started talking about them.  That’s when it hit me.


I had been trying to do world map and town themes, but for ambient tracks, I’ve only gotten 1 world map theme from a game to work.  The rest of the things I’ve been recording and trying to mix I really disliked, and that’s why I just felt discouraged and burnt out from even wanting to continue the project.  That, and I had self imposed a deadline on myself to have it all done by the 15th of this month, so that didn’t help matters.  But talking about that music, made me completely change my outlook on how to deal with this album, and dealing with the burn out made me realize I needed to take a step back from this beast, re-evaluate the tracks I wanted to arrange, and not be afraid to scrap anything I’ve done on this project so far.  Doing that, and taking a  breather to work on the new Let’s Play series I’m posting on my channel (side note: it’s going well) gave my brain the creative space and time to destress and re-establish my goals for this album.


I also realized, the sort of ambient music I was trying to do with these themes was a bit more structured then it had to be.  So I’ve been taking my break time from working to listen to ambient music, watch tutorials on how to make ambient music, and just educate myself in general about the genre of music I’ve been wanting to create for this EP.  I know it sounds silly, but I always thought the style I did when I added no lyrics was ambient, but boy was I wrong!  There’s so much more to making ambient music then I ever imagined, and I’ve been enjoying learning.  I can’t wait to take what I learned and apply it to the new tracks I want to record for the EP.


I picked new tracks to do also, all tracks that could fit the ambient style.  I’ve written out detailed outlines on how to do each track I picked, and I feel a lot more secure in going to record those, then vocals, and having them for the EP.  Another thing that sounds like a no brainer, but when you get excited to do something, you want to jump into it.


I guess what I’m trying to say is, stopping a project you’re hitting your head against the wall with is always a good thing.  It’s something I think creatives think to do until it’s time to do it, but it’s important to know your creative limits, and when you need to take a step back and work on something else for a while.  I actually got a comment on a video for a request to cover another Inuyasha song, so I may do that for a while musically and then be working on my Let’s play videos as a de-stresser, because I surprisingly enjoy recording those a lot more than I expected.  But more of that in another post.


Setting an arbitrary deadline to get these done didn’t really work for me.  I told myself I wanted to have an album out for the release of the new Final Fantasy game this month, but honestly that’s just too much pressure, and I want to release this thing right.  Final Fantasy is timeless, so coming out with an album of music whenever should be fine, and getting all the tracks done, then marketing the EP to the best of my ability sounds way more appealing than it has to be out asap!  But once again, something I wouldn’t have thought of without taking a break from the project.


Don’t be afraid to replan something if it isnt’ working.  Don’t think you’re a failure because one way of doing something didn’t work out.  If you find yourself having too many problems doing something one way, find another way to do it!  And if you just are so fed up with a project, but know you want to finish it, take a breather for a few days, destress and re-evaluate how to tackle said project, it’ll do yu wonders!

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

Castle Poem/Not quite lyrics

I write a lot of drafts of lyrics, which really is just poetry.  Some of them I had a melody in mind for, but then after I finish writing them they just don’t fit anymore, and some of them I write but they had no melody to begin with and I couldn’t think of one so they just stay poems.  This is one of those pieces.  Not sure if I shared it or not here, so here it is!
No real notes on this:  Had no name for it or anything, so the tentative title was always just “Castle”.  Saw something about a castle in Ireland that fell into the sea, and got inspired to write this.




There once was the grandest castle,

That sat upon the sea.

It’s ivory walls were marbled fine,

It’s catacombs’ pristine.

The King and Queen who nestled there

Forewent their worries and their cares,

A party thrown every night,

To bring the people delight.
The servants worked, amongst the waves,

Their fingers brittle and bare.

Of all the rings they yearned to own,

That the King and Queen did wear.

For some great envy sprouted fruit,

But others knew their lot in life,

To serve the King and Queen adored,

As they slaved away right by the shore.

Into the tower nearest to the sea,

Rusted, rickets green.


A night in which no one would forget,

A festival took place.

The servants slaved to serve the crowds,

Used to this routine

They did not know the tower’s creaked,

They could not hear the crumbling sheen,

Too busy serving all who came,

To praise the King and Queen by name.

And so when the tower fell,

Down into the depths below,

The noblemen did nothing more

Then greave this loss for show.


And so the King and Queen did leave,

This castle lost it’s fancy.

For who would want a watery grave?

Who would serve their whims?


Now the castle, once grand and bold,

Sits on the shore, decays,

No King or Queen dare live in a place,

Where they could keep no maids?


Others say the tower fell,

Due to contemptuous greed.

But many just say, rest in peace,

To the servants in the sea.

Limit Yourself Kinda Sucks

For some reason with everything else I am like “Limiting yourself in ___ is stupid I will do whatever!” but with music I am like “I can’t do this, because I am rooted in ___ style of music” and yes, that’s somewhat true, but like, I don’t get why I’m so dead-set  against experimenting with different musical styles, when I really don’t have to.  I’ve been thinking I really want to tinker with making some EDM, or covering some rock or pop but my brain is always like “You can’t, you only sing Celtic or video game stuff!” and I just want to be like duuuude it really doesn’t matter, it’s my channel and I can post whatever I want as long as it’s music.  So right now, I’m trying to just get over that and start working on different genres of music, and see what happens.


It’s a really bad mindset though, because my brain keeps on saying anything I write in another genre isn’t good enough, and when I just look at any lyrics I write I’m like eww.  But I’m going to try and just get over that by recording, and like I said see what happens with experimentation.  I mean, worst case scenario is…nothing?  You always learn something from stuff you do I think, so I just really need to get out of this mindset when it comes to music.
So time to cross my fingers, force myself to record, and see what comes of it!  Wish me luck XD

Soldiers of the Night Original Song

I was going to rant today, but then I posted a new original song, and figured it’d be far more productive to post that instead of ranting about blind music accessibility and the lack there of XD


I always am conflicted about posting my original stuff before like, posting them for sale on Loudr.  But, After hitting a lot of snags with getting my art done, I just figured I’ll share my music now, just to get it out there:  Because in the end, I really just want to share this stuff with you guys.  Of course I’ll post this stuff on avenues where I can make money off of them eventually, but for now I’ll just settle for getting over my fear of posting original stuff on the interwebs with lyrics with this XD
So, here is my latest original!  It’s a song about a mercenary guild, and I really was trying to get a tavern-y, fantasy-esk sound with it.  I hope you guys enjoy, and if you have any tips on how to improve this, let me know!  Later down the line, I will be recording mini-sodes about my writing process and creative musing and stuff I’ll post here too, so stay tuned for that!