Check It Out – Tutorial

By Joe Hogan – 13th Feb 2004

The aim of this tutorial is to give users of Leon and Lola advice and tips on how to gain realistic vocals from the Vocaloid Editor.

This Tutorial will take you through some of the techniques used in the Leon Demo "Check it Out". Although the tutorial is directly related to Leon, the midi files and techniques described can be used to similar effect with Lola as well.

please note: The midi files in this tutorial assume that Leon is vocaloid singer 0. If this is not the case, ie you installed Lola first, simply change the singer to LEON in the control track before the first note of the phrase (see "changing singers" in the vocaloid help file)

This tutorial assumes you are already familiar with the basic functionality of the Vocaloid Editor as outlined in the Vocaloid TUTORIAL.

This is the song.

LEON Demo – Check It Out (MP3)

Phrase 1 – "Come on, yeah, yeah"

Tip. The most important piece of advice to getting natural sounding vocals from vocaloid is …. Sing the phrase you are trying to create.

It doesn’t matter how bad your voice is, as by singing it out loud you can hear how you phrase the vocal line rhythmically. Listen to how you leave gaps between notes, how you slur up into notes and bend the note slightly (up or down) at the end of the phrase. Also note how you pronounce the words as this often wont be the "correct" pronunciation.

To start this phrase, set the tempo to 90BPM (use pencil tool in the tempo track), and make sure the "show phonetics" light is on (underneath the transport controls in the top right of the screen). Then draw in the notes with pencil tool and put in the lyrics "come on, yeah yeah". Then press the phoneme transform button (ae). It should look like this…..

Phoneme Correction

As you can see the word "yeah" does not translate into phonemes properly……

No problem, simply correct them so the following phonemes are used: j e – i: – j e – e@ (ye-ee-ye-air).

Also the velocities of the last 4 notes are a little loud so reduce them to 61.

Now, press play and have a listen…. It sounds ok.

Phrase1-1 so far (MP3)

Phrase 1-1 so far (MID)

Phoneme Improvement

Now the words are in place use the pencil tool to split the word "on" over 2 notes, you will need to correct the phonemes so it looks like this….

As you can see I changed the phonetic Q (from "on") with V (sounds like "un"), as that sounds slightly more natural in this context. Also its worth moving the ‘m’ phoneme from "come" to the beginning of "on". So its pronounced more like "cu mon" rather than "come on".

Vibrato Adjustment

Also add "normal" vibrato to the 3rd and last notes by dragging it over from the "icon palette", adjust the length of the vibratos with the pencil tool. The vibrato on the last note requires adjustment to the depth and rate, so the most intense and quick part of the vibrato is in the middle of the note. After adding the vibrato the the note, double click on it and select either depth or rate, then in the "Vibrato Setup" window use the pencil tool to draw lines (select "line") or curves (select "free").

Consonant Adjustment

Next change the consonant adjustment parameters. This can be accessed by double clicking on any note, the "phoneme edit" window opens. Now from here the syllables/notes of your song are listed, simply select the one you want to change and hit the "setup" button (bottom left). The "phoneme parameter" setup window opens, hit the "setup" button.

Now you should be presented with the "phoneme Property" window. From here you can adjust the length (strength) of each consonant, the default value is 64.

Now, adjust ‘kh’ and ‘n’ (1st and 3rd notes) to 0 and ‘j’ (4th note) to 20. Now have a listen..

…..Its getting better!

Phrase 1-2 so far (MP3)

Phrase 1-2 so far (MID)

The Control Track

The Control Track enables the adjustment of various continuous parameters, similar to midi controllers. They are essential to creating realism in vocaloid. You can select which parameter to adjust by using the selector on the bottom left of the screen. the wide area to the right of this is where you can draw the curve.

Tip. When using the control track, it is hard to get accurate control of the line you are drawing. It is useful to stretch out the bottom half of the screen, so you can get more precise control. Simply click and drag the horizontal divider between the control track and the sequence window up or down.

Draw a dip in the brightness track under the first 2 notes, to do this you need to select "free" and set the interval to about 5. Then you can draw with the pencil tool.

Draw an increase in Clearness on the second half of the word "on"

Draw a dip in the noise track under the second note and an increase on the last note

Also draw a decrease in the harmonics track on the last note

Tip. The control track can be a little daunting at first if you don’t know what all the parameters do. Here is a brief explanation of the parameters that we have used so far:

When a singer sings, they are producing 2 types of sound, the voiced sounds and the unvoiced sounds. The voiced component is created by the singers vocal cords, and the unvoiced comes from the mouth (lips, tongue, teeth etc). Vocaloid produces the 2 elements separately.

Harmonics. This controls the level of the voiced or harmonic content of the voice. Vowels are always voiced.

Noise. This controls the level of the un-voiced content of the voice, eg. consonants like t and s, also breathiness.

Brightness/Clearness. These 2 parameters control, the balance of the resonances that make up the voiced component of the vocal. In general increase them to increase the higher frequencies. These parameters are very useful for simulating how the timbre of a voice changes with volume. They are well worth experimenting with.

Now the phrase is finished….

Add a some compression, EQ and reverb to taste!

Phrase 1-3 finished! (MP3)

Phrase 1-3 finished! (MID)

Tip. ALWAYS bear in mind that your vocal parts will sound different in the context of a song.

Often a very dull sounding Vocal line can come to life when music is added. And Compression, EQ and Reverb are often required to make it sit well in the mix, all of these will change the way we perceive the sound. When using them carefully you can control the dynamics, tonality and sense of space.