Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Our Friends Amy and Chris Join Us for a Song

Hey everybody! I hope you all made it through Typhoon Trami okay. It sure seems like we're getting a lot of typhoons here recently!

Our good friends Amy and Chris from America are visiting us, and they got caught up in the typhoon and hunkered down with me, Yasuko and Megumi. Since we were stuck inside, Megumi thought it was a good idea to jam (as long as the power held out, hehe).

Megumi had been working on a song that she felt wasn't really suited for her voice, so she asked Amy if she would sing on it. Chris chipped in on the harmony part.

Megumi is playing a Fender Stratocaster going into a Caline Pure Sky pedal. That goes into the DAW (Presonus Studio One) and the bx_bassdude amp sim through a Presonus Audiobox USB96 interface. Yasuko is playing a Yamaha RBX260 bass that goes into the bx_bassdude amp sim as well.

Megumi wrote the music, but the lyrics are from a Christina Rossetti poem, Song (When I am Dead, My Dearest). Megumi started getting into the works of Christina Rossetti when she took a class on 19th century English Literature and learned about the Pre-Rafaelites.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Using Megpoid English (Vocaloid 3) in the Vocaloid 5 Editor

Hey guys! We've upgraded to Vocaloid 5! We think this is a must upgrade if you are still using Vocaloid 3.

The Vocaloid 5 editor has a bunch of new, very useful features, such as Attack/Release parameters as well as built-in styles for the Vocaloid 5 voicebanks (which are really good. In the future, you'll hear our friends Amy, Chris, Kaori, and Ken singing with us!).

Listen to Gumi singing this Jonathan Coulton song, My Monkey, in the Vocaloid 3 Editor.

Now, listen to Gumi singing this in the Vocaloid 5 Editor.

There are subtle but noticeable differences. You don't have any built-in styles with Vocaloid 3 voicebanks like you would with the Vocaloid 5 voicebanks, but you get to modify many more parameters in Vocaloid 5. This really breathes new life into the Vocaloid 3 voicebanks. Megumi doesn't hesitate to tell Yasuko and me how much she's improved as a singer every chance she gets!

In the remix, which I think sounds better overall, I got to use some new plugins. I'm using Waves Vocal Rider on Gumi's vocals to help smooth it out better, and I'm using my new bx_bassdude plugin on the guitars and bass. This is a huge improvement over the AmpireXT amp sim that comes with Presonus Studio One. If you don't have any need for metal type amp sims and only want that Fender sound, bx_bassdude is the plugin to get!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Time's Up! -- Our Losing Entry in the Hatsune Miku Expo 2018 Song Contest

We entered the Hatsune Miku Expo 2018 Song Contest...and lost. Not even an honorable mention. Yasuko just wanted free tickets to the MikuExpo. But hey, it was still fun, as we had a special guest, Hatsune Miku, sing on it!

The song was inspired by watching a bunch of YouTube videos of Japanese rock bands in the 1950s and 1960s. Very groovy, man!

We were also greatly inspired by a fantastically snarling performance by Cliff Richard and the Shadows of Move It! on TV.

Time's Up!


I got a call saying you wanna meet me in your room, yeah
I'm here just to work so you better not assume, yeah
I'm not the bride and you sure as hell ain't the groom, yeah

You're crazy if you think I wanna watch you take a shower
You've mistaken me for some kind of delicate flower
Time's up old man, you ain't gonna make me cower


We've been keeping silent now for too many years
Exploited and preyed upon and shackled by our fears
here comes the tidal wave baby
it can't be stopped now
Time's up on all of you
Which side will you choose?


On a movie set or in the halls of Congress
We're not gonna put up with any more nonsense
this needs to be more than just a work in progress

Repeat Chorus


We're not gonna let this quietly fade away, yeah
We've got way too much at stake, yeah
Time's up we've gotta make a change yeah


Better move on over, baby, time's up
Did you hear me?
Time's up
Time's up
What did I say?
Time's up
Time's up

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Vocaloid Song: My Pasmo Card

Hey everyone, here's a new song to cap off 2017! It was done an example for the 2017 Losertown Japan Grab Bag Giveaway! You know, there still is time to whip up an original Vocaloid song and enter!

This is the first song we did using our new Presonus Audiobox USB 96 interface. Before we were messing around with a cheap XLR to USB cable. The cable is okay if that's all you have, but the sound using an actual USB audio interface is so much better!

Now that we have a proper interface, Megumi wants us to do an actual album! I'm kind of nervous about that, but Yasuko and I agree--we should do it! So that will be our project for 2018! In the meantime, I'm trying to learn as much as possible about mixing.

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful, fantastic holiday season!

--Satoshi, Megumi, Yasuko

Monday, August 21, 2017

Emulating Growl in Vocaloid 3

Hey, everyone!

Have you heard the growl function in Vocaloid 4 and would like to use it--but you only have Vocaloid 3? Well, you can kind of emulate that by using VST plugins! Using an overdrive or tube amp simulation plugin can give vocals a bit of grit and gruffness to emulate singers with throaty vocals, like Joan Jett or Courtney Love.

I like to use Bitcrusher, which comes with Presonus Studio One Artist. There are many free "Bitcrusher" VST plugins around, but they all are a little different and sound a little different, so don't be afraid to test them out if you want to use a Bitcrusher type plugin.

The key is to apply just a light touch just to give the vocals some edge. You'll also notice that it makes the singer sound like she is singing into a live mic on stage.

Using the VST plugin in a DAW rather than in the Vocaloid editor gives the advantage of being able to use automation to control where, when, and how much of the effect to apply to the vocals.

Below is a video with an example of Gumi singing the opening verse from Hole's Celebrity Skin. What do you think? Do you think the growl function in Vocaloid 4 sounds better?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Vocaloid Song: Asian Parent Stories Part 1: Sellout!

Wow, it's been nearly a year since the last post. I can't believe so much time has gone by so fast.

It was last summer that Megumi decided to take up gardening. Just like that, she dropped playing the guitar. I looked at Yasuko and asked, "Is she kidding?" Yasuko reassured me that this was just a phase and that Megumi would pick up the guitar again very soon.

A couple of weeks went by, and after that, it turned into months. I pleaded with Yasuko to talk to Megumi, but she insisted that there was nothing she could do. "I can't force her to play the guitar!" she said.

That left me and Yasuko with not much to do. A drummer and a bass player without a guitar player...Oh, Yasuko can play some guitar and I can play some keyboard, and we tried tinkering around with writing, but without Megumi, we couldn't really put together anything. After a while, I was pretty much resigned to the idea that The 3Represents was over.

One day, I was watching YouTube videos when Megumi stopped by to visit Yasuko. She saw me laughing at my computer screen. "What's so funny?" she asked. I was watching that rather infamous video of Courtney Love and Hole performing Celebrity Skin. You know--the one with her isolated vocals and guitar.

I played the video for Megumi and she didn't have quite the reaction I expected. She didn't find it funny at all. Instead, she was absolutely transfixed by it. "She's so powerful!" she said. Then she told me to play other videos with Hole performing. After that, she got her mojo back.

When Megumi started writing again, she wanted to play around with different sounding chords. For this song, in the verse, she uses:

And then in the chorus, she moves up two frets to the 7th fret:

I don't even know if those are the proper names for those chord voicings. I just punched them into a chord naming I found on the Internet. Yasuko came up with most of the lyrics which was inspired from her perusal of the subreddit /r/asianparentstories. She has a lot more ideas from that so she and Megumi are working on new songs.

This song is also a lot faster than what Megumi normally writes at, clocking in at 142 BPM.

So, here's our new song Asian Parent Stories Part 1: Sellout!