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!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vocaloid Quick Tip: Creating Harmonies Using a VST Pitch Shift Plugin

Hey, everybody! I've got a quick tip for you today for creating harmonies in Vocaloid. For maximum control, you should manually create your harmonies as I've gone over in an earlier post and video. This way, you can make adjustments to the individual notes (pitch, length of note, volume, note choice) to make it seem like another singer is singing the harmony rather than it being just a duplicate of the melody track.

However, what if you wanted to make multiple harmony parts and you don't want to do each of them manually, or perhaps you just want to whip up a harmony real quick?

Well, there's a quick and easy way to do this, and this is to use a VST pitch shifting plugin. The one that I like to use is by Aegean Music and it is called PitchProof. It's totally free! Just make sure you download the correct version as it comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. For Vocaloid 3, you need the 32 bit version. I'm not sure about Vocaloid 4, but I believe that is still 32 bits.

For more control, I recommend that you duplicate your track in Vocaloid so that you can have one track that is devoted to the harmony part. In other words, keep the melody track and harmony tracks separate. What you'll need to do for that is to set the blend to 100% wet for the harmony track. That way, it's just the harmony part on that track.

If you do it this way, you can adjust the panning and volume for each track to your liking. You can also then apply different effects to each track.

Check out the video for a demonstration! Hopes this helps, and keep on rocking!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Yasuko Reminisces #3: Saving Private Ryan's Donuts (on Omaha Beach)

Ever since Satoshi saw Harry Potter, he's been obsessed with John Williams's musical works. He started a campaign to watch everything that John Williams has ever scored. Of course, this included his well known scores for Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Superman, but also his really old stuff like Fitzwilly.

It wasn't too long after that that he began collecting all of John Williams's works, including his television works such as the theme from Lost in Space. If we were in the car together, he would drive me nuts by rolling down the windows and cranking out the soundtrack from The Cowboys or some other movie.

He continued his obsession when we moved to Japan, and it wasn't too long before Megumi became annoyed by having to constantly listen to the music from Jaws or something. If she asked Satoshi if he could listen to it using headphones, he'd launch into this big speech about how she should expand her musical horizons and that it was good for her "to learn something." It was his way of teasing her.

Megumi, of course, was never one to back down, and she figured if he was going to mess with her, she was going to mess with him twice as hard.

Well, Megumi started to sing along anytime Satoshi played anything from John Williams. And I don't mean songs from the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack or anything, but just any piece of music--Megumi would just start making up words to it. Have you ever seen that old Saturday Night Live skit with Bill Murray as Nick the Lounge Singer singing along to the Star Wars theme? It was like that--only worse, because she wasn't trying to be goofy or funny, but she was being ultra serious about it!

Satoshi just laughed it off at first, but Megumi wouldn't stop. Even when Satoshi gave up and stopped playing the soundtracks out loud, Megumi would continue to break out in song at any given time or place when we were all together, and the song that irritated Satoshi the most was when Megumi would sing to the Omaha Beach music from Saving Private RyanSaving Private Ryan is Satoshi's all time favorite work of John Williams. He regards it with such reverence.

Megumi would tell him that these were the long lost lyrics that John Williams actually wrote for it. She would just sing it over and over and over again. Poor Satoshi! He should have never tried to mess with her! She even went so far as to record her song, and if we out in public and Satoshi was talking to someone or asking a question at a store or something, she would hang back a little ways out of sight and start playing it on her phone.

I can't remember when she stopped doing it, but it took a long, long time. I'll say one thing about Megumi for sure, it's not over until she says it's over.

I know it really annoyed Satoshi after a while, but a while back during a family holiday get together, I happened to catch Satoshi listening to that song on his phone. I didn't realize he kept a copy of it. I didn't let him know I saw him listening to it. I figure that's between him and Megumi.

Saving Private Ryan's Donuts (on Omaha Beach)
Lyrics by Megumi Matsumae
Music by John Williams (our apologies to Mr. Williams)

I love donuts
I could eat them all day
I ate a dozen today
They're so light and fluffy
Who could resist
those treats?