Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vocaloid Song: Making Takonashiyaki With Toyosaki Aki

Hey everybody, Satoshi Sato here with the Vocaloid song for the month of June! It's called Making Takonashiyaki with Toyosaki Aki.

The idea for the song came about because K-On! is Megumi's favorite anime, and in one of the episodes, Nodoka recalls a school assignment when they were in primary school. Yui was tasked to bring octopus because they were going to make takoyaki. But Yui being Yui, she completely forgot. So they ended up making "non-octopus balls," or takonashiyaki.

Check out our YouTube Video!

We have now made the full commitment to Presonus Studio One Artist as our DAW. I tried out their free version, Studio One Prime, and I liked it so much, I convinced Megumi and Yasuko that we should switch from Cakewalk Sonar to Studio One. Megumi didn't care one way or the other, but Yasuko and I have recorded with Cakewalk ever since we picked up our instruments, so it took a little bit of convincing since she felt really invested in Sonar.

Oh, here's a little something extra you can play around are the backing tracks to the song.

To make sure you download the files, just right click on the link and select Save As...(if it's just displaying in your browser).

I wanted to provide the base tracks so you can play around with it, especially if you are just beginning to learn how to create songs in Vocaloid. You can see how I like to tune the Vocaloid file. Note that the tempo (BPM) is 126. You'll need to make sure you set that in your DAW.

You can use this to practice mixing tracks together. Sometimes it's helpful to step away from your own work and work with other people's stuff. Your thinking on how to do things--believe me, it changes when you aren't working with your own stuff. That's why collaborations are a good way to break out of a music rut. Experiment with different effects! Add your own additional tracks! Or, how about this? Try writing a completely different melody/lyrics to the music! It's in the key of C major.

Of course, if you don't have DAW software, I recommend you download the free Presonus Studio One Prime ( And the backing tracks are mp3 files, so you will need to convert them to wav files. I posted mp3s just because they're a smaller file size. There are many freeware programs out there you can use to convert the mp3 to wav (such as Audacity).

One last thing--the breaks end in 6/4 measures. You will see this in the vsqx file, but you'll have to manually adjust the specific measures yourself in your DAW.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have! Keep rocking!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vocaloid Quick Tip: Lengthening Vowel Sounds in Short Words

Hey everyone, Satoshi here with a quick tip! Have you noticed that words less than a quarter note in length that end in a hard consonant such as D or T will abruptly end the vowel sound sooner than you want it to?

There are a couple of ways to get around that problem. One, you can make sure that the next word is immediately connected to the first word-- with no gap at all. That helps the Vocaloid continue the two sounds. However, there are many cases where you want a slight pause between the two words.

For a word such as and, this is a problem. I keep telling Megumi not to cut off the note, but she just shrugs her shoulders at me and says, "That's the way I am!"

Even if it is longer than a quarter note, if it is standing by itself, the vowel sound is abruptly shortened. And again, in many cases, you want there to be a slight pause before the next word.

So what to do? Break the word into two pieces. Normally, you would enter and as one word, and it will have this phoneme:

{ n d

But, if you break the word into two parts with the first part just being the a vowel sound:


followed by

- { n d

In the second part, you can see the word AND is
broken into two separate parts and joined together
you will have a smooth vowel sound for the entire length of the word, even if it is shorter than a quarter note. Don't forget the hyphen in front to tell Vocaloid that you are connecting the two vowel sounds.

Here is what it sounds like. The first part is just the single word and. The second part is the word broken into two pieces, but joined together. Both are the same length. Both have the same gap space before the next word I. Can you hear the difference?

Hope this tip helps. Keep rocking!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Musical Cues and Bumpers

Lately, Megumi has been fascinated with all kinds of music cues, bumpers, incidental music, etc. This all started when a family friend of hers asked her to compose something for his photography website, and of course, she dragged Yasuko and me into it.

My father had a record of this really cheesy music--he called it elevator music. It's the kind of music that was played on easy listening format stations in the old days--before my time! When he was a kid, there was this American boy he knew in the neighborhood, and he got it from him. This was in the 1970's. My father told me that the family was returning to America, and the boy was giving away a bunch of his possessions, things that he had taken to Japan to make it feel more like home. He guesses the boy didn't need it anymore.

It's all instrumental stuff, soft versions of popular songs. It's funny, when you first listen to it, it drives you bonkers, but after a while, it made me feel really peaceful.

When Megumi asked us to help her write some theme music, I started thinking, should it be happy? Sad? Wistful? And then I realized, it's really hard to write music that is a specific mood. A lot of times, it just turns out that way. But to do it on purpose...

Oh, there are some things you can do--like for sad music, make it slow and use minor chords. I had a guitarist friend a while back who said that anything in the key of F# major will always sound happy. But a lot of times, using tricks makes it sound gimmicky. I guess the more you do it, the more natural it will sound.

We've been experimenting with various ideas. Here's our first set of stuff. All I can say is, it sounds clunky.

Megumi wasn't satisfied at all. Normally, I'm a "eh, it's good enough" kind of guy, but she's right. I think we need to practice listening and breaking down compositions. In any case, it will have to be put on the back burner, because Megumi is finishing up a new song and she wants to record it!