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Nokone Miku
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  • I've been reading up on music theory. One thing that has always made my head hurt is when they go off about C Major this, or B Minor that, G Major to E Minor, blah blah blah. I just figured out the reason for my confusion. I wish that at some point someone would have taken a quick moment to point out that, for example, the D Major key, the D Major scale, and the D Major chord are all different things that are all referred to as "D Major" in various contexts.

    There's so much of music theory that I understand through intuition and practice, but when they start describing it in words I don't understand what they're talking about. How does that old saying go? :

    “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”
    Dear me,

    I hope this letter finds you well, when you read this many years from now. Did you do the things you meant to do? Did you say those things you meant to say? And did you ever try finishing the books on your desk that have been there forever?

    You see, yesterday I was thinking of you, and all of the things we've wanted to do. Did you find the time to make your plans? Did you get the things you meant to get? And did you ever go traveling to the places you clipped out of a magazine?

    I think you shouldn't be blaming yourself. It's probably my fault for putting things off. Anyway, I felt like I should write to you, and promise to try harder too. But if I don't get around to it, then take this as my sincerest apology.


    Your Past Self

    I spent three months on this. Granted, most of it was learning how to mix audio. Some of the dynamic range got crushed in the video edit and by YouTube, but I left it that way because if I leave 3 db of headroom it sounds a little quiet on YouTube. Then again, I don't know how many people are bothered if a video is quiet and they have to turn up their volume? I had a really good sound like the song was being sung on a PA system on stage, but that effect gets lost in the YouTube version.

    I gave up on the chorus having the octave and third voices added. It didn't sound right no matter how I mixed it. Maybe the effect doesn't work as well in English? Or maybe it's just the fact that it sounds entirely artificial and I'm wanting a more natural sound? If it were my original song, rather than a cover, I would compose an actual harmony rather than duplicating the vocal track pitched up and down. If I were to do this over again I might do it with Miku Solid, because Miku English loses a lot of power at high pitch.

    I'll return to this song in the future when I do a full remix of it. It's a song that needs to speed up and slow down in tempo to add emphasis to parts, but the original is the same tempo all the way through (and listening to it so many times, the repetitive drum track really stands out). Especially in English, the more expressive parts need room to extend some notes without being rushed.

    After working on one project for so long it's hard to start into a new one. But I really don't want to lose momentum. my goal is to get to where I'm doing one song or cover each month. I have so many ideas that even 12 songs a year is going to feel really slow!
    From an article on choosing the right band members called "The Airport Lounge Test" (edited for brevity):

    "I got an email from a friend. Tim is the keyboard player in a long running band. He was looking to start up a new band to perform his own material. He’d been offered a gig at a festival on the strength of his demos, so he needed a band.

    I’d known Tim for a while and we’d worked together before. In his email he said he was looking for rhythm guitar and backing vocals.

    At the time, I was rusty. I hadn’t played guitar live for about 4 years and I was inconsistent at practicing. On top of that I’d never sung live and didn’t honestly know if I could. I really wanted to accept the offer, but I didn’t want to let my friend down musically.

    I decided to call Tim, confess my fears, and see what he thought. What he said next has stuck with me. He said “I’m not so worried about the playing and singing. What’s most important is that if we’re in an airport and our plane is delayed by 8 hours and we have to sit in the airport lounge for that whole time, by the end of it I won’t want to kill you with my bare hands. That’s more important.”

    Needless to say, I joined the band."
    The intro to this article really cracked me up!

    "You’re new to the field of audio engineering, full of hope, promise, potential and sunshine.
    Six months later you’re sad and trying to share a cocktail with your only two friends: left speaker and right speaker.
    Ok, that’s perhaps slightly melodramatic, but you get the point.
    You step into engineering thinking “how hard can it be?” and it turns out the answer is “really f’ing difficult.”
    Your mixes never seem to hold up, and your clients are some kind of mix between human being, howler monkey, and lake algae… "
    I just want to take a moment to let everyone know that I'm not going anywhere. I'll continue trying to find interesting stuff to share, writing lyrics, and ranting about my struggles with audio mixing.

    Looking at fanart on Twitter, checking up on the r/vocaloid subreddit, and hanging around here on Vocaverse is the only social media I engage with. I respect that everyone has their opinions and are emotionally invested in different things on different levels. But at the end of the day I'm all about the music and don't really care about anything else.

    I was feeling a bit "bleh" yesterday, so I watched the Magical Mirai 2021 concert. It was a good show. Kaito's 15th anniversary put him in the spotlight. The concert's rendition of "Cendrillon" was a thing to behold! There were cute moments where the band were having fun goofing off a bit on stage. I wasn't big on the concert's theme song "Hatsune Creation Myth" when I first heard it on the official YouTube channel. But it really comes alive when it's in the context of a concert performance!

    Here's a random pet peeve that keeps coming up:

    Stop saying "no pun intended" all the time, and never, ever say "pun intended!" A good pun totally slips by people who aren't paying attention. But for those who are, catching the little joke as it tries to slip by unnoticed is the only thing that makes it funny. Calling attention to it at all, by voice inflection, pausing, or saying "pun intended" just makes it annoying, not funny.

    The only time you are supposed to say "no pun intended" is when you are discussing subject matter where a pun would be totally inappropriate or in bad taste. You say it because you want to be sure that people don't think you're making little jokes when discussing something that should be taken seriously. You don't say "no pun intended" just because there's an accidental pun in what you are writing or saying. Don't call attention to it! Just let it go by unacknowledged.

    Puns are a form of "dry humor." Humor that is only funny because what you're saying is clever, odd, or outrageous and you are saying it with a straight face. Or you're saying it casually, as if there is nothing remarkable about it. The contrast and incongruity of what you're saying and how you are saying it is, again, what makes it funny.

    I've been continuing to work on my cover of "Lost One's Weeping." After hours of working on it, something just started to seem "off." I kept at it. Tweaking this here, adding parameters to this section. Redoing the timing on a line. Little pitch bend tweaks. I kinda felt like it was getting closer to what I was going for. Changes to the mix setup meant going through and doing stuff like de-essing certain words here and there. Or pulling the dynamics down a bit on words that suddenly seemed louder.

    I finally took a break and came back to it. Listened to it again from the beginning. Still not satisfied with it. I start clicking around stuff and randomly loaded up a backup from three days ago. My god. It sounds so much better than what I have now. I guess too many changes just messed up what I had gotten right the first time and muddied the mix.

    So, the last two days have been a complete waste of time.
    Nokone Miku
    Nokone Miku
    This is honestly just one setback among many. I'm praying that at the end of all this I'll have learned enough that I'll be able to do the next song way, way quicker. Right now the problems are:
    1. I'm still learning audio mixing. Reading articles and watching videos help, but I'm still having to just figure stuff out on my own. So much of the stuff I read applies to either electronica style music or studio recorded vocals. A lot of it just doesn't apply to, or doesn't work with a Vocaloid voice track.
    2. I'm doing an English cover of a Japanese song. So figuring out timing for the notes/syllables can be tricky. (Doing a Miku cover of a Rin song doesn't help.)
    3. I don't want to just do a cover that strictly mimics the original. I have a specific way I want it to sound. And I'm not going to stop until it sounds the way I want it to!
    4. This would probably be easier if I used Miku V4 Solid. But I'm trying to push the limits of what can be done with Miku V4 English.
    Yesterday I stumbled upon, by pure chance, the fact that [Sil] and [- Sil] behave very differently. I want to cry both tears of joy and despair. This fixes so many issues I have been having lately and have had in the past. But at the same time it means that I have spent a stupid amount of time trying to solve issues that could have been fixed by adding a single hyphen!

    I am genuinely both happy and upset about this!

    Did I just miss this somehow? I've been looking back at all the information on phonemes I've read and can't find any mention of it. God, I'll be so angry if this was obvious and I just didn't notice it!
    i feel ya! sometimes i discover something when messing with phonemes and im like oh! thats different. ive used Sil a lot with making jpn banks sing english, i think its one of those situations where you just gotta mess around until you find out lol.
    So, last night at around 9 PM I was wasting time watching videos online. I thought to myself, "Ya'know what? If I'm serious about Vocaloid and music production I need to stop messing around and get to work on it!" I got to work on my cover song, and the next thing I knew it was 2:30 AM!

    I went to bed, but I just tossed and turned all night thinking about tuning and things:
    • "I need come up with a way to fix the vibrato on that one line. Oh, an idea! I can turn off the quantize button and draw a more detailed vibrato in the pitch bend parameter. I wonder if I sung the line in an oscilloscope plugin or spectrogram if it would give me an idea of what waveform I should draw?"
    • "I still can't decide if that lyric should be 'always rational' or 'to be rational.' Maybe just 'be rational?' No, it doesn't sound right if I drop a syllable there."
    • "I got close to what I want on that screaming/yelling line just using parameters. But it's not quite right. Wasn't there a couple of posts on Vocaverse about that? I need to check those out tomorrow."
    • "I wonder if it's worth having Una sing backing vocal on the chorus? But then I'd have to take the time to remake that section with Japanese phonemes instead of English. This project is taking enough time as it is."
    • "I want to get Gackpo, but I know I won't get around to using him for awhile, so maybe I should just wait. I hope it's not too hard to get a physical copy. Why do they sell his and GUMI's appends separately anyway?"
    • "The [ Sil ] isn't giving me the emphatic pause I want between those words. Will I be able to fix it by just dropping the Dynamics parameter between each one?"
    • "I think I need to give each word in that one section a sort of a 'dropping-off' inflection. I've gotten that before by sloping the Brightness down to nothing. But maybe I'll need to use the curve tool on the pitch parameter. The Portamento parameter can't quite do what I'm wanting without affecting the transitions between the notes, and it took me an hour to get those perfect. "
    • (Spends some time imagining what the lyric video should look like.)
    • "Will people like how the dramatic final note sounds, or is it too over-the-top? Maybe I should tone it down a bit with the Breath parameter."
    These are some of my actual thoughts. I don't know if I actually fell asleep at any point. I'm so tired now.

    (Edit: Had a chance to make a better one with Photoshop. And it now has the correct logo.)
    I got to playing around and making up a rough draft of the default stage setup for my fictional (virtual?) band "Residual Sound" aka "ZAN-ON [残音]."

    Notes: for some songs Teto plays the electric violin and Una may shift over from rhythm guitar to the keyboard (depending on the song). If Kaito is doing main vocals for a song (instead of backing vocals), he switches places and Po plays drums and Una takes over as lead guitar. In special circumstances Nokone might pull out an acoustic guitar or keytar. Neru loves playing her bass guitar, and won't have it any other way.

    Not pictured in the diagram: There is a mixing board beside Kaito. He can hear the combined final output of the band in his in-ear monitor and make adjustments if needed. (He's actually the band's sound engineer.) Teto has a laptop that can apply different plugins to her electric violin or Nokone's vocals. Neru has a board of effects pedals stashed behind the speakers that she pulls out for a couple of bass guitar focused songs the band plays.

    (This is all based on articles and guides I've read, and photos I could find of actual band setups. I wish I somehow had some real experience with this stuff. If anyone happens to be knowledgeable about these things then let me know if any of what I have here makes sense.)

    I've been reading articles about touring and live performances. Proper stage setup, audience interaction, promotion, attire (picture them in street clothes rather than their idol costumes). I really want to tell a story through music. Keeping it brief: it's about a group of people who have all lost someone, been abandoned by others, or otherwise left behind. They find one another and end up forming a band. A lot of the songs relate to their backstories, and I want to include some 4-koma style comic panels at the beginning or ends of videos. These versions of the characters are all older: Una 17, Neru 19, Nokone 20, Teto 20, Po 21, Kaito 22; and the tone of the stories I've written reflects that. They're not a famous band and they play in local venues, within a couple hours drive at most.

    Once I move beyond just doing vocal covers and start producing full remixes and my own original songs I'm going to draw up illustrations of the band performing for my PVs. (And I'm going to hire an artist to take my storyboards and sketches and make them actually look professional.) I want to make faux promo posters and tickets to use for social media posts. The plan is to do "studio" versions of the songs that are all nice and cleanly mixed. And "live" versions of the songs with very slight imperfections, limited instrument selection, and augmented with room reverb and crowd foley audio samples.
    I spent nine hours today working on my Miku V4X English cover of "Lost One's Weeping." My god. Part of me wants to weep. I've spent at least sixty hours on this over the last couple months. Each section of the song seems to take twice as long as the one before it. I might just give up on the dual vocal effect on the chorus at 1:15 of the original song. I tried every combination of compressor, reverb, delay, chorus, gate, filter, and EQ I have and can't come up with anything that sounds right.

    It turns out that V3 Miku English sounds too similar to V4 Miku English to just have them sing in thirds over top one another without a bunch of adjustment. I'm debating composing my own vocal harmony for the chorus. But I think my tuning on Miku sounds powerful enough to just sing it solo.

    The timing on the words of the last section have been giving me problems. And then there's a part where she hits a high B4. I really want her to yell it with emphasis, but she starts losing the power in her voice at that high of a pitch. I've been messing with parameters and plugins to see if I can change that. I haven't tried using Miku V4 Solid yet, because first I wanted to see if I could do it using only her English voicebank.

    I have a headache and my eye is twitching, so I need to stop for today. :what:
    I had a strange experience. I wasn't doing anything in particular when these words came to me. I basically wrote a whole song in one sitting. I put it in my lyrics thread, but I got a feeling like I should post the chorus here. Like maybe someone out there needs to hear it? (I dunno, I probably just sound dumb right now.) Anyway, here are some words from me to you.

    "Time To Grieve"​
    what you do, and what you say​
    never end up the same way​
    and all I see​
    is someone who​
    keeps drowning​
    I pick up, what you throw down​
    but you always turn it around​
    you'd rather leave​
    and still won't take​
    the time to grieve​
    Even if, you say you're fine​
    I'll reach out a second time​
    and I don't care​
    times when you say​
    you hate me​
    shed your tears, and I'll shed mine​
    let's both cry until we're blind​
    forget the world​
    it's never wrong​
    to take time to grieve​
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