Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 20

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 20, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
New magazine features:

In the 4-panel comic, Rana is studying so hard that she passes out. Robo-Panda has her rest, and listen to other music for inspiration. The classroom discussion continues on the theme of using chords to make melodies, and relates them to the black and white keys on the piano. Then, Rana runs into problems with the new lyrics she’s written, because she uses English words, and Japanese Vocaloid doesn’t support English phonemes (this issue gets covered in the next volume, which I’m now really looking forward to). Plus there’s the description of the next stage – CyberSpace. To use CyberSpace correctly, you have to go into the MMD menus and turn off the floor and shadow defaults. The next music genre is ElectroDance, and the featured artist interview is with Camelia. The SSW section goes pretty heavily into the details for composing ElectroDance, concentrating on the instruments, note patterns and volume-per-note data. The MMD section has suggestions from producer Cort (the oldest Vocaloid user in existence) on how to use color selections to match the energy of the music with the animation in the video. It also has an additional mention of the CyberSpace stage model, and a description of the WiXOSS playing card accessory file. The magazine finishes with an overview of the WiXOSS card game system, and a mention of the WiXOSS: Selector TV anime series.

New DVD Features:
No pick-up artist this time. Instead, we get the WiXOSS playing card accessory that has Rana’s picture on it, and the CyberSpace dance stage model file.

(Section on WiXOSS)

While the magazine is still talking about chords and melody, the Vocaloid tutorial is starting to get into the theory behind harmony. For the most part, this consists of copying the main Rana vocal track into a new track called “Rana Harmony”, and then dragging the lyrics phonemes down a couple notes (for “lower harmony”, up for “upper harmony”) and making small tweaks to get the results to sound better based on the dominant or subdominant chords. Finally, as with most of the recent Vocaloid tutorials, the last 2 minutes is a playback of the demo song (in this case, “Double Action”, which is actually a pretty decent ElectroDance piece.)

Note that I’m not a music student, so I don’t know the official names for stuff. The Japanese names are 上ハモ (Up Harmony) and 下ハモ (Down Harmony).

Here, we work on composing EDM (ElectroDance Music), which is synth-heavy, and similar to House, Trance and Dub Step. One feature that each genre has in common is that the synthesizer settings change during the song (i.e. – cut-off filter sweeps). We’re back to using the LinPlug Alpha3 VST plug-in. With Alpha3 open, assign CC16 Controller – Filter Cutoff to the second element of the Matrix screen, and then return to the Score Editor window. Right click to add Other Control, and enter 16 for the channel number. This creates a new Automation Parameter window, similar to the Vel and Dyn windows used in previous volumes, which directly ties Controller Channel 16 to Filter Cutoff. Now, if you draw straight lines in the window, the filter cutoff will vary throughout the song for a linear sweep as desired (you can also choose sinewave or free hand drawing). Much cool, although I’d rather have physical hardware controls for this. Interestingly, though, you can edit the Auto parameter in the Strip Chart window AS THE SONG IS PLAYING.

(SSW screen cap showing the process of manually converting the volume pattern in the automation window from the sinewave to a sawtooth to get the base instrument to thump in time with the base drum.)

The second step is to create a Side Chain, which links the base instrument to the drum track. The instructions are to use the Automation window for Volume for the Base instrument channel and modulate it with a 16-cycle sinewave. This sets up the timing for volume to match the timing of the base drum, and then you can use the straight line drawing tool to create a sawtooth waveshape with the same timing, replacing the sinewave. Viewers are then instructed to experiment using similar techniques on different parameters and instruments.

Note that if you look carefully, Automation is actually a per-note ADSR envelope generator. On a real hardware synth, you’d use the EG to create the volume envelope, which would apply uniformly every time a key is pressed for that instrument. Effectively, the sawtooth above has about a 1/4 second attack, 0 sec. decay and release, and sustain is set to 0.

(Rana in the CyberSpace room, along with the WiXOSS card accessory.)

The video starts out with an example of Cort’s work (he’s been making videos for 7 years), saying that it’s time to start pulling all the elements together to create off-the-wall dance videos. A manga version of Cort shows up, introduces himself, and then says that the most important thing is to just not give up if the going gets hard.

Point 1) Listen to the music. Get a feel for the tone and timing of the song. The trick is to get the visual elements of the video to work together with the audio elements of the song.
Point 2) Break down the song into “keywords” and “situations”. Breaking the song up into pieces can aid in developing ideas. Brainstorm as much as you like, but at the end just pick the best 3-5 words/short phrases. In the case of Cort’s demo song, the keywords he settled on were “unrequited love”, “classroom” and “night sky”.
Point 3) Then, pick a situation. This can be a theater set or dance stage. The stage will establish the circumstances of the story you want to tell. Examples: “Unrequited love” -> “In your room with your thoughts”. “Classroom” -> “In the classroom alone”. “Night sky” -> “Night sky”.
Point 4) When in doubt, go to the Chart. Cort drew up a flowchart that semi-automates the decision process.

(Cort’s decision chart.)

Additional comments:
It feels like we’re getting so close to the parts that I want to learn about. I have an idea I want to try, that doesn’t involve a music video or dancing, but does use embedded video, English text and a walk cycle. I’m hoping that what I need will be in the next issue. But, I do like seeing what the synth can do within SSW.

Note that the MMD tutorial is just an introductory lecture and doesn’t have anything for students to follow along with.

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