Singing in conlangs with Utau
- Utau is a Japanese program that sings by stringing together bits of
sampled voice. The nice thing is that you can record samples of your own
voice and sing in different languages! It's a lot of work to record and
mark up all the samples, but it's not that complicated once you get the
hang of it. Here's a song I wrote in Tirelat, from my translation of the
Relay 9 text.
Utau can be found at http://utau-synth.com/ (click the "ダウンロード"
link ... it means "download" in Japanese). The first thing to know if
you're installing it for Windows is that the system locale (under
Regional and Language Options) needs to be changed to Japanese. That
only affects non-Unicode programs, and I haven't had any issues with the
majority of programs I use, but you might start seeing occasional
Japanese characters in some programs (mostly the backslashes on the
Command Prompt will look like yen signs.)
The next thing you'll want if you can't read Japanese is a patch to add
English menus. Some menus and dialog boxes are still in Japanese, but
it's better than all Japanese. Extract the res folder from this zip file
and put it under the UTAU directory where Utau was installed.
Actually learning to use Utau isn't the easiest thing, but at least
there's an English translation of the user manual.
Here's a few tips to get started:
* Add new voices from the "Bank Regist." tab on the Option dialog. I've
got an example of a Tirelat singer, Varan Mataki. Extract the zip file
anywhere that's convenient, browse to it with the Select... button, and
click Add to add the voice to the list of registered voice banks.
And here's the ust file for "So Riiva Jetsyndari".
* Don't check the "use resampler.dll for rendering" box in the options.
It does bad things with the sound in English versions of Windows.
* The crossfade buttons (P2P3, P1P4) are important for smooth
transitions between sounds. I can't tell the difference between them,
though. I just use P2P3. I've seen some sites recommend that you select
everything and click ACPT, P2P3, ACPT, but I can't tell what effect the
ACPT button has.
* Mode2 is best for editing pitch bends and vibrato. You can right click
the note and select "Pitch..." from the context menu, or right click on
control points to manipulate them in the piano roll. (It helps to zoom
in when you're editing pitch bends.)
* When I recorded the Tirelat samples, I used CVC syllables like "fif"
and "zoz". You can get a CV and a VC sample both from the same sound
file that way. I haven't had luck with isolated consonants or CC
diphones. Utau was designed for Japanese, so it might not work well for
languages with lots of consonant clusters.