After I made mention of this aria from Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas in my posting of the overture for the opera, I started thinking about producing my own version of it, with a reasonably convincing voice handling the soprano part. So, about a week and-a-half ago, I bought online and downloaded the Vocaloid Prima from Zero-G, on sale for $99!!
It is an antiquated, awkward and strange piece of software, with some confounding idiosyncrasies. It apparently only works as a VSTi inside of Cubase, won't work with Sonar. Although you can play the voice with other tracks in Cubase, when you record and export what you have done, everything is there but the Soprano!! The workaround is you must record in Cubase, export the resultant midi file, import it into the part of the Vocaloid software called the Editor. There, after fiddling around with various components, one is finally able to render to a .wav file and export that out, and then import into Cubase as an audio track. Why this is the case, obviously an oversight or miscalculation on the part of the developer, and I also saw that Zero-G is owned by Yamaha!
The product can be made to sing words too, only it takes quite a bit of tweaking before you get anything at all, although I did manage a full once through of "Mary had a little Lamb", just to demonstrate to a friend that is worked. In this instance, I just have the voice doing an "oh".
Anyway this is a most melancholy song, marking the moment when Dido realizes with certainty that her end is near, as she sings "...remember me, remember me...... ", surely as cold winds rattle bare branches, it is a haunting evocation of coming Death, and a call to be remembered, not forgotten.
I was able to find a midi file online (only one) of this music, it was arranged for piano with oboe taking the soprano part. I used my tried and true method of slicing a piano part horizontally, in this case, creating 4 layers, for the Violins, Viola, Cello and Double Bass.
It's a good rendering of one of the most reflective songs I know. It's truly a great aria. Your tempo is low, but it works. Strings are fine, the voice is a bit soft in comparison, but since no words are sung, it is acceptable. I guess controlling Vocaloid is difficult (I've got another "singing" library, and it takes a lot of tweaking to get a few minutes of decent singing, let alone a song this long).
Always loved this piece myself - Vocaloid (where did the get that name?? Asteroid, humanoid, paranoid?? who knows) is a real hassle to use as I have said. I don't know if I will ever find the time to make Prima sing words, if you only had to enter them once it would be OK, but you must do it twice, once in Cubase and again in the V. Editor. Coupled with that their support people are evasive, provide false information and generally are deceptive and un-forthcoming.
But I don't feel totally ripped-off because at times, the Prima voice has it's merits, even with just ohs and ahs coming out.
Thanks for listening and for your comments!
Nice job ... what a dark, brooding (but beautiful) piece. I really enjoyed it.
I found the whole orchestration to have a somewhat Gaelic feel to it, in no small part due to the Vocaloid solo, coupled with using syllables instead of words. I think it actually worked perfectly on this piece, producing an ambience you wouldn't have achieved with a live singer and actual words.
OK, I'll throw my hat into the ring for the s/w derivation: "Hemorrhoid". Only kidding, for $99 you already got your money's worth with this project. S/w like this will mature someday into something truly amazing, I'm sure. ITMT, my God, you sure are a patient and determined artist to go through what you did to get it into this piece! .
This was very moving and dramatic ... thanks for sharing.
Thank you very much for your comments and appreciation of this music! After fooling around for a week or 2 with this arcane bit of s/w that took like 20 mins to install itself, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to come close to guarantying the melodic results you expect, is to lay down the vocal line use a regular solo instrument voice, not the Prima as VSTi. I have also learned the voice sounds better, when at least up to the nose, in reverberation! Sudden changes in attack result in embarrassing shrieks and gaffs, so better to keep it more or less even, and still at that rate expect modulations. Speaking of which you can turn off the auto vibrato and use the modulation wheel. Forgetting about singing words pending further experiments, but it is a really dicey UI for that part and, ...........
I think this Aria stands out, especially for the period, with the outpouring of emotions from a particularly poignant and personal perspective.
Keep up that amazing music Frank, truly wonderful!