change of vocal sound design mid song

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kensuguro
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change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by kensuguro » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:01 pm

I've never heard a vocalist's voice's sound design change mid song to a good effect. Usually it tends to be a shift in mic position by mistake or a track was missing some fx or whatever (so basically human error) but here it is used as an expressive device.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biMO46z_VSY

A little background on vocal sound design.. usually vocalists/artists tend to spend a lot of time looking for their "sound", typically with a mix of a particular mic mode, particular micing technique and effects chain. Once it's locked, it's fairly permanently locked and kept consistent over the albums, and usually over multiple albums. This is for recognizabiliy, sort of like how you can spot Kenny G's sax sound from half way across the planet. So you can see how changing the vocal sound design MID SONG comes as a surprise.

It's a song from the Japanese group Perfume, produced by Yasutaka Nakata. The girls are in a blandly colored room but eventually opens a door and finds a colorful candy that gives them color. (forbidden fruit sort of set up?) The girls' vocal sound drastically changes after eating the colored candy and going through a somewhat campy metamorphosis, to a much closer, detailed, intimate yet assertive sound. Not something you'd do every other tune, but well done!

Only thing I'd ding producer Nakata on is the vocal arrangement, where he tends to go very thick and plays the chord like a piano with minimal consideration of how cool each line sounds.. which I mean, is the standard approach, but seems quite lacking for my taste since it's the OPPOSITE of my approach to vocal arranging. Well, and the obviously over done autotune but I think we're supposed to take it as a jumps right out at ya type effect.

BTW I think the girls' choreography is also top notch, by choreographer Mikiko. Their dance isn't in any particular idiom, so it's not held together by a recognizable framework. (= easy to visually fall apart) The individual components aren't identifiable as lifted from other styles either. The components are SO simple! Same with music, those are the hardest to pull off convincingly. So there's very little holding everything together, and yet with probably crap load of practice and plenty of direction from Mikiko herself, the dance comes together. (Mikiko is also their dance teacher) The resulting dance is exclusively in the style of Mikiko, which is sort of the effect I'm chasing after with how I construct my music.

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:07 pm

...aaannnd that's how most idol bands seem to work. yes, cakeee makes every girls life richer and more wonderful.

like most Japanese pop, it's done with enthusiastic, salaried talent with excellent direction. Japan's music scene is held together with professionals who went to schools for performers, so it is quite competent. it's not nearly as hit or miss as American pop music. it's a "you're in or you're completely out" kind of thing, which is bad for posers, but works for pros.

i'm not an especially big fan of Idol Groups, but truthfully, i think i've seen other examples i liked better. i agree that conceptually, it's good. i prefer a little less Idol from my J-pop groups. many seiyuus are much better singer than some of the Idol Group singers, but that's to be expected. i prefer groups like Zabadak(old) or even Hatsune Miko's live concerts(hahaha). really, i'd rather hear Pizzicato 5 or some first class Enka(Hibari!!!). i might as well watch AKB48 if i just want to see very young women dance around and sing a cheesy song together, but...

always with the strange hand gestures! so meaningful... :lol:

there are soooo many good acts in Japan. it seems that many more people are actually making a living being entertainers there, despite the country's size, when compared to the USA or Europe. yes, it was nice work by the producer/engineer. "producer!!!"

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by dawman » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:47 pm

You’re correct about making a living in Nippon.
It’s just like Nevada.
Manila, Macau and Hong Kong also are competitive but money is good.

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by kensuguro » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:47 am

Lol, incredibly knowledgable as usual. It's difficult to compare idol groups to enka singers since enka singers just sing, and so are incredible at it, while idols are expected to be competent at a whole bagfull of things. I think with Perfume, what differentiates them from the likes of AKB48 (which I'm not too familiar with) is choreographer/director Mikiko's presentation at their concerts. It seems the group being described as "techno pop" has really blew the lid off of putting tech on the stage, and though nothing truly out of this world, their concerts seem more in line with experimental dance pieces than with typical pyro and blow some bubbles / confetti type concert.

There are a lot of entertainers in Japan, though it's hard to say any of them hardly make a living from it. There's the "sustainable" scene, of those who are successful, and then there's the unsustainable people who are only able to do what they're doing through sacrifice. It's still a huge scene, but the turn over is very quick, so one must crawl out of that space fast. I supported many such vocalists, and it was tough watching them struggle to stay afloat, burning their resources, yet fail to actually get good at singing/performing. I think in the US it's much harder to stay in this "meh" zone (esp in NYC), just simply due to financial reasons. Like you say, one either makes it, or burns up in a few month's time and get on with life. I feel in general, though ironically, NYC has more of these "where is your life going?" type people though.

Now I'm still working with the strawberry/corn song girl, who seems quite uninterested in singing, so that might be just that. She's going in to acting and continuing competing in unicycle competitions. So many things to do and so little time, right. The only vocalist that actually was technically competent eventually went to med school and became a doctor. Says a thing or two about being able to stick to something.

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:40 am

:lol:

yes, i'm sure that those on the fringes work super hard and then get nowhere, just like everywhere else.

have you seen Hatsune Miko's "live" show? well, the band is very live even if the singer is a hologram with a computer-generated voice. same silly hand movements, though...

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:41 am

i needed some glow sticks to wave rhythmically...

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by kensuguro » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:30 am

The hand movements that Japanese pop idols do (in my own theory) probably comes from the long history of bon dance, and other folk dances. They're easy to learn, not too physically exerting or challenging, and so they're great as "group" activities. With many idol groups, and even with popular regular "band" musicians, similar hand movements are brought in to the performance as an activity so the fans have something concrete to concentrate their energy on. The hand motions are usually linked to the lyrics, though not quite as direct as proper sign language or hawaiian hula. Many times they're emergent from the fan base, but many groups just have the choreographer come up with it, and also take time during concerts to review the choreography with the audience. It's just a fun group activity I think.

Hatsune Miku's concert was brilliant I think. (I didn't go, was in NYC) With many large venues, the musician is so tiny, it hardly makes sense for them to be there. In a sense, Miku, or any person being projected at like 200ft tall is much easier to watch. Depending on the genre of music, I think it hardly matters whether the music is being performed live. Most of the larger, highly visible gimmicks like explosions or confetti, laser show, lighting, jumbo props, etc that add impact to the concert aren't human anyway. Only case the person would be important is if the music can ONLY be performed by that person, which is hardly the case with any music imho. (esp mediocre grade female vocals) Miku, or a fully virtual performer also makes for a more manageable concert since there's no training, injuries, insurance (for the performer, at least), lack of cooperation, drug overdoses, people getting shot, etc. In theory they could probably do 12 x 2hr concerts a day with no breaks.

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:00 pm

naw, it's a real band, well rehearsed. that many shows would kill them. Miku would be fine, though. her concerts are on You-Tube and weebo sites, so no need to attend. really first quality productions...she's just a tiny bit bigger than human. a 200 foot teenage anime character would just be too frightening. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUfJEVce-Xw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0USE9AMu8i8 check out the audience interaction in the second song of the 2018 show...
one cool think about Miku, is that the songs are made by fans.

Bon dance! yes! that explains a lot.

i like the idol acts, they're kind of silly, though. the audience deserves props for being so receptive and for participating so fully, without crazy heavy drug use. i do like the dances, i just can't get serious enough to put on the headband and happi coat...

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:29 pm

i think there's a lot of influence from American soul groups from the 60s and early 70s, Motown and such, in Idol dance routines, as well...

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by kensuguro » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:50 pm

I think it's strange they went with a live band for Miku's concert. I sort of take it as a sign of the production not fully committing to the concept of a virtual concert. But maybe having actual humans on stage performing actions that the music can be attributed to is necessary to satisfy the need for "the sound originated from the stage, and I could attribute it to a source". I mean, cognitively that's about as true as ventriloquism.

Similar to the band, it looks like Miku is realtime mocapped somewhere off stage and rendered in realtime. It'd make sense if it were only used during audience interaction, but all the dancing looks completely mocapped. I think that's very limiting, since actually keyframe animating would open up the possibility of exploring totally humanly impossible moves. (but, well, maybe still anatomically plausible actions I guess) The choreography for Miku's concerts won't win any awards tho, I'd say barely par for the course. The mocap dancers are all not very good either. Very sluggish.. nobody on a stage this size with an audience of this size should be moving like that. (side effects of not really being there?) Which sucks because the mediocre performance is now 200ft tall and hillariously amplified.
Oh, and I also don't think the speaking with the audience part was generated from actual the Miku software.. so now they've got an off stage dancer, and real time voice acting.. It could be one person, maybe not. I mean, basically that's like throwing an actual concert. Maybe just sans makeup and hair.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_QS0sjg6YU
Checking out the 2015 version, Miku showing up in gigantor form is cool I think. The set also being fully rendered offers the advantage of not needing to projection map anything. (or, just project it during rendering) This was slightly taken advantage of when objects just appear out of nowhere and Miku sits on it, or otherwise physically interacts with these objects. That's the big benefit of everything being virtual I think.
Still, these guys breaking through and hopping out of the projection surface is corny as hell, but I think it answers people's "want". It's totally NOT what's happening, but it's a little bit plausible because that's what you WANT to happen.
Wow, at the purple haired character at 20:00 actually has a plausible voice. Maybe newer voice model version or just programmed better. Composition is a straightball with no surprises but not bad.

These vocaloids are a bit depressing in general though.. The singing isn't bad. I mean, it's technically not good at all, but because human singers aren't that much better, these marginal performances can be comparable, which shows just how narrow and un-dynamic the human singers are.. Most singers sound exactly the same regardless of where in the song they're singing, regardless of the accompaniment, the lyrics, or anything. That stuff drives me nuts.

So for actual singing... there's enka I guess.
<<Palate cleanser>>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHvV8CvLfUA
Seriously scary kookoo lady's song.. she's like can I kill you before I lose you to someone else.. I'll crawl through fire to get with you, look at the mountains burn.. but she's like I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. Man, the lady in the lyric's got some serious (realistic but... ) psych issues. And knowing that, the whisper-like voice early on becomes 300 times creepier. The voice acting totally comes together to paint a kookoo lady's anguish. Makes me want to just leave the room. (the dude is as good as dead) Hats off to Sayuri Ishikawa for playing the koo-koo lady role so well. I hope she was acting. I mean, it's all an act.. right?

<this is her, later in career>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKtoYZMxICk
She's actually gotten even BETTER at the crazy lady bit. Whatever it is lady, I'll just apologize to not get killed.

<here's a youngster having a go at the same song>
This song is hard... the desired effect is the koo koo lady effect that sends seriously freaks you out. This youngster does some great singing, but is far from creating that mental lady character through the voice. Nice try, but not threatening enough. Definitely not bat shit crazy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLEfVXQQCpk

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:17 pm

yeah, Enka is either scary or super-super sad(or funny).

did you see Hibari's final concert? of course you did! her last song Ai Sansan breaks my heart every time. Kanashii!!! especially when i know how close to death she was in that show. that depth of feeling and love and life and humanity are completely missing in modern music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LulUa_8VQkc as she thanks her fans yoroshiku onegaishimasu, i always bawl, she was sooo sick and yet, so alive and beautiful.

Miku is just a sign of the times, that the flash is more important than the humanity. it's an amazing thing to see it, as though the artificial performer is real...who needs people? i like the real band, though. it's the best part.

yes, most singers(and most musicians) don't take their craft nearly as seriously as their image.

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by kensuguro » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:25 am

Hibari definitely holds a special place in my heart. My grandma was mesmerized by Hibari's singing, so I knew OF Hibari since a kid, but only after relistening to her repertoire after becoming musically competent did I realize how great her singing was. Hibari is a legend in Japan. It's said that she was so sick at the last concert, that after finishing the phenomenal final performance, she walked off stage with the last bit of energy, and pretty much expired right then and there. I don't know how much of this is true, but so is the story of Hibari's final moments in the public consciousness. It's true, they don't make 'em like that anymore. What strikes me about her final stage is how it's impossible to tell that anything's wrong. The skill, the professionalism is inspiring.

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Re: change of vocal sound design mid song

Post by garyb » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:34 am

yeah, i think she never was able to move after that and she expired 6 months later. what is clear is how much she LOVED her audience, even after getting acid thrown in her face by her own stalker fan. it's said that her death was caused by her system being so compromised by complications from the surgeries and treatment from the attack that happened in 1957(chronic hepatitis).

yes, it is quite moving and inspiring. the lyrics of that last song are really something. Art has definitely been destroyed in the modern time...

her movies were also really great!

Hibari's work goes to show the result of really giving one's life to humanity. her funeral was bigger than the Emporer's, and a guy like me could fall in love with her after she was dead and gone, and from all the way on the other side of the world. i wonder which of the present pop stars(from anywhere) will matter to that degree...

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