Third time lucky? Software to change the voice's timbre...

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Re: Third time lucky? Software to change the voice's timbre...

Post by Eddy Deegan »

When it comes to creating music, two major aspects that contribute to the final result are equipment and performance. Engineering is also very important but that's more about the finesse of the final recording than the art itself (he said controversially).

I really like the fact that these days there are plugins and hardware within reach of the average consumer that are capable of generating the kinds of noises that in years gone by were only available to the wealthy.

When it comes to performance my view differs. There is no substitute for a talented player/drummer/vocalist and call me a luddite but I think that's the way it should be.

If there was a plugin that made anyone sound like Freddie Mercury (my favourite singer of all time) Marko Saaresto (a close second) or <insert singer of your choice here> then I think that would be a shame.

Music is so much more than technology. The human element is the magic ingredient and if it were to be achievable in software then although it might be incredibly good I think we'd lose something emotionally, and as a result wouldn't value that product as much as we do when we hear an artist whose work we love.
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Re: Third time lucky? Software to change the voice's timbre...

Post by RichardT »

That’s interesting Eddy - I agree, except that I’d say the key element is good musical judgement rather than virtuoso-level performing skills (although those would be a great help). I don’t see a problem with editing performances to make them better as long as the results are musical.

I do agree that completely artificial performances would be soulless. The point of music is to connect the artist with the listener and if there is nothing behind the music then something fundamental is lost.

I would very happy though if I had tools to generate, for example, convincing string backings that I could then edit, rather than going through the slog of starting from scratch!
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Re: Third time lucky? Software to change the voice's timbre...

Post by blinddrew »

I'm going to disagree slightly with the last couple of posts but only in my suggestion that music is created for multiple reasons.
One of those reasons is the artistic drive of the creator, they have something they want to say and share with the world. And for this the passion and humanity of the performance is critical.
But other music is created as backing tracks, advertising jingles, lift music etc. Archetypal muzak if you like. And for that you just need something that fits in the ball park.
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Re: Third time lucky? Software to change the voice's timbre...

Post by VOLOVIA »

We are so fine-tuned to detect minute -anomalies- in the spoken/sung pattern that probably any variations from the norm will always sound artificial. I give you an example: after 35 of using English as my main language (left Italy in 1984), I still have a perceptible non-Anglo-cadenza that I find hard to shake off (yes, sometimes I need to: Italian accent does not evoke 'efficiency' or 'rationality', like a German accent, let's say does, and in my line of work, I need both in spades).

Anyhow, a few years back I was asked by a friend to record some short English poems to be played to non-native speakers in a class. As hard as I tried, I could not get rid of the pervasive 'Dolmio' flavour. As disheartened as I was, I decided to at least to lower the pitch in Logic to sound 'more studio professional'. I was shocked to hear that the perceived 'accent' had dropped dramatically. What the hell?? Then I started investigating two key factors that make me 'sound foreigner': Italian is -faster- (because of reasons based on linguistics) and, on average, higher-pitched than English (there are other important factors, such as inconsistency of accents, sometimes pronouncing the same word in a slightly 'Scottish' or 'American' way, for instance, which is a giveaway of non-nativity).
Thus, if you slow my voice down a bit, pitch it a 'note' down, as per magic 'half' of my accent disappears. Thus, I can imagine that a remodelling of the vocal tracts post-singing could be extremely difficult to achieve in a credible manner before start sounding robotic.

However, when in the late 90s I was working in Denmark Street as a manager of a -high-tech- floor, I stumbled upon an orange box either branded Roland or Boss that COULD change my vocal gender rather convincingly. I used to play jokes on the phone with colleagues pretending to be "Giselle". Never found anything that comes so close since... any ideas? It was a desktop orange box...
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Re: Third time lucky? Software to change the voice's timbre...

Post by N i g e l »

Rolands variphrase technology was from the 90s I think.
It allowed for formant analysis and repitching keeping the formants constant.
Examples of this are the VP9000 sampler & I have V-Vocal which came with my DAW.
V-Vocal I use to manipulate my vocals but I find solo vocals are very delicate and easy to "break" if your after a natural sound.

Another way to do gender changing is to use vocoder with both inputs the same but with the analysis and synthesis not patched directly 1:1
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