This blog is a home for me to talk about Vocaloid, UTAU, and tarot. And especially about the Vocaloid tarot deck I’m working on.
Frequently Expected Questions (FEQ)
What is Vocaloid?
“Vocaloid” is a name applied to characters created to be the “face” of voice bank software. Real people’s voices are recorded performing a certain number of sounds in different pitches to create the voice bank, which can then be used to perform music. Depending on the quality of the voice bank and the quality of the tuning — the way the software is used to manipulate the voice bank — the results can sound exceptionally unnatural or very lifelike. Vocaloid is specifically paid software, but there are many different companies that own Vocaloid characters and their associated voice banks: Crypton Future Industries, Internet Co., Ltd., and Yamaha are probably the best known companies. The name Vocaloid is Japanese, and many of the most famous Vocaloids are Japanese, but many other countries and languages also have Vocaloids. Many of the Japanese Vocaloids are voiced by seiyuu (voice actors), but there are non-seiyuu voice providers as well, the most notable being the Japanese rock star Gackt providing the voice of the purple-haired Internet Co. Vocaloid Camui Gakupo. Not all voice providers are known: for example, the identity of English Vocaloid Oliver’s voice provider has been kept secret (in part, no doubt, because he was about 13 when his voice was recorded).
What is UTAU?
UTAU, like Vocaloids, are the characters created to be the “face” of voice banks. Unlike Vocaloids, UTAU voice banks are free software. That does not mean that UTAU are of lesser quality than Vocaloids: Namine Ritsu has one of the best (or maybe just the best) voice banks ever, in my opinion, but the voice banks are free to download because Ritsu is UTAU, not Vocaloid. However, from what I’ve heard, the UTAU software itself is harder to use than the Vocaloid software. (Having never used either, I can only repeat what I’ve heard others say.)
What’s the deal with Ritsu and pronouns?
Okay, I don’t even know if this is going to come up, but I just want to get this established right now and not worry about it later. The UTAU Namine Ritsu’s voice bank was recorded by a woman. The character design for Ritsu, if you look at it, appears to be a woman. The official profile information says that Ritsu is a three year old male robot with rockets for breasts. I have read in several places that the person or people who wrote said official profile were trolling the internet, plain and simple. I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. But I see a lot of people insisting on using he/him pronouns for discussing Ritsu, which strikes me as a bit transphobic: robot or human, if someone born/created with male sexual organs dresses female at all times, doesn’t that usually indicate that that individual is transgender, and should therefore be spoken of using female pronouns? More importantly, does it really matter when we’re just talking about drawings/3D art that accompany sound software? The answer to that last question being a resounding no, I decided to step over the whole question and use xe/xir pronouns to refer to Ritsu.
Why Vocaloid and Tarot together?