LEON is a plug-in VIRTUAL MALE SOUL VOCALIST from ZERO-G®, powered by Yamaha VOCALOID® Singing Synthesis Technology
The Human Voice.
It's still the most expressive and emotionally communicative musical instrument available to mankind.
UNLESS, of course, you cannot sing. Or you don't have access to a quality singer when you need one, to bring reality to your ideas or your lyrics.
Either you can sing or you can't. Either you have a great singer who realizes your ideas or you don't. For most creative music producers, this means that in one sense the human voice has also always been a sonic boundary - a musical frontier, through thousands of years of evolution:
A true revolution.
When it comes to creating quality vocal tracks, Yamaha's VOCALOID singing synthesis technology literally changes everything. The future will now be very different. The last bastion of human musical expression - the singing voice - through LEON, LOLA, MIRIAM, and other VOCALOID virtual vocalists from Zero-G, thanks to the incredible new technology developed by Yamaha.
LEON is a virtual male soul vocalist modelled on a real professional singer, and when he is installed into your PC he will allow you to create synthesized singing of unprecedented quality and realism. LEON will sing ANY words you ask him to in English - literally anything - be they beautiful lyrics or comical trivialities, Monteverdi madrigals or manic chants. You can create vocal tracks of soulful singing in any lyrics you want. You enter notes, type in lyrics, and the software renders the synthesized vocal. Then add expression to taste and render again. LEON is under your total control, and the really mind-blowing thing is - he can truly sound like a professional singing voice. With practice you can learn the skills to synthesize singing. with LEON that will fool your friends- they will believe they are listening to a real singer performing.
Your own backing singers, 24/7, and no session fees.
With Vocaloid, creating your own professional sounding backing vocals is a realistic proposition- even for complex harmonies and arrangements. And as you gradually develop your Vocaloid editing skills, you will find that with patience even realistic lead vocal lines can become a reality, thanks to the arsenal of expression tools provided, which permit editing and manipulation of the finest nuances.
IMAGINE what all this could mean for your music!!
Now you can COMMUNICATE emotion so directly. You can add HUMANITY to ANY production in ANY style without needing a human. You can CONTROL and PERFORM your OWN private virtual professional soul vocalist. You can even scat. You can create awesome backing vocals in harmonies for your tracks - in minutes. With skill and application, you can create stunning realism. OR... you can live in the exciting world between human and machine, where LEON can even provide vocals that sound like they were performed by a superhuman virtuoso android.
Using Vocaloid in this way, as a true hybrid of human voice and synthesizer. The potential for innovation is limited only by your own imagination.
What will YOU make LEON sing?
Do you simply want him to perform your lyrical ideas in rough form as an aid to your songwriting process? Or will you use his freedom from human limitations to create stunningly innovative and experimental vocal effects? He can sing over a superb pitch range, he can sing much faster than a human could if you want him to, as fast as you like in fact, and he can jump any interval yet hit every note beautifully, IF that's want YOU want him to do. And he'll NEVER tire or complain.
In addition to singing any words or combination of syllables or phonemes you can imagine, LEON will spread any sustained vowel (or voiced consonant) across as many notes as you like, with perfect legato. You can select from several different natural vibrato types and drag and drop your chosen type to any note or notes, and control the time-position and amount of the vibrato for superb expressiveness and realism.
And that's just the beginning! - you have control over all of the following parameters, which you can bring to bear on any part of your creation:
- Changing syllables/phonemes (e.g. enter "liddle" instead of "little" etc).
- Timing of each note (precise position/length).
- Vibrato (you can change its type/position/amount/frequency).
- Crescendo or diminuendo.
- Pitch bend (amount, and positionable in time).
- Glide (portamento).
- Resonance (Frequency/bandwidth/amplitude).
- Gender factor.
- And of course, you can even change the singer (if you have purchased and installed more than one virtual singer) - perhaps get LOLA or MIRIAM to sing your creation instead of LEON, Instantly.
Many new demos are being created during the run-up to the launch of LEON, LOLA, and MIRIAM and they will be posted here shortly.
How Does It Work?
Few events have dramatically diverted the course of musical history. Synthesis, MIDI, Sampling - inventions of this magnitude are very rare events indeed. Singing Synthesis is such an event. Most acoustic instruments can be simulated well using various synthesis techniques, but (until Yamaha's VOCALOID techology came along) the singing voice resisted any serious simulation attempts. Hardly surprising, since singing has an extremely wide range of articulations, timbres, and transitions between sounds. And singing can communicate words as well as melody, which means you have a double layer of meaning, unlike other instruments. The human ear is so used to hearing the voice that even the finest tonal shifts or anomalies are immediately noticed. However, Yamaha's VOCALOID is in fact a totally new vocal-synthesis technology, achieving a much higher level of sophistication in this exciting area! The team at the Yamaha Advanced System Development Center in Japan has created software that emulates the singing voice with incredible accuracy.
Zero-G's development team have been working closely with Yamaha to create many 'vocal fonts' (virtual vocalists) for the VOCALOID system. The team starts each project by recording a professional vocalist singing literally all possible phonemes and transitions between syllables. Each transition is slightly different depending on the particular combination of phonemes, and these differences play a big part in how we understand words and whether a vocal track sounds natural or artificial. For example, the phoneme "p" sounds slightly different at the beginning of a word than it does at the end, and it affects the vowels next to it differently than, say, the phoneme "t".
The recordings of the professional singers are converted to the frequency domain using Fast Fourier Transform and divided into thousands of separate phonetic transitions which are processed in a unique way and then stored for use with the VOCALOID synthesis engine. Expressive tools such as vibrato, pitch bend, and attack are also derived from the real singing and stored separately.
To create a vocal track, you enter music and lyrics into the VOCALOID Editor (see screenshot). The melody can be entered by hand in the piano-roll style Editor or imported from a Standard MIDI File; the words are entered manually (either as words or as phonemes). Expressive elements can be imported from a MIDI File previously saved by the VOCALOID Editor, or entered via a graphic palette using drag-and-drop. Further detailed programming of expression parameters can be done graphically, for finely detailed results.
The data that you have entered in the Editor is sent to the synthesis engine, which fetches what it needs from the phonetic and expression databases to synthesize the track. To sing the word "part", for example, the software combines four elements from the phonetic database: "p" (as it sounds at the beginning of a word), "p-ar" (the transition from "p" to "ar"), "ar-t" (the transition from "ar" to "t"), and "t" (as it sounds at the end of a word). The two "ar" elements are blended together, and the resulting vowel "a" is lengthened as necessary to accommodate your chosen melody and rhythm.
Different pitches are derived by shifting the fundamental and overtones while leaving the vowel formants relatively untouched. The database elements were derived from phrases originally sung at different pitches, limiting the amount of shifting the engine needs to do (and therefore improving ultimate realism). A Pentium 4/ 2GHz computer should take less than one-third real time to render the track in the frequency domain and convert it into the time domain for use. For example, a 1-minute track can be rendered in less than 30 seconds.
NOTE: An incredible amount of processing goes on inside your computer each time you enter new notes and lyrics, and it is necessary to wait each time while your singing is rendered (synthesized) - unfortunately Vocaloid does not sing as soon as you hit 'play', unless the singing has already been rendered and no changes have been made since then. The wait can be a few seconds for a short phrase, up to a minute or more for a whole verse of a song with a lot of expression parameters applied to it. Each time you make changes, the whole track has to be rendered again, though only the tracks you changed, not any of the others (Vocaloid allows up to 16 tracks).
The potential for Yamaha's Singing Synthesis Technology is virtually unlimited.
LEON (together with his companion LOLA) are the genesis, the "Adam and Eve" of the new era of virtual singing. A third virtual vocalist, MIRIAM will take VOCALOID to new heights. Pretty soon you are going to hear synthesized vocals in a lot of music. Don't get left out of the picture. Experience the difference LEON can make for yourself!
VOCALOID "LEON" - VOCALS WITHOUT FRONTIERS - THE HOLY GRAIL OF SYNTHESIS -
- VOCALOID Editor
- VOCALOID VST Instrument
- VOCALOID LEON Male Vocal Font
VOCALOID Editor Features:
- Vocal Edit & Synthesis environment.
- Piano-roll note editor.
- Easy-to use lyric editing.
- Drag & Drop musical expression assigning.
- Reads VOCALOID vocal libraries.
- Synthesizing vocal tracks. (not real time)
- Saving vocal data as wave files.
- Up to 16 vocal tracks.
- Standard MIDI File Input/Output
VOCALOID VST***/ReWire Instrument:
- Reads VOCALOID vocal libraries.
- Plays vocal MIDI tracks generated by VOCALOID Editor via VST- or ReWire-compatible host sequencer.
- Easy to manipulate voice characteristics.
**Note: Full VST plug-in fuctionality requires a free downloadable software update that will be available soon to registered users. Meanwhile ReWire functionality is provided in the package. (Note also that vocal lines can alternatively be exported as WAV files and sequenced in your audio sequencer or sampler).
VOCALOID LEON Vocal Library (virtual soul vocalist):
- Complete male voice in English, in professional quality.
- Suits all soul and dance music styles, but also many other styles.
- Full coverage of phonemes. You can use any English lyrics you want.
- Vibrato templates and expression templates as typically used in natural singing.
Minimum System Requirements:
- Windows XP or Windows 2000.
- Pentium III, 1 GHz or faster.
- 512MB of RAM or more.
- Approx 700 Mb Hard disk space or more
- CD-ROM Drive
- SVGA Display (1024x768)
- Sound Card with Microsoft DirectSound Compatible driver.
- LAN/network card must be installed, or a USB network card must be connected to the USB port (SEE MORE INFO ABOUT LAN/NETWORK CARD REQUIREMENT, BELOW)
- Windows XP.
- Pentium 4, 1.7 GHz or faster.
- I GB of RAM or more
Supported Interfaces & Standards:
- VST 2.0, ReWire, Windows MME. (Please note however that VST with Cakewalk Sonar is not supported)
About hardware requirement:
IMPORTANT: Yamaha use the network hardware's ID as the identifier for Vocaloid's challenge/response CP method, rather than the ID of the motherboard.. Therefore the PC on which you install and use Vocaloid with LEON and LOLA must be equipped with a LAN/network Card (or have the same network functionality built in to the motherboard, or have a USB network adapter plugged into a USB port).
Installation and Activation of Vocaloid also require that either (a) the installation computer has some kind of connection to the internet, or (b) that you have access to a separate Windows XP/2000 computer that is connected to the internet. When you install the software on your computer, either at the same time or some time soon thereafter, you activate the software by connecting to the VOCALOID activation server via the Internet. But don't worry if you can't connect to the Internet immediately, you can still use VOCALOID for an initial temporary activation period of 5 days.
Activation of the software is a faster process if your Vocaloid computer itself also connects to the internet. However, if your computer does not connect to the internet, you can still activate the software using some other PC computer (other than the one Vocaloid is installed on), because a simple offline activation method is available.
After activation you do not need to be connected to the Internet or to a network to use VOCALOID, but the LAN card you used during activation must remain installed in your computer. It is one of the components used to identify your PC. In other words, the LAN card effectively works in the same way as a "dongle". Therefore even if you connect to the internet via a modem, you still need a LAN card (but it does not have to be connected to the network).
The simplest solution for users who do not have a LAN card at all is to use a small USB network device which simply plugs into a USB port on your computer and therefore does not require the opening of your computer's case. Such USB network adapters are available from most computer retailers and can typically be purchased for under 30 US dollars / 20 GB pounds. Most computers already have a LAN card installed, so the work-around of having to buy a USB network card ($20 or less) and use it as a kind of 'dongle' only affects a relatively few users.
The installation procedure for adding additional VOCALOID virtual vocalist products is exactly the same as outlined above. You will still need to activate your new VOCALOID product as described above, but only the newly-added component(s) will need to be activated. For example, if you had already installed the Zero-G "LOLA" vocal library and you would then like to install "LEON", you would select "Custom installation" and select only the required components.
Furthermore, in order to also obtain technical support and gain access to help, information and special offers concerning Zero-G Vocaloid products, you MUST also register your Vocaloid product at the Zero-G website. The Zero-G online registration system will go into operation on 21 January 2004.
The names LOLA, LEON and MIRIAM are trademarks of Zero-G Limited. ZERO-G is a registered trademark of Zero-G Limited. VOCALOID is a registered trademark of Yamaha Corporation, Japan.