Hey guys. I thought I’d write an article for the kolumn with a couple tips for making Sweet Ann sound more intelligible.
Sweet Ann can have a pretty clear voice when she wants to, but her vowel phonemes sound a bit off. I’m honestly not sure if it’s any easier for a native British English listener to understand, but it’s quite certain that she can be improved for an American ear.
Getting it right comes down to trial and error, but most importantly, it’s about listening carefully to how she’s pronouncing things (the same goes for all Engloids, and VOCALOID in general).
There are no hard and fast rules about Americanizing Sweet Ann’s voice, but here’s a few beginner level phoneme-replacement suggestions:
- Her “V” phoneme (“uh” sound from “of”) can sometimes sound more like an American “e” phoneme (“eh” sound from “them”).
- Her “e” phoneme (“eh” sound from “them”) sounds more like an American “I” phoneme (short “ih” sound from “kick”).
- Her “I” phoneme (short “ih” sound from “kick”) sounds more like an American “i:” phoneme (long “ee” sound from “meek”).
- I also noticed that switching her “V” with “@” (slightly different sounds in British English, but we Americans pronounce them the same) can sometimes give you more of the “uh” sound you’re looking for if “V” sounded too much like “eh”.
The next step in Americanization is simpler, but takes more time. The built-in phoneme dictionary automatically assigns phonemes to the words you type in. However, these pronunciations are primarily based on British English, and can sometimes be anywhere from slightly-off to completely foreign-sounding.
The best solution for correcting these pronunciations is not going all-out and making your own personal American English User Word Dictionary (that would take an enormous amount of time, as I’m sure it did to make the default one). It is actually much easier to correct each word on the spot based on how you yourself pronounce it naturally; unless you speak a different dialect, in which case you should find an American friend to help you out or base it on how you hear it in Hollywood movies.
In practice, this means saying or singing the line to yourself without being afraid of how messed up our dialect sounds when you over-analyze it. In practice:
Properly spelled: “I’m gonna go to school today, but first I’ve got to make my brother’s lunch.”
American pronunciation: “I’m gunna goda skool daday, bud fers dy gahdda make my bruhthers lunch.”
Weird huh? Well, everyone would spell it differently, but that’s the gist of it.
Continuing, we can see the phoneme changes that have to be made in order to sound American (changes are underlined).
Default Phonemes: “aI-m gh-Q n-V gh-@U th-u: s-k-u:-l th-V dh-eI bh-V-t f-@r-s-t aI-v gh-Q-t th-u: m-eI-k m-aI bh-r-V D-@r-z l0-V-n-tS”
Sample: Default Phonemes
Americanized: “aI-m g-@ n-V gh-@U d-@ s-k-u:-l d-@ d-eI b-@-d f-@r-s dh-aI gh-Q d-@ m-eI-k m-aI bh-r-V D-@r-z l0-V-n-tS”
Sample: Americanized Phonemes
That’s at least how I chose to change it. It’s really dependent on factors such as pitch, and individual cases of phoneme combination.
Here’s the bottom line (right up above this actually; ^right there^).
No VOCALOID voice is perfect, and they won’t be for some time, but that’s why making music is still an art instead of just inputting some notes and exporting.
The most valuable tool in your musical arsenal is practice, so just keep working at it, and we’ll all be here to listen to your wonderful musical creation when you’re done!