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  Can Swedish Ann sing in Swedish?*
November, 5, 2007.

File Name Size, Mb Voices / Style
HelanGar.mp3 [608 Kb] Sweet Ann

Some less sophisticated users or potential Vocaloid users often ask two questions:

1. Can I make Vocaloid sing in the voice of this or that singer, or in my voice, or in my friends?
2. Can I make English-speaking Vocaloid sing in some other language - German, Italian or maybe even Hindi?

* Some time ago we already described this topic in JMT Tips for using Yamaha Vocaloid section, however, now we can share with you some of our new experience.

The answer to the first question would be both yes and no. The program itself can only sing with what timbre its specific voice library possesses. This voice library is based on a very large number of short syllables, sung in various registers with different singing techniques. (In the textual form it would probably take a few dozens of pages). Normally, all these samples are recorded by ONE singer. After the recording they are sorted out, edited and normalized in order to suit the program requirements. This is a vast job for recording engineers, programmers and software testers. So in the nearest future at least, you are quite unlikely to get a Vocaloid library with your own or someone else's voice.

The answer to the second question, however, is resounding "yes"! It's like asking, if an American singer can sing in German not knowing the language? We, human beings, all have the same structure of vocal apparatus (our speaking organs). Thus, in general, the majority of sounds in many languages are quite similar, though not completely the same, for example, an "r" in Russian is different from   French or an English one. Surely enough, a native English person can learn to speak Russian, and vice versa. But the phonetic differences between languages will inevitably project onto pronunciation. Everyone knows that very few people can speak foreign languages without ANY trace of accent. What actually happens is that a person uses the sound palette of his mother tongue to make sounds in another language.

So, you CAN actually use the English-language-based Vocaloid libraries to make songs in some other language. You only need to hand-pick similar sounding sounds, which will be quite a laborious job, we can tell you! Automatic phoneme recognition is of little use here, because it's firmly based on one particular language (in our case, English), its rules, exceptions and peculiarities.

We have made our first experiment on teaching the English-language-based Vocaloid libraries to sing in Russian three years ago, back in 2004 (see Yest Tolko Mig), and have released an album A Place In The Sun a couple of years later, where all songs were performed by Zero-G's Leon twice, in English and in Russian. The result is more than acceptable, and for Russian audience, quite funny.

This time, out of respect to the developments of the Swedish company PowerFX, we tried to make a short snippet of a popular Swedish drinking song "Helan Gar". In Swedish, of course! Without knowing a word of Swedish, by the way.

The reaction of PowerFX chief Bil Bryant was: "Very impressive for not knowing Swedish!"

So, enjoy! If you know Swedish, we can only envy you, because you can evaluate the correctness of pronunciation. (Hopefully, it is correct!) Anyway, the rest assured that Vocaloid CAN sing in your language. And if you are willing to try, you can get a virtual performer singing as a foreigner, with a touch of accent.