This tutorial should be viewed alongside CZ's usting tutorial and is going to assume you know how to use utau.
I also suggest you download flag editor (拡張フラグエディタ), as it's useful for editing consonant velocity.
Part 0 – VCCV Phonemes
VCCV uses a custom aliasing system that's somewhat similar to X-SAMPA, below are the VCCV phonemes, their X-SAMPA and ARPABET equivalents (For those of you that are more familiar with Arpasing), and a pronunciation guide.
Part 1 – Inputting CV notes and base consonant velocity
There are two types of CV notes, -CV (which usually appear at the beginning of a phrase and after aspirated VC notes), and CV, which occur when the note is surrounded by other notes. Inputting them looks like this:
CV notes are the first to be inputted before other types of notes, as you need to define the consonant velocity to use the correct length of V C notes.
Base consonant velocity
During this stage, you should also decide on a base consonant velocity for quarter notes. Everyone has different ways of deciding this, but I set the consonant velocity to the tempo (unless the song is super fast or super slow). General consonant velocity theory defines that any note shorter than a quarter note has a higher consonant velocity, and any note longer gets a shorter consonant velocity. In short, shorter notes will have higher consonant velocity, and longer notes will have lower consonant velocity. Setting base consonant velocity is fairly easy, you can select all notes with Ctrl + A, and enter in the consonant velocity value.
Below is an example of notes with all the same consonant velocity, and consonant velocity relative to their size.
Non-relative consonant velocity
Relative consonant velocity
If you look carefully, the shorter notes have smaller overlaps due to the higher consonant velocity. This is very important when you begin to insert other types of notes.
Part 2 – Inputting V C Transition notes
When dealing with smaller notes, it's important to set your quantize to 64, to allow for precise note sizes. You can do this by selecting the “Quantize” dropdown at the top left of the screen near the voicebank image, scrolling up, and setting the value to “L64 64th Note”
To input a V C transition between a CV and another CV, you drag back the note to where the overlap of the next note starts, like so:
From there, you can type in the V C transition between the previous vowel and next consonant:
The V C transition will not be crossfaded, fit to the project modulation, or have the correct consonant velocity. It’s important to fix this by opening the property of the note and setting the correct modulation and consonant velocity. As a general rule of thumb, any V C, VC, or VC- will always use the consonant velocity from the prior note. So if the consonant velocity of the first note is 120, the V C for that note should also be 120. Once you fix these issues, you can crossfade them to get a smooth transition between notes.
Crossfading with VCCV
Crossfading notes in VCCV is an important step, as it allows you to have smooth transitions between notes. To crossfade in VCCV, select all the notes you would wish to crossfade. Next, click the “Reset” button near the top mid of the screen to reset any envelopes that may be present. It should look like this:
Next, click the “P2P3” button to the left of the reset button. It is important to use the P2P3 button, and not the P1P4 button, as VCCV was designed to only be used with P2P3 crossfading.
Remember to always crossfade every note as to have smooth transitions.
After you do this, you should have a smooth crossfade between notes! Here is an example using the image from the previous section:
Part 3 – Inputting aspirated VC notes
Aspirated VC notes are used when there is a short, quick consonant before the next note. Here is an example below:
Aspirated VC notes are inputted the same way as V C notes, but as you can see from the image, the next CV will be a -CV. This is to account for the natural space between the aspirated consonant and the next consonant.
Usage in a UST
To show how aspirated VC notes work in the context of a UST, I took a screenshot from a part of my UST from Ferrys "Occam's Razor". I will also be using this UST for subsequent in-context examples.
This example is from the line “like to”
As you can see, the aspirated [Ik] note is followed by the -CV note, [-to].
Part 4 – Inputting ending VC- notes
Ending VC- notes are responsible for three actions, ending notes with a singular consonant before a rest note, creating a non-aspirated consonant that is followed by a CV note, and chaining together CC- and C C notes.
Regular ending VC- notes
For notes that end with one consonant, you should pull back the previous note by holding Ctrl and dragging it back.
The amount you pull the note back is generally arbitrary, but it is important as the vowel in VC- notes starts earlier than how normal ending vowels work in Japanese voicebanks.
Because of how VCCV voicebanks are configured, pulling the end of the VC- note back far enough will shorten or cut off the consonant. This is important for using the VC- note for non-aspirated consonant endings.
Non-aspirated VC- endings
Using a VC- note as a consonant ending is especially useful if you don’t need a note to be an aspirated VC note. Inputting this type of note is the same as inputting a V C note, and the next note will not be a -CV note. Here is an example of a non-aspirated VC- ending:
Usage in a UST
This type of VC- usage is used quite commonly when creating a UST. Here is another example from my Occam’s Razor UST.
As you can see, the [Ek-] note is used as a softer ending.
Chaining CC- and C C notes
Knowing how to chain CC- and C C notes to the end of VC- notes is one of the most important skills to have when making a good VCCV English UST.
It ensures that the voicebank will correctly pronounce the consonant clusters, as they can get screwed up if the lengths are wrong.
CC- and C C notes will always use the same consonant velocity of the prior note.
Chaining CC- notes
To add a CC- to the end of a VC- note, you must pull the VC- back about halfway, and enter in the consonant cluster. This example uses the word “ask”, which contains the “sk” consonant cluster.
Chaining C C notes
C C notes are used to transition between VC- notes that end in n, l, r, ng, or m, to CV notes. For example, to link the notes [&n-] [to], you would place the [n t] between the two notes. To add these, first add the C C note like you would a V C note, by pulling the first note back to the overlap
Then, add the VC- note by pulling the first note back again to the overlap of the C C note
Crossfade these notes and you should get a smooth transition! Remember, C C notes only exist for transitions between n, m, l, r, and ng, to any consonant.
Part 5 – Inputting -CC and CC notes
-CC and CC notes are placed in front of _CV notes to create beginning consonant clusters. Consider the word “front”. It has the beginning consonant cluster of “fr”. In VCCV, you can write this out as [-fr] [_ru] [un-] [nt-]. The _ in the note [_ru] indicates that it connects to a -CC or CC note. _CV notes are configured uniquely so that the consonant is being perfectly crossfaded with the last consonant in the -CC or CC note, thus performing a smooth transition.
The only difference between -CC and CC notes, is that -CC notes occur when there is a rest note or aspirated VC before it, and CC notes occur when they are surrounded by any other note, and thus need a V C before it. The phrase “to front” would be written out as [-to] [o f] [fr] [_ru] [un-] [nt-]
When inputting -CC or CC notes, you always place them before the _CV note. To do this, simply pull back the note before it and type in the -CC or CC note.
-CC and CC notes will always use the same consonant velocity as the prior note.
Part 6 – Inputting Vowel notes
Vowel notes are fairly simple, and for the most part act like CV or VC- notes.
Inputting -V notes
Inputting -V notes work the same as inputting a -CV note, it just contains one sole vowel.
Inputting V notes
V notes are sustained vowel notes that have a large overlap, and can be used to carry a vowel to another note, like so:
Inputting _V notes
_V notes are rare notes that are used sparsely. They can be used to create transitions that don’t exist, and with some editing of the note properties, you can create fake VV lines
This is, however, a fairly advanced trick, and might not always work
Inputting VV Notes
VCCV does not contain full vowel transitions, however, it does contain a few. To use them, simply type them in the [VV] format.
Inputting V- Notes
Finally, we have V- notes, which function like VC- notes, just without the consonant. They should be pulled back into the prior note, and create natural endings to vowels.
I hope this tutorial has somewhat helped you grasp what VCCV is all about!! Remember, English is a really hard and confusing language, so naturally, VCCV is too! You won’t be perfect on your first try (I know I wasn’t), but I hope this has cleared up any confusion you may have had! Just remember to keep trying, even if you feel like you can’t improve. Ask others for feedback! I would love to help you grow and keep learning.