different emotions

Hi fellow SV users, I’m here brain picking again to see if anyone has come up with a rough guide for how to convey the various emotions using the multiple parameters for the different voices.

I originally tried to get some ideas from Eclipsed sounds and they very generously responded within a few days to outline the settings to get a sadder sound from their voices but didn’t get to the finer details of what setting provides what emotion.

So, has anyone out there cracked how to achieve and would be willing to share: happy, wry, sarcastic, sad, questioning, anger, regret, contempt, etc etc??


This is going to vary a lot with each song and voice, but also based on which kind of emotion is being expressed. It’s unlikely to be a single set of settings for an entire track and will likely require much more surgical adjustment to get a truly emotive result.

Additionally, “sad” isn’t just one thing; is the vocalist quiet, or shouting? Are they crying? Crying and shouting at the same time? Is their voice trembling? There are a number of widely varying sounds that could be interpreted as “sad”.

I can’t provide a single “do this to make it sound sad”, but this is a general list of things you can consider:

Vocal modes

One clear option is to use any Dark or Bright vocal mode available to you. Those will be the simplest approach since they’re specifically mimicking the original voice provider’s tonal flexibility.

Brightness (or lack thereof) beyond vocal modes

When people are excited they will often unconsciously adjust the resonance of their vocal tract to sound more “bright”.

In addition to vocal modes, this can be accomplished with subtle use of Tone Shift, Gender, and different EQ in the mixing phase.

Higher Tone Shift and lower Gender can often sound more energetic or positive, while the opposite can sound more melancholy. These are things that correlate with the natural changes to vocal tract resonance that tend to happen when people are either excited or sad.

Also, a lot of modern mixing focuses on brightening a voice, so try to find a different EQ curve that suits the mood.


Breathiness can play a big part too. If a vocalist is emotional or crying, they’ll probably run out of breath sooner.

This doesn’t mean to reduce the breathiness slider for the entire track mind you, but pay attention to the breathiness at the end of phrases or sustained notes, and maybe increase the loudness of your breath notes (and include more of them). You could also have a sudden increase in breathiness at the end of a sustained note to sound like the vocalist is expending their last bit of breath.

Tension and loudness

Tension is pretty self-explanatory, but if you’ve never experimented with your own vocals I’d recommend saying “aaaaahhhh” or other vowel sounds with varying levels or relaxedness. Listen to the results, both in terms of airflow but also in how it changes to tone.

If it’s an emotion that could cause a “wavering” voice, consider adding some fluctuations in both Tension and Loudness at certain points.

Also, if the vocalist is shouting in an emotional manner, they might have more aggressive onsets which could benefit from a slight increase in loudness at the start of the note.


But of course pitch is going to be one of the biggest factors. It is more difficult to sing accurately while emotional, so a vocalist might be more prone to overshooting a note and needing to correct it, or the pitch might go more flat at the end of a phrase.

If you have any vocal samples for reference, drop them into Melodyne and look for those sort of pitch patterns.

And for sad songs, consider whether the voice breaks or cracks at points. You can usually achieve these with quick spikes in pitch or voicing, but it can be rather situational, so give it a bit of trial and error. Again, if you have any vocal samples of this sort of thing, dropping them into Melodyne or another audio editor can help identify the traits of that sort of sound.

Of course vibrato is a one of the biggest parts of what makes music sound emotional. Despite the classic robotic sound, many Vocaloid and UTAU songs and covers touted as sounding “emotional” primarily have vibrato used at appropriate moments to achieve that end goal, of course along with various types of pitch transition. (Cillia’s cover of Kokoro Nashi is a clear example of an UTAU cover that has a sad/melancholic sound to the vocals)

Study reference material

The best thing you can do is train your ear to pick up on all these things in actual music, so that you can then translate those things into software terms. “Ear training” is commonly done to learn to transcribe music faster or more accurately, but usually this is focused on the notes as a whole rather than the nuances within each note. It’s rare that people pay attention to the specific factors relevant to vocal synthesis like moment-to-moment pitch changes and vocal tension.

Find a (human) vocalist you like that has released both happy and sad songs, listen to each, and try to pay attention to each of these points and how the two styles differ.


@claire - this is exactly the kind of guidance I was looking for. Some of the parameters have a very obvious effect while some other settings less so (timbre being one I struggle to hear any difference but continue to try varying it to see what it changes).

So far I’m finding it relatively easy to get sad/melancholy sounds with breathiness, gender, tension variety and a nice vocal fry (using the ‘cl’ option before vowels for example) and the occasional pitch overshoot. I’m seeing that judicious use per phrase rather than complete verse/chorus is probably going to give a better effect.

The Melodyne tip is a belter - I never thought of using that as a reference.
I spend a lot of time (as a non singer) saying the lyrics out loud and exaggerating the sounds to try and give me a guide then changing parameters until I get close to what I think I sound like :slight_smile:

Thanks again

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I might be a little off-topic, yet I find using software like Synth V and Melodyne really helps me growing in the understanding of real human voices. I recently got in touch with an English girl who sings classical Hindi songs in Indian language, where they have a fantastic use of microscales and pitch bending. The fact that she was English, yet perfect, made me understand that all the tricks in Indian voices lie in pitch, so I analysed the originals in Melodyne on one screen (melodyne draws the pitch curve) and draw the pitch curve in Synth V with Solaria on the nearby screen, and had Solaria sing Indian! Great tools…

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