Monday, May 10, 2010

Digital Voices

In the last year I have come across a growing musical phenomenon called Vocaloids.

One of my favourite songs is "Love is War" sung by Hatsune Miku.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1Dqb6uJ8WY

Upon listening, you will probably determine that some sort of computerized effect has been added to a singers voice. But in fact the entire song is sung by a computer program called "Hatsune Miku". Miku is as much a character as she is a voice. All of the Vocaloids have been marketed this way and it has been hugely successful among anime fans.

Musical composers are able to write songs and have Vocaloids provide the voice. They can then share the song online and collaborate with other people to create music videos. Most Vocaloid videos are distrubuted on a Japanese website called Nico Nico Douga. Many talented composers have released their created songs on CD and via iTunes with great reception.

One software developer went as far as to create a program called Miku Miku Dance, which allows the user to create dance moves for Miku and output a video to use with their music.

Currently the most well known Vocaloid characters are the Japanese ones, which have been all given personalities through the anime style characters to represent each voice. While some Vocaloid software has been released for the English speaking market, it did not include mascot characters and did not take off so well.

Some more Vocaloid songs I really like:

Imitation Black sung by Kaito, Len & Gakupo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2SgPM9ayAg

Paranoid Doll sung by Kamui Gakupo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Oikw-VbQ8Y

Meltdown sung by Rin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ox5-fEH4Ww

I am always mindblown that these songs can be sung so beautifully by a computer program. The voices were created by sound sampling from voice actors rather than singers. The software was developed to create the vocal ranges. The Vocaloid software is said that it can sing notes unattainable by the human voice.

In addition to sales of music, the Vocaloids even have their own merchandise! Figurines and a wide range of other products have been produced.

References:
Hatsune Miku - The worlds first virtual diva (mini documentary)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBZOlipfjkQ&feature=fvw

Love is War minisite
http://supercell.sc/koisen/index.html

Tripshots (composer)
http://www.tripshots.net/

http://www.mikufan.com/

http://vocaloid.wikia.com/wiki/Miku_Hatsune

Miku Miku Dance Software
http://www.geocities.jp/higuchuu4/index_e.htm