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Synthesized Singers 383

ctwxman writes "Over the past few decades, advances in computer hardware and software have eliminated many jobs... some technical, some menial, but none artistic. As an on-camera performer in television, I've always was believed that I was 'bulletproof' as far as replacement through technology was concerned. Not so fast. Recently, The Sinclair television stations began using 'central casting' to bring news and weather anchors from a central location (near Baltimore) to the local outlets. Still, real people are needed, just not as many. But now, even real performers may be replaced. The New York Times (inhalation of airplane glue required) reports on a new technology which allows synthesized singers to sing. Imagine having a singer with a world-class voice at your disposal, any hour of any day. She's just standing at the ready, game to perform whatever silly song you might make up for her: a ballad about her love for you, a tribute to your best friend's golf game, a stirring rendition of the evening's dinner menu. Scary."
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Synthesized Singers

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  • Google Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ryan Stortz ( 598060 ) * <ryan0rz&gmail,com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:54AM (#7545620)
    Google partner link []...and yes. I did use my subscription to get it. :P
    • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:06AM (#7545685) Homepage

      It sounds like they've gone to much greater lengths on this project than any I'm aware of in the past, but the basic thing here has been out for a long time. Most any keyboard you can buy has human voices. A single sample can be spread out over your keyboard and sing any pitch you want, even glides and stuff, pretty easily. But it's generally fairly rudimentary - 'ahh' and 'ohh' or similar, you can actually do some nice sounding background vocals but not sing verses.

      From the description in the article, this 'new' thing is really just an inevitable extension of that - they spend about 5 days with a singer, recording her singing many different phonemes and different effects, so that you can then piece together the words to your own song and put it to your own melody in her voice. And, for the moment, they're still aiming at producing background vocals, just more complex ones with the ability to do actual lyrics instead of a oohs and aaahs. Could be kind of cool, but it definately doesn't sound like a 'quantum leap' - just an extension of long-existing technology. I've been expecting to see someone do this for well over 10 years now, ever since I first got to play around with a digital synthesizer.

      • Did you see the movie "Farinelli?"

        We've been doing a lot with singing voice for a long time now.
      • I actually develop and work [] with voice synthesizers that are phoneme and phrase based. We dig up an actor, or an unwitting researcher from another project, and make them rattle off a few thousand sample sentences. Then, in theory, we use that date to make a "realistic" human voice. Yeah. Sure. Riiiiiight. If it worked, I'd be out of a job. :) Technology has come a very long way, but it is no where near what a real person can do. It can't even imitate. The spoken word is a thousand times easier than
        • Old news. Go here: Flinger!!! []. Or just go here [] if you want to hear some sample songs.
        • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @03:38AM (#7546135) Homepage Journal
          It might actually be easier to do singing than normal speech, because singing replaces intonation, tempo, and some of stress, all of which otherwise have to be determined from a syntactic and semantic analysis of the text in order to really sound right. There have been people who have learned to sing songs in languages they didn't know at all, while I have yet to hear of someone giving a lecture (as convincingly) in a language they didn't know.
          • by Gyan ( 6853 )
            It might actually be easier to do singing than normal speech

            Given that singing and speech aren't mediated by the same parts of the brain. In this book [], there's examples of people who can sing sentences, but can't speak them.
  • by panxerox ( 575545 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:56AM (#7545624)
    this with the story "Decoding the Algorithm for Pop Music" and a synthetic DJ and who needs the radio anymore? Throw in a few digital actors and you can have your very own 24 hour copyright free mtv! A whole new meaning to "homebrew music" And what better way to bring down the RIAA than to replace them with software its not like its going to be any more original.
    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:00AM (#7545649)
      And while you are at it, put in some AIs to listen and watch the crap...
      • The only thing lacking would be some autonomous agents to post critical comments about all of the above to /.
      • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:29AM (#7545794) Homepage Journal
        The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.
    • "Looks like those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns!"
    • A little genetic algorithm, a dash of Vocaloid, that hit-o-meter thing they were talking about earlier, and some random seeding. Then, when I get The Perfect Pop Album, I compare the results to Mozart's (alleged) Musical Dice. I'm pretty sure that after 3 years of listening to my own tandomly crappy music, I'd be crazy enough for a tenured position.

      -theGreater Ponderer.
      • Or randomly. I did preview, I swear to Mod!

        -theGreater Embarrassment.

        PS: Now I'm just going to type for awhile, until my two minute timer expires. It's unfortunate that I'm rather a speedy typer, though. Luckily for you all, I happen to have rewritten this spiel several times in an attempt to make myself look smarter. It's not working, is it? Ah well, time to push Submi...
    • This completely explains the album "Cowboy Neal Does Sinatra".
  • Here is the demo MP3 (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnderScan ( 470605 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:59AM (#7545639)
    From >a href=" 802"> 02
    LOLA Demo 1 -Little Bird (MP3) []
    Demo 1: "Little Bird".
    (NOTE - the lead vocal line on this demo is NOT by Vocaloid - it is a real singer. Please listen to the backing vocals!). This demo illustrates well how LOLA has been used to create a simple backing vocal arrangement for a personally-produced song. The song was written and performed by one of the Zero-G singing synthesis development team, Andy Power. Andy is singing the lead vocal himself, with his real voice, but he was able to add the backing vocals to his song purely by creating them all using LOLA. Although this is only a very simple example, it immediately illustrates LOLA's usefulness in an everyday situation.

  • by Motherfucking Shit ( 636021 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:59AM (#7545643) Journal
    The New York Times (inhalation of airplane glue required) reports on a new technology which allows synthesized singers to sing.
    C'mon Slashdot, enough with the old stories already. Britney Spears has been "singing" for years now!
  • Scary? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FatRatBastard ( 7583 )
    She's just standing at the ready, game to perform whatever silly song you might make up for her: a ballad about her love for you, a tribute to your best friend's golf game, a stirring rendition of the evening's dinner menu. Scary.

    Imagine a composer getting up in the middle of the night, going to his newfangled magical "keyboard" and whipping up an entire symphony without the need for a full orchestra..... ooooh... scary.

    Man, for a bunch of geeks sometimes the /. crowd come off as downright luddites.
    • "Imagine a composer getting up in the middle of the night, going to his newfangled magical "keyboard" and whipping up an entire symphony without the need for a full orchestra..... ooooh... scary."

      Thats not scary, thats dreamlike. I'm an artist by hobby (its a minor, not a full degree), and one of the largest frustrations is the variety of ways you need help for things - in my case, sculpture often requires assistance in casting objects, for example - and in music its only worse: if you're a composer, yo
    • Re:Scary? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgranade ( 702534 ) <.cgranade. .at.> on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:25AM (#7545777) Homepage Journal
      This isn't about tech. It's about the need for human creativity and artistry being diminished. I, as a geek, like tech to the extent that it reduces the tedium and frees us to be creative. This is realizing that the very thing we love can be used to work against us. And that is the realization that is truly and deeply scary.
      • Re:Scary? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Miles ( 108215 )
        It's about the need for human creativity and artistry being diminished.

        Aw, c'mon. They said the same thing about player pianos.

        I, as a geek, like tech to the extent that it reduces the tedium and frees us to be creative. This is realizing that the very thing we love can be used to work against us. And that is the realization that is truly and deeply scary.

        This sort of artistic Luddism has no place in today's world. If you're worthy of the self-applied title "geek," you'll find ways to use this tec
      • It's about the need for human creativity and artistry being diminished.

        I'm not willing to label the people who sing advertisements for soap and automobiles as artists or creative. (The guy who wrote the song, maybe). They're little different from the legions of portratists unemployed by Kodak.

        In fact, it was only in recent years that singers and musicians have been able to convince the media to start referring to them by the loftier word "artist".
  • by lewko ( 195646 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:00AM (#7545652) Homepage
    "a new technology which allows synthesized singers to sing"

    I suspect Milli Vanilli, BROS, Christina, Brittney and N*sync may be suing for prior art.
    • I would remove Christina from that list, that chic can sing! At 5 years old that chic could sing better than 90% of the people on the charts today.

      I'm not a fan of her music, but credit where credit is due!
  • by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:01AM (#7545653)
    The new voice with Panther (Mac OSX 10.3) is scary. Vicki can send shivers up my spine anytime. I KNOW it's only a manufactured voice, a speech synthezizer, but dammit it's a sultry one.

    I'm almost considering getting a mac just to listen to her.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know what kind of 'glue' your 'sniffing' but the voice (Victoria actually) sounds like a school librarian but I guess if you think that's sexy that's you'r problem
    • I just listened to the voice. Much better than the others.

      Just as long as you don't get too into Princes. OK?
    • From the samples I've heard, Apple TTS has only made incremental improvements. We're still talking mostly about stringing pre-recorded phonemes together, guided by a semi-intelligent system for decoding written text into the audio equivalent for the speech engine.

      What I'd like to see is physical modeling of the speech apparatus - lungs, vocal cords, mouth, tongue, teeth, lips, where you can vary parameters such as articulation, etc. We have the computational power to drive such a simulation, witness the
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:01AM (#7545658) Homepage
    I can see the live concerts now... packed with people in the crowd, latest pryrotechnics ready to go, all the latest visual and audio gear deployed.

    And in the middle of the stage, a beige computer tower with a monitor, keyboard and mouse and a technician on hand to wiggle the mouse every 10 minutes so the flying windows screensaver doesnt come on.

    • []
      "And in the middle of the stage, a beige computer tower"

      (That picture is a recreation from Macross Plus []. Although the idea of computerized [] singers [] is not uncommon in scifi)
    • Re:Hrmm (Score:3, Funny)

      by quonsar ( 61695 )
      yeah, and it would be about two minutes later that some "indie" or minimalist "punk" puts on a show featuring nothing but the flying windows screen saver. hordes will flock to throw money at this breakthrough expression of genius, and among the original flying windows fans there will be bitter talk of how it "sold out to the man".
    • You almost described the concert scene in Macross Plus.

      I'm personally very interested in computer generated artists. I have a CD single of each of Sharon Apple and Kyoko Date -- both sung by a human voice and generally ficticious as far as being a Virtual Idol is concerned, but none the less interesting as projects go. I also enjoy Idoru by William Gibson, in which the central character is an AI performer. Much as computer generated art has been, historically, underwhelming it is only a matter of time be

  • the future of music (Score:4, Interesting)

    by qewl ( 671495 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:02AM (#7545661)
    What is really cool is when machines can do what people cannot do. The first sign of this was several decades ago when drum machines and analog synthesizers came about. The drum machines could play beats so fast and hit more instruments simulateously than a single person has limbs for and the synthesizers could create entirely new sounds. In the present, there are pitch machines which put singers' voices at a desirable pitch when singing. Hopefully next we'll have robots/machines with AI that can create their own insightful, fun, or intelligent lyrics to songs and sing them to an original beat. Popular music analyzers(just posted on /.) are already capable of predicting what tunes have potential. Music is a product of man, whether it is created through human hands or machines. You can't mentally hold yourself back to the idea real music is only a direct product of man.
  • In a way, being able to have a synthesized singer belt out any tune you'd wish demonstrates the real value of music: zero. Kind of makes the whole P2P thing look dated, in a way.

    It's ironic that the very tools the music industry uses today to guarantee pitch-perfection are tomorrow going to undermine their own success, much as people giving away software are doing in many ways for the software industry. Perhaps the only thing guaranteed is acting, as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within demonstrated, altho

    • In a way, being able to have a synthesized singer belt out any tune you'd wish demonstrates the real value of music: zero.

      In another way, it demonstrates the value of real music: much higher than recorded music. Have you been to a concert lately? One where you could see the eyes of the people performing? There's more to music then sound.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:56AM (#7545894)
      What is wonderful about this is that (initially at least) it will devalue the type of generic boy/grrl band trash music which so saturates the current pop market. That's got to be scary for organisations like the RIAA, who actively market the interchangeable swill.

      When pitch perfection and standardised voices are available from a $300.00 software package, music made by people with interesting voices and offbeat musical philosophies will be that much more valuable.

      After all, it seems unlikely that there'll be a software Tom Waits or a digital Johnny Rotten in our immediate future. Punk revival anyone?
  • Ah (Score:2, Funny)

    by Cuthalion ( 65550 )
    Imagine having a singer with a world-class voice at your disposal, any hour of any day. She's just standing at the ready,

    Is her name Sharon Apple?
  • by TheRedHorse ( 559375 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:03AM (#7545672)
    Serious legal issues arise when creating "voice fonts" made from singing material previously released by artists. I doubt the RIAA or the artists themselves will like this new techonlogy at all. If this technology is a success then I forsee a push by the RIAA/artists themselves to get their voices copyrighted.

    As an example, Harley Davidson (the motorcycle company), tried to get it's unique motorcycle engine sound copyrighted and failed. Will this change the copyright office's stance?
    • This will fall under the same rules as sampling. The voice fonts sold will be ones of artists who were paid for them. Not the voices you wanted to hear.

      Some friends and I tried to do something like this about 15 years ago, but the state of the art was not there (we were having to develop custom hardware with multiple DSPs, and it would have been at least 2U in size), and a couple of lawsuits scared us off. The nail in the coffin was one lawsuit that really seemed to be on point for us, was a Mercury Sable

  • Ehhhh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Faust7 ( 314817 )
    But now, even real performers may be replaced.

    They already have been. Who would call Spears, Aguilera, or Milli Vanilli "real"?

    a stirring rendition of the evening's dinner menu.

    Sorry, but "Pasta Roni" sung is going to be underwhelming, no matter how good the voice is.

  • new "html" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 )
    The problem with computer-synthesized voice is that it will not correctly convey emotions, and (if plaintext) will not even stress the right words. And it would be a bitch to write the appropriate tags.

    I didn't say he did it.
    I didn't say he did it.
    I didn't say he did it.
  • the have some samples here []

    sounds synthetic to me

  • Who would do this? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They said that they needed someone to sing 5 hours a day for a that they could make him/her obsolete? In what life would you make yourself obsolete in your chosen profession for a weeks pay?!
    • In what life would you make yourself obsolete in your chosen profession for a weeks pay?!

      It only takes one "traitor" to spoil it for all the rest. (Ok, you'd really need singers to represent 5-20 categories). It's unlikely that ALL singers are forward-thinking enough to understand that completing this one particular job might destroy their profession.

      And even if vocal performers some how come to a shared, rational decision not to submit voices to machines, how long could they hold out? On one side, th
  • I write music and produce for TV series. I have never had to use a musician. Ever. My boss uses live performers occasionally for shows that might win Emmys. I use Machfive and Digital Performer 4.1. Samplers, especially the 300 dollar Machfive platform/plugin have eliminated the need for live artists in my business. Hell, I will be recording a rap (bleh) artist soon, and the only live recording will be his vocals. The rest will be sampled.

    Your time is coming to an end, but I will say that synths and sample
    • who hangs out with musicians?

      A: A drummer.

      ba dum dum chsst
    • I write music and produce for TV series. I have never had to use a musician.

      The submitter is a weatherman, BTW. A career that's ripe to be surrendered to machinery. All newreading "talking heads" might be replaced with CGI within a decade, but on-air "meteorologists" will be the first to go, since the content they read is the least varying.

      As far as music, though, the first big use of this specific tech will be advertising jingles. Seriously, hardly any other kind of TV production desires to have any
  • Anyone who's had a mac has been able to hear synthesized singing since Mac OS 8. Gogo Cellos and Bad News

    The light you see at the end of the tunnel...
    is the headlamp of a fast approaching train!
  • I find it interesting that the first voices they've decided to use are "SOULful" voices.
  • by AltImage ( 626465 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:12AM (#7545715) Homepage
    There's an English press release here on the Japaneese Yamaha site with some clips available. They're in some weird format that requires a special player. The player is Windows only and is in Japanese. Still easily installable...just click where you think 'Next' should be. Here's a direct link to the player:

    Player []

    The samples are very good and worth the trouble if you're interested in this. While not perfect it is better that I was expecting and I could see how it could be passable for a real person in certain situations.. Here are some direct links to the samples:

    Kimi no uwasa / Male lead vocal (Japanese song) []
    Sarasara yukigeshiki / Chorus (Japanese) []
    Amazing Grace / English example []
  • Imagine the depth of lies which could be covered up if politicians started using this technology.

    Little would you know that while your local senator or rep are being televised bellowing out meaningless torrents of weasel-words on CSPAN, they may well actually be off porking an intern or on a lobbyist-paid junket.

    When potentially used on one end of a "live" webcast or other broadcast, the possibility of creating "digital alabais" rears its head.

    This is one mode of media where it may be necessary and de

  • Endless Listening (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trippinonbsd ( 689462 ) <samchill@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:14AM (#7545726) Homepage
    Combine these synthetic vocals with some randomized instrumentals and pipe it into your 'hitablity` algorith (covered here [] and here []) and generate endless pop music!
  • by DanThe1Man ( 46872 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:17AM (#7545740)
    I want a soundtrack for my life. Like when something goes good, there would be a choir of "hallelujah". So far I only have this site [] for when I mess up.
  • I realize I'm not really adding to the discussion here but I've recently gotten into making techno (Cool Edit Pro 2 and Reason are excellent) and being a huge fan of Tracy Thorne-esque voices on techno tracks, I was just wondering the other day why I'd never heard of such a tool.

    So ...this is excellent. $200 and soon.
  • by theycallmeB ( 606963 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:23AM (#7545766)
    Having been in a research enviroment where exposure/inhalation of airplane glue fumes (we were gluing up parts that were installed and flown on a real airplane (OK, it was tilt-rotor, and those are not real airplanes, but-still) so it counts as airplane glue), I can attest that attempting to sign into the NyTimes website can be greatly hampered by inhalation of airplane glue. Further, when some of those glue-tubes say 'use in a well ventilated area' they mean outdoors in a hurricane.

    Now excuse me while I go try find where my brain cells went.
  • by farrellj ( 563 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:31AM (#7545798) Homepage Journal
    I recommend everyone pick up a copy of "Little Heros" By Norman is to the music industry today what "The Shockwave Rider" by John Brunner is to Hacking. Highly, Highly recommended, esp in light of this story about the potential of artificial performers...

    • Heh, I thought of the same book, though I'm not sure it's really worth reading (it's OK, but kinda trashy). If you're really into cyber-punk type stuff you might give it a try.

      I'm not sure I really agree with your analogy though. Shockwave Rider really doesn't have much to do with modern day hacking, but from what I remember Little Heroes is fairly accurate with what the music industry has become (algorithms to predict music popularity, etc).
  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    We can replace Britney Spears musical endeavors with a small shell script. Then she'll be able to fully devote herself to just looking hot.
  • Virtual Singer [] has been out for some time, and it allows you to generate synthetically sung vocals, like this bland rendition of "Strangers in the Night." []

    Fun toy.

  • Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mr President"?
  • I was actually thinking about this subject the other day. The music we see on TV and hear on the radio is essentially synthesized already. The Neptunes and a few others write a huge amount of hits for all types of artists.

    I keep hoping for the next N.W.A. or Nirvana and I start thinking we might never get fresh, exciting music again.

  • by Reteo Varala ( 743 ) <reteo.varala@gm a i l . c om> on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:49AM (#7545865) Homepage
    I don't know about you guys, but personally, I don't think there's that big a risk of performers really being replaced. At least, not en toto.

    Now, "popular music" notwithstanding, it takes more than just hitting the right notes and holding them to make music. This applies muchly to instruments, and doubly so for voices.

    First of all, just any combination of notes are not what makes music... artists have to play with hundreds of variations of tones to find "that perfect sequence," the collection of tones in a specific order, length, and style that produce a pleasing arrangement. Once that has been found, further arrengments of music are patterned and fitted to that sequence. You can have a synthesizer, but someone's still programming it... and not with numbers, either.

    Voices are many times more complex than musical instruments, because not only is there tone, volume, and length, but there is, for lack of a better term (in my own knowledge), shape of the sound. The artist Karl Jenkins (of "Adiemus" fame) used singers and a nonsensical language specifically to capitalize on that very set of qualities... using the human voice and speech as another "Instrument," rather than as lyrics.

    Now, you could synth using the phonemes and vocal qualities of a singer, but ultimately, without the feeling behind the voice, no amount of coding will put any life to it.
    • Or to put it another way, we have to wait for AI to catch up. It'll get there. It's probably possible to code a machine to put together aesthetically pleasing tunes already. Sort of an audio version of AARON [] the painting robot.

      I find it interesting when people talk about computers like that. It gets into the AI arena, but they always stop at say 2050 when computers have finally reached the capacity of the human brain. I find it more fascinating to ponder what happens after that, when they have surpassed us

      • by Reteo Varala ( 743 ) <reteo.varala@gm a i l . c om> on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:44AM (#7546036) Homepage
        I can see where you're going with that argument, and to be quite honest, I don't put much faith in AI, either. The best example of what I think about it is based in an old Infocom game, "A Mind Forever Voyaging."

        Artificial intelligence isn't truly artificial sentience until it has the capability of experiencing it's own existance. Living organisms that posess such self-awareness have thousands of input devices, known as nerve receptors, which alert them to the presence of anything to their immediate position. By this, one must learn to recognize the receptors' data. After a long time of learning the abilities of those receptors, and their cousins, the motor nerves (which activate muscle groups for the purpose of movement), self-awareness becomes available, because everywhere on the human body has such receptors, and what doesn't isn't really the human body.

        With this knowledge, the person then begins to learn what is a pleasant experience to those receptors, and what is pain. With pleasure/pain, over time, the person begins to develop affections and apprehensions, which give way to full emotional response. Some additional functions in the body help this along, such as endorphins which improve the pleasure state in the brain, and thus, the body... further enhancing the personal experiences.

        Now, a computer would have to have MASSIVE amounts of electric and processing power to activate and stimulate such receptors, should miniturization ever allow such devices to be manufactured cheaply and at such quantity to compare with the human's nervous system. And without that system, a computer cannot develop the deep, intricate levels of affection/apprehensions that would allow for emotional responses.

        Add to this the fact that a computer would have to be able to process all of this in realtime, over approximately 12-18 years to truly mature into a true artificial sentience.

        Now, what does this have to do with music?

        Music is all about experience. People write what they know, and they sing how they feel. Experience is a byproduct of sentience, which most definitely means that computerized music, which can please and FOOL audiences, is yet a long time in coming.
  • it's interesting how the technologies of voice replication and voice recognition are so similar. The recording studio where I work recently participated in a project for the developers of a voice controlled navigation system (think OnStar). Our task was to record people born and raised in Chicago dictating a long list of words which would presumably use at least most of the phonemes at our disposal. I think they did this in most major metropolises. The goal was to build a system that could recognize eng
  • Hey I'm surrounded by this stuff since it's in my field.

    The music technology group developed open source software called CLAM (

    Here is the mtg site:

    Here's my university's program:

    If you have questions send them along.
  • Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:04AM (#7545915) Homepage
    No ones yet mentioned Flinger [], which is a customized MIDI-adapted singing Festival [] thingamibob...

    Personally, I think the best examples to download are "The Easy Way" (song 15) and "K'ai - Eyes swim" (song 16).

    While no where near perfect, Flinger and the samples really show where things are heading - I have said it before, but this type stuff (perfected, of course), plus tech like machinima (once again, as it becomes better) are truely going to alter what we think of movies, acting, etc - virtual actors, virtual singers, virtual movies...

  • This is Good News... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dwedit ( 232252 )
    This article is Good News...

    Never mind that the Mac had singing text to speech for a long time...
  • by LuxFX ( 220822 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:15AM (#7545948) Homepage Journal
    Over the past few decades, advances in computer hardware and software have eliminated many jobs... some technical, some menial, but none artistic

    Ever hear of a cel animator?
  • Gah. As a musician, I find slashdot pretty depressing. Hit-making software , synthesized singers, and no opportunity to actually make a living at it.

    The only bright side is that I could eventually have the chance to delete Celine Dion.

  • Samples (Score:2, Informative)

    by Datasage ( 214357 )
    If anyone is wondering what this sounds like, there are some sample here: []

    Although pretty convincing, i think it has a way to go before it would be perfect.
  • Jazz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:36AM (#7546012) Homepage Journal
    Nothing to worry, if you sing a real Jazz.

    Classic singers stay as close as possible to the "absolute" quality line - it's perfect for being mathematically modeled and it's a matter of time such models will be apparead, even if their implementations will take some hardware resources.

    Pop singers make sound anyway far away from being called as an art. It's perfect for being implemented in embeded solutions. It's a matter of time first cyber-singers will be cloned like cheap "made-in-China" electronic (sorry, my oriental friends, although nothing personal or racial in this comment).

    Jazz is still an art, like classical music, but its improvizations are very unpredictable. Jazz singers will be last ones to go. Even more - Jazz improvizators will be eventually involved to prototype new cyber-singers. Hmm, I can even imagine special programming languages for singer-modelling: "bebop", "blues", "swing" :)

    • Re:Jazz (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 )
      That is a good point. So far as I see it Jazz has seemed to be the pinnacle of good intelligent music (lyrics aside). Forms after Jazz have seemed to become more minimalist and simpler to produce, and much easier to be analyzed using music theory. Heck techno music can be analyzed by a cartoon character []. Jazz as an art form is a very complex and demanding performance where every player is allowed their self expression but yet they need to work in a team to make sure that they are fitting in with the other
  • by wattersa ( 629338 ) <(moc.srettawwerdna) (ta) (werdna)> on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:40AM (#7546020) Homepage
    the implications for the phone sex industry are staggering. Imagine the provider being able to use YOUR NAME in the call with a unique new script each time you call. If only I were a pornographer...
  • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:45AM (#7546038) Homepage
    Anybody read this and immediately think "Macross Plus"? Sharon Apple is the computer character in that anime who is a music sensation. She even has holographics project her image during concerts. However, in reality, she's just some big computer box with lots of stuff inside. Unfortunately, she goes crazy and takes over a building, directing all its defense systems against the hero, but.......there is a price to pay for good music I guess.

  • Not there yet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by perlionex ( 703104 )
    Many people here have already commented that the voice isn't quite there yet in terms of realism. Many here have pointed out that the technology doesn't seem new -- they're just taking more sound samples and blending them together (albeit in the frequency domain, with smoothing).

    One area that really needs quite a bit more work is the vowels. When singers sing "ee" (as in "saved a wretch like me," for example), they usually soften it so it sounds a bit more like "meh." When I used synthesized voices before
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:57AM (#7546061) Homepage
    U.S. copyright law provides a "compulsory mechanical license" option, allowing anyone to record a "cover" version of a song for a fixed statutory royalty of $0.0155/minute per copy. The RIAA likes this, because they can re-record some oldie using a new band cheaply.

    But this works for anybody. If you can synthesize music from MIDI and vocal models, you can use that deal. The RIAA can't stop you from doing this.

    A synthesized music web site could even buy blanket ASCAP and BMI licenses, which aren't too expensive, and allow music downloads. The going rate [] seems to be about $5000 per million downloads, or about $0.005 per song.

    This is a real threat to the RIAA. If the technology works.

    • by Psychic Burrito ( 611532 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:17AM (#7546567)
      Do you have any proof for this? From what I have found, the copyright owner can still stop you from releasing your poorman covers:
      In order for a compulsory mechanical license to be valid, the copyright owner must have authorized the commercial release of the song, and the song must be non-dramatic. While the Copyright Act doesn't provide a specific definition for the term "non-dramatic song," most people think of it as a song that's not from a musical or an opera.

      The compulsory mechanical license rate (also referred to as the statutory rate) is periodically modified. The current statutory rate is 7.55 per song, per record, distributed for recordings of up to five minutes. If the recording is more than five minutes, the rate is 1.45 per minute per record.

      The next change is scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2002. As of that date, the statutory rate will increase to 8 for recordings up to 5 minutes, and 1.55 per minute for recordings over 5 minutes.

      A compulsory mechanical license allows you to make another musical arrangement as necessary to conform the song to your style and interpretation. However, you cannot change the basic melody, the lyrics, or the fundamental character of the song without permission from the song's owner.

      (from [])

      • You're misreading the bolded statement.

        Basically, that means that the copyright owner must have released the song for sale in some form...if it's on an album you could have bought at some point, the artist HAS to let you cover it for the stated fees--that's the point of compulsory licensing, the songwriter doesn't get a choice.

        The clause you bolded is to prevent me from doing something like singing a previously unreleased Johnny Cash (for example) song without permission by citing the compulsory licensing
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @03:04AM (#7546073)
    Perform illegal operations with child processes?
  • ...of that anime I saw a long time ago. Macross Plus, I think. The universe's greatest singer was a computer, and people came from far and wide to attend these huge concerts to see it sing. It also produced a hologram of some made-up woman to go along with it.
  • by shirai ( 42309 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @03:19AM (#7546099) Homepage
    Considering that normal speech synthesis has not been done well, singing seems to be hard. Already people can take a bad singer and turn them into a good singer but complete synthesis seems unlikely.

    Furthermore, this tech is likely not going to be what you think. What makes a singer good is their INTERPRETATION of the notes. Even with proper synthesis, at its best, it will be like computer animation. It could be very good and maybe even perfect but it would be TIME CONSUMING. Watch the making of Making Nemo on the DVD to get an idea of how hard it is to understand emoting.

    You would really need to spend a large amount of time figuring out how to make the voice sound EMOTIONAL.
  • by peterpi ( 585134 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:58AM (#7546424)
    Theee coh. maydor ahhmiigahh... ws dooweng theez. Ten yeez ah. go.
  • by nicky_d ( 92174 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:35AM (#7546610) Homepage

    The music studio Fruity Loops has had a singing plug-in for a little while now; you don't have a lot of (easy) control over the pitch, so it's really more of a toy most of the time. But combined with some simple audio processing, you can easily get results like these: p3 [] (1mb MP3) [] (646kb MP3)

    I'm sure it's nowhere near the league of the featured developments, but it's still a very impressive feature in an affordable package...

  • by QuackQuack ( 550293 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:58PM (#7548638) Journal
    Can "Synthesized Idol" be far behind? Oh wait, isn't that redundant?

How many Unix hacks does it take to change a light bulb? Let's see, can you use a shell script for that or does it need a C program?