Archive for music

Miku Hatsune has no soul

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, music with tags , , on August 24, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Over the past few years, I’ve heard of a computer program series called Vocaloid. Vocaloid is like Cubase or Reason 2.5 in that it aids in the music creation processes, but whereas Cubase or Reason 2.5 (I think they have Reason 3.0 out now) focus solely on the musical aspect of creation, the Vocaloid series is all about vocals, which, ordinarily are provided by a human singer.

The most famous of the Vocaloid voices is Miku Hatsune, though there’s about ten different Vocaloid voices, including a few male voices. Gackt Camui, a popular Japanese musician (former lead singer of Malice Mizer) has even recorded his vocals for a Vocaloid program.

While talking with a friend a few days ago about Vocaloid programs and how versatile they are, my friend told me something I didn’t expect.

He said, “Miku is a amusing now and then, but isn’t it sometimes a little disheartening to know that you are listening to a singer who has no soul? Vocaloid can sing notes right when they’re supposed to, but I dunno — she doesn’t know or feel the words she’s saying. I like human singers because they put their heart into it and it’s real.”

That’s what hit me, the “she doesn’t know or feel the words she’s saying” part – she’s a puppet. To paraphrase the villain of Final Fantasy VII, “She has no heart and cannot feel any pain.”

As such, Miku does not know what she sings, all she knows is hit this note, hold it for that long, sing these words, use this inflection and move on to the next line at this time.

Does the fact that Miku herself lacks a soul make the music any less “real”? It isn’t a machine writing those lyrics, is it? Of course not, we haven’t achieved that level of technology yet.

Below I have posted two Vocaloid songs. The first one is in Japanese while the second one is an English version of a song that was originally done in Japanese.

One thing that I’ve been wondering about the Vocaloid programs is the program itself is “royalty free” meaning that people who buy and use the software do not have to pay royalties to the company that created the software to publish music using that software. I could find nothing relating to the visual likeness of Miku Hatsune or any other Vocaloid.

As you can see, both of the above videos utilize Miku’s likeness, as do quite a few other videos.


Radiohead’s manager sets up new record label

Posted in music with tags , on July 7, 2009 by Bradley Hall

According to NME, Radiohead’s manager, Brian Message has launched a new record label called “Polyphonic.”

Polyphonic’s goal is to be artist friendly, by doing things such as giving artists 50% of the profit that their albums make.

As some people may recall, back in 2007, Radiohead was the band that released their latest album, In Rainbows, online in a “pay what you want” format.

NME Link.

We’re All The Pirate Bay

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, music with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by Bradley Hall

It’s catchy and you can dance to it.

Mott Mardie created a song he calls the theme song of The Pirate Bay. He’s released it for free, though the only place you can obtain it now is via a torrent on The Pirate Bay.

We’re All The Pirate Bay

In other news, the Pirate Bay guys are planning on fighting back against their loss in court last month and have already figured their appeal angle: The judge was biased against them from the start, according to Wired’s Threat Level blog.

Pirate Bay’s Appeal

Danger Mouse’s blank album

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, music with tags , , , on May 16, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Most people know DJ Danger Mouse as half of the duo of Gnarls Barclay and as the guy who mashed up Jay Z’s Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album to create the C&D’d upon creation Gray Album.

His latest offering, Dark Night of the Soul, may not see the light of day on store shelves as his record label, EMI, has decided not to release the album “due to legal reasons.” Given Danger Mouse’s gray past, it can be easy to see why.

But, with an album containing collaborations with some of the biggest names in music, why would they decide not to release it? What are the legal reasons mentioned? No one is saying.

But what Danger Mouse is doing is odd. On the official site for the project, he’s selling a CD-R with artwork for the album. The idea is that people will buy the CD-R and download the album from the Pirate Bay or somewhere and burn it to the CD.

I’d be up for it if it came with a box for the CD-R as well.

BBC article

New Doctorow Article

Posted in Intellectual Property, music with tags , , on February 26, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Cory Doctorow posted on his BoingBoing blog today a message that said he’d written a new article for the Guardian (web link below).

Here’s the world’s shortest, fairest, and simplest licence agreement: “Don’t violate copyright law.” If I had my way, every digital download from the music in the iTunes and Amazon MP3 store, to the ebooks for the Kindle and Sony Reader, to the games for your Xbox, would bear this – and only this – as its licence agreement.

“Don’t violate copyright law” has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is what it signals to the purchaser, namely: “You are not about to get screwed.”

Actually the closest I’ve seen came on a card in the box for an old style iPod Shuffle I bought four years ago. It said simply “Don’t steal music.”

Music DRM

Posted in Intellectual Property, music with tags , on February 25, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Another one bites the dust

Posted in Commentary, music with tags , on February 10, 2009 by Bradley Hall

A while back, I believe it was Cory Doctorow who stated that one by one all of the legal methods of obtaining music are dying and taking their DRM with them and that the only way to assure your music will be playable tomorrow is to get it via less than legal means.

Today I would like to announce the death of one of the contenders: Ruckus.

Ruckus Networks was a contender in the legal music download department shared by Apple, Wal-Mart, Napster, and several others. What set them apart was that they offered their music for free.

Of course, there were strings. It was ad-supported and you could not burn the music you downloaded to a CD or bring it over to an MP3 player (though I believe you could make use of Plays-For-Sure). Your license was only good for 30 days, but to renew your license, you simply had to try to play it in the Ruckus Player.

It was a simple system and it was good.

It was targeted toward college students, the demographic that always likes a free meal, a free shirt, and free music. You had to have a .edu email address to make use of the system.

I liked Ruckus, I used it to check out new music that I didn’t want to have to pay Apple for. Then, if I liked the music, I went and bought the CD. Several times I was able to find music via Ruckus I couldn’t find in the local brick and mortar stores.

Its passing will leave a void in many people hungry for good, free, music.

Not much is known about why Ruckus was closed. The website merely says it will no longer be provided.

I will look into the matter.

Ruckus Website.