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.