…when you can use VOCALOID, a totally fascinating, vaguely unsettling singing synthesizer program from – where else? – Japan. It doesn’t just do the robot voice box or vocoder sounds – this one actually sings, mainly through the reedy female voice of a fictional character, Miku Hatsune (based, however, on a series of recordings by the very much alive Japanese actress Saki Fujita). Users more or less simply input the melody, and then input whatever lyrics, and poof – a near pitch-perfect rendition that sounds almost human. Oh, it works in English, too, although Miku still can’t pronounce certain sounds. A new couple of voice kits, of a girl named Rin and a boy named Len, were released last December in Japan, but Miku remains the most popular.
Of course, YouTube is full of videos of Miku singing either existing songs, or people’s own eerie ditties fit for anime theme music. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Here’s Miku singing “Lorelei,” from the 1933 Gershin musical Pardon My English.
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And here she is singing “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago.