What is Vocaloid?


Okay, this is probably an off post from me but this is just the beginning of a series I have in store.

So what is Vocaloid?

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about them. No they are not a band nor a new wave of artists… maybe you can call them like that. Vocaloid can be simply defined as a singing synthesizer aka a virtual singer.

The program came from Yamaha (you might associate them with pianos), pioneered by Kenmochi Hideki. It allows the users to compose songs through the input of song melodies and lyrics for the program to perform without the need of real life singer to sing it.

In short, you are the composer and the program is your singer. Cool idea, huh?

Each of the software released has its own “singer” with each one being unique and has its own attributes in terms of tone and vocal range, just like a real singer. The singing voice synthesis is produced by recording fragments of voices from various people, many of which are professional voice actors and actresses like Saki Fujita (Hatsune Miku) and Nakajima Megumi (Gumi / Megpoid) who is known for her role as Ranka Lee in Macross Frontier, and a handful of professional singers such as actor and singer Gackt (Gakupoid).

Although the program before had this characteristic robotic feel on each song during its first years since its initial launching, it has lately changed as the software improved drastically to a point that one cannot tell apart a synthesized voice from a real voice. As of current, many videos and songs have been uploaded on the internet, mostly in Nico Nico.

It all began with Vocaloid (or V1) developed by Hideki in 2000 at Pompeu Fabra University, Spain. Initially, Vocaloid was a pure collaborative research not a singing phenomenon from it was far from it.

Ideally, it was to become a replacement singer for a real singer.

Where majority think Hatsune Miku was the first Vocaloid made, they are wrong. The first Vocaloids produced were Lola and Leon by Zero-G on March 3, 2004. During the demo, Lola and Leon were praised with reviews as it was a “bold effort as human speech was a complex thing to recreate”. However, they never made a great impact as during that time there was little interest for the voice synthesizer program.

It was during the release of Hatsune Miku as a demo on Nico Nico that program quickly spread in the internet and became a phenomenon.

The Different Vocaloids

Vocaloid (V1) was the first and the “pioneer” generation. During its development English and Japanese versions were made. Leon and Lola were the first Vocaloids developed and debuted at NAMM Show on January 15, 2004.

Following them was Miriam in July 2004. What made Miriam unique was that she was given a voice bank, the first Vocaloid with a voice bank, provided by a real person, Miriam Stockley.  She is noted with an extremely soft voice and a British accent.

Crypton Future Media then followed suit with Meiko. Of the three Vocaloids, it was only Kaito who experienced bad sales during their time.

Vocaloid 2 (V2), released in 2007, was developed following the overall success of the Vocaloid software.

The first released were Sweet Ann, for the English, and Hatsune Miku, for the Japanese.

Sweet Ann was said to be voice by “an Australian actress named Jody” and she was developed by PowerFX, however, she did not catch the public’s attention.

It was only until Miku’s rise, under Crypton’s Character Vocal series (CV), was Vocaloid given notice once again.

Following Miku was Kagamine Rin/Len, a “twin” Vocaloid package that contained a boy and girl voice bank. Shimoda Asami lserved as their voice bank. Despite having two voice banks in one package, they were sold as one unit.

Internet Co. wanted to utilize a professional singer as a voice bank and they were suggested Camui Gackt, a singer and actor. This gave birth to Gackpoid (Kamui Gakupo) who was released on July 31, 2008.

On 2009, Cryton released Megurine Luka, whose voice bank was provided by Yu Asakawa. She is a biligual Vocaloid whose voicebanks are both in Japanese and English

In the same year, Internet Co Ltd., released another vocaloid with the name Megpoid (Gumi). Gumi is known to be the one with the most realistic sounding voice bank with smooth quality in comparison to her predecessors. Adding to that, she is reputed for being able to mimick the English language easier in comparison to the other Japanese voice banks.

Vocaloid 3 (V3) is the current generation of Vocaloids in which they are noted for their smoother and clearer voice banks giving the impression that it’s no longer a synthesized voice. Not only that, it’s the first to have a multilingual option in which the languages available aside from English are Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.

During December 16, 2011, two Vocaloids were released to the world, namely; Tone Rion, a Vocaloid with a noted with a “childish voice with a slight nasal twang” and SeeU, whose voice bank was provided by Kim Dahi, a member of the Korean girl band Glam and the first bilingual Vocaloid that can sing both Korean and Japanese.

SeeU is noted for her husky type of voice yet has clear and definite high notes.

On December 22, 2011, CUL, a Vocaloid whose voice bank was defined as the type that can sing in various genres with genre, was released alongside with Yuzuki Yukari whose voice bank was noted to be steady and beautiful.

IA, or Aria of the Planetes, was released last January 27, 2012.

Sources:

http://www.vocaloid.com/en/about/

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