Vocaloid is software that uses voice libraries built from the recorded and modified voices of human singers to allow users to possess their very own artificial singer. This software has created a great amount of possibilities and has had a significantsocial impact in many regions, especially in Japan. This entry will concentrate on explaining the authoring software and its e-poetic potential.
In the year 2000 Kinmochi Hideki invented this program as a collaborative project at the Pampeu Fabra University in Spain, and it was subsequently commercialized by Yamaha Corporation. By taking the voices of recognized singers, Yamaha incorporated functions like vocal libraries (where the artificial voices are saved) and commands that make the use of vibrato and pitch bends possible, not to mention the collection of voice snippets from which the data is retrieved in order to synthesize the vocal parts, along with pitch conversions.
This software is designed for simplicity, but requires time and dedication to master. The main window of this program is the editor, with a menu bar that offers many tools. One of them is a pencil which is used to write the notes that the Vocaloid is going to sing. Below this bar, in the center, there are two rectangles. The first one is compound of three other rectangles, each one with a slightly different function but serving the same purpose: the melody of the song. In rectangle one the user may write the musical notes of the song, in the second rectangle the user can import an audio format in mono and the third square is the same function as the second, only that it serves for stereo instead. Now, on the second rectangle (the one below) that resembles the design of a piano, the voices of the Vocaloids are edited and then played. The user need only click on the pencil at top, then click on the piano board(according to the place in which the user wants the vocaloid to start singing) and write down the lyrics. Also, they might choose the length in which they would want the Vocaloid to sustain the note and when to pause and continue, command the voice to sing a higher note, etc.
Before starting this process, however, the user must install a version of Vocaloid to their computer and a voice library. There are three generations of Vocaloid: Vocaloid (2004) Vocaloid 2 (2007), and Vocaloid 3 (2011). Each one is sold as a full package that holds everything needed for it to function. These full packages only come with one library and no libraries can be bought separately to add to one’s library and minimize cost, except in the latest version. Vocaloid 3 is the only version from which the user can buy the software and then buy multiple libraries separately to add them all in one program. There are free versions of the program Vocaloid 3 online as well as libraries which are perfect for users who intend to use the program as more of a hobby than a serious tool of work.
When buying a Vocaloid one might wonder why there is a drawing of an animation character and here is the reason. After creating this improved software, Yamaha Corporation signed a contract between two companies: Zero-G Limited and Crypton Future Media, approving the use of the software and copyrights. Zero-G Limited was the first to announce a release date of the software to the market in 2003 and then release the first ever Vocaloids “Lola” and “Leon” in 2004. But it wasn’t until 2007 that Vocaloid had a huge social impact with the release of Crypton Future Media’s Hatsune Miku, the world’s first virtual pop-star. It was Hatsune Miku’s release, along with her music video “Nebula”, that took the Vocaloids to another scale. Now they weren’t just software libraries, but artificial artists/singers in the full sense of the word. The drawing that is seen on every portrait of a Vocaloid box is a visual representation of the Vocaloid that is being bought.
Vocaloid uses speech synthesis technologies to create artificial singers which in the hands of talented artists can become cyborg stars.