Enjoy listening to Music? Well, most of us do. The melody, the interplay of notes, the lyrics and a perfectly relaxing music or anything that raises our spirits. We call all of this music. When it comes to vocal performances, there is nothing that can beat that pleasant feeling of being part of a concert or a performance where music fills every part of our body and the air around us.
With advances in technology, music producers have for decades had electronic tricks at their disposal for improving a recorded vocal performance. They can add a little reverb or echo to bolster a weak rendition, use effects such as phasing and delay to add color to the vocal, fix duff notes with auto-tuning or even reprogram a whole melody line in software. In recent years, voice synthesis for converting text to spoken word has improved considerably but combining that technology with auto-tuning capability allows computers to “sing.”
For those of us into sound mixing and editing, software like Vocaloid can successfully create lead vocals and harmony parts from an input of lyrics and musical score. Researchers in the Graduate School of Engineering, at The University of Tokyo, point out that it is the tweaking of the frequency curve that is critical to success but this process is labor intensive and prone to human error that means a vocal rendition always retains artifacts of the synthetic process used to produce it. Other researchers have developed tools such as Vocal Listener, which can tune frequency curves and make some features of singing voice like vibrato. However, this system requires an original version of the vocal sung by a human from which to work. The SingBySpeaking system “sings” text input, but uses only one frequency curve and so is insufficient for a realistic synthetic vocal with all the nuance of a human performance.
Here is a brief idea of how Vocaloid helps present excellent vocal performances. According to the research team at the University of Tokyo, production of the first generation of frequency curves involves making eight individual curves with random parameters and feeding them into Vocaloid. The second step is for the music producer to listen to the effect of each curve on their synthetic vocal and to move slider bars in the software interface to reflect how well each curve works. In the third stage, the best curves are used as the “parents” to create a new generation of curves. Finally, the second generation curves undergo crossover and random mutation and the process repeated from step 2. Eventually, the fittest frequency curves will emerge that endow the synthetic vocal with the most realistic characteristics of human singing. This kind of software could go a long way in ensuring excellent vocal performances around the world. One of the best use of this could be in the college of communication, fine arts and media at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where a lot of research is going on to synchronize the recorded performances of bands electronically for more clarity.
In conclusion, with software like Vocaloid we can all look forward for excellent quality in recorded performances and enjoy the concert in the true spirit.