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The Beginner’s Guide to VOCALOID(1/2)

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    The original text of this article was written in Japanese in October 2011.

    What exactly is VOCALOID?

    VOCALOID refers to the singing synthesizer technology developed by Japan’s Yamaha Corporation and its corresponding commercial software of the same name. Put simply, VOCALOID is software which enables the user to create real songs using vocal fragments of human voice recordings. Just by inputting lyrics and a melody you are able to synthesize singing. The voices generated are those of actual singers which have been stored as data in the song library.
    To date, in the library you can find characters "Hatsune Miku," "Gackpoid" and various others.

    Voice recreation software already has quite a presence in Japan and the VOCALOID system has begun to be adopted for use with train station announcements and telephone answering systems. It’s kind of hard to believe that the ancestors of the curLent VOCALOID characters were just customer service answering machines!

    * "Hatsune Miku" and "Gakupoid" are licenced products of CRYPTON FUTURE MEDIA INC. and INTERNET CO., LTD.

    VOCALOID and Hatsune Miku – the early years

    VOCALOID first began making waves in 2007 when its original version was revamped and upgraded to "VOCALOID 2." With this upgrade also came the sale of the "Character Vocal (CV) Series" and then VOCALOID's popularity really took off. In the DTM (Desk-Top Music – music that’s created using a PC) industry, they say that if a product sells more than 1000 copies it’s a hit product. In its first two weeks of release "VOCALOID 2" sold an unprecedented 3500~4000 copies, making it the biggest hit product since the release of the original "VOCALOID" in 2004.

    As Hatsune Miku's popularity grew so too did the VOCALOID brand with hit spin-off products, "Kagamine Rin & Len" and "Megurine Luka" being released by the same company (Crypton Future Media), and INTERNET Co. Ltd. releasing their own versions "Gakupoid" and "Megpoid" using vocal samplings from popular artists, characters and voice actors.

    * DTM refers to music composition software that enables users to playback computer composed music scores and record instrument performances and edit/layer them.

    Miku fever is on the rise! What’s so great about VOCALOID??

    Just how did the characters of VOCALOID grow to become so popular? The answer is largely, the characters themselves! The most popular of the VOCALOID characters, and pin-up for the franchise, is the cute voiced Hatsune Miku. She is practically the dream girl of every otaku the world over. Hatsune Miku's voice can be edited freely and be made to sing the lyrics chosen by the user.

    People who compose songs and release them as videos and such on streaming sites are known as "VOCALOID P's" (P=producer), the composed works often becoming instant hits online. One such hit which went viral on the site "Nico Nico Douga" was the song "Miku Miku ni shite ageru [Shiteyan yo]" released in September 2007. It has since pulled in over 9,000,000 views, ranking it the 2nd most viewed clip on the site and the most watched from amongst the entire collection of VOCALOID originals.

    ●"Miku Miku ni shite ageru [Shiteyan yo]"

    "Miku Miku ni shite ageru [Shiteyan yo]" uploaded by "ika."

    Songs uploaded to Nico Nico Douga are often picked up by other users who merge the songs with their own visual arrangements and illustrations. As the number of amateur “producers” posting their works increased, Hatsune Miku and the VOCALOID characters began to develop certain characteristics and lives of their own, thus heralding in the age of the "virtual idol."
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