The Singing Book

Page 1 – Nipper the Dog

His Master’s Voice is a trademark used in the 1890s to promote a British record company. The concept relates to a terrier affectionately named Nipper, and how he thinks he can hear his master’s voice through the gramophone. This relates to synthetic voices in theory because it was one of the first concepts of a voice not coming from a human being. The technology of sound and human voices was still being researched, compiled, and understood.

Page 2 – Daisy Bell

“Daisy Bell” was a cycling song written by Harry Dacre, a British songwriter in 1892, and IBM704 was the first computer to ever sing: “Daisy Bell” its song of choice. Over the years, synthetic technology has come far, providing many forms of mimicking the human voice. Due to the hard work of many scientists and linguists alike, Daisy Bell can be heard in a variety of different synthetic voices, the song serving as a reminder for how far we have come in this work. The video paired with this page gives samples of Daisy Bell sung in the digital sounds of the original IBM to the uncanny humanoid sounds of a synthesizer known as VOCALOID. 

Page 3 – HAL 9000

To further show the inspiration of “Daisy Bell” we will now jump to the famous movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only does the work of music inspire that of synthetic voice, but synthetic voice discovery then goes on to inspire the media consumed by the general public. In this case, movies. In 1962, co-writer of A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke heard the famous debut of synthesized singing by the IBM704, and to pay tribute to such an experience, he decided to have the main computerized villain, HAL, sing “Daisy Bell” as it is being shut down. A poignant nod to the song that gave life to synthesized singing as a whole. The music industry, synthetic voice community, and cinema itself overlap and inspire one another creatively. 

Page 4 – IBM 704

IBM 704, the first singing computer!

Page 5 – Mashups & Crossing the Language Barrier

In Japan, a few concerts featuring vocal synthesized singing, specifically using the software VOCALOID, are performed. In 2015, the opening act of the NicoNico Party Concert featured a common sight—a mashup of two songs created by everyday people who used the VOCALOID software, becoming prominent members of a small vocal synth community on YouTube. The songs gained great popularity on YouTube, one being sung in Japanese and the other being sung in English. The mashup played at this concert had both United States fans and Japanese fans of VOCALOID cross the boundaries of language, and music, allowing them to appreciate cultural differences as well as bringing them closer together as they appreciated the music. With vocal synthesizers used to connect songs from different places, in this case from the United States and Japan, the community learns more about one another, introducing culture through synthetic voice.  

Page 6 – wowaka

To elaborate more in the case of the VOCALOID community, famous music producer wowaka ended up passing away in his sleep on April 5 2019 from heart related issues. The community, due to being knit together with their common love for the synthesizer, outpoured grief for wowaka’s passing, creating tributes in his honor and sharing with each other their condolences in a touching act of human connection. The photo above is from one of wowaka’s last written songs “Unknown Mother Goose”. wowaka inspired many famous producers in this community today. 

Page 7 – VODER

To once again take a step back into the old technology of vocal synths, and also to bring a new perspective that is not focused on singing, the VODER was the first machine to even talk, giving the IBM and eventually VOCALOID the starting technology it needed to even be possible. 

Page 8 – WALL-E

In 2008, we see again the inspiration speech synths and “Daisy Bell” have culminated—the movie WALL-E is created. Not only does WALL-E  inspire  conservation messages, but it also brings together the concepts of a technologically inspired villain like A Space Odyssey , the main villain in WALL-E,Auto, heavily being inspired off of HAL. Again, a chain effect takes place here—while the concept of synthetic voice inspired HAL, HAL inspires WALL-E, once again adding to the cinematic community, people from all aspects of technology and creativity being touched in this ripple of progress. 

Page 9 – Synthesized Contests

This ripple effect continues to be seen throughout even the everyday people—contests for vocal singing synthesizers are held by the companies responsible for creating them where anyone who has purchased the software, even children, may enter their songs with hopes that their song will win the contest. Members of vocal synth communities get to enjoy competing with one another, building hype and excitement in a tight knit community.

Page 10 – Video Games Involving the Community

In 2020, vocal synth fans can expect to a video game called Project Diva: Mega Mix. With over one hundred songs all made from the community using vocal synth software, once again, vocal synth technology intersects into the world of gaming, allowing an ever growing community as programmers and those interested in rhythm based video games are brought together to enjoy the labors of programming, vocal synthetization, and music composing. One of the songs featured in this game, which can be viewed on this page, is called “Jitterbug”.

Page 11 – Other Vocal Synthesizers: CHIP SPEECH

 There are plenty of other less famous vocal software taking the world by storm. It will be interesting to see how these lesser known synthesizers will take the community by storm in the future, and how they too may inspire movies, video games, and creativity within the community. The one pictured here is called CHIP SPEECH, one of its vocals a woman like robot named Lady Parasec.

Page 12 – Other Vocal Synthesizers: UTAU

Another vocal synthesizer that has been fairly popular among younger members of the community due to it being entirely free, is called UTAU. With the ability to turn your own voice into a synthetic one, the creativity of this vocal synth is up to the user and how skilled they are at manipulating their own voice. UTAU has even been used to make singing synthetic voice collections of animals or famous people as well. (For example, “Trumploid” – a whimsical synthetic voice of Donald Trump made with recordings of his voice.)

Page 13 – Other Vocal Synthesizers: CEVIO

Gaining popularity due to its voice character IA, CEVIO is known for its difficult to work interface, but smooth resulting singing vocals. It is easier to access in Japan than the United States, but the introduction of IA’s voice, an English voice, may suggest it hopes to bring western audiences to become more familiar with it in the future. 

Page 14 – Other Vocal Synthesizers: SynthV

A new budding singing software inspired after VOCALOID, it is known for its easy use and for giving noticeably human results without much editing from the user. Eleanor Forte, an English voice, has been a major hit within vocal synth communities for having one of the first understandable American accents. 

Follow this hyperlink to read Isabella Fazio’s project statement.