It seems as though Vocaloids might become the next Big Thing in the music industry; at least this is the case in Japan. For those of you who have never heard of Vocaloids, here’s a little background. From the words Vocal and Android, Vocaloid is a software created by Yamaha Corporation that allows users to create their own synthesized songs by simply typing in lyrics and forming a melody. Sold as “a singer in a box” it’s pretty interesting how their technology works without having an actual singer in the first place. The synthesizer technology is made to ‘sing’ by piecing fragments of sounds created by humans that differentiate one word from another – phonemes- in different frequency domains. Users can then manipulate and fine-tune the dynamics, vibrato, tone, and can also change the pitch bends and transitions to ensure a more natural sounding outcome.
Hatsune Miku (Hatsu meaning First, Ne= Sound and Miku= Future) just goes to show how popular vocaloids really are. Generated with Yamaha’s Vocaloid 2 technology, Hatsune Miku voice is made with Japanese actress Saki Fujita voice samples that are manipulated and synthesized by users. She was introduced in August 2007 by Japanese music software company, Crypton Future Media, and has since become known as the Cyber Diva of the century; making her the official unofficial icon for vocaloid. Her character has grown immensely throughout the years making her a full-fledged celebrity, with an album in her name and nearly topping the Japanese music charts at N°2. With more than 1,800,000 youtube results and 2.5 Million followers on her Facebook Page, she’s actually one of Japan’s most famous pop stars. However, her fame does not stop at the Japanese borders; her fan base is international and keeps growing. Earlier this year she performed at Berlin’s Transmediale art and technology festival. She previously made an appearance on the David Letterman Show and was also Lady Gaga’s opening act back in 2014 at Madison Square. For those of you who are interested, she does have an American tour coming up in April.
Vocaloid was initially intended for professional use. Yet, anyone could use it and since Hatsune Miku became part of the Creative Commons community back in 2013, fans are now able to create Miku remixes and spin-offs. Hiroyuki Ito, CEO of Crypton Future Media, Inc. explained the reason why they decided to make her accessible to everyone “The creative culture using Hatsune Miku and related community will spread worldwide by applying a CC license to the illustration of Hatsune Miku. I hope that this encourages cross-border collaborations among creators and enables them to deepen their understanding of each other’s culture and respect to creators through their works and creation.” This truly became the case as it is common that a user in one part of the world creates the lyrics whilst another adds melody and another includes the instrumental. Her identity is thus multidimensional and her personality is a reflection of her fans.
About the author: Georgina Bunn is a Corporate Communications Associate at ObEN.