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Voice Synthesizer Could Bring Your Favorite Musicians Back From the Dead


“It really sounds like him..."


Hearing new songs by those from the crooners era or 1970s hard rockers who have passed away is impossible -- they're dead. Or is it?

Wired reports that Yamaha, which has been developing voice synthesizer technology since the early 2000s, created a "Vocaloid" of a musician who wasn't around to sing every syllable for a voice library used by the synthesizer. Yamaha's Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer that until this year emulated voices of singers who were alive. Wired has more:

[...] to build a Vocaloid “voice library,” a singer typically had to sing every possible syllable, one at a time, in the target language. A computer later would synthesize the fragments into songs.

But now the Vocaloid team has announced that it has succeeded in building a library based on the voice of someone who couldn’t participate in the painstaking process: Hitoshi Ueki, a popular Japanese vocalist who died in 2007. The initial results were revealed on a Japanese video-streaming site earlier this year.

“As far as I know, many viewers were satisfied with the result, and so am I,” said Yamaha researcher Hideki Kenmochi in an e-mail to Wired.com. “It really sounds like him, because the creator [the programmer in charge of the voice library] did a good job.”

Wired reports that while there is still a robotic quality to the sound of the synthesized voices, the technology is not meant to take the place of real singers. Wired notes that in Japan, the Vocaloid is considered a new type of instrument.

Listen to the voice comparison of Vocaloid and real singer:

Since beginning to develop the technology in 2000, Yamaha has since come out with three updated versions and is continuing to make improvements. One of these improvements is mastering the original singers delivery, which Wired notes as things like yelling, whispering, grunting.

There is an English-language version of Vocaloid and Spanish, Chinese and Korean are being developed. Wired reports that with so many more vocal combinations in English, recreating famous dead musicians of our past may take a little longer.

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