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back to article Computers taught to sing using autotuning talent show

Japanese boffins say they have developed a process whereby computers can be taught to sing so well that they are indistinguishable from talented human performers. It was already possible to produce artificial singing, by inputting lyrics and musical scores into software packages such as Vocaloid. The results are easily …

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Anonymous Coward

Kudos

Kudos for using a good picture of Miku~~~~

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I thought they were already doing this

Isn't Rebecca Black an automaton?

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Paris Hilton

No

She isn't Turing Complete.

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Silver badge
Happy

Ha!

Synthetic Reality TV....

coming to a screen near you.

Now to replace Cowell with an inanimate carbon rod.

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Anonymous Coward

"Now to replace Cowell with an inanimate carbon rod."

or turd

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Anonymous Coward

and

and invent the Electronic Monk to listen to the crap.

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One Way Pendulum

Didn't Jonathan Miller teach speak-your-weight machines to sing the Hallelujah chorus in the film One Way Pendulum?

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Terminator

Nothing new...

"This was a triumph

I'm making a note here: huge success

It's hard to overstate my satisfaction

Aperture Science

We do what we must, because we can

For the good of all of us

Except the ones who are dead

But there's no point crying over every mistake

You just keep on trying til you run out of cake

And the science gets done

And you make a neat gun

For the people who are still alive....."

GLaDOS is a fantastic singer.

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Megaphone

Because I'm a [spoiler]

As long as singing doesn't require more than 1.6 volts.

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Megaphone

But we want to hear it!

How can we judge the claims in this article without a single example to listen to!

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Silver badge
Terminator

Oh, Japan!

Now we can have an even more impressive Portal 3 chorus.

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Of course

this will totally change my life forever

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As far as I can tell...

...the "mainstream" of music seems to entirely consist of humans trying to sound like robots. Now they want to do it the other way around? Why can't everyone just do their own job?

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IT Angle

I think I've heard of this somewhere before.

"The curves which produced the best results are then used as "parents" to create a new generation and the process is repeated as required in a survival-of-the-fittest process"

That description sounds like a genetic algorythm. Not knocking the idea - just curious if they even realize the approach they are taking has been in use in other industries for a long time. Might even be that that prior experience could optimize the process. nyeh who cares.

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Bronze badge

I suspect they do

Their use of "evolutionary" suggests to me they have tried to explain genetic algorithms to someone they think incapable of understanding the idea.

The requirement for a sound engineer to judge each of the 8 recordings in each round of refinement still makes this process heavily human-dependant (and presumably costs a lot of the engineers time). This doesn't sound like a great breakthrough in artificial artifice.

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Anonymous Coward

yeah but

You only need to pay the engineer in crisps, pizza and cola.

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Yeah

Yeah, wake me up when they've automated the fitness function.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

@teebie

You don't think a "recording artist" just turns up at a studio, sings a song and then someone shouts "That's a wrap! Cut it!" do you? Nope. Multiple "takes" are recorded then the engineer can spend days if not weeks tweaking, cut'n'pasting between "takes" etc to get that perfect recording.

This system not only does away with the cost of the "artist" but could even significantly reduce the engineer time by automating much of the process. Then there's the studio and musicians you no longer need to pay for.

This should be ideal for the iPod generation. Constant new pap produced, faster than ever. Likewise for the Big Labels. They can carry on charging 79p per track while massively cutting out production costs and all but eliminating royalties.

Excuse me while I go outside and shoot myself :-(

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@The requirement for a sound engineer to judge each of the 8

I assume that once they have done this for X number of different songs, they will be able to come up with some sort of database of styles. Select style drop down box:-

1. Maria Callas

2. Kylie Minogue

etc

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Silver badge

human-dependent

"The requirement for a sound engineer to judge each of the 8 recordings in each round of refinement still makes this process heavily human-dependant (and presumably costs a lot of the engineers time)."

Sure, for the moment - though as other posters point out, they're still reducing costs. But accumulate enough data from those trials and you can use supervised-learning techniques to train a hidden-variable model to duplicate the results. You'd have to do some analysis to select feature sets, but I'd think a maximum-entropy Markov Model would do the trick. This kind of stuff is done all the time in Natural Language Processing - the algorithms are well-understood.

It wouldn't always match what a human judge (ie, the sound engineer) would choose, but then human judges aren't consistent either. As long as the probability is high enough, you could automate the whole thing with reasonable expectation of getting a product that most listeners would believe was produced by a human singer (or couldn't reliably distinguish from such).

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Gotta be Japan

Only the Japanese could use a kawaii hooker as their promo image. Anyone else slightly worried about a country which says "We need cartoons of women! And they've got to have legs up to here, and short skirts, and bondage boots! And they've got to look like they're about 8 years old!"...? And this is just regular ads, never mind what they think is *really* strange.

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Anonymous Coward

oh just

Oh just ---- off you racist small minded ---- and play Dragon Age with your manly men and manlier women.

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Terminator

The Cowell Test

Forget The Turing Test, we now present the musical equivalent - The Cowell Test.

Stage 1: Can a famous music producer tell the difference between a genuine human rendition of a song, and a computer-generated rendition?

Stage 2: Can a trained (pop) vocal coach do likewise?

Stage 3: Can a trained (opera?) singer do likewise?

Stage 4: Can a trained (opera?) vocal coach do likewise?

Next step: since there's already a computer program that can analyse music scores from different composers and compose an original piece in the style of a certain composer, develop software that analyses pop lyrics and writes pop songs.

Then: develop holographic software to the extent of being able to project an 3D CGI character onto stage.

Eventually: why bother with human performers when you can have computers write and perform pop songs from scratch? Who knows - they might be able to produce songs of higher calibre than the likes of Ark Music Factory, Jedward or (even worse) Jemini. Who knows - they might be able to produce virtual Eurovision candidates that perform better than our real-life entrants...

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Anonymous Coward

Then the AI gets really bored and wants to do something different

Like be the AI controlling a vast starship capable of obliterating small moons.

I wonder if this research was actually inspired by Schlock Mercenary?

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Tragedy

You'd also need something that generated tales of woe and triumph for these soft stars to get the grannies emotionally involved enough come present buying time that they could remember what they'd been told to buy.

Some kind of virtual rehab for them to head to when they can't generate publicity any other way would probably also help.

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Joke

Next step...

Why should the AI settle for controlling a vast starship capable of obliterating small moons...

...when it could control a starship the size of a moon capable of obliterating small planets? :)

No doubt while humming all the orchestral parts to a certain John Williams march in perfect pitch...

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Silver badge
Heart

That would be-

The BuranaBots!

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C-N
Welcome

letters and/or digits.

I, for one, welcome our new perfect-pitched overlords.

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Rei Toei

Good to see that we're still on target for the world fulfilling all of William Gibson's predictions.

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Welcome

Almost there.

Since they have been putting images of dead actors in commercials for some time I submit is has ALWAYS been the goal to have a complete construct.

Now that they can get a more human voice it is simply a matter of time before Sharon Apple is reality.

As has been stated before an artificial construct will be no more or less "real" than most entertainment creations of the last decade at least.

Just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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Cheapo actors

Why hire real actors (particularly on radio dramas) when you can get computers to provide the characters' voices for a fraction of the cost? :)

Perhaps in about three decades, technology will have improved to the extent whereby off-the-shelf or freeware text-to-speech engines sound human.... even when dealing with tricky words such as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwryndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch... without the need to provide them in IPA form :)

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Joke

DEFINITELY will improve the suss stainability

of automated, animated adultly anime. Adding some "tremble" and "ohhhooohho" will take it leaps and bounds...

But, whose going to rate animated/machine-generated voices singing human-displacing songs?

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Heart

Nightmares of Macross Plus

So, we'll have self-affected emo songstress robots BEFORE the giant killer robots? That's a pitiful revelation which will echo through history...

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Anonymous Coward

lol

Sheryl Apple, she'll be somewhat less terrifying piloting an army of car manufacturing robots.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

wait...

... somebody actually found a use for genetic algorithms? Next someone will try to tell us they found something more useful than toasting bread to do with fuzzy logic.

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Dead Vulture

How does this

Differ from the heavily synthesized crap that is polluting the airwaves now

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Read the article

The only difference is that it comes "without the baggage of bad teeth, terrible hair extensions and fictionalized family tragedies".

Not sure if that is a win or an even bigger dose of lose.

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Can't...

Can't see this working with EBM, Aggrotech or some forms on synth pop where the aim seems to be to make the human vocalist sound as synthesised as possible... what are they going to emulate when the machines all sound like Kylie?

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