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Microsoft Songsmith

I’m still reeling from belatedly finding out on the same day both about the existence of this product at all and, via nudejournal, what the internet has been doing with it. Apologies if this is old hat (read: been on the internet for more than a month).

First, the product. It “generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice”. Sing any tune at your PC and it will automatically come up with a musical style it thinks appropriate, its own chord sequence and so on. It’s simultaneously incredibly impressive and transcendently awful. A lot of work has clearly gone into programming a reasonable level of musical knowledge into this thing but the results are not an immediate threat to the future of live music. Maybe an eventual version of Songsmith will stun us all, but, seriously, not yet.

Next, the advert for the product. You’ll see this ad described a lot as “viral”, which appears to be becoming code among marketers for “No, really, um, we meant it to be this bad”. It performs one useful function: if you work in marketing, basically ensure that whatever you’re coming up with is as far as possible from this and you’ll be doing okay.

Actual quote: “My band has said my songs have been a little stale lately.”

But the part that has cheered me up immensely, almost as much as Youtube shreds (did you know the originals were taken down apparently after threats of legal action from Er*c “Wow, he’s even more of a cvnt than I thought” Cl*pton?), is the use that people have been putting the programme to since it was released. Amply demonstrating both the sophistication of the technology and the stultifying banality of the vision of the people who programmed it, people have been running acapellas of famous songs through Songsmith and seeing what it makes of them. The results hurt the brain.

UPDATE: In possibly related news, Microsoft is to cut up to 5,000 jobs.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
The version of Roxanne is a work of complete terrible genius.
Jan. 21st, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
Oh no, thanks. Thanks for making me check that. Thanks a lot.
Jan. 21st, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
I think you mean genius. I bet Sting is kicking himself for not thinking of that.
Jan. 21st, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
The dad looks like a shaven Barry Chuckle.
Jan. 21st, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
Well, there goes my day.
Jan. 26th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
The Van Halen deconstruction is not disimilar from a Richard Cheese offering, except that it's even worse (but more amusing) because at least Cheese's voice matches the backing track in style etc., where-as Van Halen's is totally inappropriate.
Jan. 27th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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