Mariah Carey + MIDI + MP3 = Xmas Insanity
December 16, 2015 6:32 AM   Subscribe

 
This is great! Now I want to see if you could try to optimize the instrument selection to maximize the FFT similarity between the original and the rendering...
posted by Jpfed at 6:37 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Useless MP3 to MIDI converter. If you turn everything into an arpeggio of course it's going to sound like garbage.
posted by Talez at 6:45 AM on December 16, 2015


This sounds pretty cool. I wonder what would happen with different parameters set during the conversion.
posted by demiurge at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2015


If you turn everything into an arpeggio of course it's going to sound like garbage.
yo dawg I heard you like arpeggios
posted by thelonius at 6:51 AM on December 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


A friend on social media called this "A Very Conlon Nancarrow Christmas."
posted by aught at 6:52 AM on December 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Dave, I can't tell any difference.
posted by jabah at 6:52 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyone who believes this was produced by any means other than torturing a robot is a credulous idiot.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:53 AM on December 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I now desperately need a Mariah Carey holiday special with an evil crazed Mariah Carey-bot!

DESPERATELY.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:55 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


New favorite Christmas carol.
posted by Krazor at 6:56 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


all I want for christmas is A BODY OF FLESH
posted by theodolite at 6:59 AM on December 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


all I want for christmas is A BODY OF FLESH

That would be the minor key variant.
posted by Talez at 7:01 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh lord. This is truly fantastic.
posted by tocts at 7:06 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


the result is this garbage

Garbage in, garbage out.
posted by Foosnark at 7:13 AM on December 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is my new favorite Christmas thing. I mean, now that Kylie Minogue & Iggy Pop have ruined Christmas Wrapping, what else is there to live for?
posted by SPUTNIK at 7:18 AM on December 16, 2015


I love this to bits. (Sorry.)

Anyway, I don't care much for most Christmas music, nor am I a fan of big pop singers like Céline or Mariah. But just as one song-plus-video combo from the my provincial associate is a real, non-ironic joy-inducer, the original of this song is a genuine delight to me. I've been at a loss to explain this over the years, as I have no understanding of music theory and am usually reduced to gibbering "sounds like classic pop Christmas" and "that waterfalling effect with the melody lines -- you know?".

But a quick Google found this article, which gives a plausible explanation of my affection for this song:
Rock ’n’ roll songs (and the subsequent pop songs influenced by the genre) may only contain three or four chords, each chord usually being just a major or a minor—the two chord “flavors” analogous to chocolate and vanilla. In contrast, a tune from the Songbook might use a Baskin-Robbins shop full of chords and chord flavors—7ths and 9ths, half and fully diminished, various inversions, and more. The melodies that work over such chords tend to include a lot of chromatic notes (the black notes on the piano when playing in the key of C major).

These relatively exotic harmonies—particularly the diminished chords—are often used by more modern songwriters to get a “classic” sound. For instance, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” includes some notes in its choral parts that I think are intended to recall the harmonic vocabulary of those 1940s Christmas standards.

But Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” does more than subtly evoke memories of Judy Garland and Nat King Cole’s Christmases gone by. It sounds more like it could have been written in that era and locked in a Brill Building safe that wasn’t cracked again until 1994, when Carey needed a new song for her Christmas album. But it wasn’t, of course. Carey and Afanasieff wrote it themselves.

I count at least 13 distinct chords at work in “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” resulting in a sumptuously chromatic melody. The song also includes what I consider the most Christmassy chord of all—a minor subdominant, or “iv,” chord with an added 6, under the words “underneath the Christmas tree,” among other places. (You might also analyze it as a half-diminished “ii” 7th chord, but either interpretation seems accurate.) ...

In plain English, it’s a chord sequence that sounds “cozy.” ...

I should say I’m talking here only about the song’s harmonic content. The way those harmonies are articulated with rhythms, instrumentation, and phrasing is drawn straight from soul and R&B music that wouldn’t be popularized until a decade or two after my little postwar scenario. In fact, that’s another reason why “All I Want for Christmas Is You” makes us so happy—it reminds us of the great ’60s and ’70s Motown covers of prewar Christmas classics, such as the Jackson 5’s bopping version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” or Stevie Wonder’s joyful reading of “The Christmas Song.” Carey’s song gives us a double shot of mid-20th-century nostalgia.
posted by maudlin at 7:26 AM on December 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that's what they play in the waiting room of hell.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:28 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


a minor subdominant, or “iv,” chord with an added 6, under the words “underneath the Christmas tree,” among other places. (You might also analyze it as a half-diminished “ii” 7th chord, but either interpretation seems accurate.) ...

that's funny, that is the second time this week that this has come up....I watched some videos by jazz eduator Barry Harris, who says that Monk etc never spoke of half-diminished chords, just minor chords with the 6th in the bass
posted by thelonius at 7:32 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


You've ruined, further and in a good-nay-great way, Christmas carols for me this year.

Thank you.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:37 AM on December 16, 2015


It's pretty terrible when applied to Drake and Smashmouth, too.
posted by neushoorn at 7:43 AM on December 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


The piano has been drinking. My necktie is asleep.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:46 AM on December 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't hear what's so horrific. It's a little crowded and chaotic, but not so much you can't keep up with what's going on. I just hear a lot of enthusiasm, really. I'M WITH IT.
posted by turntraitor at 7:49 AM on December 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is actually better than lots of the stuff on the Pandora "Rockin Holidays" stations (I'm looking at you "Jingle Bell Rock" album that sounds like bored session singers going through the motions while the old guy in the captain's hat who plays once a week at the library pounds away on his circa-1993 Casio arranger keyboard).

Anyway, the conversion is actually pretty great when you consider what it does and what it's working with. I had a (very brief) project in a CS class in college 15 years ago that tried to do this to enable Shazam-like search ... it was not successful. This is much, much better.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:52 AM on December 16, 2015


This is wild! I agree with the guy who made this, my brain hears Mariah's voice coming through in some places. Uncanny.
posted by STFUDonnie at 7:55 AM on December 16, 2015


I would love to watch someone play piano like this.
posted by slogger at 7:56 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I sincerely, genuinely love this.
posted by slogger at 7:58 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can clearly hear the vocals in the Smashmouth one. And it made me laugh like an idiot.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:00 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can clearly hear the vocals in the Smashmouth one

Yeah, me too. Honestly I don't know enough about how formant synthesis works, but I guess the vocal in the Smashmouth track was loud and clear and the converter picked up a lot of the harmonics? I'd like to see the MIDI ouptut. But not enough to actually do anything about it.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:04 AM on December 16, 2015


This is the soundtrack for all of those ugly holiday sweater parties I keep hearing about.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:23 AM on December 16, 2015


I remember an experiment which showed that once you knew a song, and especially the lyrics, the original could pop into your perceptions when you got enough cues. It's certainly noticable on low b bandwidth reconstituted spoken audio using LPC, which i've been playing with over radio links recently. Initial listening can sound borderline incomprehensible, but if you know the speaker - and also once you've got your ear in in general, you perceive a much higher quality.

Which is interesting. But this song is genius. I immediately want to play too - perhaps with different instruments, perhaps with post-processing, perhaps with mixing in or subtracting the original. I don't have any sort of autotune, but that would be on the list too.

Clearly, there is much work to be done.
posted by Devonian at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Rock rock jingle rock rock rock bell
posted by shakespeherian at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I would love to watch someone play piano like this

It sort of sounds like James Booker plays Conlan Nancarrow.
posted by larrybob at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2015


Someone needs to do this to Tom's Diner to really run this newfangled M. P. Three thing through its paces
posted by theodolite at 8:35 AM on December 16, 2015


... and a dash of Circus Galop.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2015


re: hearing the words: maybe also related to this (specifically the bottom two)? (via)
posted by curious nu at 8:45 AM on December 16, 2015


As great (horrifying) as the vocal lines are I am just as, or more, tickled by the relentless fist smashing left hand work doing the job of that yooj bass+kick line in the original. Gosh.

And I also can hear the ghost of Mariah in some of those runs.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:45 AM on December 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm just listening to the original right now, and holy christ, the actual piano part really isn't a whole lot more nuts than this.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2015


Arpeggio is kind of like melisma, and the piano changes pitch almost as often as Mariah does :)

What happens when you autotune Mariah's work to T-Pain levels? What happens if you MIDIfy her voice at the Nyquist rate? What happens if you generate an SSL certificate using the MIDI file as a private key and then convert that to MIDI?

(I have to admit, I loathed this song when it came out, but my nieces love it to bits, and hearing them belt it out from the back seat of the car... now I kind of like it)
posted by kurumi at 9:02 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


What happens when you autotune Mariah's work to T-Pain levels? This
posted by STFUDonnie at 9:27 AM on December 16, 2015


Lazlo Hollyfeld: I can clearly hear the vocals in the Smashmouth one. And it made me laugh like an idiot.
I was positive I could hear them in the link in the post as well. It's weird.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:54 AM on December 16, 2015


See, this is why I preferred .mod files.
posted by ckape at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Theodolite: not sure if you're already aware of this, but here's someone heavily processing (albeit with excellent results) Tom's Diner: http://theghostinthemp3.com/theghostinthemp3.html
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 10:17 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I want for Christmas is your soul.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am sitting in a room gift box.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:31 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


And if you need to go the other way, here's Lustmord's 'Silent Night Redux'.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:51 AM on December 16, 2015


Sheet music, please.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:52 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was sheet to begin with.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 11:47 AM on December 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


This brings comfort and joy, comfort and joy. I'm working retail during the holidays and getting Xmas pop music for hours on end, and Pariah Carey is one of many on my shit list. I work in a pet store and want to hijack the soundsystem and blast this spectacular wreckage till the dogs all riot and maul everyone to death. That's all I want for Christmas.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 11:48 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


this is the only way i want to hear this song for the rest of my life
posted by ghostbikes at 11:54 AM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not only can I hear the vocals, but I swear to god I am convinced this is being played by two people on one piano, with the right-hand pianist requiring both hands for the insanity on the high end, and the left-hand pianist playing the low end with one hand and doing percussion with the piano lid.
posted by tocts at 12:10 PM on December 16, 2015


I feel this is an abuse of Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem and Fourier transforms.
posted by borkencode at 12:11 PM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sounds a bit like Scriabin after a few too many eggnogs...
posted by jim in austin at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel this is an abuse of Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem and Fourier transforms.

Along the same lines, we have the Peter Ablinger's speaking piano.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:29 PM on December 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


OK, so I've never been all that aware of Mariah's version of this song (it's no doubt I've heard it without knowing who sang it), but I couldn't help laughing all the way through this "version." I wondered if anyone could really play this on piano, then realized it could be done if the player used the heel of their left foot (or a handy child with a sledge hammer) on the bass.
posted by lhauser at 12:43 PM on December 16, 2015


Publio Delgado does the human version of this with his harmonizator series of videos.
posted by umbú at 12:47 PM on December 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


This conjures up an image of two piany players in a saloon who're handcuffed together and forced to share the keyboard. Also, they're trying to kill one another at the same time.

Delightful, and a pretty good metaphor for the holidays.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:24 PM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is amazing, and I absolutely love the turn of phrase "this tire fire of an MP3".
posted by lucidium at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


This has had me in stifled laff-tears all day.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:10 PM on December 16, 2015


If you know the song, the particular frequencies will be enough for your brain to fill in the gaps of the vocal line. It's very much a case of pareidolia.
posted by solarion at 4:43 PM on December 16, 2015


Neat! I did this with David Lee Roth way back in 2009.
posted by speicus at 7:28 PM on December 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


All I keep seeing in my head every time I listen to this is that scene with Daffy and Donald Duck in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:31 PM on December 16, 2015


solarion: “If you know the song, the particular frequencies will be enough for your brain to fill in the gaps of the vocal line. It's very much a case of pareidolia.”
speicus: “Neat! I did this with David Lee Roth way back in 2009.”
I thought solarion must be right, but I couldn't pick that David Lee Roth number out of a line-up and you can definitely hear at least some of the words. That's the craziest thing.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:45 PM on December 16, 2015


Is the actual MIDI file available anywhere? Because I would love to run it through some of the high-end and historical modeled pianos in Pianoteq. ("This is how Chopin would have heard it...")
posted by lagomorphius at 7:47 PM on December 16, 2015


It's fascinating to me that people find these "horrible". I find the Mariah Carey, Drake, and Smash Mouth ones all extremely listenable. (Which is more than I can say for actual Smash Mouth.)
posted by threeants at 7:53 PM on December 16, 2015


And previously on Metafilter: Peter Ablinger's Speaking Piano
posted by speicus at 7:58 PM on December 16, 2015


Btw, this is the clearest one of these i've heard. You can REALLY make out the lyrics.
posted by emptythought at 1:23 AM on December 17, 2015


Is the actual MIDI file available anywhere?

You can roll your own here or with this software. I am having unreasonable amounts of fun with this.
posted by STFUDonnie at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm late to the party and just trying some first random things, using the "here" converter STFUDonnie linked and just feeding the resulting midi into a piano sampler in Reason, with no great success but enjoying it anyway. Initial not-worth-uploading results: Tom's Diner is actually a bit dull, Santeria isn't terrible as a kind of insane barroom rag, and Chop Suey is decent during the quiet soft chorus bits but is just a wall of piano-torturing nuttiness during the loud bits, with not so much vocals as violent forearms-on-the-keyboard cacophony.
posted by cortex at 4:21 PM on December 18, 2015


If you know the song, the particular frequencies will be enough for your brain to fill in the gaps of the vocal line. It's very much a case of pareidolia.

That's the neat thing, is that it is and it isn't. Like there's absolutely a ton of gap-filling going on, you're right on that being primed by either familiarity with the song or lyrics/subtitles to guide listening will make a huge difference in recognizability; but that the same time, when the conversion process works well, there's significant formant recreation just using various simultaneously-sounded notes at proportionally appropriate volumes. It's enough for rough vowel recognition independent of a familiarity with the source, though it's still awfully rough and doesn't help out with recreating consonants or sibilants or so on.

It's crazy that it works at all, but it's also actually kinda working, not just tricking our brains into making up something out of nothing.
posted by cortex at 4:54 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


More stuff:

- O Superman is a pretty interesting listen on the condition that you like the original; the vocals are less decipherable than a lot of other songs in part I think on account of all the vocoded vocal harmonies mussing up the otherwise pure vocal sounds

- My Humps is kinda great and dumb. I synced it up manually with a music video with the sound off in a "just hit play at the right times" fashion, and I'm just slightly too lazy to actually do up a proper video sync and post it myself.

- The Beautiful People is a big stompy barroom mess. Float On likewise but major key, with some particularly lucid moments despite the "just whack the whole keyboard every beat" feel overall. The outro bit works especially well.

- I Want To Break Free is pretty great, and among the more listenable examples in general. I think the clear articulation of the parts in the mix—Freddy's vocals, Brian May's guitar lead tone—helps it really work.

- Tainted Love: messy but pretty rad, and that "not really aaAAAALLLLLllll" on the turnaround is great
posted by cortex at 9:22 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The version of Smells Like Teen Spirit that waxpancake processed brings to mind punk piano player DJ Lebowitz.
posted by larrybob at 4:47 PM on December 21, 2015




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