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Microsoft Songsmith
January 8, 2009 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft has just announced Songsmith. What is it? I think it is some Karaoke / Garageband / Guitar-hero like thing.

All I do know is: The promotional ad video for it is a trainwreck.
posted by mrzarquon (194 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
It can't be real. It can't be real. It can't be real. It can't be real. It can't be real.
posted by cgc373 at 6:23 PM on January 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


If you look hard enough, you can see Jerry Seinfeld in the background, shaking his head and smirking.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. I could only make it through a little over a minute. That was astonishing. I feel dirty, and confused, and somehow sad for many people's careers, but I also want to point at them and laugh. It's a testament to groupthink and herd behavior that this thing somehow made it to production.
posted by adipocere at 6:27 PM on January 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


Microsoft thinks they are ahead of the curve, when in fact, they are just about to be lapped
posted by mrzarquon at 6:28 PM on January 8, 2009


HOLY SHIT THIS IS AWESOME
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:28 PM on January 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


that was painful.
posted by liza at 6:29 PM on January 8, 2009


WTF is wrong with you people?! It's the cool new thing!(tm)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:29 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Microsoft, huh? So... it's pretty easy to use?"
posted by ardgedee at 6:30 PM on January 8, 2009 [40 favorites]


I think Microsoft saw the "MacBook Wheel" video the other day and got jealous of all the haterade for Apple.
posted by fungible at 6:31 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


And for contrast, this is Apple's introductory page to Garageband. They actually have real musicians. You can get lessons from Sting now! Free Sting with a new mac!
posted by mrzarquon at 6:31 PM on January 8, 2009


Seriously. Seinfeld and Gates in a shoe store was bad enough. The production levels of this thing are on par with the orientation video they made me watch when I got hired as a dishwasher at Denny's. Isn't this supposed to be a very wealthy corporation? They couldn't get ad people capable of coming up with something more polished than "The Wash-O-Tron 6000 and You: Just Look At That Shine"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:32 PM on January 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Songsmith is a nightmare dystopia.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:32 PM on January 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


their motto is that "everybody has a song in them". well, consider "Songsmith" the perfect combination of technological metamusil and exlax needed to dislodge that creative turd you have impacted in deep recesses of your soul.
posted by liza at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2009 [22 favorites]


Wait wait wait. Is this just Microsoft parodying the "Apple Family" infomercials of the '90s?

Because that's so weird that I'm not sure how I feel about that.
posted by Kronoss at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2009


Free Sting with a new mac!

Finally, I'll be able to fuck my Mac for hours.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2009 [20 favorites]


Jesus Christ. Has Microsoft ever made a good ad?

Oh, and will they never learn about putting Macs in their ads? That's a MacBook that the chuckle brother is taking to the coffeeshop to sing into.
posted by bonaldi at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bwaaahahahahahahahahahhaahaha!!!!!

So...anyone know where I can get some glow-in-the-dark-towels?
posted by paddysat at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Finally, I'll be able to fuck my Mac for hours.

I have some bad news for you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:35 PM on January 8, 2009


"Oh, it's Microsoft, so it must be easy to use!"

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by The White Hat at 6:36 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


The ad is so bad, that it's just absurd which makes it hilarious. :D
posted by yeoz at 6:36 PM on January 8, 2009


I'm scared. Hold me.
posted by rtha at 6:40 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


As someone in the YouTube comment section pointed out - the family's laptop is a "disguised" Macbook.
posted by brookeb at 6:41 PM on January 8, 2009


my head hurts
posted by needled at 6:44 PM on January 8, 2009


The Following Ad Is Rate 'S' For Songtastic

...wonder what else could go there....
posted by mannequito at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, the internet just made me vomit
posted by mattoxic at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I kind of thought it was a satire, and the whole thing was building up to the point where the guy from Girl Talk would come in and show everyone how to lay down some insanely catchy tracks on this new Songsmith thing.

And everyone would just be dancing like nuts and then the Microsoft logo would materialize and the commercial would end.
posted by Kronoss at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops, messed up that last link. Here's what I meant.
posted by Kronoss at 6:49 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. After that, I think I'm done listening to music. If I could find an application to replace all movie soundtracks with a low monotone humming, that would be super.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 6:50 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, it says "Microsoft Research" on the home page. Those people don't actually make products. They just dick around all day with fun stuff. They're basically academics, but not in a university environment. Sometimes, a cool idea will escape MSR and get turned into a "real product". (And in fairness, cool ideas sometimes die in the process of productization.)

I'll be the first person to agree that our marketing sucks donkey balls. But this is almost certainly a private effort by someone involved in the project.
posted by Slothrup at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow, the internet just made me vomit

Use that glow-in-the-dark towel to wipe it up.
posted by mannequito at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm having serious deja vu. I know I've seen this technology before, though without the video. Didn't I see it here? It's a very neat toy, either way.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2009


OMFG,y'all right! that is a Mac but I wager it's a 17" inch Powerbook covered in stickers.
posted by liza at 6:55 PM on January 8, 2009


To add an extra level of "huh?", this looks like the same guy who played "Dad" in the first video, doing a Songsmith demo.
posted by wendell at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2009


Someone please tell Microsoft that "This sucks on purpose" just isn't a valid excuse. And that goes for a lot more than this ad.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


> But this is almost certainly a private effort by someone involved in the project.

The problem is this was the video they had ready for the CES announcement of the product.

I didn't just find this. Microsoft decided everyone should know about the product today, and either didn't actually watch the video, or thought that no one would go and want to learn more about their project. This isn't a single mad scientist running loose, this is a failure up through the PR food chain.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2009


what's the redheaded woman at the end from? she's had bit parts in things before. buffy? six feet under? someone help me it's driving me crazy.
posted by sentinel chicken at 7:00 PM on January 8, 2009


I want to yodeling and/or throat sing into it to see what happens.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:02 PM on January 8, 2009


Wow.

That's an actual "MacWheel" interface, isn't it?

Counting down to snarky techno remix in 4... 3... 2...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2009


The problem is this was the video they had ready for the CES announcement of the product.

!!

That's utterly bizarre -- not the product, which I'm sure is strange, but the fact that an MSR "product" is actually for sale. I guess I fail.
posted by Slothrup at 7:04 PM on January 8, 2009


Wait, you watched it to the end?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:04 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


and lived to tell the tale
posted by needled at 7:06 PM on January 8, 2009


I'm using Windows... Windows... Windows 386
so all my applications are running at once...

posted by Dr-Baa at 7:07 PM on January 8, 2009 [21 favorites]


LOL! I work indirectly with the Indian guy in the video; more proof that this ad is totally homegrown.
posted by Slothrup at 7:08 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


was the woman at the end Fergie? I thought she was definitely Fergie.
posted by localhuman at 7:13 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I stopped at 2:10... good grief, no wonder why they're practically giving their next OS away for free
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2009


(Interior of Microsoft conference room, November)

STEVE BALLMER: ALL RIGHT!!! We need to get ready for CES in January. So I brought in Sierra from Marketing to help us work out the talk! She's fresh out of the UW School of Business!

SIERRA: That's the FOSTER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS!!! I WAS A TRI DELT!!!

BALLMER: (excitedly hopping) THAT'S THE ENTHUSIASM I'M LOOKING FOR! NOW LET'S TALK WINDOWS 7! RAY ARE WE READY TO ROCK?

RAY OZZIE: Uh, sure? We should have a beta ready to preview by the end of December.

SIERRA: WOOHOO!!! SEVEN!!!

OZZIE: Yeah. So we'll be able to show that off. It's remarkably stable.

BALLMER: STABLE!

SIERRA: LIKE A TABLE!

BALLMER: I NEED SOME MORE RED BULL!! Now, we should pair this up with another announcement or three, you know, like those Apple guys. John, you're business intel, what are they planning?

JOHN: Well, the leaks we have suggest it's all iterative. New MacBook Pro, and they're talking to Warner about dumping DRM. Maybe some other record companies, too. Other than that, we can't find any evidence they have anything else going for MacWorld. I mean, doesn't even look like they're going to do much for it at all, like they're ignoring it.

BALLMER: IGNORING MACWORLD! HIGH FIVE ME SIERRA!

SIERRA: HIGH FIVE!!

JOHN: Um. Yeah. So, we might be able to trump them with just announcing Windows 7.

BALLMER: (jumping up so high he knocks a ceiling tile loose) JUST WINDOWS 7? NO!! WE WILL ROCK THEM WITH PRODUCTS AND FEATURES!!

SIERRA: OUR PRODUCTS AND FEATURES ARE THE BEST!! AND EASY TO USE!!

BALLMER: RAY, TELL ME WE HAVE SOMETHING!

OZZIE: Well, we've been working on some new features with Mesh that will allow you to essentially create your computer virtually on the cloud servers, so even if your computer is off...

BALLMER: NOT EXCITING!!! I WANT PRODUCTS AND FEATURES!!! WHAT ABOUT IE 8???

OZZIE: Chris Wilson says they're trying to knock down some issues with how IE is handling CSS 2.1...

BALLMER: WHAT THE HELL IS CSS?? DAMNIT, CAN HIS CONTRACTORS! WE DON'T NEED THIS CSS CRAP, THAT SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING THOSE WUSSY APPLE DESIGNERS WOULD USE!

OZZIE: Um, you do remember that we promised IE 8 would be standards-based? This is one of the standards.

SIERRA: CEE ESS ESS IS TOO STANDARD! WE SHOULD CALL IT MICROSOFT STANDARDS ADVANTAGE LABS BETA!

BALLMER: THAT'S THE THINKING! WHAT ABOUT THE XBOX GUYS? ISN'T HALO 4 READY?

OZZIE: Halo 3 was the last of the trilogy. There's no Halo 4.

SIERRA: WELL THANK GOD FOR THAT! MY EX-BOYFRIEND PLAYED HALO 3 EVERY DAY FOR WEEKS AND DIDN'T SLEEP WITH ME! SO I DUMPED HIM FOR THIS NICE CODER IN MICROSOFT RESEARCH LABS!!! WOOHOO!!!

BALLMER: AND WHAT IS YOUR BOYFRIEND WORKING ON SIERRA? HIGH FIVE!!

SIERRA: HE CALLS IT SONGSMITH! NOW MY COMPUTER CAN WRITE SONGS FOR ME!!!

BALLMER: (runs around the room flailing his arms like an excited rooster) THAT IS GENIUS!!! GENIUS!!! WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT IT RAY?

OZZIE: Well, it's an idea, more than anything. Kind of like Wii Music, or Guitar Hero. You sing into the microphone, there's this drum track, and then it fills in music based on your pitch.

BALLMER: WE NEED A VIDEO!!! SOMETHING WITH A FAMILY! MAKING MUSIC!!

SIERRA: AND A MARKETING GUY WRITING A JINGLE!!!

BALLMER (throwing chairs through the windows): YES!!!! SIERRA, CALL THE GUYS THAT DID THE SEINFELD ADS! I HAVE ONE MORE JOB FOR THEM!!!

OZZIE: (to John, sotto voce) When I'm finally CEO, I'm going to fire entire marketing team and the all the people who recruited them.

JOHN: You know, I can just have them killed for you. That's what we did with the last marketing team.

OZZIE: I'll take that into consideration.

(Scene.)
posted by dw at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2009 [96 favorites]


Somebody needs to feed Dr-Baa's link into Songsmith.
posted by bonaldi at 7:16 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


this calls for a contest of some sort
posted by boo_radley at 7:16 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


we should have a contest on who here can watch that video to the end without throwing up even a little in their mouth

i didn't even make it to the 1 minute mark
posted by needled at 7:16 PM on January 8, 2009


Other people use the beat determination feature to let you know what song is playing in a club, or be the basis of voice recognition software, or maybe do some really cool playlist mixing. Not even getting to the assistance abilities this audio pattern recognition software might be able to provide.

Microsoft uses the same technological solution to let you make music by yourself, because no one with real musical talent will play with your tone deaf ass.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:20 PM on January 8, 2009


You can buy this right now. $29.95 seems like a small investment for all the commercial jingles I'll be doing for the local check cashing stores and dry cleaners.
posted by curse at 7:20 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


> I'm having serious deja vu. I know I've seen this technology before

It's a karaoke game, but instead of comparing your singing to its built-in tone track it builds a tone track from your singing.

It still has to have some new logic to figure out chord changes, but that also means it's probably optimized for common pop song structures. I'm betting the moment you step outside of standard western modes and 4/4 patterns it's lost.

I can't think of a single useful purpose for this application. Even the uses touted in the video are a stretch ("We're pitching a multimillion dollar ad campaign for a new consumer product! We are so screwed without a jingle!") It'll follow the path of Comics Chat: be an interesting creative tool of incredibly limited use which will die an early death and be ignored by everybody except a few people using it purely for detournement[nsfw].
posted by ardgedee at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2009


♫ singing ♫

When I'd need to wank in the dark
I'd stumble on completion
because I didn't want to stain the bed
with my secretion...

Now at last, to set me free
I've got a visible mop to wipe up my jism
when I'm done with a bout of
OH!
NAN!
Iiiiiiiiismmmm!


♫ whoa, it's a glow in the dark towel, what the fuck.
posted by boo_radley at 7:26 PM on January 8, 2009 [25 favorites]


I think the world would be better served by making easier to use, stripped down versions of Ableton, Reason and Melodyne.

We should be teaching kids subtractive synthesis and midi sequencing in middle school, instead of clarinet and flute.
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you've ever wondered if there was a Comic Sans equivalent for music, your prayers have been answered.
posted by ldenneau at 7:29 PM on January 8, 2009 [30 favorites]


Jesus Fucking God Almighty ... that's awful ...
Am I a bad person for wanting a copy just to fuck around with, though? I mean, I wouldn't pay for it, or anything.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2009


Look, it says "Microsoft Research" on the home page. Those people don't actually make products. They just dick around all day with fun stuff. They're basically academics, but not in a university environment.

Then it finds it's way onto MeFi for people to bitch and whine about like crazy.
posted by Artw at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2009


In da woids of Irving Cohen:
Gimme a C, a bouncy C....

Da songs dis gadget makes
Don't know which way to go
'Cause half of dem, dey suck
De udder half, dey blow.
posted by hexatron at 7:39 PM on January 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


"I'm supposed to come up with an ad campaign by tomorrow for... Oh, hey! I'm gay... AND FAAAABULOUS! I didn't even notice before!"
posted by markkraft at 7:40 PM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Having watched more of the video, I think this still perfectly captures all of the emotions I have about this product.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:43 PM on January 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


(And even though I was a mere 20 seconds from the end, I couldn't finish watching that ... thing.)
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:45 PM on January 8, 2009


Anyone who watched past 0:30 is a masochist.
posted by aerotive at 7:46 PM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Holy Shit batman. This HAS to be a farce. NO marketing person in their right mind would ever put something like this out. It was painful. I couldn't go a minute...I'm going to have nightmares. Couldn't they have found one of the millions of other little girls who have a decent singing voice?
posted by aacheson at 7:50 PM on January 8, 2009


What I really love about this is it's a story about a guy who pitches an ad, using Songsmith. The glow-in-the-dark towels were just a marichino cherry.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:55 PM on January 8, 2009


All the app needs is a bit of a redesign. Add in a feature where you can dress up an avatar in all sorts of costumes, perform live, send the video to friends or automatically post it to YouTube or your blog.

Microsoft Virtual Piano Bar... Microsoft Christian Rock Band... Microsoft's New Country... really, any genre of music where creativity or talent is a potential liability would be great!
posted by markkraft at 7:55 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think we can lay up the histrionics now. Slothrup indicated this was the R/D geeks doing from start to finish. Those "actors" were probably the geeks who developed this goofy software or were just random geeks nearby who volunteered to make this soul killing video using in-house equipment.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 PM on January 8, 2009


My soul is worth way more than a $29.95 program.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:57 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


It looks like it has found one commercial application already.
posted by archaic at 8:01 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


What if this is just a clever viral marketing technique, where Microsoft designs something so godawful that we all feel compelled to order one online and use it alone in the dark when nobody is looking, along with our Extenze and our Trojan vibrating touches....
posted by markkraft at 8:03 PM on January 8, 2009


Oh, there's a commercial application for this, alright...
posted by markkraft at 8:05 PM on January 8, 2009


My gaydar says that "Dad" is "on my team." Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by ericb at 8:15 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't Cop Rock get something out of Cop Rock my head oh god make it Cop Rock go away what I have to sleep now.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:16 PM on January 8, 2009


It's a bittersweet video for me, because I keep imagining what Wesley Willis could have done with Microsoft Songsmith if only he'd lived.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:19 PM on January 8, 2009 [18 favorites]


Great, now that song is actually stuck in my head. Now I have to go listen to Whitehouse or something else more pleasant.
posted by malocchio at 8:23 PM on January 8, 2009


It would actually be a lot of fun seeing real singers doing cheesy Songsmith'ed versions of their hits, singing along, only to have their familiar tunes mangled.

... and even more telling to find out what popular tunes sounded essentially the same either way.
posted by markkraft at 8:28 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


i'm so tempted to do an rpm album with this - just for the cheese factor
posted by pyramid termite at 8:39 PM on January 8, 2009


uuugghhhh even more painful, my name IS "lisa". i made thru 0:44. can we be devolving and evolving at the same time?
posted by tarantula at 8:40 PM on January 8, 2009


Quick, somebody run the "Runnin' With the Devil" vocal track through this thing.
posted by neckro23 at 8:43 PM on January 8, 2009 [11 favorites]


*stops video at 40 seconds, repeatedly moans something about his soul, and in a desperate spasm of effort kicks YouTube over to a 5-minute Carlos Santana jam*
posted by eritain at 8:43 PM on January 8, 2009


> All the app needs is a bit of a redesign. Add in a feature where you can dress up an avatar in all sorts of costumes, perform live, send the video to friends or automatically post it to YouTube or your blog.

There's an idea in there. Maybe somebody could make a game where people make up their own songs and others make music videos for them a'la Audition Online, bringing in a social component and giving people something to enjoy doing and compete with.

There's nothing to do with Songsmith except make audio tracks and output them in WMA format for use in... well... whatever you'd use a homemade song in WMA format for. Microsoft's product is half-assed, as if they had a decent idea that somebody could use for something, so they wedged it into a glassy UI and shoved it out the door. Despite that, the underlying technology is interesting whether or not it's radically innovative.
posted by ardgedee at 8:46 PM on January 8, 2009


So that's what Chris Burke is up to these days. Writing ads for Microsoft. Well, good on him.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:47 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so Microsoft is a little behind the curve with this, but you people don't realize Songsmith's potential for the ReBorningAgain of Christian pop music.
I would even go so far as to say that it is the ONLY music application that has a chance at accurately recapitulating the crucifixion of Christ in lyrical form.
posted by isopraxis at 8:47 PM on January 8, 2009


DAD: "I never heard you sing before, Lisa."

LISA: "Well, dad, maybe it's because you're always working on dumb shit like this at Microsoft instead of going to my school recitals!" (runs away sobbing)
posted by MegoSteve at 8:49 PM on January 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


So what's the significance of the girl being named Lisa?

(Maybe it's explained in the video. I didn't make it past the coffee shop scene. Sorry.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:57 PM on January 8, 2009


I think if Wesley Willis were to use a consumer music program, it would be Apple's Garageband, not Songsmith. His music used repeated loops, which he controlled by pressing keys on the keyboard. What makes his music so memorable is that he had specific ideas about chord progression; SongSmith is for people who don't know what chords fit where.

At least with GarageBand, Wesley could get the timing right on chord changes.

"Microsoft Songsmith: at least it's not a glow-in-the-dark towel..."
posted by bugmuncher at 8:57 PM on January 8, 2009


"How did your meeting go to-day?
Did the bosses like your aaaaass?"

Oh come on, I know I'm not the only one who thought she was about to sing that.
posted by cashman at 9:03 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someware in hotel room in LA, Usher is saying "yeah"
posted by mattoxic at 9:12 PM on January 8, 2009


That was epic. And terrifying, too. I've been looking for a way to narrate my whole life with song...
posted by riane at 9:13 PM on January 8, 2009


MegoSteve: That is really the only positive application I could ever possibly see for this travesty.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:15 PM on January 8, 2009


For a second, I feared that this would not include terribly synthesized slap bass.
posted by tmcw at 9:15 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I bailed out of the video after about 90 seconds.

However, I am totally downloading the trial. I have a pile of songs floating around in my head that I'd love to set to music. However, I'm a bassist and I can't play the two instruments that would best facilitate the music I want to write: guitar or piano.

The "For Musicians" section of the website describes this app as a sort of "scratchpad for musicians". If it achieves that, it'll be worth $30 to me.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:22 PM on January 8, 2009


The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of the countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator.

-George Orwell, 1984
It seems like it would be trivial to rig up a markov generator to make love poetry. All that's left is figuring out a way automatically sing it into SongSmith and you have Orwell's versificator.
posted by JDHarper at 9:26 PM on January 8, 2009 [13 favorites]


Someone give Nickelback a copy.
posted by mazola at 9:41 PM on January 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


It seems like it would be trivial to rig up a markov generator to make love poetry. All that's left is figuring out a way automatically sing it into SongSmith and you have Orwell's versificator.

This is totally already possible. Have the text be read out by one of those reader voices that come as accessibility features with Windows and OS X, feed that into software that does pitch modulation, and that result goes into Songsmith.

This isn't the first time I've had an idea where I would regret seeing it implemented, but I've rarely felt that way this strongly. I think it's because I secretly want to see it implemented very badly.
posted by invitapriore at 9:47 PM on January 8, 2009


I warned you guys about this company. I warned ya.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on January 8, 2009


[Serenity:~] mrzarquon$ sw_vers
ProductName: Mac OS X
ProductVersion: 10.5.6
BuildVersion: 9G55
[Serenity:~] mrzarquon$ say 'this will be great in songsmith'

So really, you just need a mac.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:52 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


They Might Be Giants could do wonders with this thing.
posted by kdern at 9:56 PM on January 8, 2009


Yeah, but how many Giants are there in the rest of the world?
posted by isopraxis at 9:57 PM on January 8, 2009


(downloading songsmith now, will see if I can get xp to connect to the mic under vmware. ill being doing markovfilter set to music if it works)
posted by mrzarquon at 10:02 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thing is going to either ruin Music or make Music travel BEYOND THE EDGE OF AWESOME to where Kirk and Spock meet the god/devil of AWESOME.
posted by sparkletone at 10:02 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The installer quit, because I had to install a hotfix so it could be installed.

I would assume that said installer could have just gone and installed the hotfix for me.

"Microsoft, huh? So... it's pretty easy to use?"
posted by mrzarquon at 10:13 PM on January 8, 2009


You haters can suck it. We'll see who's laughing when I'm accepting my Grammy.

And my thank you list will be short: Me and Microsoft™ Songsmith®.
posted by mazola at 10:21 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's sing a little ditty
About needin' a hotfix
Windows wants to patch
Before you drop your remix

Did you feel secure?
Did you feel abused?
Was Microsoft Update
Easy to use?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 PM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Our towels rock.

Oh yes.

We're singin' all the time.

This is crying out for a remix.

The singing is bizarre. The girl is sort of hitting the notes, or at least faking it, and then wow.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:30 PM on January 8, 2009


I am going to have to do some terrible shit with this.
posted by cortex at 10:53 PM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just to back up Slothrup: I also recognize the Indian guy from the video...and the lobby at 2:10, which is the main MS Research building...and the conference room at 3:00, which is in the same place. So except for the shot of the home kitchen, the producers probably never left the building, and the actors are probably the engineers who wrote the software, plus family. So give them a little leeway!

Actually, given that the Gates-Seinfeld campaign was allegedly $300 million, I think these MSR-produced ads are the best per-dollar we've ever made!
posted by molybdenum at 10:57 PM on January 8, 2009


I can confirm that "Dad" and "Indian Guy" in the promo piece are indeed the two Microsoft Researchers who developed the product: Dan Morris and Sumit Basu. This is extremely home-grown (and oddly effective) viral marketing.
posted by arielmeadow at 11:29 PM on January 8, 2009


If they are taking the piss, it's brilliant. As with art, the its true nature lies in the intention.
posted by flippant at 11:43 PM on January 8, 2009


If only there were edit options on mefi
posted by flippant at 11:44 PM on January 8, 2009


And to merge two mefi posts. Here is "Running With The Songsmith."
posted by mrzarquon at 11:45 PM on January 8, 2009 [16 favorites]


And a direct link to an mp3 I made of some metafilter markov output, with a nice jazzy beat to it.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:51 PM on January 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


Microsoft?! What rhymes with "fatal exception that's occured at 0028:C0031C6C"?
posted by joelf at 11:55 PM on January 8, 2009


What rhymes with "fatal exception that's occured at 0028:C0031C6C"?

"No refunds!"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 PM on January 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


I tried to install it, but apparently I have to update Windows to get it to work and I cannot be bothered.
posted by grouse at 11:59 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


This looks like the latest version of the "MySong" project. If you want to see a better demonstration of the concept than the ad in the FPP, try that page.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 12:09 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think I'll write my comments now
Like Lisa sings her song.
And if you've heard the o-ri-gin-al
Your subconscious will sing along.

Now the song is stuck in your poor head
You'll hear it all the time
The cadence is quite in-fec-tious
You're a victim of violent rhyme

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha ha haha,
Ha, hahaha ha
Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha ha haha,
Ha, hahaha ha.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:11 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your next challenge, if you dare.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:15 AM on January 9, 2009


ericb: "My gaydar says that "Dad" is "on my team." Not that there's anything wrong with that."

You must have missed the part where he literally sang about ending his struggles with being in the closet.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:17 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I talked with the developers of Songsmith about using this technology in a separate product (game), but it never panned out on our side. It takes a ton of heart and balls to make that video. Sure MS can't make an ad to save its life, but really motivated researchers can probably give a fuck about what you think about their little commercial.

When it comes down to it, it's a fun tool for musicians who just want some chords to start with. That said, I'm going to use Songsmith for at least one song in the upcoming RPM Challenge.
posted by hanoixan at 12:23 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


the towels are not what they seem
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:26 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clandestine Outlawry: "This looks like the latest version of the "MySong" project. If you want to see a better demonstration of the concept than the ad in the FPP, try that page."

MySong: A tragedy in two acts
posted by Rhaomi at 12:37 AM on January 9, 2009


Bitches Ain't Shit (Ben Folds Cover) Songsmithed.

I'm not particularly proud of myself right this moment. No, not by a long shot.

(Also, I can't really sing, so go easy.)
posted by disillusioned at 1:03 AM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


I made it to the end of the video but I was blushing furiously the whole way through. Those poor people.
posted by minifigs at 1:22 AM on January 9, 2009


i say we start a mefi project just for songsmith songs taking lyrics from this thread.
posted by phylum sinter at 1:24 AM on January 9, 2009


(With apologies to Cole Porter's Anything Goes and to all good taste) ♫

Talent's rare.
Few can make the ball ride their words,
Or can carry a minor chord
With a turntable's butler poise.
But, mon frère:
Smith, your servant of prescient noise,
By composing on Ouija boards,
All those tables has now turned!

If hidden in my modulations
are Solitaire simulations,
I'm quite composed:
Modular code.

And if in swing or triplet synco-pe,
Quartz should now rock and breakbeat
Must strike thirteen,
Leave it to me.

If Fred Durst you wish
(if so cursed you wish),
Connor Oberst you wish,
Beethoven's First you wish,
I can prepare this dish,
and any clown assist
with two thumbs to oppose.

Princes, madonn-as, R-I-A-As
confuse the muse with royalties,
I depose!
Democratize.

But if in my loud MIDI nightmares
one self-aware thought should light upon
trebled bough?
Error unknown.

A caged bird, you see,
On alto perch, quasi
A ringing bell, you see,
F-A-C-E unseen!
My E-E-G, you see,
Has quite alarmingly
These live overtones.

And through mouthfuls of song and Twitter feed
like some genie'd singing Jeeves
ex Wodehouse:
SOS, please.

posted by kid ichorous at 3:39 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Too bad this wasn't posted in December. It woulda been the winner.
posted by spock at 4:39 AM on January 9, 2009


Wait, so I can turn my twenty thousand word epic poem about the sewer system of Boston circa the 1970s into a concept album now, thanks to Microsoft?

Curse me and my Mac!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:48 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think I'm desensitized - I have to watch every ad that goes on air in the UK through my job - but I've seen far, far worse. Unfortunately we aren't allowed to make ads unacceptable through being bad.

This is worse

This is not, despite the comments below, a fan-made video

This makes me want to vandalise phone masts
posted by mippy at 4:49 AM on January 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Microsoft: Making it easy to hate computers.
posted by DU at 4:52 AM on January 9, 2009


Wow, I went to school with the guy who plays Dad. That was... surreal.
posted by cider at 5:17 AM on January 9, 2009


I think we can lay up the histrionics now.


First day at metafilter ?


maybe theres some counter intuitive thing going on here or microsoft have been infiltrated by apple fifth columnists.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:50 AM on January 9, 2009


Ow jesus christ my eyes, my ears, my soul. That was the worst ad I have ever seen for anything.

And for the love of lucifer, why don't they include a rhyming dictionary so these morons can write lyrics first?

I love that the first take of the towel ad has a reggae beat. Ya mon. How about glow in the dark rolling papers?

Microsoft has jumped the shark. It's all over.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:55 AM on January 9, 2009


I think the "jazzy" slider was all the way up for this one...
posted by mothershock at 6:06 AM on January 9, 2009


I really want to hear what Songsmith would do to Throbbing Gristle's "Subhuman"
posted by waraw at 6:12 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I just scream obscenities at it at the top of my lungs, will it appropriately add some speed-core music?

Actually though, what we see here is an Obama Administration Thought Crime initiative. There's IP tracking installed with Songsmith, and anyone over the age of 7 who even launches this thing will have their computers confiscated -- for the good of the many, of course.

I hope, anyway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:29 AM on January 9, 2009


Jesus, mippy, that Carpetright ad almost deserves an FPP by itself. I had no idea you could make an advertisement using only MS Paint and Powerpoint. I sincerely hope you are paid enough to make the pain worth it.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:29 AM on January 9, 2009


mothershock: that took courage. and around thirty bucks. props.
posted by ubermuffin at 6:31 AM on January 9, 2009


oops, i obviously meant disillusioned. haven't had my coffee yet.
posted by ubermuffin at 6:32 AM on January 9, 2009


I think all Microsoft applications should have a "happy" slider.

And I like how the lyrics include the ™ symbol for Glow In The Dark Towels™. Wouldn't want to infringe on any trademark now, would we...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:33 AM on January 9, 2009


Listening to disillusioned's contribution, I think the backing lines this thing comes up with aren't totally horrible. What makes them sound so cheesy is the bad samples. If they could play that same melody so that it sounded like a real piano or guitar, it would sound a lot better.
posted by grouse at 7:25 AM on January 9, 2009


You all laugh, but "Ode to Songsmith" and "Glow in the Dark Towels" have just made their debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at 15 and 10 respectively.
posted by phirleh at 7:32 AM on January 9, 2009


You know what we need. It's time.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on January 9, 2009


As much as Microsoft likes to shoot themselves in the foot, John Hodgman is infinitely more endearing as PC guy than Justin Long's Mac.
posted by thanatogenous at 8:11 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, I work with researcher nerds like this, am one myself sometimes. Some of the computer science underneath is pretty impressive. And it's cute that the researchers made their own video. I think what makes this look so awful is they actually have decent videography and editing. It looks like a professional high quality ad for an impressive product. Except, well, it's not. If this had been handheld videocam image without all the cuts it wouldn't look so jarringly awful.

But then, but then, I keep coming back to one of the lines in the ad
And then when SongSmith makes the music
That's exactly the wrong pitch. I make music, not the robot. Or at least that's what I want to think. Then again the software has fucking slider bars for "Happy" and "Jazzy", so I guess that illusion is out the window.
posted by Nelson at 8:22 AM on January 9, 2009


More info from the Seattle Tech Report. I love how he thinks professional musicians will record with this horrible Casio sound and then tweak it pro-tools.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2009


THIS IS STEALING WINDOWS 7's THUNDER !!!
posted by mazola at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2009


Hard to watch...but fun! If this Songsmith things goes bust we will always have the ad for it.
posted by Rashomon at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2009


Is there any possible advertising that Microsoft could have done for this product, at any price, that would have alerted more people to this product and what it does, this quickly?

(Side note: all software should include "Happy" and "Jazzy" sliders.)
posted by designbot at 9:14 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Today has just turned into the best day of my life. Thank you Microsoft. Thank you MetaFilter.
posted by Milkman Dan at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste...
-- Steve Jobs
posted by mazola at 9:54 AM on January 9, 2009


Thanks, uber. I actually got a note from one of the Songsmith team members in my email saying I made his night and he wishes he could publish it to the Songsmith site, so that made my day. :-)
posted by disillusioned at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2009


John Hodgman is infinitely more endearing as PC guy than Justin Long's Mac.

Just wait until you hear John's Casiotone masterpiece, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on January 9, 2009


This isn't the first time anyone has seen bad low-budget promotional material. What I want to know is: who possibly puts this sort of thing together, sits back and goes "that's some good work there". Further -- who gets this in their office and goes "wow, that was some great work, we need to Get This Out On The Internet."

See also: every corporate song ever written.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:07 AM on January 9, 2009


Remember: using Songsmith is very much like if you went to the electronics section at Target, generated some annoying looping ditty on several synth keyboards, turned them all up at full volume, then walked out with them playing.

In short, you're hurting America.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 AM on January 9, 2009


Metafilter: Happy ========^=== Jazzy ========^===
posted by waraw at 10:43 AM on January 9, 2009


See also: every corporate song ever written.

Horsepucky.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2009


Cripes. I'm struggling to find creative work and yet, somewhere, a marketing team is high-fiveing themselves over their "creative" work on this train-wreck.
[insert "no justice" rant]
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on January 9, 2009


This is a huge load of crap. The Community section of the "For Musicians" section, if any of you looked at it, is filled mostly with comments on installation nightmares and other errors. That being said, if that "music" in your head consists of only major and minor triads, you'll be fine. For those with any imagination and a musical ear, this is simply inane bullshit of the worst kind. Or maybe we just want to dumb down America a little further.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2009


I think what makes this look so awful is they actually have decent videography and editing.

You must have missed the part where "Dad" pitches his jingle and then the lady applauds him. Horrible, blatant jump cut there. I had an "Oh, no, they DI'NT!" type reaction to that jump cut that the ad as a whole didn't even coax out of me.
posted by owtytrof at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2009


Songsmith: More Cowbell Edition
posted by bugmuncher at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2009


Cortex has raised the bar.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:50 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Harmonica Odyssey, plus four other terrifying musical offspring.
posted by cortex at 11:51 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


OMG, I changed my mind. Microsoft are geniuses. They posted a semi-nerdcore song with daughter and her two friends.

There's also the woman in the coffee shop, which is nice; what sucks is she's a better singer than most of the main characters.
posted by bugmuncher at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2009


This is a clever plan from Microsoft to kill the long tail theory. "You believe that in Internet, every musician/author/software can find an audience? Listen carefully for these samples. ... Good, we thought so."
posted by Free word order! at 12:07 PM on January 9, 2009


Ok, I get it--MS Songsmith is a terrible, terrible thing. But, as a novice musician without perfect pitch, what software should I be using if I want to compose a melody based on vocals?

I play violin and guitar (not terribly well, mind you) and I've wanted software for a long time that would do what this seems to do--I improvise, and it tells me what notes I chose.

This software automatically figures out harmonies and adds instrumentation, which is not something that I would be interested in but I hardly see how having more features than one wants would make it worse?

Or have I totally missed something? Is there an awesome freeware addon for Audiomulch that takes vocal tracks and spits out sheet music? Or does Songsmith not do this, after all?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 1:18 PM on January 9, 2009


But, as a novice musician without perfect pitch, what software should I be using if I want to compose a melody based on vocals?

None, work on your basics and stop trying to foist more useless music on the world.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:58 PM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


None, work on your basics and stop trying to foist more useless music on the world.

Nobody's making you listen to the .wma files... but did it occur to you that singing to Songsmith might be a way of working on the basics?
posted by bugmuncher at 2:54 PM on January 9, 2009


> Nobody's making you listen to the .wma files... but did it occur to you that singing to Songsmith might be a way of working on the basics?

I doubt it is.

Nobody is magically blessed with musical gifts to share with the world, needing only Songsmith to flourish. They need to work and develop their skills And Songsmith will never teach the difference between good and bad singing -- at best it can only reward the user for being capable of the basic mechanics of singing.

If you're trying to entertain humans, you have to get your work out in front of humans and entertain them, interact with them and learn from them.

If you want to entertain machines, use Songsmith and go nuts. Heck, you might have already.
posted by ardgedee at 3:45 PM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can learn the basics from just about anything.

I've met people my age (early 30s) who say they learned about harmony and chord progression from the simple repetitive soundtracks of 8-bit Nintendo games. Since audio channels were limited, it made it really easy to break down the melody and the harmony.

I would guess that within ten years, some talented musician will say they learned something from their time playing with Songsmith.

Songsmith isn't something you use to make the next hit. But then, making art isn't always about pleasing others. It's about the joy of expressing yourself.

I figure that whoever made The Ballad of the Mighty Unicorn had some fun doing it.
posted by bugmuncher at 4:06 PM on January 9, 2009


But then, making art isn't always about pleasing others. It's about the joy of expressing yourself.

Please do that in the shower. Then learn music theory, vocal techniques, and the rest and polish your craft.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:07 PM on January 9, 2009


Harmonica Odyssey sounded like Toots Thielmans w/ Jaco's big band when all were too drunk to care. In other words, strangely compelling.
posted by theroadahead at 4:29 PM on January 9, 2009


Really, for all the jokes I've made about Soundsmith, I have to say it is actually very impressive.

However, I wish it was wrapped up in a midi / sequencing /multitrack app, or a vocal training app, instead of a single focus app which is "We make music to match your voice."

Sure, generate the keyboard notes for me, but then let me overwrite them. Show me what the notes, tempo and progression is of the song I just thought up, but also show me when I miss a beat, or I am off tempo, etc.

In short, if this was a plugin for a Garageband like app, I think it would actually be a very neat Feature. But a feature does not make a full application.

At the same time, it is something that will get people, and children in particular, interested in music, and maybe some will start to realize that with some more practice (and maybe classes) they could actually really truly sing. It gets people to start creating something, and even if it isn't exactly that great, at least they are not just being consumers.

It is an eighth step towards introducing someone to making music, but it gives them no tools to go further, which is really my biggest gripe with it. Since you can't take apart the music you just made and see how it comes together, you can't really understand what it is you are doing, which I feel is the next step in any creative process.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:29 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I play violin and guitar (not terribly well, mind you) and I've wanted software for a long time that would do what this seems to do--I improvise, and it tells me what notes I chose.

This software automatically figures out harmonies and adds instrumentation, which is not something that I would be interested in but I hardly see how having more features than one wants would make it worse?


In the hour or so I spent with it, I didn't see any facility for transcribing the sung part into notation or any vocal harmony generation stuff. Maybe it's there and either it's buried or I just didn't find it, but from what I saw you're wrong to assume that it does that.

What it does do is set a rough harmonization—a set of chord changes, basically—against whatever you sing (or hum, or play on a harmonica, or burp tonelessly) into the mic at recording time. That's a neat trick, and insofar as there's potential utility for this thing I think it's in the potential there for someone capable of inventing a melody but with very little idea of what kind of chords to lay under that melody to do some brainstorming.

In other words, if (a) you an already invent a melody on your own and (b) you can sing it reasonably well acapella, this might be a decent tool for fiddling with chordal arrangement. I wasn't really impressed with the results even at that—the happy+jazzy sliders are way to broad and simplistic a tool for really playing with a wide range of expression—but, again, it might be useful for exactly that.

Aside from the key vocal-recognition gimmick, it seems mostly to be a rudimentary take on Band In A Box software that has been around for ages. The interface as far as that goes is a bit crap—requiring that every bar have the same number of chord changes, requiring that someone make a bunch of noise or dead air just to generate blank chord changes if they wanted to use it for arrangement first and melody-writing second, providing pretty cheesy and inflexible genre templates, providing no fill selection or note-by-note tracking support, etc. But it's not being positioned as a band-in-a-box product in that sense so much as a magical box that accompanies your melodies, so it's failures there aren't really notable. There are better products for that if that's what you want.

Singing your initial melody without any reference note is also kind of bizarre, but as far as I can tell they didn't provide anything like a tuning note capability, so you'd better have perfect pitch if you want to get best results.

The software also doesn't seem to support any vocal autotuning—no big loss in my personal opinion, but considering the product's purported goal and extant weakness maybe a big oversight.

It also doesn't seem to support any microtuning of the arrangement itself to a not-concert-pitch melody, just concert C (or whatever they went with) and half-steps from there. Which means that if you sing a perfect melody in the key of slightly-sharp C instead of dead-perfect C, your whole thing is going to be out of tune instead of adjusted to slightly-sharp C to make it all plumb. Which, again, not necessarily a problem normally but when you consider the user is singing to no reference note, hitting and sticking to concert pitch is that much harder.

It's a bunch of clever programming under the hood, and I respect that. It's the sort of thing I built very limited toy versions of in college, and I'd love to look at their harmonization code to see how they implemented it—what bits of music theory they incorporated, whether they built the transition table on a markov model or what, etc. But it's so very far from being what seems like a robust version of what it claims to be that it is weird to see it getting hype-cycle treatment. It's not something ready for consumption by other than I think a possibly tiny niche of people for whom it would actually be the best tool for their rare odd jobs.

I could be wrong about that—I definitely have my biases both as a musician and a software nerd, and I could be missing something significant here. But having tried it, I don't see the viability of this as a tool.
posted by cortex at 4:40 PM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow...what amazes me the most about this is that somewhere, a marketing director signed off on this, and an ad agency created it. Oh creatives...how far have you fallen?
posted by dejah420 at 6:53 PM on January 9, 2009


Wow...what amazes me the most about this is that somewhere, a marketing director signed off on this, and an ad agency created it.

I doubt it. Read the other comments.
posted by grouse at 9:16 PM on January 9, 2009


It seems like it would be trivial to rig up a markov generator to make love poetry.

We should have it compose a sonnet about a haircut, every word starting with the letter S - or one about love and tensor algebra.
posted by ghost of a past number at 10:44 PM on January 9, 2009


If you need this program to tell you what chords go with your melody, you have *no* business calling yourself a "musician."
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:17 AM on January 10, 2009


Philistines.
posted by fcummins at 6:39 AM on January 10, 2009



If you need this program to tell you what chords go with your melody, you have *no* business calling yourself a "musician."


But you could call yourself a "songwriter." ;)

Seriously, though, depends on why you need the program to tell you that.

I spent a year working on an idea like this 12 years ago on an undergraduate research grant: program takes melodies in, puts chords out. I wasn't interested in it because I needed somebody else to come up with basic chords for me, but I did think it might be cool if someone could more quickly explore a space of possibilities including harmonies and progressions that might not normally occur to them. I suppose if you're a very well-trained musician what's novel and surprising to you is probably smaller than that of a competent amateur like myself, but amateurs deserve to have fun too.

Plus, even though I've always been reasonably good at coming up with chords intuitively, there's nothing like the process of teaching a machine to do something to improve your theoretical knowledge of the task, and I was hoping to take my knowledge of music theory beyond 2nd-semester college sequence.

It turns out this was a much harder problem than I expected (pretty much the story of my big college projects). I messed around with Markov chains and genetic algorithms and my naive knowledge of music theory and a little help from advisors and .... barely produced a mess that was functional enough to be face-saving but pretty far short of even some incomplete milestones I'd hoped to get close to.

So I might plunk down the cash and buy this. I'm interested in what they've been able to accomplish.
posted by weston at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a dangerous piece of software to release in our current troubled economy. It could put the song poem industry out of business.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:47 AM on January 10, 2009


D'oh, I knew I recognized the Oh, it's Microsoft, so it must be easy to use! guy. That's Sumit, we went to grad school together. He's a great guy, very smart and creative. Also friendly. So now I feel like a total jerk for joining the pile-on here. Sorry, Sumit. Maybe if I knew anything about music I'd have had something thoughtful to say like Cortex did.
posted by Nelson at 11:49 AM on January 10, 2009


Jeebus, Microsoft! What the fuck did music ever do to hurt you?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:18 PM on January 10, 2009


There's got to be a way to get midi out of this thing. It has amazing potential as a controller for following vocal envelopes. Think auto/semi auto vocoding...
posted by reklus at 2:38 PM on January 10, 2009


Glow-in-the-Dark Towley: "Wanna take some x?"
posted by not_on_display at 10:25 PM on January 10, 2009


Nelson, I guessed you missed my post where I mentioned the researchers' names. Nice back-pedal!
posted by arielmeadow at 11:19 PM on January 10, 2009


A couple acapellas (and near-acapellas) which I hope folks will find useful or inspiring or something:

Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal

Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul
Yeastie Girlz - You Suck
posted by box at 6:06 AM on January 13, 2009


The towels will lead the way.
posted by lucidium at 6:43 PM on January 13, 2009


This guy has posted 4 Songsmith "covers" using original vocals, and the result is synched up with the original video. So far he's posted:
Roxanne(The Police)
Wonderwall(Oasis)
Long Train Runnin'(The Doobie Brothers)
What's Going On(Marvin Gaye)

Fantastic.
posted by owtytrof at 12:53 PM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've been trying to get both Creep and Killer Queen done with Songsmith, but can't get it to get the timing right so that the 1s are in the right spot. It seems possible (need to hit play on the acapella at just the right moment), but not easy without more fiddling than it's worth.

If someone would like the mp3s of the acapellas to try (or some of the other potentially funny ones I've got), MeMail me.
posted by sparkletone at 5:20 PM on January 18, 2009


everytime you listen to a Songsmithed rock classic, God kills a kitten.
And if He doesn't, I'll smite the kitten with my bare hands.

Please, think of the kittens.
posted by _dario at 9:10 PM on January 18, 2009


Kill Me Now, Queen, from the isolated vox of Killer Queen. More info.
posted by cortex at 11:08 AM on January 19, 2009


Oh that's just awful. Leaving aside the harmonic mess, probably the most jarring part is that all the pauses are missing. The backing track just plods relentlessly on.

I went through a fair bit of trouble to try Songsmith yesterday. I gave it ten minutes, pronounced it dreadful, and lamented the hours of finagling it took to get it installed. It seemed to make a real harmonic hash of things, but then, maybe I'm just using it wrong.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:59 AM on January 19, 2009


Does anyone else here find the sound of a little girl singing that way all - smiley and "sing-songy" - to be one of the most irritating things in life. I just got a horrible flashback to several moments throughout childhood where I was exposed to that sound.... yeesh.
posted by autodidact at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2009


Returning to the thread later ... Thank you, Clandestine Outlawry, for the MySong links. Once I steeled myself to endure the ad and demo, I guessed it might be something like a Hidden Markov Model on chord progressions and notes, so it was mega cool to read the papers and find out (a) that it was, and (b) how they parameterized it.

And all you people who are hating on the sliders named "Happy" and "Jazzy": You say that's dopey and horrible, but if they were accurately named "Transition matrix weights" and "Chord/note vs. chord/chord match weights" you'd be hatin' even more. Probably they should have called them "Major/minor" and "Unusual/typical," but "Happy" and "Jazzy" really aren't too bad if you're aiming at the non-music-geek, non-math-geek public.
posted by eritain at 10:35 AM on January 31, 2009


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