Live Vocaloid Performances Now Possible With The Yamaha Vocaloid Keyboard
Yamaha has developed the Vocaloid Keyboard, which enables real-time performances of synthesized Vocaloid singing, by entering Japanese lyrics and pitch simultaneously.
This keyboard is optimized for entering Japanese characters with one hand. It has 16 buttons, for consonants, vowels, and the two types of voicing marks. The user enters those with the left hard, while playing the keys with the right. This makes it possible to synthesize singing using the hardware alone.
"Until now, with Vocaloid, you made up tunes on a PC, by entering each note separately. But with this new version, you can perform in real time. Firstly, you decide on the sound, which is pronounced using consonants and vowels. For example, if you want to pronounce the syllable "ga," you press K and the dakuten voicing mark. This method differs from entering Japanese using the Roman alphabet. To reduce the number of buttons needed, there are buttons for the two types of voicing marks."
The entered text and the pronounced text are shown in katakana on the LED display, so you can check that the content played is correct. There are also three parameter knobs, which you can use to adjust the vocal sound.
"People who compose using the Vocaloid can't give live Vocaloid performances yet. I think they have to simply replay sounds. But with this system, users can perform live in real time. Also, we know from interviews that some users have bought DAW software, but find it hard to use. Lots of those people are able to play a keyboard, though. So, we'd like to offer such people an easier way of using Vocaloid, where you can produce sounds just by pressing keys."
When several keyboard players evaluated this system, they could enter content in Japanese easily after about three hours' practice, and they became able to perform simple nursery rhymes smoothly.
"For now, we don't plan to release this product commercially. But the sound chip inside can be removed, so we could provide it to other companies if they are interested."