Music educators tapping Vocaloid

JIJI

The Vocaloid singing voice synthesizer software has grown into a pop culture sensation. It created a virtual pop star named Hatsune Miku.

It is now beginning to be utilized in the field of music education in Japan.

In the school year starting next April, Shikoku University in Tokushima Prefecture will open a training course at its two-year music college where students can learn to write songs using the software.

The software allows users to write songs by just typing in lyrics and melody. “At first, I thought Vocaloid was something more childish,” said Atsushi Masuda, an associate professor of popular music at the university.

“I came to realize that creating (a) singing voice with Vocaloid is profound because you can make adjustments to the vibrato tone or the intake of breath,” he said.

Noting that recent Vocaloid songs are very artistic, Masuda said schools should be more serious about using the software for education.

Shikoku University will allow students taking its entrance exams to submit Vocaloid songs for skill tests instead of performing live.

“The thing is, I can’t read music notes or codes,” said Vocaloid music composer Shinjo P, who has released a CD of Vocaloid songs.

“You don’t have to be a professional to enjoy Vocaloid. That’s what makes it attractive. My songs reached many people through the Internet and their comments posted on video sites taught me how I can improve my songs,” he said.

“You can tell who wrote the song just by listening to the singing voice. This shows how much music composers can express their (individuality) by writing Vocaloid songs.”

Musical instrument and electronics maker Yamaha Corp., which developed the software, is providing consultation services for those willing to use Vocaloid for music education, including dispatching instructors to schools.

Fujimura Girls’ Junior and Senior High School in Tokyo introduced Vocaloid for music classes last September.

“Vocaloid can foster creativeness and allows students who find singing difficult to get more actively involved in music,” Vice Principal Shin Yanagidate said.

At the school, 34 students wrote Vocaloid songs in the school year that ended in March and the curriculum will continue in the coming year.

Kazumi Matsushige, president of Shikoku University, said he believes Vocaloid has the potential to let the world know more about Japan’s capabilities to create attractive software.

“Vocaloid is a tool of creation that people of all ages can use,” Matsushige said. In the future, he added, his university wants to offer a Vocaloid course where students can also learn to create videos with computer graphics that go along with Vocaloid songs.