Growing out a of a research project led by Kenmochi Hideki at Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University in 2000, Yamaha’s Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer that lets those with a voice like Roseanne Barr after a big night out synthesize more pleasing vocals by inputting lyrics and melody. While the current commercial version of Vocaloid 3 requires these inputs to be prepared on a PC prior to a performance, Yamaha has now developed a Vocaloid keyboard prototype that lets users input lyrics and melody and generate a singing voice in real time.
The Vocaloid keyboard prototype is optimized for Japanese users with 16 buttons for inputting consonants, vowels and two types of voicing marks used in the Japanese written language with the left hand, and keys to “play” the voice with the right. An LED display above the keys displays the entered text and the pronounced text in katakana to allow the played content to be checked. The three knobs to the left of the display are used to adjust the vocal sound.
A Yamaha spokesman says the keyboard doesn’t only allow Vocaloid users to give live performances, but also makes it easier for those users who might be daunted by the current Vocaloid software interface, but are able to play a keyboard. While it looks like it could take some practice to get the left hand up to speed using the device, the spokesman said that several keyboard players evaluating the system have been able to perform simple nursery rhymes after about three hours.
Yamaha doesn’t have plans to release the Vocaloid keyboard commercially, but says the device’s sound chip can be provided to other companies who might wish to pursue it.
Check out the Vocaloid keyboard in action in the video below.