English Hatsune Miku on its way!

A little more than a month ago during the first day of NYAF, Crypton Future Media mentioned at the end of the Vocaloid panel that they would create an English version of Hatsune Miku if 39,390 people liked their Facebook page (as a sidenote for people that don’t know, 39 is the number form of Miku: Mi = 3 and Ku = 9). A couple of seconds ago, it reached the 39,390 mark, which means an English voicebank should be coming soon!

Now, an English Vocaloid is not a new concept. In fact, the first two Vocaloids, Leon and Lola (that’s right, Miku was in fact not the first Vocaloid), had an English voicebank. Even Megurine Luka has an English voicebank (in addition to a Japanese voicebank). But the fact that Miku is getting an English voicebank is huge. Miku is basically the face of Vocaloid and to create an English voicebank for Miku will help extend the popularity of Vocaloid outside of Japan. Sure there are people outside of Japan that know Miku (and Rin/Len, Luka, etc.) but right now, but Vocaloid’s popularity still remains limited outside Japan. However, this is starting to change. There have been many news reports outside of Japan that have started talking about Miku, especially about her concerts. Though some of these news reports erroneously mention that there is a hologram Miku (it’s actually a projector that projects Miku and others into a clear screen), it does help the cause of spreading her popularity. An English voicebank will help even more because English users can now create songs in a language they understand and without the problems that a Japanese voicebank created when trying to write songs in English.

Now how exactly will an English version be created (or in general, how is a voicebank created)? To make Miku Miku, the voice of Miku, Fujita Saki (also the voice of WORKING!!’s Inami Mahiru and DenYuuDen’s Milk Callaud), will need to be used again to create the English voicebank. Now to be a little more technical. The smallest unit of sound is called a phoneme. When you look at a dictionary and see how a certain word is pronounced, each character is basically a phoneme. For example, using the ARPAbet (which is basically an easier way of writing a phoneme, since some of the characters you see in the dictionary pronunciation cannot be easily typed in a computer), ‘cat’ can be split to K-AE-T. There are a certain amount of phonemes in a certain language. There are around 44 while in the English language, while there are about half that in the Japanese language. A diphone is a combination of two of these phonemes. You can typically square the amount of phonemes in a language to figure out the amount of diphones in a language (though there are other factors which I will not talk about). When creating a singing synthesis, like Vocaloid, or any other speech synthesis program, using diphones makes a system sound more realistic. This means she will need to sing a lot more (and learn some English) to create the English voicebank than in an Japanese voicebank. She has a lot of work ahead of her (some of which has been already done from what I’m seeing). Then, even more work has to be done to splice up her voice in order to get each diphone, but after that and some other things, you pretty much have a usable voicebank.

Now to my opinion of this. I’m not going to address the people that don’t even like the idea of singing synthesizers like Vocaloid (because I understand their problems with technology like this), but for people that are weary of the idea of an English voicebank (those who believe that you should keep Japanese what is already Japanese or think that you should not destroy what is already good), all this is is an addition to the original. The Japanese voicebank will obviously stay there, but in order to get a new audience, you need to adapt to that new audience. Basically, to get popular in an English-speaking country, you first need to have them understand you. This new voicebank is basically just Miku learning a new language. So, in my opinion, this is a great thing that Crypton Future Media is doing because not just because it will get more people aware of Vocaloid, but also because it will help get people interested in stuff like speech processing and other fields of that sort, which will allow for an even greater advancement of technology.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. angel
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 12:19:47

    You know exactly what you’re talking about. You have good insight on the matter.


  2. Sonicmiku
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 15:02:00

    Wow, I love Hatsune Miku and now I shall be able to understand her. Thank you for sharing this xD


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