Saturday, December 4, 2010

VOCALOID vs. The World

Hatsune Miku War is Love
The war against their detractors is on.

Hatsune Miku and her VOCALOID character cohorts have been taking the world by storm. Press from various European nations have covered the musical net phenomenon's "live" virtual performances and an announcement at New York Comic Con 2010 said that if the plateau of 39,390 fans on Hatsune Miku's fan page were to be reached, an English version will be considered for release in the near future. Unsurprisingly, that petition's goal was accomplished within a month's time.That said, there are plenty of people out there who are skeptical of the virtual idols including a couple of established names who have spoken out.

William Gibson

Esteemed author and father of cyberpunk, William Gibson, briefly voiced his thoughts on the VOCALOID character via Twitter:

"Hatsune Miku doesn't really rock me. I want higher rez, less anime."

Gibson doesn't seem like much of a fan but soon followed up with another tweet:

"Hatsune Miku is clearly a more complex phenomenon than I initially assumed. Requires further study."

Perhaps due to further discussion fueled by his initial comment, Gibson realized there is certainly more to Miku than being an anime-like character. It makes sense that she would catch Gibson's eye since he wrote Idoru, a novel that has a plot involving an interaction between a human and a virtual idol. To take his notion of the cyborg, an individual who creates a song using the VOCALOID program could very well be a flesh-and-machine construct in a way. In the end, there is a huge creative community behind Hatsune Miku showing that she is more than just a face to a product. 

Aoi the GazettE

More recently, Aoi of popular visual kei rock band, the GazettE, sent out a tweet which had less than kind words about VOCALOID as translated by Sankaku Complex:

"I don’t like to say this but I’m not happy seeing listeners and magazines treat Vocaloid stuff as real “[artistic] works.”
It’s certainly marvellous technology, but if you are satisfied with that there’s no point in us making music. I could go so far as to say it makes what we’re doing nothing but masturbation.
People who treat mere machines like that as being equal to artists are crazy."
Unlike Gibson, Aoi did not stand his ground after posting the tweet as it was deleted fairly soon after. Obviously,  Hatsune Miku's supporters spoke out against him even mentioning how his band is in a genre that sells due to their visuals. Certainly, what is considered art is mostly relative but to put something below or above something as an art form is bound to strike a nerve with a group of people. This reaction, a mixture of fear and jealousy, from Aoi isn't all that surprising considering the state of the music industry and how easily it seems for amateur musicians to have their work reach millions in such a short amount of time. However, I feel that there's no way "real" musicians, as in actual human beings, can be be under-appreciated compared to the limitations of the VOCALOID program. The best producers of VOCALOID works are the multimedia artists who not only create the vocals via the actual program but also have to combine it with studio production programs to provide the instrumentals as well use their art savvy to create an enticing music video or accompanying artwork. 

It may be disconcerting to some to see Hatsune Miku CD's have staying power at the top of the best-selling list but there really should be nothing to worry about. Actual bands and musicians won't be going anywhere anytime soon and without them, the VOCALOID program wouldn't be so pertinent in the first place. I, personally, started off listening to human covers of original Hatsune Miku sounds because nothing beats an actual voice. The voice is the first instrument conceived in the world and the VOCALOID program only helps one "borrow" a voice for their artistic endeavors. 

No comments:

Post a Comment