Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kylee. Kylee Wonders, “What are Vocaloids?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kylee!

Do you like to play music? Many kids do! Some learn to play instruments—like the violin, guitar, or piano. Others like to sing or play the drums. If you enjoy both music and technology, maybe you use a synthesizer to string together new songs.

Does that sound like you? If so, you may already know a thing or two about the topic of today’s Wonder of the Day. We’re talking about Vocaloid—the widely used voice synthesizing software. It enables users to make songs complete with lyrics right from their computers.

Vocaloid has been around since 2000. That year, a man named Kenmochi Hideki worked with the company Yamaha. Together, they made the first version of the technology. Since then, Vocaloid software has continued to improve and grow in popularity.

How does Vocaloid work? It uses voice banks made from the sounds of real human voices. These voice banks are attached to characters that usually take the form of anime figures. Once a user chooses a voice bank, they can type lyrics and melody directly into the program. Then, Vocaloid turns these inputs into a song.

Yamaha released the fifth version of Vocaloid software in 2018. Today, voice banks come in five languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and English. However, most options are in Japanese, as Vocaloid songs are most popular in Japan.

The most widely known Vocaloid character today is Hatsune Miku. Animators draw her as a Japanese teenager with turquoise hair. Voiced by actor Saki Fujita, the character has been featured in over 100,000 songs. In fact, Hatsune Miku is so popular that some people even call her a virtual pop star. In English, her name translates to “the first sound from the future.”

Hatsune Miku may be the most well-known Vocaloid character, but others have also gained popularity in recent years. A few examples are Meiko, Kaito, and Kagamine Rin. A character named Oliver is the most widely used English-speaking Vocaloid.

Have you ever listened to music produced with Vocaloid? Maybe you’ve used the technology yourself! Could Vocaloid truly be the “sound from the future”? Only time will tell.

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.R.1, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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