Okay, so you’ve seen the painful demo video for Microsoft Research’s Songsmith software – it was intended to me tongue-in-cheek, I think, but the self-parody didn’t quite work. But the idea of auto-accompaniment software that interprets your recorded singing remains impressive. And I’ve gotten some tips that it is possible to make Songsmith sound good. Naturally, the biggest variable will be the quality of your own singing. But to make the software side of the equation more interesting, it is possible to extend the tool.

Garritan, maker of the samples in the tool, has two add-ons. There’s an orchestral pack with the usuals, and Garritan’s sampled orchestras do sound very, very good. Better yet, there are some analog synths to add, including some bass, J-60, Jupiter, and other action. These don’t come with styles, but they do give you some new sounds. Whether you use them for more evil and cheese is up to you. US$9.99 each.

Band-in-a-Box maker PG Music also has Style PAKs that are compatible with Songsmith, too. The key with these is adjusting variables in the accompaniment, and tweaking chord progressions.

I can’t say I’m entirely sold yet because I’ve never been a fan of auto-accompaniment – though, okay, I did pass some enjoyable hours messing around with electronic organ and Casio keyboard presets as a youngster, so I take that back.

Here’s my challenge to you, if you are a Windows user and give Songsmith a try. Go. Make something really great. Maybe it takes this in a new direction — sample Hatebeak’s heavy metal parrot screeches. Maybe you just happen to be a brilliant singer. Report back. The world’s ears thank you in advance.

Image: roadsidepictures.

Breaking News: If you were David Lee Roth, and you decided to use Songsmith, you would sound something like this. (Thanks, Neal Johnson! Actually, what’s a word that means not so much “thanks” but “please, never, ever send anything like this again, for the love of all that is good?”)

Warning: The following link may cause permanent hearing loss, after you gouge out your ears.

Runnin’ With The Songsmith [Metafilter Music]

  • neal johnson

    Take a trip to metafilter.com and find the line of comments about this thing. Someone has already taken the David Lee Roth just vocal track that has been floating around and songsmithed it. More musical mayhem can be found there too…

  • Kyran

    Well the program did manage to take the vocal performance out of the equation …

  • I don't think Microsoft should ever attempt to parody itself.

  • Ben

    As a professional engineer and producer I am astonished that they actually think that they are targeting the professional crowd with this. I think it would be the perfect piece of software for someone new to the industry, but even then I don't see professional results really happening any time soon.

  • Mallyone

    "I think it would be the perfect piece of software for someone new to the industry"

    My girlfriend and I were just pondering what would have happened if David Lee Roth tried to bang out his first song with song smith. Either he would have gone with his paramedics career or moved to Jamaica and tried to work with Lee Scratch, possibly becoming the most famous hard rock reggae singer of all time? You be the judge.


  • the missing cheese in the whole video?

    The $2000 pre-amp, the equally expensive microphone, the highly expensive XLR cable. The D/A converter or DAW front end. Don't forget, the nice headphones, your choice of DAW with in the box mixing…oh, i forgot the compressor and the monitors. mix it down and send it to a nice mastering house.

    They should include a year subscription to Tape-Op for a reality check.

  • rondema

    My day has just been ruined. Catchy ending tho đŸ˜€

  • Gut!

  • OoTv3W comment3 ,