Friday, January 23, 2009

Microsoft determined to make everything crap, including Music...apparently

I came across this article at Ars(e) Technica recently and was a disturbing way.
Microsoft is soon to release (or maybe has already released) a software, uh, thing to enable people to sing into their Pee Cee and have the software automatically create a backing track.
Before I proceed, let me say that I am absolutely all for any and every new technological development with regard to music (and most other things).

The writer Erica Sadun seems pretty enthusiastic about the process of destroying music and goes through all of the hoops to make her track, though we never get to hear it. But by her description alone, this 'Songsmith' software is a true horror. The retro-equivalent might be the 1950s home organ with built in rhythm box (bossa nova!). I personally defend the right of the musically inept and tone deaf to do whatever they want with regard to music - what I object to here is the abject lack of decent musical backing for the awful vocals.

To illustrate here is a selection of demos made by some crazy person
Apparently it is not enough that the backing is rudimentary, bad sounding (think 80s), but Songsmith doesn't even get it right! The wrong progressions and chords are glaring. This is for the tone deaf, no doubt.

Songsmith is technically interesting but musically it should have been held back until it actually had something. is toy software. Garageband is toy software, yet if I needed to I could make it work for me. Songsmith is not competing with Garage band - despite the slant in the article. Songsmith has no competition, because it is utterly useless. Thank you Microsoft for further proving the MS irrelevance market niche. Irrelevant product - irrelevant people! They automatically buy our crud so let's just pile it on. Here's a music 'product' you will love (buy).

Songsmith is frankly, musically meaningless. Unless I get to use it and find myself sorely mistaken - at which time I'll plead amnesia and delete this entry...
When MS brings out an OS X version of it I'm sure I could have fun with it, but I'm sure that afterwards I would feel dirty.

Here's my favourite use (abuse) of this rubbish (get ripped and reverse karaoke with your idiot friends!!!):
Hear how horribly shitty the sounds are?
Enough of this crap...

Highly unlikely hypothetical/fictional situation involving musician's need to resort to Songsmith:
I'm in a small hotel in Prague. Staying there for a couple of days for a really cool Dub conference. There is a need for me to do a little improvising at the seminar next day, but my luggage has been lost and due to various factors there is nothing else available to me besides a horrible Dell laptop running some form of Windoze and a copy of Songsmith. After a good hour of software updates, anti-virus scans and updates and ads...
I give it a try...I try is useless. I'm not really a singer, but I can sing in tune when I have a track to sing along to. But that is not possible. Only a beat is possible. Sing over the beat in tune. But the chords are all wrong. The beat is wrong. The SOUND is!
Headline in Prague morning papers:
'Musician throws self out of window - suicide note says - throw yourselves out of Windows, for the love of all that is sane and rational'


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Turner said...

I used Songsmith, I fucked around with it for a while. I even put in pre-recorded audio of music (which I had to plug my output of one soundcard into the input of another soundcard because it doesn't let you load audio files directly) I'd been working on to test the results.

I decided the only time it did anything even moderately incompletely useless was when I sent it a bunch of random sounds it would actually generate something that wasn't a basic repeating loop with no changes. Anyway, its complete and utter crap.

You can export midi from it, so I took 3 different variations split into tracks and fed them into my real DAW and made "something" out of it.

I can't find it, but it was pretty lame even with real sounds.

Turner said...

There I found it. Its pretty trippy.