UTAU: A Vocalized, Handmade Paintbrush

As discussed in the podcast, Vocaloid is a growing musical genre, observed by many fans worldwide. Mentioned many times in the podcast, Hatsune Miku is a “green-haired, prepubescent looking virtual idol [who has captivated] millions of fans”, most of which are Japanese, but her popularity spreads internationally (Uechi). However, other than Vocaloid or Hatsune Miku, there has been a clearly inferior but decently popular singing voice synthesizer program surfacing into this advanced technological musical genre. It is called UTAU.

        UTAU is literally derived from the Japanese phrase utau which means “I will sing”.  As UTAU and Vocaloid share many similarities in terms of their functions (stringing together pre-recorded phenomes), the two programs do differ in many ways. A major difference is that UTAU can be downloaded for free while Vocaloid is a program that must be purchased. This clearly causes a difference and allows one to see the possible variation in value between the two programs.

        Furthermore, while Vocaloid uses “professional voice actors or singers to be the source of their voice-banks”, UTAU allows any program-user who downloads the UTAU software to record their own voice and allow it to be used in the voice-bank of the singing voice synthesizer (Le). Some may even see UTAU as a larger chance for innovation and thus, this perhaps allows their musical synthesized creations to be as original as singing synthesizers get. 

        And as the money that goes into hiring professional vocalists to record phenomes for Vocaloid, the program is costly. However, UTAU utilizes the user’s recorded phenomes, as people can create their own vocalist characters rather than having to select from “only a handful of avatars to play around with” (St. Michel). This, in turn, makes UTAU “a community created entirely by users” as any downloader can create their own “avatar”, allowing for creativity and uniqueness to coexist with technological innovation (St. Michel).

Works Cited

Le, Linh K. "Examining the Rise of Hatsune Miku: The First International Virtual Idol."

St. Michel, Patrick. "Taking Vocal Software beyond Miku." The Japan Times [Tokyo] 2 Dec. 2014, Music sec.: n. pag. Web.

Uechi, Jenny. "Vocaloids Pushing Pop Idols off the Charts." Vancouver Observer 8 Aug. 2011: n. pag. Web.