Not exactly an advertisement for Songsmith

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I'm not a music guy but even I can appreciate this. Apparently Microsoft has developed some new software called Songsmith which will take a vocal track and automatically generate backing music. Clearly, the most useful thing to do here is to take existing songs, strip out the vocals, run them through Songsmith, and post the rather suboptimal results to YouTube. Examples include: Tom Sawyer, White Wedding, Toxic, and Eye Of The Tiger. Really, the only one of these that's even halfway tolerable is I Heard It Through The Grapevine, which may have something to do with Marvin Gaye, unlike many rock musicians, actually being able to sing.

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Thanks for linking to my videos -- and yeah, all the ones I've done with Marvin Gaye have turned out fairly well, because he sings on pitch and with decent rhythm.

Strange--"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was by far the worst of these, to my ears, because much of the song's appeal depends on some funky harmonies that the software utterly fails to capture, because they're impossible to predict from the melody alone. The other songs appear to be victims primarily of poor genre selection, which I bet is at least partially controllable by the user. "Eye of the Tiger", for example, is a perfectly good mellow pop version of the song, objectionable only to people who don't happen to like mellow pop. (And personally, I think the song is much more suited to its assigned genre than "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is to the power rock backing that was assigned to it.)

One more thing: of the singers, only Britney Spears has any trouble carrying a tune. Billy Idol, for example, sounds off primarily for the same reason that Marvin Gaye sounds so awful: the software hasn't figured out the harmony of "White Wedding" properly, and therefore plays bad chords that make his voice sound much worse than it is. (The fact that the wrong chords are played country-style, on a banjo, certainly makes the whole thing ludicrous, but actually softens the "wrong chord" effect a bit, to my ear, compared to "Grapevine". Ditto for the polka-style harmonic mangling of "Tom Sawyer".)

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