[ About Vocaloid ]
Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesizer that enables users to synthesize vocals by typing in lyrics and a melody using a piano roll type interface. The Vocaloid engine can be used to manipulate the stress of pronunciations, to add vibrato, as well as chance the dynamics and tone of the voice. Its signal processing part was created as part of a joint research project and was not originally intended to be a commercial product, but Yamaha further developed it into a product for professional musicians. Now it is enjoyed even by light computer music users and has garnered a huge following of devoted fans who cosplay and create art based on their favorite Vocaloids and songs as well as collect Vocaloid merchandise such as figures and attend live Vocaloid concerts that use the latest hologram technology.
Since 2007, Yamaha has released four Vocaloid engines (Vocaloid 1-4), but there is numerous Vocaloid software that can be purchased that use one the engines and each have their own anime character art (w/ a few exceptions), a short summary of what kind of music the “singer in a box” is suitable for, and a few personal attributes such as a name and physical measurements. These Vocaloids use a unique Singer Library that contains vocal fragments from one real person who is sometimes kept undisclosed. Currently, there are English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Korean Vocaloids. Not all Vocaloids are developed by Yamaha, different studios develop Vocaloids and are fully responsible for the marketing of them. Crypton, one such studio, is famous for their Vocaloid Hatsune Miku which has been heavily marketed as a “digital diva.”
Also since 2007, The Voc@loid M@ster convention has been held four times a year in Tokyo or in a nearby location. The event brings together producers and illustrators, especially upcoming ones, so that they can promote and sell their art.
The online Japanese video sharing website Niconico has also played a massive role in the promotion of Vocaloids and its creative users. It has become a place for new and famous producers to share their music and for artists to provide illustrations or animations (2D or 3D) inspired by it. Remixes have also been done by others. Through Niconico, Vocaloid has become a popular part of doujin culture.
Niconico has three special playlists for popular songs called the Vocaloid Hall of Fame, Vocaloid Legends, and Vocaloid Myths. Videos with 100,000+ views on Niconico are considered to be in the Vocaloid Hall of Fame. Videos with 1,000,000+ views are considered Vocaloid Legends. Lastly, videos with 10,000,000+ views are considered Vocaloid Myths. Users can also browse playlists of videos that are close to entering the Vocaloid Hall of Fame or becoming a Vocaloid Legend.
[ Popular Vocaloid Characters ]*
Although Hatsune Miku wasn’t the first Vocaloid to be created, she is the most easily recognized Vocaloid worldwide. She was developed by Crypton Future Media, initially released Aug. 31, 2007, and uses Yamaha’s Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3 engines. Her voice is modeled from the Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita. Her name comes from the Japanese for first (初; hatsu), sound (音; ne) and future (ミク; miku; nanori reading); This gives her name the meaning of “the first sound of the future.” Crypton released her as the first of their Character Vocal Series. Her official age is 16 and her recommended genres are pop, rock, dance, house, techno, and cross over.
Japanese illustrator KEI created Hatsune Miku’s appearance. KEI was only told that she was an android and that her color scheme was to be turquoise based on the signature color of Yamaha’s synthesizer. KEI further designed her outfit after the synthesizer; Her skirt and boots are based on the synthesizer software colors and the bars represent bars within the program’s user interface.
Good Smile Racing joined with Hatsune Miku to bring Racing Miku into existence. Every year a new Racing Miku design is released during the car racing season. The Race Queens also wear outfits inspired by the year’s Racing Miku design and the Good Smile Company sponsored team’s race car is adorned with Hatsune Miku art.
Since 2011, a Snow Miku festival has been held annually in Sapporo city in Hokkaido prefecture, Japan. It originated from a “pure white snow sculpture” of Hatsune Miku that was created for the Sapporo Snow Festival 2010. The costume design for Snow Miku has been decided by fans every year through an online competition. And since 2014, Snow Miku has had a pet rabbit, modeled after a local mountain hare, named Rabbit Yukine. Special merchandise such as Nendoroids featuring the latest design of Snow Miku and Rabbit Yukine are now sold together every year.
Three aluminum plates used as balancing weights for the Japanese Venus space probe Akatsuki are adorned with art depicting Hatsune Miku thanks to a petition started by Hatsune Miku fan Sumio Morioka aka chodenzi-P that was translated into numerous languages, received support from Dr. Seiichi Sakamoto of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and exceeded the necessary 10,000 signatures!
Popular Songs Featuring Hatsune Miku**
“The World is Mine” by ryo
“Tell Your World” by kz
“Rollin’ Girl” by wowaka
“Romeo and Cinderella” by doriko
“SpiCa” by ToKu-P (music & lyrics) and kentax (lyrics)
“Love is War” by ryo
“Melt” by ryo
“The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku” by cosMo
“Senbonzakura” by Kurousa-P
“Two-Sided Lovers” by wowaka
Kagamine Rin & Len
Often mistaken to be dating or twins, Kagamine Rin & Len are actually neither, but have been described as having one soul between the two of them by Crypton Vocaloid developer Wataru Sasaki also known as Wat (creator of Hatsune Miku). They were released together in December 2007 for the Vocaloid 2 engine as part of Crypton’s Character Vocal Series. Since their release there has been numerous additional voice banks for them as well as an English vocal and a Vocaloid 4 update. Both of their voices were provided by Asami Shimoda, a Japanese voice actress, stage actress, and singer.
Japanese illustrator KEI was in charge of illustrating Rin and Len with only their ages (14), the idea that they are to be “mirror images” of one another, and that they are androids to go of off. Their design is similar to Miku in that it was inspired by technology. The Yamaha EOS was used as a design base for their boots and their lower leg coverings are meant to resemble speakers. Rin has a Treble clef (G clef) on her choker while Len has a Bass clef (F clef). These were originally on their shirts before the Append redesigns.
Popular Songs Featuring Kagamine Rin and/or Len**
“Meltdown” by iroha(sasaki) (music) and kuma(alfred) (lyrics)
“Butterfly on Your Right Shoulder” by Nori-P (music) and Yura Mizuno (lyrics)
“Tokyo Teddy Bear” by Neru
“I Like You, I Love You” by Jebanni-P
“The Evil Story” by Mothy
“Fallen Angel” by Akuno-P
“Kokoro” by Toraboruta-P
“The Lost One’s Weeping” by Neru
Megurine Luka was developed by Crypton Future Media and uses Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 4 engines. Her voice is sampled from Yu Asakawa and she was illustrated by KEI. She was released in January 2009 and is part of Crypton’s Vocaloid Character Vocal Series. Her official age is 20 and her suggested genres are hip hop, dance, and electronica.
Her outfit is based on the Yamaha VL-1 although her dress was designed to look old fashioned. It has woodwind and brass instrument details. The gold curl on her chest is also meant to represent brass instruments.
Popular Songs Featuring Megurine Luka**
“Magnet” by minato
“Just Be Friends” by Dixie Flatline
“Double Lariat” by Agoaniki-P
“Ignition” by Dixie Flatline
“One Night Disco” by nana
“Toeto” by Toraboruta-P
“Luka Luka Night Fever” by samfree
“Dancer in the Dark” by FatmanP
“Wanderlast” by sasakure.UK
“DYE” by AVTechNO!
MEIKO was developed by Yamaha Corporation, sold by Crypton, and her voice is sampled by Meiko Haigo. Her counterpart is KAITO. She was the first Vocaloid to sing in Japanese and was initially released in November 2004. In February 2014, a new version was released called MEIKO V3 which included five different tones of her voice for the Vocaloid 3 engine. She was the best selling Crypton Future Media Vocaloid until the release of Hatsune Miku. Her suggested genres are rock, metal, alternative, dance, pop, folk, ethnic tune, ballad, jazz, post-rock, and electronic. Shogo Washizu was in charge of her illustration. She has no official age, but is usually portrayed as a middle-aged woman and often holding a cup of sake.
Popular Songs Featuring MEIKO**
“Noise” by MIJIPIN-P
“Change Me” by shu-tP
“This Is Our Justice” by Shin-P
“Poem Weaved in Ruins” ShigotoshiteP
“Snow Rabbit” by OSTER project (aka Fuwafuwa Cinnamon)
“Various Feelings” shu-tP
“Break It Break It” by E.L.V.N
“Beelzebub Party” by Akuno-P
KAITO was developed by Yamaha Corporation, sold by Crypton, and his voice is sampled from Naoto Fuga. His counterpart is MEIKO. He was initially released in February 2006, but in February 2013 a new version was released called KAITO V3 for the Vocaloid 3 engine that included four different tones for his voice. His suggested genres are folk, pop, rock, soft rock, ambient, ballads, jazz, soul, crossover, dance, and electronica. His illustration was done by Takashi Kawasaki. He has no official age.
Popular Songs Featuring KAITO**
“Shine” by ShigotoshiteP
“Destroys Nightmare” by Menday-P
“Day Dream Night” by Shinjou-P
“What’s COLOR?” by Shinjou-P (music & lyrics) and Dagashiya (lyrics)
“Warum” by Mazo-P
“Sweet’s Beast” by Menday-P
“Thousand Year Solo” by yanagi-P
“Flower Tail” by yuukiss
“Cantarella” by Kurousa-P
The mysterious and otherworldly Vocaloid IA was developed and distributed by 1st Place Co., Ltd. and released in January 2012 for the Vocaloid 3 engine. Her voice is sampled from Japanese female singer-songwriter Lia. Her her name is also derived from Lia’s name. Her voice is more inspired and reminiscent of opera than other Japanese Vocaloids. Her appearance was designed by illustrator Aka Akasaka with design direction by Maxilla. Her suggested genres are pop and jazz and she has no confirmed age.
Popular Songs Featuring IA**
“A Tale of Six Trillion Years and a Night” by kemu
“SEE THE LIGHTS” by STY and YUUKI, MC
“IA IA ★ Night of Desire” by samfree
“Inner Arts” by Shizen no Teki-P
“Otsukimi Recital” by Jin
“Cloud Rider” by Tanaka Hayato (music) and Jane Su (lyrics)
“Sakurasou” by Umetora
“Yuukei Yesterday” by Shizen no Teki-P
“Lost Time Memory” by Shizen no Teki-P
“Outer Science” by Shizen no Teki-P
[ More Vocaloid Characters ]
Lesser know, but nonetheless worthy of recognition are the following Vocaloids. SeeU, Nekomura Iroha, Uni, Macne Petit, Stardust, DEX, DAINA, RUBY, Xin Hau, Tohoku Zunko, flower, MAIKA, MAYU, Aoki Lapis, Lily, GUMI, Violet, and many more! (^-^) ♪♪♪
*There are numerous official Vocaloid characters, derivative characters, and fan-made characters worthy of recognition, but for the sake of brevity, only a selection of the most well-known Vocaloid characters are featured.
**Although multiple creators often come together to complete the musical score as well as the accompanying video or illustrations, only the main creator(s) of the music and lyrics are mentioned for the sake of brevity.