This was inspired by my lack of time and Jeff MacDougall’s experiment with FourTrack.
Click here to hear this sung by my Mac.
It’s getting far too close to the end,
I’ve got to write my weekly thing,
but I used up half the weekend
trying to teach my Mac to sing.
So I’ll do a Jeff MacDougall,
and I’ll write a hasty song.
I’ll get all my notes from Google,
and they’ll probably sound all wrong.
But there’s not a thing that I own
that could run FourTrack
’cause I don’t have an iPhone,
but I have a Mac
and I’ve got a MIDI keyboard
that I don’t know how to play.
I don’t know what on Earth’s a C chord,
But I can code C anyway.
I can’t even read a stave, man,
and I don’t know how to sing.
I’m a two of clubs, a caveman
who’s pretending to be king.
This was produced using a modified version of the software I wrote to sing Still Point Five. Entering all the notes and durations for that proved to be tedious, and I never really found the time to do it. So I bought a cheap MIDI keyboard, and added a MIDI interface to the program, with much help from the source code of Snoize MIDI Monitor. Now I just have to play a tune on the keyboard, enter the text, press a few buttons, fine-tune the pronunciation if necessary, and it creates the TUNE file. I can then get my Mac to speak that from any text field, or use the ‘Text to Audio file’ Automator action to save it as a sound file. It’s pretty neat.
I wrote most of the MIDI interface on Saturday afternoon, and there are still one or two flaws in it, so I had to fine-tune the TUNE file a bit. But it’s a whole lot easier than it was when I had to enter note names and durations by hand.
The reason I spent Saturday writing the MIDI interface to this program rather than writing a proper Thing was that I wanted to at least finish a cover of the normal ‘Still Alive’ in time to make a video of it for Jonathan Coulton day. If I hadn’t been making Christmas cookies with friends all day, I might have managed it, but as it was I barely had time to iron out some bugs in the software and write this Thing before midnight. I’ll be in Zurich tomorrow so I won’t be able to work on it. Anyway, the cookies are great, so delicious and moist. Can you blame me?
If you have a Mac, and you want to try out the song in different voices, or maybe experiment with changing the tune, here’s the TUNE file. Just open it up in just about any application (it’s just a text file), go to the Edit menu, Speech submenu, and choose ‘Start Speaking’. You can change the voice used in Speech panel of the System Preferences. Let me know if you discover any voices it sounds better in, or any other improvements. I only tried it with Victoria (which is what the mp3 uses) and Vicki.
It should be clear from the song that I do not claim to have any musical talent. I don’t know where I got that tune from. It seemed like I thought of it myself, but most likely I inadvertently copied it from somewhere. If I didn’t, it probably isn’t very good. I plan to use this software to make up for my lack of musical talent, by getting it to sing the poems-with-tunes I’ve written. Eventually, I’ll tidy it up enough to release it and its source code, but for now I don’t think it’s ready for public consumption.