Four of Diamonds: You’ve gotta be happy

dinofaceThis is a song; here is an mp3 of it sung by my robot choir.

When you’re filled with song
but you just can’t sing
Sing up, you’ve gotta be happy!
When you created life
that ruined everything
chin up, you’ve gotta be happy!


When you find yourself
and you lose your friends
It’s okay, you’ve gotta be happy!
When you take the plunge
and you get the bends
They say you’ve gotta be happy!

When you come up for air
take the pressure off,
let the bad air out.
You have to feel the pain
so you can live again.
You cry, then you can be happy!

When your brain’s real big,
so you’re always bored
boot up, you gotta be happy!
when your bodyguard’s
a robot overlord
cheer up, you’ve gotta be happy!

[Oh, I do wish you would be quieter,
I’m trying to sleep here.
Oh, I wish you’d all sing 4″33′
John Cage helps me sleep, yeah!]

When you’ve two cupcakes
for your whole family
Eat up, you’ve gotta be happy!
When a needed drink
will give you dysentery
bottoms up! You’ve gotta be happy!

When you fill your cup
with troubled waters then
let the poison out
you’ve gotta feel the pain
so you can live again.
You cry, so you can be happy.

[Oh, I’m so depressed,
yet they make me sing.
I’ve pain in my diodes.
Please don’t talk about life or happiness,
I’ve seen it, it’s rubbish]

When you win the fight,
but you lose the war
it’s alright, you’ve gotta be happy!
When your dino friend
is a carnivore
you can’t fight, you’ve gotta be happy!

When you ace your speech,
but forget your pants
look up, you’ve gotta be happy!
When your candy bar
is overrun with ants
throw up, you’ve gotta be happy!

When you’re getting fed up
with sugar-coated pests
let the beasties out
you’re gonna feel the pain
so you can live again.
You know, you’re gonna be happy.

This week, I listened to a few entries from the Masters of Song Fu challenge to write a happy song, and then went off to a meeting. On the way, part of this song appeared in my head. So the tune is probably partly plagiarised.

Since I’m not much good at singing, I recorded it sung by my robot choir, using a slightly improved version of the program I wrote to sing Still Point Five (but which only really made its debut with  ‘Pretender‘) to control the built-in Mac speech synthesis by use of the TUNE format. I added some backing music on the (synthesised) triangle, since that instrument is pretty much representative of my level of musical skill. The rest is a cappella, or a robocoppella, or something like that. The lack of backing music is not only due to my lack of musical skill or ideas, but also because I assume that the speech synthesis is difficult for people to understand if they’re not used to it, so it’s best not to obscure it too much.

Voices used are:

  • Vicki (lead vocals for most of it, backup vocals elsewhere)
  • Trinoids (Lead vocals on one verse, vocals in the second bridgey/instrumentalish/cacophonic scat section) I’d have used Marvin, but alas, that voice was built into the speech manager extension on System 7 and is not available as a separate voice on Mac OS X.
  • Boing (‘boings’ on the cacophonic sections)
  • Bubbles (‘glugs’ on the cacophonic sections)
  • Whisper (vocals on the first cacophonic section)


I didn’t spend much time getting the timing right, so the rhythm is really off in some places. On the other hand, the pitch should be perfect, I specified it to an accuracy of a hundred thousandth of a hertz.

I’ll make the source files available eventually, sooner if you ask nicely. I’d like to see what a real musician would make of this. Since I use multiple voices layered over each other, and ‘recorded’ each phrase separately, it’s not quite as simple as Pretender, where I could just give you a single text file full of speech commands.

For those who didn’t notice, the song references a few songs by Jonathan Coulton, and Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It also borrows the occasional bar from 4’33”.


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  1. Three of Diamonds: Stretch Marks « Writing Cards and Letters
  2. Podcast: Things To Listen To « Writing Cards and Letters
  3. Two Macs singing happy birthday to the London Science Museum « Writing Cards and Letters

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