The Wire

In Writing

The Mire: Tangents, threads and opinions from The Wire HQ

You can't get with Mr Smith

Derek Walmsley

Sometimes the development of music technology is quite breathtaking – think of Final Scratch, Ableton Live, all those real-time scratch and processing programmes. Microsoft's Songsmith falls way, way, way, outside this category, to such a degree it's quite astonishing. A programme designed so you can just sing into a microphone, and it'll pick up the melodies and concoct an appropriate backing you.

The results are, without exception, jawdroppingly, side-splittingly appalling. You can pretty much hear the mix of rigid, codified algorithms (switching between simple chord progressions where the voice allows) and random melodic detours (just to keep things moving along). Essentially, they've managed the perfect simulation of a hotel bar band desperately vamping along when they've got no idea where the tune is going.

A reminder that, in these days of fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence, computer software can still sound astonishingly luddite.

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