Musical mash-ups

Librarians and IT professionals spend a lot of time reading various email lists devoted to their particular specialties, and music librarians are no exception. In my experience, most this information is routine and somewhat mundane — how do other libraries handle issue X, Y, or Z; can someone help me find this obscure piece of music; does anyone want these periodicals we’re getting rid of. But now and then someone passes along some truly disturbing item that makes me seriously wonder if I’m witnessing one of the four signs of the apocalypse.

One such recent tidbit on the Music Library Association list had to do with this offering from Microsoft’s research division: Microsoft Songsmith. It’s an app that let’s you sing into your computer, twiddle a few preferences (“lively!” “salsa!”), and — presto! — instant song. The song itself sounds like some mutant offspring from the mating of a circus carousel with a Casio, as you can see from this unbelievable video demonstration.

Of course, human beings are relentlessly inventive creatures, and the best use of MS Songsmith I’ve seen is this “musical mash-up” using David Lee Roth’s vocal from “Runnin’ with the Devil.” (And, speaking of mash-ups, take a look at the computer being used in the Microsoft demo link in the paragraph above: isn’t that a… MacBook?! Ouch.)

Truly, we are living in the end times.

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