Microsoft Songsmith: share and enjoy!

07 Feb

Microsoft Songsmith.  Srsly wtf?

I want to make sure you’re settled before we continue, because this really isn’t going to be fun.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Would you like a pillow?  A hot towel, perhaps?

This is like… okay.  You guys watch Lost?  Remember a couple years ago when Ben captured Sawyer and Kate and held them prisoner in that Skinner box out in the jungle, and…

….I don’t know, he was up to some damn thing.   Point is, there was a scene where he sort of ordered Kate to have breakfast with him, and it was under a shady umbrella and there was freshly squeezed orange juice and Kate wore a sundress, and Ben said something along the lines of “I set this whole thing up because I wanted you to remember one nice moment, because the next few days are going  to be very unpleasant“?

This is that.  Have some OJ before we continue.

Mmmm, wasn’t that refreshing?  Now, then:  MICROSOFT SONGSMITH!

Click “read more” when you’ve had enough.

I normally get as far as “our towels rock, oh yeah!” before I have to stop.   Some people probably stopped as soon as the kid belted out, which is understandable if you’re one of those freaks with perfect pitch, but I used to direct children’s theater and I’ve heard much, much worse.  Her voice isn’t bad, it just hasn’t matured yet, and she delivers the only remotely convincing performance in this whole thing, so leave her alone.

Microsoft Songsmith, if you haven’t gathered, is a sort of music authoring software for people who don’t know anything about music.  If ProTools is PhotoShop Pro, this is WinPaint.  You pick a genre, select a tempo, sing into your computer, and away you go.  Thing is, no matter what you do, the music seems to come out as a stream of soulless Muzak.

Now, maybe you’re saying “that’s just because the people in this video aren’t songwriters.  Let’s see what happens when we give Songsmith something more interesting to chew on, like, say, The Beatles!”   Okay.  Let’s do that.

No one was expecting Songsmith to replace The Beatles, or to perfectly extrapolate and replicate a symphony or Jay-Z or Conway Twitty or whatever, so maybe this isn’t fair.  And, honestly, it’s an interesting little diversion.  If this was 1996 or so, it would make for a great science museum exhibit, or maybe a Discovery Channel Store toy circa 2002.   The problem is this: according to the Microsoft video above, we’re supposed to use Songsmith as a songwriting tool, appropriate for professional musicians and marketers alike.  Dad totally “scored” the glow-in-the-dark towel account, no pun intended, because he had the foresight and outside-the-boxitude and go-getter-ness to accentuate his presentation with a terrible song from Songsmith!  Musician Guy totally wrote some awesome new songs for his band that were not bland at all!

If they’d just showed us the kid messing around with it, I’d have no problem with Songsmith.  It’s a toy, nothing more, nothing less, and it’s not really the product I have a problem with.  I’m downloading the free version – I’ll play around with it and I’ll let you know what I think.

But, man, that commercial is a perfect storm of dorkitude.

Songsmith has already produced one classic composition, however:  Johannes Kreidler discovered that you could feed raw data into Songsmith and create songs based on numbers, such as, say, the rise and fall of the stock market, the mounting death toll in Iraq, the unemployment rate, etc.   Songsmith Performs The Recession: truly a tune for our times.

Interestingly enough, Douglas Adams predicted this kind of software in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency about 20 years ago: MIDI music based on your company’s stocks, to ease the pain as it slid further and further into the hole.  Considering the music Songsmith produces, however, a closer comparison may be drawn to another Adams invention: the Nutrimat Drinks Dispenser, which, no matter what you ask for, always spits out the same bland, brown liquid that is (say it with me, geeks) “almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.”   Share and enjoy!


Posted by on February 7, 2009 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Microsoft Songsmith: share and enjoy!

  1. Lauryn

    February 8, 2009 at 5:03 am


    I made it 31 seconds into the commercial, and as for what it did to the Beatles….I just say, very calmly: What. The. HELL?!?!!!?!



  2. Shelley

    February 9, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Yeah, I made it through the end of Dad’s first towel song verse before my ears and brain gave up (luckily, the deafness and brain inactivity lasted only a few moments), but somehow, and for some reason, I subjected myself to that entire Beatles abomination. What the bloody freakin’ hell? Paul McCartney should hire a hitman to destroy everyone associated with Songsmith just for doing that to one of his tunes (Ringo will sit on his gigantic pile of money and continue to thank his lucky stars that he’s more likeable than Pete Best).


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