HOW I DID IT
by Jim Allenspach
The following document is a step-by-step instruction manual that details
how I created my singing dictionary tracks on my very own home computer.
Hopefully these instructions will point you in the right direction on how
to create your own. The instructions are as detailed as possible, but
obviously you're going to have differences and difficulties of your own,
when you try this. Consider this as part of the challenge of doing it
What you need:
- A computer. (Actually, that's not true; you could also use
standalone digital sampling equipment to piece together a track. But if
you have your own sampler, you probably don't need these instructions,
so you can bail out now.)
- An idea on what song you want to do.
- Some sort of music editing program. I swear by the programs put out
by Sonic Foundry (www.sonicfoundry.com), and they
have a fully functional copy of their ACID music editing program that
would work just fine for our purposes, but you should use whatever you
feel comfortable using. Other popular choices include ProTools (free
version at http://www.digidesign.
com/ptfree/) and Syntrillium's Cool Edit (www.cooledit.com). The music editor
should allow you to do multi-track recording (that is, something that
will allow you to place samples and move them around).
- A source for the sound samples for words. The list of dictionary
Websites that provide this resource is just two in number right now: Merriam-Webster, and MSN's Encarta.
How you do it:
- Get an instrumental version of the song you want to do.
This should be pretty easy. Just go to your favorite search engine (google.com
should work the best), and
go looking for your song. You might want to include the search term
"MIDI", to see if anyone's created a MIDI version of the song.
Other possible sources of instrumental songs include: karaoke CDs; EPs
released with instrumental versions of the song; and even creating your
own background music, if you're confident in your musician skills.
- Transfer the song to your computer, in a format that your music
editing program can handle.
If you're looking for a version online, it will probably be in MIDI
format. Some editing programs can handle MIDI files just fine, while
others cannot. If you can't load MIDI into your program, the simplest
thing to do would be to convert it into a WAV file.
The way I convert MIDI into WAV files is to play the MIDI in a player
program, such as WinAmp
, and run a sound recording
program at the same time, to capture the sound as it's being played. You
might also check online for software to convert MIDI to WAV files (such
, Audio Compositor
, or MIDInight
- Download the samples for each of the words in the lyrics to the song.
This is pretty much busywork. Just go to one of the dictionary sites and
start looking up words. On each definition page, you'll see a link to
click to download the audio. Save each item to disk. (It helps if you
create a directory or folder somewhere to save all the files, so all the
files are in one eay-to-find location. And don't forget to check the
filename. Some sites have less-than-clear file names for the audio files
that they generate! You should rename each of the files to the actual
word, so that they'll be easier to work with.)
- Start up your editor, and load all the files into a new project.
- Put down the music track in your editor.
- Start listening to the music, and determine where the "singing"
- Using your software, start laying down words in their respective
This is why you need software that allows multitracking. You may also
place successive words on different tracks, so they overlap and are
easier to fit together.
- Continue until you've laid down a few lines of "singing", and then
play it back to hear how it sounds. Adjust the positions of the words,
If the tempo of the song is very fast or very slow, you might have to
do a little creative adjusting of the words, to fit them to the tempo
of the song. This is where you get to play around with your editor,
see what works and what doesn't, and use your creativity to make a unique
version of the song.
- Continue in this manner, until your song is complete.
- Once you've got your track done, tell somebody at dictionaraoke.org,
and they'll put it up on the site!
Hopefully the instructions in this document will encourage you to start
playing with your own music software, and come up with a new version of
an old favorite. Have fun!