There are many things about karaoke that are not well-understood by the fine folks that love to sing it, and even more misunderstood by the ones that don’t. In an ongoing series, we’re here to help you sort out the myths from the facts.
Karaoke Myth #1 – Karaoke music is cheap and easy to make.
People who embrace this myth may have been exposed to the worst that karaoke has to offer: the MIDI recording, or the “vocal eliminator”. These two have done more to damage the reputation of karaoke than all the drunks in Singapore.
MIDI and Karaoke
Let’s start with the first disaster: MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and it’s been a fantastic tool for musicians since it was first standardized back in 1983.
One excellent use of MIDI is to use one instrument (say, a keyboard) to trigger “samples” of other instruments, in a way that synthesizes some of the original sound the sampled instrument might have made. This handy trick has allowed many innovative developments in music, and in some cases has become an instrument in its own right.
The trouble with this approach for creating top-notch karaoke is two-fold. First, one must have very high quality samples to work from. If you’re trying to replicate the sound of a string orchestra or a brass band, you’d better have some terrific samples or you’re going to churn out something akin to the sound of an eighties-era video game.