TODAY -

Karaoke, a singing revolution

Dr Ksh Imokanta Singh *



In this part of the world we often pronounce it as it is written i.e. Ka-rao-ke, but I now know that it is pronounced as kaeri'oki. As per Wikipedia, it is a combination of Japanese words Kara (Empty) and Oke from okesutora (orchestra), which wholly means orchestra sans singing. This reminds me of Karate which is also a combination of Japanese words Kara (empty) and te (hand) i.e. unarmed.

I was under the impression that this word Karaoke and the technology are of recent origin, but Wikipedia teaches me that it has been here for long since 1970s when some Japanese pioneered this magical revolution.

Personally, I became aware of this system very late when I saw it for the first time in the India International Trade Fair, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, probably in 2006. The system had a video screen, a microphone, a speaker etc. The video screen had lyrics running in tune with the tune of the song. People were trying their luck to race with the music and lyrics.

Some sang well and some horrible, but most of them struggled hard, still running behind or before the lyrics and music, not with them. It required lots of ingenuity which we generally did not have before. Technology teaches us to be with it lest we be left behind and declared outdated.

Today, evolving from various stages Karaoke has settled down in our Mobile phones. I consider myself to be fortunate living in this beautiful age. I sometimes wish I had such music technology and Internet early in my life so that I could explore myself and let others also know what I could do. A cheap and instant ticket to stardom. Still better late than never, as they say.

I was introduced to this mobile Karaoke probably in 2016 by my junior colleague Chitaljit who was senior in this field. Before he did so. I was awe struck hearing him sing duets with some other ladies. I thought he was singing live with those ladies and thought he was really lucky to be in face to face with them. But it turned out to be something else. He sang with their pre-recorded songs.

Such feeling of wonderment is still visible today when some uninitiated hear me sing that way. Then I just remain smiling keeping the secret intact and letting them envy me till they discover the reality when they start feeling fooled.

It was GaanaApps. to which I was introduced first. Such Apps have got such features like we should sing with an earphone or headphone, either connected to the mobile through cables or Bluetooth. Recordings may be made more hearable with wise use of the inbuilt limited adjustments and then may be kept as draft or finally uploaded. When the uploaded recordings are heard through earphones, they sound wonderful and sometimes the singer might wonder if that was his voice at all.

But the sound quality becomes a little different when heard without earphones or headphones. That is where dejection sinks in. This happened with the Gaana Apps. Then I graduated to another Apps called Smule. In fact, today there are scores of such Apps vying for their markets. I am also entangled in this market though I hardly understand the economics of internet. Today I am totally dependent on the StarMaker Apps.

with the hope that it will make me a singing star one day before I bum out like a candle in the wind. The quality of recording is better here compared to the previous two. One thing which amazes me is the number of songs the Apps. has. Take any song of major language and we will find it.

Yes, there are disappointments when we do not find song of our choice and if found, in bad shape, like no proper music, no proper muting of the original singer’s voice etc. This happens especially in case of Manipuri songs as I have come across. Maybe we are catching up. But we should be thankful to those who do the hard work of making Manipuri song Karaoke through certain software and uploading them.

The wind of change is blowing from the minority elitist possession of music to the majority scattered masses. Today anybody, literally anybody can sing a song with the original back ground music. Here comes the handy work of ever dependable YouTube. Most of the songs are present in Karaoke format and our job is just to choose. One can sing along without microphone if it is meant only for him/her or for a small group.

But people today are not satisfied with singing just for the sake of singing. It is meant to be heard and thus aimed at an audience and for this they need a Bluetooth enabled speaker. Thanks to Moreh (India) and Tamu (Myanmar), Manipur is splashed with such speakers. Any gathering, small or big, requires one as an indispensable ingredient. And any gathering, day or night, does not flow without those syrups.

Any member, good or bad, when infused with those syrups, searches for the microphone and collides with other members on the same mission. Sometimes that unfortunate microphone becomes a damsel in the woods, neither here nor there, like a coconut in a play of Yubi lakpi.

My sincere apologies to numerous music bands of Manipur for they probably have less demand these days. Your place is being taken over by this small all in one machine called smart phone.

As said before, people do not sing for themselves but for others, (it seems they are highly inspired by Oja Pahari’s tabidraba eshei, shaklubagee kari kannei - what song is that song that is never heard ?)

It does not matter whether the other person likes it or not. For them to be heard by a large audience, they have to have a medium for communication and that medium today is social media, mostly Facebook (live or recorded) or WhatsApp. After a conservative research it is found that Facebook becomes pregnant with uploads, especially during Yaoshang (Holi) festivals. If pregnant, there has to be delivery.

Our eyes and ears ached with in-bleeding being the premature delivery points, lest Facebook will burst. I know this must have exactly been the feeling with my Facebook Friends, hearing me sing. Despite this telepathy, people, including me, do not stop uploading, the habit turning into addiction.

Yes, people are mostly gentle in their comments, giving positive ones. ‘Great’, ‘beautiful’ etc. and the uploader responds with ‘Thank You’.

That is another matter that comments, mostly, mean just the opposite and are often followed by those emojis with protruding tongue or skewed face or LOL with two tears. But such people take two negatives as one positive, very positive people.

Good or bad comments in social media, people today are celebrating and living these moments of liberation from the clutches of elitist confinement, fear of large live audience, fear of incompetence and fear of music itself. Class crumbling in front of mass. Amateurs enjoying limelight at the cost of self-inflating Professionals.

Karaoke has ushered in a new world in music - music of the masses. Are you there Mr. Marx ?


* Dr Ksh Imokanta Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on April 04 2022 .



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