Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
by Jocelyn Doire
I don't know
if you are like me, but when comes the Christmas season,
I like to sing. Especially when I'm in a group, but the
results are not always as harmonious as I would like them
to be. First, I often forget the words, then I miss a few
notes here and there, and since I can't play any musical
instruments, I cannot accompany my singing.
I heard many times of people using karaoke and have even
seen it a few times, but singing in front of a crowd is
definitely not my idea of fun. But as I found out last
year, using karaoke on my computer is a great way to
learn and practice lots of songs, and that can be a lot
of fun when singing with a group of friends, where
everyone can follow the words and the music as it plays.
I've tried a few karaoke programs, but the one I liked
the most was VanBasco's Karaoke Player. Not only is the
program ad-free freeware, but it has all the features I
want and more.
VanBasco's Karaoke can play MIDI or karaoke files, which
are small files that contain all the notes of a song but
not the singing like an MP3 file. Karaoke files are
similar to MIDI files except that they also contain the
lyrics. Note that sometimes a karaoke file has a .MID
extension instead of the normal .KAR for compatibility
The installation is pretty straightforward it
simply asks for your language, the directory where to
install it, and whether it should be the default program
to run .MID and .KAR files.
The program starts by displaying 6 different windows:
playlist, piano, MIDI, control, karaoke and the main
The playlist window lets you manage a list of songs that
can be saved and reloaded. You can add, remove, move,
etc. any songs to the list, and then play them in order
or at random using the control panel.
two windows that display the notes being played; the
first one is a piano keyboard which displays the notes as
if someone was playing them in real time, and which can
help you learn how to play a song on a piano. The second
window, the MIDI output, shows all the instruments by
name and the played notes as little moving rectangles. If
you prefer, you can listen to a single instrument or turn
off any of them by using the buttons on the left.
The next two
windows let you control what's being played. The main
player window is similar to a music player, from which
you can start, stop, rewind, fast forward and jump to the
next song in the play list. You can also select to play
the songs in order or at random, to repeat a single song
or the whole list, and finally to turn on or off any of
the other five windows. The control panel lets you adjust
the volume, the tempo and also the key, something very
useful when the song is either to high or too low for
the last window, the karaoke window that displays the
lyrics (if available) in real time, shows what to sing
and when to sing it by turning the words red.
many sites that have MIDI and Karaoke files, for example:
http://www.espace-francophone.com/karaoke/index.html (big, but with annoying ads)
The http://www.vanbasco.com web site also has a search engine
that can help find MIDI or Karaoke files by entering an
artist or a song name. When using a regular search
engine, it generally helps to add ".MID" or
".KAR" with the search string.
I wish you a melodious holiday season! :)
Click here to view the
full OPCUG website with frames.
Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON K2G 1S6
opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.
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