August 31: The “First Sound From the Future”

Hatsune MikuMeet Hatsune Miku, one of Japan’s biggest pop stars. According to her biography, Miku is 16 years old, 5′ 2” and weighs 93 pounds. Oh, and by the way, she’s not human. Hatsune Miku is an entirely digital pop star, a singing synthesizing computer program that was released to the public six years ago today. Her name, incidentally, is Japanese for “first sound from the future.”

Now, that might sound a little weird, so allow me to break down just what Hatsune Miku is. First off, she’s a computer program. The Hatsune Miku program, developed by Crypton Future Media, uses vocal samples to create songs. How it works is that Crypton hired voice actress Saki Fujita to say individual Japanese phonics at a controlled pitch and tone. Users of the Hatsune Miku program take these phonic soundbites, combine them together to form words and then set them to music. So, anyonewho owns the Miku program, be they a professional composer or a fifteen year old kid in her bedroom, can compose a song for Miku and then publish it on a website set up by Crypton where Miku fans can download fan-made songs. According to Crypton, Miku has a repertoire of over 100,000 original songs. Some of the more popular fan-composers have even been hired by Crypton to write “official” Hatsune Miku songs.

Now, let’s say that you’re a tech company that’s created a big pop star, you’d probably think that there might be people interested in seeing your creation perform, and you’d be right! A hologram of Hatsune Miku, backed by live musicians, has performed around Japan to sold out crowds. She even played to a packed house at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles during the 2011 Anime Expo. The giant hologram of the computer generated pop star is amazingly detailed: Miku dances, plays a little guitar and sometimes even becomes overcome with emotion in response to all the love from her fans.

Really from a production point of view, Miku is the perfect pop star. She’ll never be involved in a tabloid scandal or send out an ill conceived tweet. She’s always available to record a new track and, as long as the program works, she’ll never hit a bum note in concert. Miku’s next performance will be in November at the Theatre du Chatelet Opera House in Paris, where she will participate in an opera that will feature only computer generated performers.

So, one of the songs in Hatsune Miku’s “official” repertoire is “Clover Club,” named after the cocktail of the same name. I’m no J-pop fan, so I can’t tell you if the song is any good, but I can attest to the greatness of this drink. The Clover Club was the favored libation at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford hotel in the pre-Prohibition era. The drink’s name comes from a mens club that regularly met at the Bellevue-Stratford. It’s a sweet and tart drink which utilizes egg whites. For more on how to safely make a drink with egg whites, see our note on the topic from last month.

Clover Club

  • 1 1/2 ounce Gin
  • 3/4 ounces lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounces raspberry syrup
  • 1 egg white

At first, dry shake all ingredients for about a minute in a cocktail shaker so the drink can emulsify. After about a minute of dry shaking, add ice and shake for a bit more. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: A trip to the moon.

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