Elvis is alive and well and digital

May 3, 1996

Elvis Presley and John Lennon are set for a spooky comeback. A research project at Oxford University is developing the perfect electronic replication of their voices. PhD student Ken Lomax, at St Hugh's College, is working on a singing synthesiser which might one day allow diehard fans to write personalised songs and have their dead heroes sing them.

Mr Lomax, whose project is called Singing Analysis and Synthesis, is working with local choristers but says that it should be possible to analyse, and so replicate, the recorded voices of greats such as Elvis, Lennon and Buddy Holly.

He has hit a serious snag in record companies' reluctance to release the vocal-only tracks he needs to "lift" voice patterns free of background music.

"It throws up all sorts of possibilities such as having Elvis and Lennon sing a duet," he said. "It also raises legal conundrums, such as people having to patent their voices and even the prospect of making someone say something they didn't."

A programme installed on a powerful computer scans voices and breaks them down into their constituent parts. The programme then reassembles these characteristics to create a voice replication which not only fools the human ear but, ultimately, passes any existing electronic voice analysis.

Mr Lomax said: "There's no reason why such a programme couldn't work on a PC - such synthesisers may one day be available in high street shops. It could add a whole new twist to home entertainment."

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Vice-Chancellor MASSEY UNIVERSITY
Operations Support Administrator CAMBRIDGE ASSESSMENT
Head Chef CAMBRIDGE ASSESSMENT
Vice President, Advancement UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO

Most Commented

Elderly woman looking up at sky

A recent paper claims that the quality of researchers declines with age. Five senior scientists consider the data and how they’ve contributed through the years

A keyboard with a 'donate' key

Richard Budd mulls the logic of giving money to your alma mater

Woman tearing up I can't sign

Schools and universities are increasingly looking at how improving personalities can boost social mobility. But in doing so, they may be forced to choose between teaching what is helpful, and what is true, says David Matthews

Otto illustration (5 May 2016)

Craig Brandist on the proletarianisation of a profession and how it leads to behaviours that could hobble higher education

Door peephole painted as bomb ready to explode

It’s time to use technology to detect potential threats and worry less about outdated ideas of privacy, says Ron Iphofen