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The Origins of Karaoke

By Edited Sep 26, 2016 2 4

Just Sing As You Want

The word Karaoke is a ‘made up’ Japanese word. Kara means empty. Oke is the beginning of the word okesutora which means orchestra. The basic idea of Karaoke is to listen to a well-known popular song. However, the voice of the original singer is ‘deleted’ (empty, oke). Instead the lyrics of the song is displayed on a video screen.

One of the people in the room will now use a microphone and ‘sing along’ the lyrics of the song to the music. The singer reads the words of the song on the video screen while he (or she) entertains the other guests.

It is not so important whether the amateur singer has a beautiful voice, the important thing is that all have a fun time. The singer gets a kick out of breaking a shyness barrier, and the audience have a lot of fun while listening to the music and the song.

Just sing as you want at a karaoke bar, a KTV in Wuhan, China

Credit: wikipedia.org/wiki/Karaoke

Karaoke Systems in the Beginning

The very first Karaoke systems, or karaoke machines, dates back more than 40 years. Karaoke is in particular associated with Japan, but is was simultaneously developed in the Philippines. From those two countries it spread to several other Asian countries, and further on to the rest of the world. Karaoke is called KTV in some countries. but all over the world the most common word is Karaoke. However, regardless of what it is called then Karaoke is always fun.

The Early Karaoke Machines
In the beginning of the 1970s music had become something that was very easy to carry around. Music cassette tapes made music very portable, and all over the world people would bring music to be played at parties in private homes. In Japan and in the Philippines the massive use of popular music took even a further step.

In Japan there was already a long tradition to have musical entertainment at dinner parties. At bigger parties the entertainers would be professional musicians and singers. At smaller parties there might be only one instrumental musician, and the guests and the host would then sing and entertain each other.

In the Philippines it had also for centuries been popular to entertain and to sing for each other at parties, and often even at very daily gatherings.

The first sing along music machine in Japan was made by a Japanese drummer, Daisuke Inoue, who was a popular performer at restaurants and at parties where his drums would accompany the sing along audience. When he was asked to make recordings of his music he didn’t make tapes. But instead he created a tape recorder-like machine on which his music was recorded. He did not sell these music machines, instead he leased them out, and many of them were placed in restaurants and in hotel rooms.

In the Philippines the development of karaoke systems was from the very beginning more technical oriented. The inventor Roberto del Rosario had first created a musical system on which the individual separate tracks with music and vocal voice could be increased or decreased in volume. His next step was his machine, the OMB (One Man Band) that could play as a complete orchestra. These two inventions were the foundations for the important creation in 1974 when he introduced the SAS (Sing Along System). The most important addition to his inventions was the microphone, and the ability to reduce the vocal channel. The Filipinos called his system for Minus-One because of the subtraction of the voice of the original singer on the record. To begin with his system didn’t have a video screen showing the lyrics of the songs, but the sing along system was delivered with textbooks.

Karaoke at Home or At a Karaoke Bar

In Japan as well as in the Philippines Karaoke soon became very popular, and in both countries Karaoke was enjoyed at home as well as in restaurants with Karaoke, and also at places where the main (or even only) activity was Karaoke. However, in general Karaoke was used differently in the two countries.

In the Philippines the focus of Karaoke was on having a good time with friends and family. A Philippine family love to sing for each other at any occasion, and all that was needed was a simple device attached to the TV. A device that could play the Karaoke CD, and a microphone, and the whole family would follow the video with the lyrics to be sung on the family TV.

In Japan the focus of Karaoke was the thrill that an amateur singer would perform in front of others, singing a popular song.

Karaoke at an Irish Pub in Europe

Karaoke Bar
Credit: wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Karaoke-irish-pub

Karaoke Systems Today

Today Karaoke can be played on many different devices, and at endless places. In addition to the specialized Karaoke Systems the following list gives a glimpse of how many different ways and places Karaoke songs can be enjoyed:

Many VCD players can easily be used by means of a Built-in Karaoke Function.

There are several Karaoke Programs to be used directly on computers, or online on the Internet.

Applications for mobile phones, such as iPhone makes it possible to enjoy Karaoke anywhere you want to.

You can even get specialized Karaoke systems to be used in automobiles.

Which Karaoke System do you want?

And what kind of music?

When you buy a Karaoke system you have to consider how you plan to use it.

Do you only want to use it occasionally and only together your own family. Or do you want to use it when you have many guests. Maybe the party theme is even a Karaoke Night.

Do you want a Karaoke System that is easy and portable so you can bring it to other parties.

And what kind of music do you want in your Karaoke Music Collection?

Below you will find some of the answers on the links to some of the Karaoke Bestsellers from Amazon.

Amazon’s #1 bestseller of Karaoke Machines is the USA Karaoke System GF829. It is a system that has it all! It is a great karaoke system, but even though it is great then it isn’t bigger than it is possible to bring around to other parties. And it can even record the happy Karaoke Song Moments that you shared with your friends. Remember all the fun you had!

Singing Machine SML-383P CDG Karaoke Player
Amazon Price: $86.07 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2016)
You Sing The Hits Of Elvis Presley
Amazon Price: $21.95 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2016)
Frank Sinatra (Karaoke CDG)
Amazon Price: $9.98 $1.05 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2016)
Some of the most popular Karaoke songs are the classic Frank Sinatra songs: My Way, Chicago, and New York, New York
Mamma Mia: Songs from the Broadway Musical
Amazon Price: $31.95 $20.96 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2016)
The musical Mamma Mia made the many classic hits of ABBA even more popular. The ABBA songs are great Karaoke songs.


Mar 7, 2013 7:39am
Hi--Like lot of people I used to love to sing even though I nev er was much of a signer and more of a howler. Nevertheless, way back when and I was a kid, my cousins and I used to hwl together and have a great time. Thanks for a great artcile and lots of memories. 2 BIG stars and a rating from me.
Apr 18, 2013 6:50pm
I've sung Karaoke when on a cruise. Seems like that's the only time I've had courage. :) Interesting article.
Apr 19, 2013 5:12am
Hi Marlando and KimChaos, Thank you for the comments!
Feb 2, 2014 8:28pm
Love karaoke... not singing, watching others. Some people are really good, others are not.
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  1. "Karaoke." wikipedia.org/wiki/Karaoke. 6/March/2013 <Web >

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