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Karaoke

Karaoke (カラオケ) is an entertainment technology that electronically changes the pitch of music so that amateur singers can sing along to any music source by choosing a key that is appropriate for individual's vocal range.

The word stems from the words: "kara" (空) which means 'empty' (same as in Karate) and "oke" which is short for 'orchestra'. The words together make a contraction meaning 'empty orchestra' literally. The term is half Japanese and half English and is considered a foreign word as a whole and hence usually written in katakana. The term karaoke can be intepreted as "virtual orchestra" because one can specify a key to the music and start singing along without the presence of a live band or orchestra. In the United States, the word is often pronounced incorrectly as CARE-REE-OH-KEE. The proper Japanese pronunciation is KA-RA-UH-KEH.

The most bare-bone karaoke machine consists of an audio input, a pitch alternation switch and an audio output. Some advanced machines provide vocal suppression so that one can feed regular songs into the machine to filter out or greatly suppress the voice of the original singer. Most common machines are audio mixers with microphone input built-in with CD-G[?], VCD, Laser Disc[?], or DVD players which play with special media that encode the original song in one audio track and music only in another track. The video media also enable the display of the lyrics graphically on screen in sync with the music. In some countries, karaoke with video lyrics display capablities is also called KTV.

The industry started in Japan in the early 1970s. The fad spreaded to the rest of Asia and then to the United States in the 90s. Facilities such as karaoke bars, or KTV parlors provide the venue, equipment and software for amateur singers to entertain or 'torture' each other. Its popularity has spread to the United States and other Western countries, where some people still regard it as purely a method for the intoxicated to embarrass themselves, but as the novelty has worn off many now take it slightly more seriously.

In the Internet, the standard file format is *.KAR. One can play only the music of *.kar files (this is, without viewing text) changing the extension to *.mid

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