10 Inspirational Graphics About karaoke

Karaoke is a popular form of entertainment in which amateur singers sing along with pre-recorded music accompanied with a synchronized video display of the song's lyrics.

Karaoke first appeared in Japan in the early 1970's and the term 'Karaoke' is a portmanteau of the Japanese words 'kara' ('empty') and 'okesutora' ('orchestra').

In the 1990's Karaoke spread from Asia to the west including the United States and began to appear in bars and nightclubs. As its popularity increased more establishments began investing in Karaoke equipment and an industry formed around the creation of Karaoke versions of popular songs and equipment and technology to produce these shows. Businesses began offering Karaoke on specific scheduled nights, some eventually started to offer Karaoke 7 days a week and became known as 'Karaoke Bars'.

Basically the equipment used for Karaoke include a device for playing the Karaoke media, click here one or more microphones (wired or wireless), a video monitor (or TV) to display the song lyrics and a public address system to mix and play the singer and background music. Consumer level Karaoke systems are usually self contained single units which include all the above, bar or professional systems utilize more specialized components including multiple video monitor displays, multi-channel mixers, effects processors, amplifiers and powerful speaker systems. These systems often include the ability to add echo/reverb to the singer's voice and/or modify the 'key' of the background music. Modifying the 'Key' of the background music basically lowers or raises the notes of the song by a fixed value; this allows the KJ to match the songs 'key' to the singer's range.

In a bar or other commercial Karaoke venue, the Karaoke system is usually operated by a 'Karaoke Jockey' or 'KJ'. A 'KJ' is analogous to a 'Disc Jockey' or 'DJ', with the difference that he manages the submission of patron song requests, controls the order of singers and announces/introduces each singer in turn. KJs may work directly for the establishment or may work as an independent contractor servicing several different venues on different nights and may additionally provide KJ/DJ services for private events and parties.

Karaoke music today is available in various formats, the most popular and wide spread format is known as 'CD+G' which is a normal laser CD which has been encoded to add the lyrics and graphic display seen on karaoke monitors (i.e. '+G' for +Graphics). Karaoke has also been provided on DVD media which due to its larger storage volume allow for many more songs on a single disk (one example is 'Super CD+G' from the CAVS company). Specialized CD/DVD players are required to read these disks although some recent consumer DVD players have the added feature of reading these formats.

Recently with the digital age of encoding songs in formats such as 'MP3' for playback on computers has ushered in the conversion of Karaoke music into the format known as 'MP3+G'. The MP3+G format consists of two files for each song; the background music in traditional MP3 format and the lyrics/graphics stored as an encoded CDG file. Since MP3+G files are relatively small, a large number can be stored on conventional computer media. A typical Karaoke library of hundreds of CD+G Compact Disks can easily be stored on compact computer hard drives the size of a pack of cigarettes or a paperback novel.

Today more and more KJs are utilizing the MP3+G karaoke format, with a system comprised of a computer (i.e. laptop), a storage device along with typical mixer, microphones, an amplifier and speakers. PC software for playback of the MP3+G files ranges from full featured commercial KJ hosting applications to simple plug-ins for MP3 players (e.g. Win Amp, Windows Media Player, etc.) which add the ability to read the MP3+G format.

So what can you expect at a typical Karaoke show? Typically you will find that the KJ will make available one or more books which list the available songs by either song title and/or artist name. You then usually fill out a song request slip including the singer's name(s), the title of your song, and dependent on the KJ, either song artist, song (disk) number (if the KJ is using CD/DVD media) or request for key change (i.e. +1, -2, etc.). You then present this slip to the KJ.

KJs use various methods to order singer requests, but typically it is some form of 'first come, first serve' rotation. Singers are also usually restricted to submitting only one song request at a time and may submit a new request once they sing. The KJ will announce/introduce each singer by name, you then present yourself to the KJ, and he will provide you a microphone and start the song playback. The song lyrics will appear on the video monitor and typically will change color in sync with the background music to assist the singer with his place in the lyrics.

People who enjoy karaoke come from all walks of life and all levels of musical talent. Karaoke is a social activity; although everyone tries to sing their best, the purpose is to participate and enjoy the experience not to audition for a TV Idol show. Singers often speak of feeding off the energy of a crowd, and no matter what your skill, doing karaoke gives you a chance to tap into that energy and here lies the addiction of karaoke.

So come out and if needed, build up your courage with a few drinks, grab a microphone and get ready for a great time.