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The Intriguing History of Karaoke

Karaoke is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in pubs and bars in Britain: it is easy to install, either with a bought karaoke machine with tracks on a database and projector screen or a hired professional karaoke machine, like those we provide here at London Disco Hire. There is nothing like karaoke to bring a group of people together: people can have a laugh, show off skills and get everyone involved. Blasting out a good tune with a group of friends invokes memories attached to the song, and also brings new meaning to it.


The Origins of Karaoke

Karaoke technically existed long before it became a commercial success with designated equipment. When artists and bands record tracks, they record each instrument individually and then mix these accordingly, meaning separate voice and instrument tracks exist. Instrument only tracks are sometimes used in live performances when having the orchestra or full band isn’t practical.


There are two conflicting ideas of where Karaoke originated from: some say that the idea was promoted by an American sing-along show called “Sings Along with Mitch”. The host Mitch Millar played popular songs and lyrics were superimposed on the screen so viewers could sing at home. This was an early form of Karaoke although it involved whole groups singing as opposed to one vocalist.


According to various sources, Karaoke started in Kobe city in West Japan, hence the Japanese name.karaoke.jpg Karaoke is a clipped blend of the words "karappo" meaning empty, and "oke" is an abbreviation of "okesutura” meaning orchestra. Legend has it that the first form of Karaoke started in a cafe in Kobe city: the Japanese regularly provide music whilst eating but because the cafe owner had been regularly let down by musicians for illness or other reasons he prepared tapes of accompaniment recordings and other musicians or even customers sang along.


Technological Development
The development of the karaoke machine is attributed to Japanese drummer Daisuke Inoue. He was frequently by guests at the bar where he performed, to provide recordings of his performances so that they could sing along at home. Realizing the potential for the market, Inoue made a tape recorder-like machine costing 100 yen that played songs. Originally, he leased his machines out to restaurants and hotels and they caught on as popular entertainment.

In the 1990s tsuushin karaoke which means “communication karaoke” machines were created. These are similar to today’s karaoke machines where you can access songs from a remote, commercial content vendor. Before “communication karaoke”, singers only had access to the songs that were physically available on tapes or discs at a particular bar or restaurant.


Karaoke has come a long way since it’s advent in Kobe. From simple boxes that contained tapes of backing tracks, to juke-box type machines with a large database of songs, and finally we now have karaoke machines connected to computer hard drives and with internet access for endless song choices.


Karaoke is one of the most popular entertainment systems found in public places and makes for a fun, interactive night out. If you’re looking for karaoke hire in London, we have a comprehensive kit including touch screen song selection screen, Philips LCD screen and also a hard disk where extra songs can be added via USB or SD card. 

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