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Karaoke building in Tokyo

Karaoke ( Jap. カラオケ ) is a globally recognized recreational activity and a party game from Japan , with the players for Instrumental - Playback known songs live singing into the microphone.


Karaoke was first practiced in Japan in the early 1970s and has since spread around the world. The expression is made up of the word Kara ( , dt. "Empty") and Oke as an abbreviation for "orchestra".

Karaoke was invented by Daisuke Inoue , who rented the first eleven self-made karaoke machines to bars in Kobe in 1971 (and received the Peace Ig Nobel Prize in 2004 ). Since he did not patent the concept and the devices and the playback tapes as well as the CDs were soon manufactured by companies in the entertainment industry, Daisuke earned practically nothing with his invention, which is now world famous.

Since the mid-1990s, interest in karaoke has also grown steadily in German-speaking countries. There has been a further increase since the beginning of 2000 through casting shows .

In the meantime, karaoke titles are also offered for download on the Internet so that they can then be played on various media ( PlayStation 2 , Xbox , DVD , personal computer, etc.). In addition, in times of social networking , karaoke communities can also be found on the World Wide Web . There you can leave your own performance “hidden” until you are satisfied with your own performance. Then i. d. Usually the evaluation by other community members. Since 2004 it has been possible to pursue this popular leisure activity in a slightly modified form on game consoles , with games such as SingStar (PlayStation), We Sing (Wii) and various modeled karaoke programs. The name is also used for other related forms of entertainment, e.g. B. Powerpoint karaoke , in which the participants give more or less funny presentations on Powerpoint presentations selected at random from the Internet, which they see for the first time during the performance. The latest trend from the USA is the so-called urban karaoke . Interactive mouths on the smartphone are used via a special app to create extraordinary music performances without having to sing yourself. The app imitates human singing and speaking movements of vowels and diphthongs on the basis of mathematical and quantitative linguistics , which are then output in the form of high-resolution video material in real time .

The “world record” in karaoke singing was set in 2008 in a Finnish karaoke club in Kouvala near Helsinki. The singers sang there from July 2nd to 20th, 2008 for exactly 446 hours, 4 minutes and 6 seconds.


Karaoke facility in a karaoke house in Tokyo

The music played is recorded without a singing voice; special karaoke CDs , mostly in CD + G format, are played. In addition to the instrumental versions of the pieces of music, these also contain the text information. When playing the CD, the singer and the audience hear the music, the singer can read the text on a screen and sing to the music. For orientation purposes, the text passage to be sung is usually marked in color or with an animation. Often behind the text instead of the original music video, a video specially shot by the relevant company or a random animation runs, which saves the manufacturer the additional license that would otherwise be required. The latest generations are so-called all-in-one karaoke systems (Magic Sing, Magic Mic, Magic Singalong). The music selection is stored on an exchangeable, non-rewritable song chip in the microphone, which reduces the amount of equipment needed to use it significantly reduced.

Another inexpensive option is to play karaoke music through the computer's sound card . There is a large number of karaoke players, most of which work with special MIDI files . In addition to the music information, these files also contain the lyrics and typically have the file extension .KAR (instead of .MID). Both the playback programs and many music files are partly also available free of charge as freeware .

Karaoke bars

Entrance hall of a K-TV in Taipei , Taiwan
Karaoke in an Irish pub in Hamburg-Harburg

In Asia it is quite common to rent special karaoke booths. These cabins offer space for groups of different sizes, depending on their size. In contrast to public events, this discreet option also offers protection from uninvited or strange guests. There is a vocal system, a comfortable selection computer with a playlist and room service. Many hotel rooms and smaller pubs also have their own karaoke systems with sometimes over 100,000 titles. Cities like Taipei have their own K-TV houses with floors full of cabins. Like massage parlors and teahouses , K-TVs are also places of partly illegal prostitution in some countries .

Karaoke is common in Europe and is used in discos as well as holiday clubs. The rule here is that strangers also listen to the respective performance. Karaoke competitions are also becoming increasingly popular here.

Karaoke in South Korea

The South Korean name for karaoke is Norae ( kor. 노래 , "song"), the karaoke bars are called Noraebang ( 노래방 , "song room"). Usually there are a number of separate, soundproofed rooms for small to medium-sized groups.

Usually there are two microphones, a catalog listing the pieces of music available, a remote control for selecting songs, a projector and a screen on which the text and images are displayed. In addition to Korean songs, many songs are usually available in English, sometimes in other languages.

On the other hand, there are karaoke bars where people sing in front of everyone, including strangers. These are written in Japanese with "Karaoke" above the entrance door.

Pack singing

In Germany a special form of karaoke has developed, the pack singing. The name comes from the fact that not only the singers sing on stage, but the entire audience. The lyrics are projected onto a screen.

"Public Singing", which was developed by Johannes Brand in analogy to " Public Viewing ", works according to the same principle as Rudelsingen .

Karaoke computer games and software

Karaoke in the movie


  • Sabine Wienker-Piepho : Now they're singing again. Karaoke in Germany. In: Carola Lipp (Ed.): Festschrift for Rolf Wilhelm Brednich. Campus, Frankfurt 1995, pp. 219-229.

Individual evidence

  1. Barbara Haschke, Gothild Thomas: Small lexicon of German words of Japanese origin from Aikido to Zen. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56813-8 , keyword karaoke .
  2. Felix Lee: Prostitution in China - The City of Concubines. . In: taz of August 11, 2008
  3. Karaoke in Korea ( Memento of the original from November 19, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.exploringkorea.com
  4. For the joy of singing: Over 500 people from Münster in pack singing by David Rauterberg. In: Westfälische Nachrichten. February 14, 2014, accessed November 18, 2016 .
  5. Mein-Krefeld: “Sing mal!” With Johannes Brand. Retrieved July 14, 2017 .

Web links

Commons : Karaoke  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Karaoke  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations