Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Creating an audio blog reply using Festival

I listened to Dave Winer's Coffee Notes for 24-Oct-2004 podcast on the way home tonight and felt compelled to reply to him with an audio reply email about Richard Scoble/Scooble's voice mail. Here is how I created it.

* Get the Festival Speech Synthesis package for your Debian GNU/Linux box

$ sudo apt-get install festival

[...bunch of status about installing a festival and dependancies removed...]

* Create a snappy reply. I like emacs. This is exactly what hi-dave.txt looks like:

Hi Dave!

This is Marc No-zell and I just listened to your Coffee Talk with
Richard Scoble. It sounds like Microsoft's voice mail system is using
a descendant of the DECK-talk system that was created by DECK in the

I'm creating this audio reply using the Festival Speech Synthesis
System on my Deb-ian GNU Linux laptop. Neener, neener, neener!

Well, thanks for the Coffee Notes!

Now I did do a little cheating here. Festival follows strict pronunciation rules and sometimes gets words wrong. For example my surname would be said as 'nozzel', so I spell it how I want it to sound. The same is true for DECtalk and DEC, which sounds like 'dec-tork' and 'december' (trying to be a little too clever ;-)

* Convert from text to wave format:

$ text2wave hi-dave.txt -o hi-dave.wav

* Convert from wav to mp3 format

$ lame hi-dave.wav hi-dave.mp3

* Listen to the result:

$ xmms hi-dave.mp3


  1. Just in case you ever get near a Mac OSX machine, do a 'man say' to see the man page on the built in 'say' command. I think it's derivative of the older Mac OS 9 speech synthesis engine and it's pretty decent. It allows you to select voice, a file of text to be spoken (or a string in the command), and can output direct to the speaker or to an AIFF file. From there I guess you could mp3 it with any number of command line or GUI tools.

    I used to love using it to spook my daughter while she was playing one of her edutainment CD-ROM games. Just a quick ssh into the iMac followed by "say Abby you should go to bed now" at the remote unix shell really had her going. ;-)

    Podcasting ... yet another reason for me to look into getting an iPod. But doesn't Apple have enough of my $$ already? :-P

    Hope you caught the eclipse tonight (between watching the game innings...) I did some more hacking of my webnotes stats feature while waiting for the eclipse to hit its peak. My first major dabbling in a dynamically rendered page (all in python, no less).

  2. Very cool. Hadn't even crossed my mind to do something like this. So many possibilities with this festival tool. With the right scripts, you could setup a secret little obscure email address that you can email everytime you want to post an audio blog entry.

    For those who want to actually record their own voice, I once proposed that you can record a voice mail on your free SIPphone.com account and have it auto-forwarded to an email address where you can do what you please with the audio -- e.g. have a script to automatically convert the wav file to mp3 and update to a blog.

  3. it would be better with other languages support, but thanks..

  4. link does not work (Coffee Notes for 24-Oct-2004).

  5. Other languages would be nice to have them in as well, I agree.