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electronic MUSICIAN

Option-Click: Ableton...Office?

By David Battino | May 11, 2010

You can make an interactive text-to-speech synthesizer reminiscent of Ableton Live''s Clip view in Microsoft Excel. I added playback controls to the Quick Access toolbar.

You can make an interactive text-to-speech synthesizer reminiscent of Ableton Live''s Clip view in Microsoft Excel. I added playback controls to the Quick Access toolbar.

Once at the Project Bar-B-Q computer-music conference, I wondered why so many music programs look like spreadsheets. That prompted Ron Kuper, then CTO of Cakewalk, to simulate a DAW in Microsoft Excel as a joke. He even wrote a macro to trigger WAV files from selected cells.

I never quite figured out how he did that, but I did discover a simpler and more interactive way to trigger sound in Excel (Windows versions). Just fill some cells with text and enable the Speak Cells on Enter command (details at bit.ly/XLspeak). The Windows speech synthesizer will then speak the words in the selected cell every time you hit the Enter key (see image above). You can also type new words on the fly and trigger them with the Tab key: Simply enable Speak Cells by Rows to blurt out cells sequentially.

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