January 24, 2006
What is Festival ?
Festival is a free text to speech synthesizer developed by the Center for Speech Technology Research at the University of Edinburgh.
It is shipped with most Linux distributions and has been released under an X11-type license allowing unrestricted commercial and non-commercial use alike.
Text to speech synthesizer is a computer program that converts normal language text into speech.
Coming home after a hard day at work after staring at the monitor continuously for hours on end, the last thing I want to do many days is sit in front of the computer again. At times though, I have this urge to grab a book and do some light reading but often the strain on my eyes dissuades me in pursuing this thought any further. This is where this very nice utility called Festival comes into the picture.
Festival TTS Basic Usage
When you run festival, it converts the contents of a text file into voice. For example, if I want to read a letter (mail) which is residing in a text file (say letter.txt). I can let festival read it out loud for me as follows:
$ festival --tts letter.txt
One way I put this utility to good use is when I download a book in text format from Project Gutenberg. I start festival, close my eyes, relax and follow the narration.
Festival - A Few More Examples
Festival can be put to use in other ways too. For example, you can use it in batch process mode without any user interaction.
If festival is started with out passing any command line parameters, you are dropped into a shell where you can make festival read out what ever text you type on the command line. For instance, check the following examples:
$ festival festival> (SayText "Greetings from linuxhelp.blogspot.com")
You can ask Festival to read a text file for you.
festival> (tts "myfile.txt")
Pros & Cons of FestivalPros
- Available for Free under an open source license.
- The quality of the voice and the pronunciations are very good.
- Supports 3 languages - English, Spanish, and Welsh.
- When it encounters a word not in its vocabulary, it tends to spell the word rather than pronounce it.
- At present, it works only on text files. So if you intend to read a PDF document using festival, it won't work.
Festival is a very good text to speech synthesizer (converter). And it is available at an unbeatable price (Free).
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