Friday, March 26, 2010

Death to Autotune

Auotune has become a scourge for the music of this generation. It is everywhere...and I mean everywhere. As a bit of an experiment recently I listened to a top 30 countdown on the radio and I can safely say that 70% used autotune and that was only the very noticeable effects it is used for. Who knows what other rubbish singers are using it because they have no talent.

In case you don't know what autotune is this is from Wikipedia
"Auto-Tune uses a phase vocoder to correct pitch in vocal and instrumental performances. It is used to disguise off-key inaccuracies and mistakes, and has allowed singers to perform perfectly tuned vocal tracks without the need of singing in tune. While its main purpose is to slightly bend sung pitches to the nearest true semitone (to the exact pitch of the nearest tone in traditional equal temperament), Auto-Tune can be used as an effect to distort the human voice when pitch is raised or lowered significantly."

There is also this pretty cool video featuring Weird Al which explains autotune. I found it fascinating that it was actually designed to use sound waves to find oil reserves in the ocean.

If you can't imagine the sound of autotune think of Cher's song "Believe". You know the one.."Do you beli...iiiieve in life after love.." This was the first time autotune was used in commercial music that was a hit. The producers wanted to keep this sound tweaking effect a secret so for years they just claimed that it was a vocoder and talkbox that made the effect.

I am not totally against autotune. Used sparingly it can be quite effective however it seems that it is being used as a masking device for really crap singers. Think Ke$ha Tik Tok (btw anyone who makes me hold down the shift key in the middle of their name is just naff). I have heard Ke$ha sing "live". She is autotuned to within an inch of her life. When she wasn't being autotuned I just wished she would shut up or just turn the autotune back on.

From idio mag
Seattle- based indie rockers, Death Cab for Cutie took up a cause at the 51st annual Grammy awards this year, by sporting light blue ribbons on their jackets to protest the use of Auto-Tune. Auto-Tune is a software program that digitally corrects the pitch of a singer's voice, and according to Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard, it's been over used. "I think over the last 10 years, we've seen a lot of good musicians being affected by this newfound digital manipulation of the human voice, and we feel enough is enough."

Of course the title of my post was inspired by Jay Z who has the song "Death of Autotune". Jay Z has been quoted as saying "I just think in hip-hop, when a trend becomes a gimmick, it's time to move on. I saw a Wendy's commercial and they're using Auto-Tune. They're joking on it. It's like, OK, enough of that ... It was a trend, it was cool in the beginning. Some people made great music with it, now it's time to move on."

 So next time you have the radio on take notice of how many tracks are autotuned. Otherwise if you have an iphone you can download a T-pain app which allows you to autotune your own voice.
Below is a clip from South Park about Kayne West. Not only was this a piss take about Kanye as his douchey self but also the over use of autotune. I also just wanted to post it here because it is hella funny.

1 comment:

  1. I think it may even be worse than you fear. A lot of respectable producers although they scorn Autotune, they will still manually "tune" their artists. It's the same result, but less noticeable, other than every singer is absolutely pitch perfect 100% of the time.


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