Pitch correction also known as “Auto-tune” is software used heavily in today’s popular music world. It is plug-in software that is added to industry leading recording programs such as Protools, Logic and Cubase. “When used properly it corrects the intonation of pitches without altering any other aspects of sound.
Pitch correction is mostly used in studios to adjust vocal lines. In rare cases it is used to correct a note played on an instrument or for live performance (Daley, 2003). ” It arrived on the scene in 1997 and was first strongly noticed in the 1998 song “Believe” by Cher.
Auto-Tune was initially created by Andy Hildebrand, an engineer working for Exxon. Hildebrand developed methods for interpreting seismic data, and subsequently realized that the technology could be used to detect, analyze, and modify pitch (Jones, 2008). ” Pitch and frequency are not the same but are closely related. In the context of this analysis, when a singer hits a note the note has a fundamental frequency. “For instance, the note A above middle C has a frequency of 440 Hz. When the singer is off slightly, say hitting a pitch of 430 Hz, the software can correct the note and put it in key (Tech, N/A). This is beneficial to singers who track an outstanding vocal performance but stumble on a few notes.
Few singers are perfect and sometimes artists miss the note they are trying to sing by being slightly sharp or flat. The musical scale is divided into twelve pitches each dived by a semitone. With auto-tune the user picks the key of the song; out of tune notes in the vocal line are adjusted to the correct notes in the key.
The software is able to fix the pitch without altering speed. Normally by changing frequencies, audio will be sped up or slowed down and will give the “chipmunk” or “slow-mo” sounding vocal effect.Pitch correction software today is able to put the note to the right pitch, the exact frequency, and save the duration of the vocal track. There are many pros and cons to pitch correction. A positive is that it is used to save time in the studio. Rather than doing another take of a vocal track that is a little off, notes can be adjusted. Great performances with the exception of one or two notes can be saved. Also, artists today are overwhelmed by pressure.
With the popularity of the internet media is consumed very fast. Artists need to push out single after single to stay popular and current.Artists are given x amount of days to record x amount of songs. If an artist is sick or unable to perform to their fullest potential the software can help boost the sound of what would be a hideous vocal performance.
When used in low doses pitch correction software can save the tone or grit of an artist’s natural voice, whether it is raw and raspy or calm and quiet, and fix slight problems with pitch. Critics often knock auto-tune technology by saying that it is dishonest. It can make a singer that is not so great a superstar.The need for genuine talent is dwindling when anyone can sound perfect. Today auto-tune is being abused. Singers, engineers and producers jump to use this tool rather than tracking the performance until it is right.
Auto tune has become standard practice and is thought to have ruined the music industry. Artists in the pre auto tune era had to be good. The software takes out natural stresses in the vocal chords and makes perfect sustained notes. Not only is it used in studio software, but is now made as a hardware mount that microphones are put through before entering the ears of a live audience.
The technology had to be banned by the fox singing show the “X-factor” because after the show was filmed the audio would be run through pitch correction software and every contestant was perfect (Tech, N/A). The human ear is adjusting to this technology and soon it will be hard for our ears to listen to dry natural vocals. Sometimes it is used so frequently that the vocal performances do not even sound natural. Some artists protest this technology. Very few do for its ability to make a flawless performance with great ease and the click of a button.
Jay-Z titled a song on his album The Blue Print 3 “D. O. A.
(Death of Auto Tune. ) Indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie wore ribbons protesting its use as well. Christina Aguilera was seen in public in 2009 wearing a T-shirt that read “Auto Tune is for *******. ” (Mclaughlin, 2010) Other artists use auto-tune as a vocal effect. The percentage of auto tune used in a vocal performance can be adjusted. Good singers use around 10 percent to smooth out sustained notes and make note to note jumps a smoother transition.
Artist “T-pain” is known for using auto-tune at full blast. This gives his voice a “twangy” robotic effect often heard in popular music today; as I mentioned early first noticed in the 1998 hit “Believe” by Cher. Even Kanye West who built a career as a talented rapper threw it all out the window for an Auto Tune based album (Mclaughlin, 2010). Here is a further look on how it works: This is one line of a song being sung. The notes in white are the in key notes or the producers desired notes for the song; any note can be added or taken away from the scale.
Notice the second note being sung is in the black. This could mean one of two things; the singer is singing an out of key note, or the auto tune is set to a major key and the singers vocal run was meant to have a minor build up to or feel to it. In this case the key is chromatic, the producer picks the notes and the singer may have meant to sing that particular note. Sustained notes are able to be chopped up and make a word or phrase multiple notes. This is effective when untalented singers attempt to go up and down a scale for a vocal run.The singer can sustain one note; it can be corrected to an in key note and then chopped up into as many parts as the producer desires to give that gorgeous girl who cannot sing the vocal appeal she is looking for.
Tone is also able to be adjusted using the bottom knobs. The most popular would be the vibrato knob. If a singer wants a vibrato sound like Whitney Houston the knob can be turned from zero up to positive 100. If the singer has a natural vibrato to their voice that they do not like and would like to have more sustained notes the knob can be turned from zero down to negative 100.Pitch correction software allows users to extend the note longer if the singer cannot hold the note and shorter if the singer held the note for too long. The two industry leading softwares for pitch correction are Antares Auto-Tune and Melodyne. These programs allow users to do everything mentioned above and more.
Those new to auto tune can find free plug-ins such as “G-snap” where the user can simply pick the key of the song and the notes will be corrected to the nearest in key note.The only problem with this is that if a singer is really off pitch the desired note cannot be picked and if an out of key note is performed on purpose it cannot stay in its original form unless it is on a separate track without the auto tune plug-in turned on. The software is a fun and easy tool to use. It is a shame that most singers are relying on this software to do performances they are uncap able of. The effect is really taking its toll on the untrained ear and eventually the natural voice will sound hideous because it is not perfect.The APA estimates about one in every ten thousand people having absolute or perfect pitch (Dingfelder, 2005).
This gift is not for everyone and technology is giving this genuine talent to untalented beauties all over the globe. Bibliography Daley, D. (2003, October 12). Vocal Fixes. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Sound on Sound: http://www. soundonsound. com/sos/oct03/articles/vocalfixes. htm Dingfelder, S.
(2005, February). Most people show elements of absolute pitch. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from American Psychological Association: http://www. apa. rg/monitor/feb05/absolute.
aspx Jones, S. (2008, June 9). The Gerbil’s revenge. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from New York Times: http://www. newyorker.
com/arts/critics/musical/2008/06/09/080609crmu_music_frerejones? currentPage=all Mclaughlin, D. (2010, August 23). Pros and cons of Auto-tune. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from helium. com: http://www.
helium. com/items/1931464-is-auto-tune-good-or-bad? page=2 Tech, A. (N/A). How does auto-tune pitch correction work? Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Physics. org: http://www.
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