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Auto-Tune is for Pussies

Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 03:37 AM
Geoff the Duck 21 May 10 - 04:22 AM
Tangledwood 21 May 10 - 04:27 AM
Leadfingers 21 May 10 - 04:32 AM
Leadfingers 21 May 10 - 04:35 AM
Geoff the Duck 21 May 10 - 04:35 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 04:51 AM
Steve Hunt 21 May 10 - 04:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 May 10 - 06:03 AM
Leadfingers 21 May 10 - 06:16 AM
Richard Bridge 21 May 10 - 06:19 AM
Dave Hanson 21 May 10 - 06:19 AM
greg stephens 21 May 10 - 06:28 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Continuity Jones 21 May 10 - 06:39 AM
Richard Bridge 21 May 10 - 06:55 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 07:06 AM
matt milton 21 May 10 - 07:19 AM
matt milton 21 May 10 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Continuity Jones 21 May 10 - 07:49 AM
matt milton 21 May 10 - 08:06 AM
matt milton 21 May 10 - 08:08 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 08:11 AM
Stringsinger 21 May 10 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Continuity Jones 21 May 10 - 09:18 AM
treewind 21 May 10 - 10:03 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 May 10 - 10:39 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 11:00 AM
Mitch the Bass 21 May 10 - 11:23 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 11:32 AM
matt milton 21 May 10 - 12:02 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 21 May 10 - 02:49 PM
DonMeixner 21 May 10 - 03:06 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 03:12 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 03:30 PM
Murray MacLeod 21 May 10 - 03:40 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 06:38 PM
Jack Campin 21 May 10 - 06:47 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 06:51 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 07:05 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 May 10 - 07:33 PM
matt milton 21 May 10 - 07:48 PM
Crowhugger 21 May 10 - 07:49 PM
Dave MacKenzie 21 May 10 - 08:00 PM
Darowyn 22 May 10 - 04:34 AM
matt milton 22 May 10 - 05:56 AM
Crowhugger 22 May 10 - 07:45 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 May 10 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 May 10 - 09:11 AM
matt milton 22 May 10 - 09:31 AM
Mr Red 22 May 10 - 10:04 AM
Richard Bridge 22 May 10 - 03:47 PM
Richard Bridge 22 May 10 - 03:48 PM
Murray MacLeod 22 May 10 - 04:03 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 May 10 - 04:12 PM
Richard Bridge 22 May 10 - 06:39 PM
greg stephens 23 May 10 - 08:01 AM
Will Fly 23 May 10 - 08:10 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 23 May 10 - 09:07 AM
Highlandman 23 May 10 - 07:41 PM
Melissa 23 May 10 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 24 May 10 - 01:22 AM
mandotim 24 May 10 - 03:29 AM
treewind 24 May 10 - 04:00 AM
Darowyn 24 May 10 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 24 May 10 - 04:56 AM
matt milton 24 May 10 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,CS 24 May 10 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,CS 24 May 10 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,CS 24 May 10 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,Phil Beer 24 May 10 - 12:48 PM
DonMeixner 24 May 10 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Phil Beer 24 May 10 - 01:50 PM
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Subject: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 03:37 AM

I only just read about this story: Auto Tune is for Pussies (pic)

I noticed what I thought to be the near ubiquity of the use of electronic pitch correction - or 'auto-tune' - when watching a chart show thing (I rarely tune into the top forty anymore but just this once..) Loads of the vocals sounded plastic, dead and weird. Not in a "this is supposed to be a weird sounding robotic future voice" way - think Cher - but in a fake airbrushed smile way. So I decided to look it up. One blogger described it as 'plastic surgery' for the voice. And that sounds about right to me.

Well it seems that the auto-tune is turning up at concerts now too, including Country, which I assumed was a bit more err 'real'.
But there's been a recent public backlash among artists themselves. In 2009 pop diva Christina Aguilera wore the above T shirt out. And I must say she earned my respect for doing so (I've never really been a fan).

I guess I'm rather slow at picking up on the use of this kind of electronic vocal correction (mainly because I don't listen to mainstream pop) but I have to say, it's really rather depressing that it's become such a standard crutch for so many performers. And represents yet another nail in the coffin for real music, art and craft.

If the tide doesn't change and the 'backlash' fades away, it'll be rather interesting to see whether auto-tune's ubiquity in pop will spread, and indeed whether or not it will ever be used as a crutch for some performers in the folk genre too?

I would certainly hope not, but I'll be listening with interest...


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:22 AM

Probably worth discussion.
When I saw a Blue Clicky I was expecting one of the ubiquitous "cute cat" photos - puss and car engine... not a serious music thread. I'm with Aguilera on this one.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Tangledwood
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:27 AM

Hey that's great. Very soon I'll be able to speak words into a microphone and the software will convert it to a song and correct any of my timing errors in the process. :)


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:32 AM

As so much (particularly UK) Folk is purely acoustic , this is not a problem we are going to be involved in . And I was wondering what the cost of adding Auto Tune to a ound system would be !!


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:35 AM

Oops ! Should edit more carefully ! Sound System


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:35 AM

LF - If the song came out "in tune" how would we know it was you!
Quack!
Geoff.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:51 AM

Like I said, I'm clearly pretty late in catching on here. But in regards to autotune and folk genre, this commentator has some interesting thoughts: Forget Autotune - the Indie Folk Movement

"A folk revival within the indie-rock music space has been in the works for almost a decade now. Bands like My Morning Jacket and Bright Eyes have incorporated many of the sounds and sensibilities of traditional American folk music into their songs. More recently, though, indie-folk is getting more attention from the media and thus is starting to make waves in charts.
[...]
Why have music reviewers and bloggers alike taken such an interest in these bands? I believe the interest in "indie-folk" is a response to two different discourses taking place in society, one relating to music and art specifically, the other relating to mass culture in general.
The first discourse that seems to be taking place involves the authenticity of new music. In an era where musicians are trading in instruments for pro-tools software and pop artists are auto-tuning every note they sing, many seem to be wondering whether new music can even be looked at as art. This debate hit the mainstream this summer when Jay-Z released the song "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)." I believe this particular movement has played a role in the transition of indie-folk into the mainstream. In a time when people are rejecting music because it is inauthentic, it makes sense that music that mainly features just acoustic guitar and natural vocal talents would be popular."


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 21 May 10 - 04:54 AM

Crow Sister wrote: "...and indeed whether or not it will ever be used as a crutch for some performers in the folk genre too?"

It is used, albeit usually very lightly, all the time in recordings of folk artists already. There are hugely varying degrees to which electronic pitch correction can be used. In the case of most folk albums it's probably just employed very gently to round-off a slight pitch imperfection in one or two individual sung notes where it's thought that the overall emotional quality of the performance may be lost by attempting a repeat take. It isn't used as an across-the board method of trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (which inevitably results in the plastic, fake-airbrushed smile voices that Crow Sister describes).

Personally, I don't mind a bit of "imperfection" in a recording (eg I've always loved Phil Lesh's "wobbly" bass intro in "Friend Of The Devil" (which would surely be caught and re-done these days) and things like the Heron albums recorded in a field, and the sounds emanating now from Liam Watson's Toerag studios) but vocal glitches do stand out, and can quickly become very irritating to the listener. If this happens, the singer can either choose to repeat the entire perfomance until it is pitch-perfect, attempt to "drop-in" a better note from a different take (which may sound un-natural) or use the studio technology to correct a few (very slight) pitch discrepancies. The idea of using pitch-correction during live performance is an abomination IMO! So go get 'em, Christina...

If you attend any informal folk (or old-time, bluegrass, whatever) session, almost every guitar, banjo, madolin, bouzouki etc player will have a little electronic tuner that they can pop on the headstock of their instrument, whereas in the past they would all have had to tune by ear to either a tuning fork or to a note from a fixed-pitch instrument such as a piano or accordion. I suppose that these devices can be viewed as either a "crutch" or a "boon" too!

Interesting discussion topic - thanks.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:03 AM

What a ridiculous idea, to misuse technology in this way. There should be a health warning hung round the neck of any singer or musician who goes in for it.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:16 AM

As Steve Hunt says , a 'clean up' of a recording in a MINIMAL form is fine - A repeated bad note or harmony on a CD CAN become annoying
but a lot of the enjoyment I get from a live performance is the occasional glitch ( Boosts MY Ego a lot) AND the recovery there from , which is always worth noting !

And thanks for the vote of confidence Geoff !


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:19 AM

There's a whole lot of people who put a Sabine in the rack, live.   I think Digitech are doing them as well. I was listening to canned music in Wickes the builder's merchant the other day and there were some horrifying off-harmonies in the recording being played. Lesser of two evils, it seems to me.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:19 AM

OK what is Auto Tune then ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:28 AM

So, this "putting a Sabine in the rack, live". Some ancient Roman atrocity?
Can someone explain what this might be, to the technologically challenged?


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:36 AM

"what is Auto Tune then"

Software to artificially adjust a singers pitch. It can be used as an intentional effect, creating an electronic robotic sounding vocal - which is fine I guess, particularly in electronic based music - or as we're discussing here, for artificially correcting imperfections in the natural sung voice. The resultant effect IMO is a bit like saccharin in food, it tastes sweet but it don't taste good.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Continuity Jones
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:39 AM

That Robert Plant & Alison Krauss album sounded auto-tuned to buggery. Such a shame as one would expect singers of their calibre would (a) be against such things (b) be able to sing! Perhaps they had limited studio time.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:55 AM

Sabine make rackmount pitch correction modules as well as doing pitch correction software plug-ins. Last time I looked they were dear, at about a grand a pop.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:06 AM

There are free auto-tune downloads online, for anyone who wants to search for them..


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:19 AM

"There's a whole lot of people who put a Sabine in the rack, live.   I think Digitech are doing them as well. I was listening to canned music in Wickes the builder's merchant the other day and there were some horrifying off-harmonies in the recording being played. Lesser of two evils, it seems to me."

For me, I'd always rather hear a bum note than the weird, jarring, alienating quality that auto-tune lends to a vocal.

The best (worst) example of auto-tune is in the programme Glee. If you're not sure what we're talking about in this thread, just watch an episode of that programme and pay attention to the timbre of the voices.

It's a weird sensation, hearing an auto-tuned voice - it adds a glissando quality to the singing, and just an ever-so-slightly tinny quality to the sound, though tinny isn't quite the right word. It's a bit like suddenly noticing that there's actually a pane of glass in the really nice view you were just looking at.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:27 AM

I wouldn't be too confident that auto-tune won't impinge upon folk recordings.

It's quite a normative thing, rapidly becoming just an 'industry standard' thing to do.

I won't name names, but there are a couple of big-name UK folk albums I've listened to recently where it did sound as if auto-tune was being used.

Should this matter? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because I do think auto-tune adds a horrible patina of "mainstream pop" to everything it touches, making the music sound intrinsically conservative and "careerist".

No, because the artists in question weren't really making music I liked anyway and were very much at the pop crossover end of the folk scale (I can't imagine Alasdair Roberts or Martin Carthy ever using auto-tune, to give one example).


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Continuity Jones
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:49 AM

Matt Milton,
Of course it's your perogative, but I'm curious to hear which big name UK folk albums you mean? I mentioned earlier I strongly suspected the Plant / Krauss album had been...


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 21 May 10 - 08:06 AM

I'll PM you. I suspect if I named names it'd hijack the thread, and we'd just end up with a "singer X is brilliant"/"no, singer X is crap" tug of war.

One thing I'm starting to wonder about though, is I think we might be starting to hear, ironically, a generation of kids emulating the timbre and glissando qualities of auto-tune in learning to sing.

Meaning that listening to a lot of auto-tuned pop may well end up producing a generation of singers who actually have very stable and accurate pitch, but not a whole lot of character to their voices.

One might think that a singer that sounds like they've been auto-tuned but who actually hasn't would be a good thing. For me it's not. Because auto-tune corrects pitch in a very flattening manner. What an engineer would call 'subtle' auto-tune still sounds like a sledgehammer to me.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 21 May 10 - 08:08 AM

...CJ, I can't PM you because you're a guest not a member


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 08:11 AM

Matt: "there are a couple of big-name UK folk albums I've listened to recently where it did sound as if auto-tune was being used. ... [they] were very much at the pop crossover end of the folk scale"

This doesn't exactly surprise me too much I must confess. As you say, it seems to have become a standard process for commercial music. Though not being much of a listener to modern folk, I can't say as I've really noticed it - though I could hazard a guess or two at names.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 May 10 - 09:18 AM

Antares is what John McCutcheon calls the "pitch bitch". I think it may help on some
recordings but overuse sounds unnatural and mechanical.

Auto-tune was a funny when The Gregory Brothers used it on Katie Couric's speeches
and others. It was great political satire.

Like any sound technology, it has to do with how it's used.

My old arranging teacher used to say, "The effect of any musical device is
inversely proportional to the amount of its usage".

Translation: over tech use can hurt a performance.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Continuity Jones
Date: 21 May 10 - 09:18 AM

yes, not a member. Keep on meaning to get around to it. One of these days. I can see why you'd want to avoid posting names.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: treewind
Date: 21 May 10 - 10:03 AM

If you're not familiar with the sound of grossly overdone autotune watch any of the you tube videos of Autotune the News for a laugh.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 10:22 AM

Matt - I've PM'd you.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 May 10 - 10:39 AM

1. I suspect Auto-tune is the reason I can't understand the lyrics of pop tunes. I think the singer sings the words naturally, then Auto-tune distorts them to tune them.

2. I was in Office Depot, and I made a comment to the clerk about the particularly ugly vocal that was being played. As Matt Milton commented upthread, there was a glissando quality to it. The clerk said, "That's Christina Aguilera. I don't like her either."

Whether her awful singing was a the result of AutoTune or not, I can't say, but I don't have much respect for her judgment in the matter either way.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 11:00 AM

You might not like her style Leeneia, but she can sing!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hYi4bxaMbs
I think what's interesting about the point she made via T Shirt, was that she didn't need to make it very loudly..


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Mitch the Bass
Date: 21 May 10 - 11:23 AM

I work at a college where we teach music, music technology, recording, music production, etc. up to foundation degree level.

Autotune is not generally available on the 50 plus music workstations where students learn the technology of music production but it is available in the three studios along with a whole host of hardware and software effects.

It's used in some music genres as an "effect", to produce a particular sound but it's also used to correct errors which should have been fixed at recording. If it's used properly the end result is a fixed track and it's often used just on a single note to bring it back into line complete with the original pitch and amplitude modulation. In the final mix you may never know that it's been used.

I've used it and had it used on my tracks but hopefully you will never know by listening to the final product but some, predominantly vocalist see it as a slur on their abiliy if you say I'll just use autotune to bring that last note into pitch.

We have no problem with EQ and reverb, compression and a whole host of other effects used to make commercial recordings (or maybe we do?). Why not a little tweeking of the pitch.


However, on the subject of compression I'm much more concerned about the "loudness wars" where ever more intelligent compressors are used to make a track sound louder overall. I think I saw a "Dynamic Range Day" advertised recently. Perhaps I missed it. I'll go and get my ear plugs.

Mitch


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 11:32 AM

"We have no problem with EQ and reverb, compression and a whole host of other effects used to make commercial recordings (or maybe we do?)."

It'd be interesting to hear from sound engineers used to working with folk artists on this... But I think most folkies ("we" being Mudcat members presumably?) don't really dig heaps of reverb or other effects on vocals.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 21 May 10 - 12:02 PM

Mitch - I'd be genuinely curious if you could name an example of a commercial recording that, in your opinion, is a subtle use of auto-tune. One on which you might not even realize auto-tune had been used. Simply because I hear it said so often that auto-tune software is getting increasingly sophisticated, yet whenever I notice auto-tune, I always REALLY notice auto-tune.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 01:39 PM

YouTube selection of pop/rock snippets of usage of artificial electronic 'tweaking' of imperfect vocal pitch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzUHKagIhoA&NR=1

I think a couple of the examples might be intentional - but even that 'effect' sounds pretty damn passe IMO - in fact it didn't even sound good when Cher did it.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 21 May 10 - 02:49 PM

As a singer and part-time engineer who's recorded a fair bit of folk/acoustic oriented music over the years, I'm of the opinion that if you're aiming to create a natural-sounding recording- ie a representation of a "real" performance- you shouldn't need to resort to such trickery. But anyone who's spent time in a studio will know that recordings are often made in less-than-ideal conditions, under time pressure, by human beings who have off-days. Pitch correction is one way to get more consistently good results in those conditions and properly done, it can be pretty transparent, as well as a darn sight quicker than re-recording the same line time after time. Some may see that as dishonest, but is a single live take with a bit of pitch correction here and there somehow less honest than a "comp" made out of bits of seventeen different takes recorded verse by verse, line by line, syllable by syllable? Both create the same illusion- that of a single, "perfect" performance. I'd venture to say it happens more than you might think, even (shock! horror!) in folk music.

At the other extreme there's the deliberate use of Autotune as an effect in its own right, a different matter altogether. Any technology opens up new creative possibilities. The "robotic voice" effect is a bit old-hat now (Cher's I Believe was 12 years ago) but there are loads of other less obvious things you can do with it- it's not just for vocals.. The real problem is the routine, unquestioned overuse of it, regardless of whether it's actually necessary. Producers these days are becoming like the proverbial fool with a hammer who thinks everything's a nail. Because you *can* produce perfectly "in-tune" vocals, people think they *should*. Then everyone gets used to the sound, and forgets what a really good singer actually sounds like. And someone who can't hold a tune in a bucket finds they can sound *almost* as good with a box of tricks, and no-one trusts a perfectly good singer to actually be in control of their own voice.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: DonMeixner
Date: 21 May 10 - 03:06 PM

I'll go on record with those who will say Auto-Tune is a great device to use in the studio. It never crossed my mind to use it on stage.

Don


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 03:12 PM

I really would have thought - considering the exceeding simplicity of most folk song melody, that the need of any *half decent* professional folk singer for pitch correction, would be essentially nil.

We're not describing elaborate arias or avant-garde choral pieces here after all!


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 03:30 PM

Mind you there is an upside! I decided not to try to learn how to sing Sean-Nos, because it's very highly ornamented and so requires a high degree of control - but now with the help of this super-duper auto-tune tech I can become an automatic celtic deva just like Celtic Woman! Add a bit of Enya stylee mega-reverb & no-one will notice that I can't speak Gaelic!

Seriously though, it's interesting to hear from pro voices - especially those involved in recording. But I'm yet to be convinced myself...


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 21 May 10 - 03:40 PM

You would have thought wrong, Crow Sister.

I know of one critically acclaimed folk album on which one particular unaccompanied track (by solo singer) resulted in a drop of a full semitone from start to finish.

The producer had to use Autotune to correct it, no other option, ( but he never told the artist.)

And this wasn't yesterday, must have been about 13-14 years ago.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:38 PM

Hmm..
I think Lady Gaga uses it far more than she needs too, but there's an issue with the crossover use of 'effect'.

I don't quite know what I feel about her use of it, except that she ain't freaking Kate Bush, like she seems to aspire to be somewhat.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:47 PM

I've been listening to a lot of Bosnian sevdah over the last couple of weeks.

What on earth does autotune do to an idiom where the usual performance style involves expressive microtonal glissandi all the time? You don't even need to go to Eastern Europe to find that, you get it in Gaelic song.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:51 PM

An unaccompanied track? That's kinda depressing actually. I suppose I had a romantic notion of authenticity (I sing unaccompanied myself) for singers of folk song..


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:05 PM

"from start to finish." Murrey - If the singer was singing a full semitone 'out' from start to finish on an 'unaccompanied track' then there was no-one to know...


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:33 PM

"If the singer was singing a full semitone 'out' from start to finish on an 'unaccompanied track' then there was no-one to know..."]
Meaning she was perfectly in-tune..

I carry pitch pipe nowadays to save confusion..


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:48 PM

"What on earth does autotune do to an idiom where the usual performance style involves expressive microtonal glissandi all the time? You don't even need to go to Eastern Europe to find that, you get it in Gaelic song."

yeah, I've wondered about that. Any half-decent blues singer, too, is covering a lot more fine tuning than just bent fifths and thirds: there's usually some 'microtonal' stuff going on.

I can only speak for myself, but on some recordings I've been working on in Logic, there were a few moments where I thought I was singing painfully out of tune, and I tried adding a couple of 'cents' in Logic's pitch-correction plug-in. This was a tiny, tiny amount of digital pitch-correction, pretty much the smallest modicum that it provided. The pitch did indeed sound more in tune but I could hear a difference timbrally - I could hear the effect - and it was a difference I really disliked. It just sounded wrong, so I didn't use it.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crowhugger
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:49 PM

Re: "[auto-tune]...may well end up producing a generation of singers who actually have very stable and accurate pitch"

That's true if "accurate" means notes that perfectly match the tempered scale. None of the pitch-adjusting programs I've heard of include the option of other systems of intonation of the major scale. So the resulting generation would, in theory, end up unable to sing notes that can make barbershop chords ring.

A sad day should it come to pass!


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 21 May 10 - 08:00 PM

Isn't equal temperament the tuning sytem where every note is equally out of tune?


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Darowyn
Date: 22 May 10 - 04:34 AM

I have used Autotune, but found it a bit of a blunt instrument.
Melodyne is my pitch correction of choice. Not only does it show pitch on a musical stave, but it also tracks the variations in pitch through time on a single note.
It is very common for singers to sing way below the "correct" pitch and slide up to the note during the attack phase of the word.
Most singers have some vibrato, sometimes very wide.
Sometimes these vocal quirks are exactly what makes the characteristic style of a singer. A student of mine once observed that Bob Dylan sang like a Hoover- and in a way he does, treating pitch as a continuous thing rather than discrete notes.
Sometimes however, pitching needs to be clean and vibrato minimal, on harmony vocals for example, and many singers cannot do that.
With Melodyne they can.
I have even, for my own amusement, built up a single vocal line into a complex close harmony piece using Melodyne on my own voice.

Pitch correction is like every other example of technology.

Some people will use it to beat the world into submission.
Some people will try to use it to make the world a better place.
Some people are natural luddites and will hate the very idea.

As Dave MacKenzie shows, the jury is still out on even temperament, after more than 300 years.
We all have our own ears.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 22 May 10 - 05:56 AM

The thing is, the same music technology that makes auto-tune possible allows us an unprecedented ease of recording. I don't quite buy the idea of 'only having half an hour in the studio to get it right': digital recording means that, provided you have a high-quality mic, you can record a vocal pretty much anywhere (especially if it's a backing harmony), anytime.

If a harmony was hideously off, I'd simply junk it and re-take it. If it was only slightly off, it'd probably actually be useable. And, to prove I'm not a luddite, I suppose I'll concede that if I was engineering a big-budget album, say, and I knew a backing vocal was going to be low in the mix, I might use a bit of auto-tune. But I can't help but think that if I was this hypothetical sound engineer on this hypothetical big-budget album, I'd probably have the studio time to get the singer to do a second take.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crowhugger
Date: 22 May 10 - 07:45 AM

Dave MacKenzie: Yes, sort of--because major scale notes based purely on overtones are varying distances apart, each has to be a different amount out of tune to make them an equal distance apart. Mi and ti are the farthest "out of tune" in the tempered scale, as well as some flats & sharps but I don't know which ones.

Ooops, excuse the thread drift, though it is related.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 May 10 - 07:57 AM

There's another aspect to this, which arguably pertains more to folk than to some other genres, and that is the question as to whether or not a technically perfect vocal aught really to be expected or indeed desired?

As I said uplist, we're not describing highly sophisticated melodies by and large which perhaps demand strict mastery of timing and tuning in order to be pulled off effectively - but fairly simple and robust ones - ones even perhaps which require a bit of individual character and colour invested in the storytelling (for my own part, I feel traditional song is much more akin to theatre or drama, than narrative story but that's by the by) and interpretation doesn't necessitate perfect pitch.

An musical contact (not a folkie) threw a bit of Amon Duull II at me and suggested that I learn how to break out of what he found to be a monotonous adherence in my vocal to prissy technical correctness: Archangels Thunderbird I wonder if this would be 'enhanced' by autotune? I think he made a good point, though I've still to learn how to let go of those hand rails..


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 May 10 - 09:11 AM

Almost everybody I know can sing in tune. The little kids in my family can sing in tune.

Why can't pop stars sing in tune? Seems to me it ought to be a requirement for the job.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 22 May 10 - 09:31 AM

well by and large they can. the point about auto tune is it is used unnecessarily - it's contributing to an attitude that deems things "out of tune" that would previously have been deemed character, style, individuality.

I was listening to some Shirley Collins at work yesterday (Harvest Years anthology). She's a singer who goes a bit flat on occasion: her pitching occasionally wavers. That doesn't in any way spoil my enjoyment of her music; I don't even regard it as a fault, I just regard it as part of the experience of listening to her.

If the Stones albums Their Satanic Majesties Request or Beggars Banquet were submitted to the record company today as new albums, the record company would tell them to re-record it and, doubtless, would have suggested they use auto-tune: there's some really sloppy timing on it and absolutely tons of off notes. That's why they are such good albums.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 May 10 - 10:04 AM

I would bet it has been around in Folk Sound systems for some time. I remember a drummer pick-up his violin and he seems to be pitch perfect. And that was 20 years ago. He is probably an excellent musician but it was so perfect I did wonder. Sound systems at large festivals use a lot of equipment and if they are going to get big names (especially those wot ain't exactly Folk) and get the videos on TV then they are not aiming at integrity - they are aiming at mass market and revenue.
AFAIK only Cambridge get on TV and the names of the acts look less and less Folkie. Shrewsbury will follow, as soon as I see TV footage it will prove my point. It has never been a secret that the business plan there is to out-compete Cambridge and it won't be done with Folk names. We have the evidence already. And the disillusioned Folkies that went with it. Who knows how many, it is inevitable as growth is sought, some will fall by the wayside.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 May 10 - 03:47 PM

Actually, I quite like some of the German heavy rock, but that track is dogshit because it is out of tune.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 May 10 - 03:48 PM

PS - and the riff sounds like "Wild Thing" for the tone deaf.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 May 10 - 04:03 PM

Crow Sister, I think many people would in fact notice if a singer had started out in A and ended up in A-flat after six verses.

I think I, for one, would hear it, and I am sure I am not alone.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 May 10 - 04:12 PM

Murray, thanks - I understand now. From your prior posting I thought you meant the singer sang a semitone out literally from 'start through to finish', which rather confused me!

RB - I take it from that comment, that you're not a big Amon Duul II fan then.. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 May 10 - 06:39 PM

Correct. But I like Kraftwerk, Neu, and greater than them Tangerine Dream.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 May 10 - 08:01 AM

What I can't understand is, what does this process do to people who who use, for example, variable thirds and sevenths? Bessie Smith uses a complete range of thirds in the same song often..would Autotune reduce all of these notes to either a major or a minor third?
I work a lot with the singer Kate Barfield, who regularly swoops and slides on the same note, from a flat minor third up to a major third and then tails back down again to an indeterminate lower note. So, what would that come out as? I dont really knoqw what's going on here. I remember we were working with some rappers once and one of their computery professor types was processing all the singing and it came out really weird...perhaps he was using this sort of thing? Can anyone elucidate?


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 May 10 - 08:10 AM

I wonder how Billie Holiday would be regarded by a modern studio producer with Autotune at their fingertips. She famously slid from note to note - often on a descending curve at the end of a phrase.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 May 10 - 09:07 AM

"I remember we were working with some rappers once and one of their computery professor types was processing all the singing and it came out really weird...perhaps he was using this sort of thing? Can anyone elucidate?"

Greg, from what I've been reading there has been criticism concerning the all pervading presence of auto-tune effects being used by Hip-Hop artists, to the extent that rapper Jay-Z condemned the trend (which some have felt was killing hip-hop) in his track D.O.A. or 'Death of Autotune' ("You rappers singin too much, Get back to rap you T-Pain'n too much"). In other words I imagine your intuition was probably correct and your rapping computery prof. collaborator was probably using auto-tune.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 May 10 - 07:41 PM

I've played around a bit with autotune on my home rec rig-up. I use a freeware plugin (can't be arsed to look up the name of it right now, sorry) but I feel compelled to point out that the thing is ADJUJSTABLE.
It's not all-or nothing, like a switch with two positions -- Dylan or Cher.
The one I use has parameters for attack time, tolerance of off-pitch-ness (not what it's called in the manual), amount and speed of correcting. You can get the weird glissando effect or something much more subtle. And you can program it to shift in and out, not always be active full-time.
Possibly more interesting, it also has choices for various temperaments, and a way to set custom ones (if I ever figure out how to work that bit of it).
If you are only shifting a flattish note up a few cents, it works reasonably well. More than that and it's definitely un-subtle. The rationale for using it to fix a recording is that, like a mistake in a wallpapered room, you'll notice the blasted spot every day hereafter for ever and ever amen, at least until you change the wallpaper.
But in the end I find that the amount of effort needed to get the correction just right without the ugly side effects is more work than just punching in a fix or retaking the whole track.
And I wouldn't be caught dead using the live equivalent, even if I could afford one. It's bogus for anybody IMO, but especially wrong for someone like me whose musical sound has been described as "well lived-in."
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Melissa
Date: 23 May 10 - 09:43 PM

I couldn't find any before/after examples of subtle auto-tune use but I did run across this:

Original Charlie

Auto-Tune Charlie

It looks like a fun gadget to play with..


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 24 May 10 - 01:22 AM

Dear Crow Sister,
    I wasn't too much of a Christine Aguilera fan much either...BUT, I saw her do this, and it blew me away....enjoy!

Christine at the Grammys

GfS


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: mandotim
Date: 24 May 10 - 03:29 AM

The live pitch correction kit used to be really expensive, but folks like DBX and TC Helicon now make very sophisticated gear that is well within the reach of the 'Weekend Warrior' musician. People are using it, and it's becoming less noticeable as the electronics improve. That said, it's worth listening to the various 'singing contest' shows on TV to get an idea of what's going on. On the 'live' later stages of these shows, pretty much every performance is pitch-corrected, and quite heavily at that. Sometime the singers are so far out that the software chooses the wrong note.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: treewind
Date: 24 May 10 - 04:00 AM

"What I can't understand is, what does this process do to people who who use, for example, variable thirds and sevenths?"

You can adjust Autotune (and the other devices/programs that do the same) in amount of correction and speed of response. You can also tell Autotune what scale to tune to e.g. equal temperament, just intonation, mean tone, Indian (which works well for folk music too, apparently) etc.

If you have any sense though, you don't use it on a voice like that, especially when those more subtle shades of pitch are entirely deliberate and part of the performance.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: Darowyn
Date: 24 May 10 - 04:43 AM

Has anyone else noticed that there are a small number of "post-autotune" singers around who have the technical ability to sing a glissando as a series of discrete pitches rather than a continuous slide?
I was watching Michael Buble on TV last night and it is clear that he can do this at will, as well as reproducing Sinatra's scoops and sweeps when needed.
This was a live performance, and for this to be the result of real time processing would be beyond the powers of the fastest sound engineer in the west.
I have heard Craig David do a similar thing, and Celine Dion is reputed to be able to copy the Cher "Believe" pitch jumps just by vocal technique.
It is clear that the sound is interesting and attractive enough to some singers that they spend time learning to sing that way.
I wonder if there are any singers in the Folk world who can do it.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 24 May 10 - 04:56 AM

The thing about pitch correction is that you need to be pretty close for it to work well. It won't make a bad singer sound like a good singer. It'll make a bad singer sound like a bad singer with Autotune.

Apart from the obvious artefacts when it's used unsubtly, the thing that bugs me most about overuse of pitch correction is that no-one thinks beyond equal temperament, which is like restricting a photo to 12 colours only. I suspect that 99% of the people using it don't have a clue what most of the controls are.


If you have any sense though, you don't use it on a voice like that, especially when those more subtle shades of pitch are entirely deliberate and part of the performance.
Exactly.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: matt milton
Date: 24 May 10 - 06:47 AM

"Has anyone else noticed that there are a small number of "post-autotune" singers around who have the technical ability to sing a glissando as a series of discrete pitches rather than a continuous slide?
... It is clear that the sound is interesting and attractive enough to some singers that they spend time learning to sing that way.
I wonder if there are any singers in the Folk world who can do it."

Yes, I'd noticed that. I'd say that's a hugely unwelcome development - I hate that sound.

You've reminded me of the fact that when I heard Emily Portman's recent album I briefly wondered if she was using autotune. Before concluding she wasn't.

I can't hear any of the digital side-effects of autotune on her singing. But she does have a sense of pitch that's so unerringly precise and unwavering that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was the result of autotune. Her pitch doesn't seem to alter one iota, not even one micro-micro-microtone, which is quite unusual. Having seen her live a few times, I know she's a very good singer.

Have a listen to Emily Portman's songs on her myspace:

www.myspace.com/emilygportman

(note the G in the middle of the myspace page.)


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 10 - 11:59 AM

"You've reminded me of the fact that when I heard Emily Portman's recent album I briefly wondered if she was using autotune. Before concluding she wasn't.
I can't hear any of the digital side-effects of autotune on her singing. But she does have a sense of pitch that's so unerringly precise and unwavering that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was the result of autotune."

I'd agree that she sounds unusually clean and tidy. It sounds like the vocals have been smoothed out somehow, though I really can't tell.. Incidentally Country is supposed to be one of the auto-tune offenders regards LIVE performances.

June Tabor has such control of timing and tuning that I found it can sound almost 'other' (I hesitate to use 'robotic' as that's too pejorative sounding). I like her vocals, but it probably wouldn't be a big leap for someone like her to make those tight shifts actually sound auto-tuned.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 10 - 12:29 PM

Note the 'G' sez Matt. Ah, I got a different artist last time..

Emily 'G' sounds like she has tight control over her timing, tuning, tone and ornament. There's a slight metallic edge to her tone at times, but I can do that singing from the back of the throat/nasal area sorta thing. When I was taught very briefly by an early music scholar who also sings in professional choirs, he was most strict about technical elements like timing and tuning - no fluffing, no wavering allowed!

Otherwise, I love her elegant arrangements. There's something very 'Virgoan' or Alice going on in the music personality wise. If she *does* use auto-tune to maintain precision, I don't think it compromises the music.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 10 - 12:42 PM

On a second listen, I dunno why I though the Country Emily P was smoothed out in any way.. A case of hearing what I expected to be there I think.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Phil Beer
Date: 24 May 10 - 12:48 PM

From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 24 May 10 - 04:56 AM

'The thing about pitch correction is that you need to be pretty close for it to work well. It won't make a bad singer sound like a good singer. It'll make a bad singer sound like a bad singer with Autotune.'

That about sums it up. All these things are part of the recording arsenal. They all have their place and use. Just need to point out that 'autotune' is applied to a section or even the whole of a recorded track. If doing industrial work, I would have it in line all the time (Time is money) When doing the kind of recording I'm better known for around here, we take the time and trouble to do multiple takes and to 'comp' them. I.E. If we get a good overall track, any dodgy bits are sought for in other takes and pasted in. If there is an individual note that requires attention, it is individually selected and pitch corrected by ear. This is NOT the same process as autotune.
Incidently , some three years ago, someone accosted me at a festival and started blathering on about audio manipulation on a certain track I had produced. Unable to remember how the job was done, I looked it up a week later and discovered that it was done in three takes with absolutely no manipulation at all. There are other tracks on the same album, where a small degree of skullduggery has taken place. Ce'st la vie.


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: DonMeixner
Date: 24 May 10 - 01:03 PM

I gave AutoTune at SubCat Studios in Skaneateles, NY fits. Not because I can't sing in tune but because, at the time, AutoTune had trouble with yodelling.

We found it to be a valuable learning and teaching tool. I was good to have a visual representation of where you were pitch wise when you thought you were bang on. If three voices were 2 cents flat and a fourt voice was 2 cents sharp there was an obvious issue. But if every one was a little flat against the untunables; banjo, fiddle and drums, it was not a big issue.

In the studio or in rehearsal I have not big issue with AutoTune. In performance is another story. Listen to the harmonys of The Sons of the Pioneers from the thirties and you hear some incredible work. Talent is what it takes, not technology.

Don


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Subject: RE: Auto-Tune is for Pussies
From: GUEST,Phil Beer
Date: 24 May 10 - 01:50 PM

PS. I've no personal experience of autotune processing live but I don't actually think its as prevalent as people think. It would require the absolute attention of a single engineer to try and conceal that it was in use. Of course, if its being used to simply create the familiar pop 'warbles' then there would be no problem. Plug and Play!


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