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The Options of Pitch Correction

Auto Tuning for Recording Artist

Creative Music is shifting; we are into an outburst of inventive audio technology.

“Auto Tune” can be useful audio-processing “Pitch Correction” software developed by Antraes Audio Technologies.

susan-boyle-auto-auto-tuned
Did Susan Boyle Auto-Tune

Initially, Auto Tune was mainly used as a logical way to cover the mistakes (out of pitch) of a Singer in Recording Studios. Recording Engineer’s select the vocal track and then define the “Target Key and Scale”. The vocal track is then processed according to how much pitch correction is required, just a touch, to correct minor pitch issues or applying a great deal to create a certain vocal effects like “Cher”. This is done effortlessly by clicking and sliding the incorrect note to the correct note. Auto Tune works as either a plug-in for RTAS equipments to auto tune in real time or as a Standalone editor. What formulates the auto tune processor to sound so extreme is that it makes minor changes in pitch and pulls them dramatically into key.

It’s important to remember that audio recording is not a competition; it’s a creative process of expression. Only genuine singers and gifted talents have to be at the session. The end result is when you are creating music with lyrics for entertainment; the main aim for the Artists has to be prepared the correct way (Performance with Emotion) so that Singers can perform on stage with no problems.

The reality is, in recording studios, Artists performance, enhancing studio tricks takes place with all kinds of technique’s, from Pop, Rock, Jazz, Rap, Country to Metal Music. It is clearly obvious that various audio processes are used in the recording studio with audio dubbings, premix, editing, click tracks, drum replacement, quantising, and layering of Guitar parts, pitch and timing replacements. A studio recording by a Pop Band is about as close to a real performance on stage as the Band is always happy to master all the corrections done in the recording studio before they perform Live.

Without a doubt of the exception of Jazz and Classical music, creating a Pop recording is not really about capturing a real musical moments like Jazz or Classical, it is all about creating the definition of what that composition is all about. Pop music can be subjective in many different ways. Pop songwriters form their understanding of how musical instruments sound through the recordings we listen to, some songwriters create new ideas as they move on to the final stage. The easily identifiable sound of Rock Drums bears little resemblance to the sound of a acoustic Drun Kit in a room, instead it is defined by the heavy compression, gating and reverb that characterises the genre. These artificial sounds already define what we expect music to sound like.

If Auto Tune is wrongly used by an in experienced user then it can take the Singer’s expression right out of the track. Then again when used by an experienced recording engineer, it can make improvements on a less gifted vocal performance. It’s a matter of how the recording and mix engineer uses the Auto Tune as a tool to get the job done for what he or she is aiming for, just by tweaking Pitch correction here and there or special vocal effects at certain parts of the song. Auto Tune cannot deceive individuals into thinking as substandard singers can be made to sound good. It does not work that way.

My point of view has always been, if you think you are a Singer and if you can’t perform in the studio, (while you are given time) you will never make it in a Live Performance situation.autotune-waves

While “Waves” Auto Tune has been popular for many years, there are also other good applications that has been tested and performs the similar way, so look out for Melodyne, TC Helicon vocal processor, Apple Logic’s Pitch Corrector, DigiTech vocalist and others. Auto Tune and the many similar software plug-ins can make a good Singer better and a better Singer an impressive Singer in terms of Pitch and Vocal effects.

Auto Tune is a tool that majority of Recording Studios, Producers and Audio Engineers use and its always available and used tastefully.

When is it considered cheating?

The truth is, if you are using Pitch Correction because you obviously cannot sing, and unable to hit the correct notes (can’t sing in tune) on nearly every song, then that is considered cheating. Relying on it for your mediocre vocals to sound more perfect on key all the time, that’s cheating.

If ever there is a project to embark on Actors as Singers who cannot sing and using Auto Tune is cheating.

Individuals who depend on a computer generated using Auto Tune to fix their non-gifted mistakes should go back to their vocal teacher and ask them, if they have got the talent to become a genuine Singer. If yes, start taking serious vocal lessons to see if you can over come the assistance of using such a tool. Note; It can be very stressful at situations when Auto Tune has technical problems just like any other tools.

On the other hand, a few years ago I heard a duet recorded by Christina Aguilera and Andrea Bocelli. It was an exceptional song, but the producer blew it by processing all Vocals with Auto Tune. The question is, does Christina Aguilera really need Auto Tune? If you have heard Christina’s voice “Live” you would agree that she does not need it at all. The same goes with Andrea Bocelli, does he need Auto Tune? You can by all means go for pitch perfection, but that perfection can cause high drawback with vocal tone. Christina Aguilera and Andrea Borelli’s vocal style has a registered-persona that should be respected. So, the use of Auto Tune in that song in my opinion was disrespect to both Singers and this happens a great deal these days in “Live Concerts”. I consider it as a discredit to the professional Singers.

When is it considered “NOT” cheating?

It is not cheating if it is used purposely trying to enhance your voice as an effect. There is no harm using Auto Tune as long as you create something beautiful to listen to. As for me it is a creative correction tool and it is just as legitimate as creating new sounds on a Guitar or electric Piano with my final mix in the studio. If it sounds good then you have succeeded something for the audio market.

Generally in Recording Studios, Singers, Producers, and Recording Engineers are simply trying to express their interpretation of the song they are working on “Vocal tonal perfection” which will please as many of the audience that they are attempting to reach as possible. So when recording a good Singer, it is not cheating to use a good technology of the day to fine tune a Singers voice which makes it sound creative in a peculiar kind of way.

Auto Tune can also be used on a Guitar or any musical instruments to change the timbre of certain notes, this actually enhances as special effects to the original sound. But if you cannot play the Guitar then do not waste your time and money using Auto Tune.

People know what they like to hear and do not like. The buying individuals have the last say, and they will also let the music industry know when its not acceptable to use Auto Tune, its only then that the use will come to a halt. The consumers are always correct so its not fair to discriminate the music entertainers as they are only trying to create new sounds and trying to be as perfect as possible.

It is true that an excellent Singer does not need pitch correction. On the other hand, some good Singers do make mistakes in terms of pitch and that is quite normal. And in those situations the Singers simply do it again and again to get it corrected. In real term it can be difficult for any Singer to focus on Lyrics, Structure of Melody, Pitch, Tempo, Phrasing and Emotions at the same time. So that’s why producers in Recording Studios are never happy with a single take performance as it is never perfect, producers normally work on a composite of the two best takes, edited together to make one good take. Can this be considered cheating? The answer is NO because the most important part of any vocal production is the “Performance and Emotion”, so it’s not the “Pitch”, it’s the performance and emotions that captures and sells the artists. Performance and Emotions are what connects the audience with the Singer, and often one shot is all you get at that “Live Concert”, even worse if the Singer is ad-libbing. When a Singer achieves a great performance with good emotions but slightly pitchy here and there, then Auto Tune can be used to correct the pitchy parts without sacrificing the great performance and emotions.

auto-tune-antaresA famous Singer with impressive performance and good emotions “Cher” had used Auto Tune on her recordings (Believe) in 1998 and it worked really well to her advantage as an effect, it did not affect her Singing as she can genuinely sing. However, her producer for that album used Auto Tune to create a specific, obvious sound as part of her artistic creation. It’s futuristic effects on her vocals is an integral part of the subsequent record, and believe me, it became the biggest hit of Cher’s career. To this day, in recording studios, the distinctive “Auto Tune” sound is often referred as to the “Cher effect”.

Other Recording Artists who have used “Auto Tune” just to name a few for vocal effects are: Black Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow / Rhianna – Live Your Life / Jamie Fox – Blame It / Chris Brown – Forever / Draft Punk – One More Time / T-Pain – Buy You A Drank / Kanye West – Heartless.

Note: Auto Tune is an Audio processor created by Antares Technologies. In the beginning it was mainly designed to correct pitch problems in Recording Studios. This has saved lots of unnecessary studio time and stress out of the Artists.

These days it is also used for the big time “Pop Live Concerts” all over the world. I suppose show producers are using it to smooth out pitch imperfections with artist’s voice to give the impression of an even more perfect show. That’s “Show Business”.

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