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Autotune- the lens flare of music?
ozoneocean at 8:07AM, May 12, 2010
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Most people start to hate that effect after a while, just like the Lens flare filter in Photoshop- it's a simple trick to add something “interesting” that is overused and terribly BADLY used by people who lack a sense of aesthetics.
Stupid Mr Roboto vice sounding effect is Soooo fooking cliche.

And what about its legitimate uses- ostensibly to correct the levels of a voice and make it in tune? Does that even work properly without making someone sound as if they're talking through a copper piping system?

Besides, I don't think people really care too much if singers are always hyper perfect, in fact imperfect singing sounds better that artificially enhanced singing or the sort of “perfect” singing done by the likes of Celine Dion or Maraiah Carey (which requires no autotune and it's STILL annoying).
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Abt_Nihil at 6:20PM, May 13, 2010
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ozoneocean
Most people start to hate that effect after a while, just like the Lens flare filter in Photoshop- it's a simple trick to add something “interesting” that is overused and terribly BADLY used by people who lack a sense of aesthetics.
Stupid Mr Roboto vice sounding effect is Soooo fooking cliche.
Ummm… I think it was used a lot in 70s funk, right? Ummm… Bootsy Collins and the like? I'm by no means an expert on this kind of music, but it has my sympathies. My point is, on these occasions it's used as a distinctive style in its own right. You can still find it annoying, sure.

ozoneocean
And what about its legitimate uses- ostensibly to correct the levels of a voice and make it in tune? Does that even work properly without making someone sound as if they're talking through a copper piping system?
It can be done if the original recording doesn't miss the right tune by much in the first place. The problem is not so much in adjusting the tune itself, but in switching from the un-autotuned part to the autotuned part… disguising that transition. However, since many people simply wouldn't notice this transition even if it was poorly disguised, producers get lazy and more often than not do a poor job on that because they can get away with it.

But I totally agree, hitting the right note is not a prerequisite for good music. What shouldn't happen is that you get the impression that a singer can't sing well. They need to be able to deal with their weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Oh, and the Maria Carrey/Celine Dion style is annoying because they modulate their voice all the time, not because they're hitting the right notes. They never ever sing their notes in a straight way, they always modulate their voice around it. It's like they're constantly showing off their voices. It's annoying as hell.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
Amelius at 6:59AM, May 14, 2010
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Zounds, Ozone, did you hear me say that all the way over there? :) I told Nick the same thing (compared it to lense flare that is) at a Subway like last month, and he just gave me a weird look!:D Glad to see I'm not the only one who feels that way!
This kinda stuff plagued the music of the latter 90's, but it unfortunately seems to be making a comeback. I've heard about 3 songs by accident (it was playing in a restaurant or store)including the one that made me comment on the cheap nature of adding digital fluctuation to your voice.
After that we looked it up to see what I was talking about and found this: Autotune the News
I don't mind when it's used like that, because it's actually doing something to speaking voices.
But when it's used in earnest, like in a million R&B singles…eeeyikes!

And I'm going to agree that those ladies produce annoying ululations, I can't help but think of an injured dog whenever I am unfortunate enough to be where their songs are playing. Just as bad as when they do that goat bleating thing with their voice, or they're trying to sound sexy by groaning out notes. Makes it sound more like she just woke up!
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:52AM
Air Raid Robertson at 8:28AM, May 14, 2010
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Auto-tune was meant to smooth out the rough edges in an otherwise good vocal performance. And, even today, that is its main purpose. Practically every album made after 1985 has auto-tune on it.

Auto-tune is comparable to a wah-wah pedal for a guitar. It won't give off that robot voice unless you crank it to its maximum setting. It depends on how you use it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:48AM
Evil Emperor Nick at 9:12AM, May 14, 2010
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Amelius
I told Nick the same thing (compared it to lense flare that is) at a Subway like last month, and he just gave me a weird look!:D


last edited on July 14, 2011 12:23PM
ozoneocean at 9:56AM, May 14, 2010
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Abt_Nihil
Ummm… I think it was used a lot in 70s funk, right? Ummm… Bootsy Collins and the like? I'm by no means an expert on this kind of music, but it has my sympathies. My point is, on these occasions it's used as a distinctive style in its own right. You can still find it annoying, sure.
That was a different technique…The objective was sort of the same though- funky distortion. You're right, it was groovy then.
It's just like Lens flares in that it can be used well in certain specific instances… It does happen.
Amelius
Zounds, Ozone, did you hear me say that all the way over there? :)
In perfect pitch! ^__^

That Autotune the news was amazing. Good to see it can be used well in some instances.
Air Raid Robertson
Practically every album made after 1985 has auto-tune on it.
That's not even partly true. According to unreliable wiki, the software wasn't even released until 1997. -I don't know if they used actual hardwired processing machines to do it before then, but I'd doubt that was very wide spread due to what was still very much standard practise then and probably even now: simply doing multiple recordings of the same verses and splicing in the best ones. No artificial modulation needed.

Even for the purposes of smoothing out performances I'd say it was pretty bad- much like the overuse of Photoshop in professionally produced photographs for magazines and advertising: it results in a very bland samey, plastic, artificially “smooth” result that is somewhat intrinsically cloying and unpleasant when you sample too much of it.

———————–
Good points about the ululations of Carey and Co guys. That stuff frells with your brain >_<
I appreciate a singer who's able to do that, but I also appreciate good singers who know not to do every single chance they get, turning every song imaginable into a baptist gospel rendition of Amazing Grace. -_-
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
EssayBee at 11:56AM, May 14, 2010
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I always figured that a lot of singers who constantly modulate do so to hide the fact that they lack the technical skill of singing with vibrato. And autotuning always sounds like crap to me. I know there are some who like its sound, but I think it's generally used to cover up a lack of actual talent. Pop music is more about flashy looks than actual skill and talent, so these are all a means to camouflage that fact.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:22PM
ccs1989 at 1:35PM, May 14, 2010
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I got chastised by a professional inker and colorist for insulting the lens flare. They called me “elitist”. For reference, this was the pic I said the lens flare took away from: http://timtownsend.deviantart.com/art/Wu-Tang-Rae-cover-160723191

It's a nice piece of work, except for that crappy lens flare that was added in the last phase.
Anyway yeah autotune sucks and Owl City sucks for overusing it to death.
http://ccs1989.deviantart.com

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:39AM
Mitaukano at 1:39PM, May 14, 2010
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Margaret Cho used it on one episode of “The Cho Show” before the jerks at VH1 ripped her off the air. Anyway she decided to cut herself a single so that she could change her image to becoming an “It” girl. Much like Paris Hilton etc, she also made a sex tape in that episode called two Cho’s one cup.
But back to the auto tuning, the neat thing is they showed what she sounded like for real while she was recording and while she isn't bad Margaret Cho does not have the vocal training to be a singer. After the Autotune, OMG she sounded great and nobody believes me when I tell them that underneath all that digital enhancement is the good old trash talking Margaret we all enjoy.

The song is called “I Cho am a Woman” if you ever want to look it up on the itunes.


PS: bwahaha lens-flare. I remember you and your starting to make a subtle come back too.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:05PM
mlai at 1:54PM, May 15, 2010
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Who the F is Margaret Cho?

Hold on, don't tell me, because I don't even care. The only reason I asked is because you spammed her “news” like she's important. Nothing against you, mind.

She got ripped off the air? Considering that she tried to emulate Hilton… good. God still lives.

@ CCS:
That picture is so ruined by the lens flare. You're right.

Autotune The News:
Thanks for showing me that. That's something I gotta share.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
Yvain at 2:10PM, May 15, 2010
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Using Auto tune here and there can add an interesting sound

If a singer always uses it all the time, then there is no point to them even singing. Any moron can sin into an Auto tune.

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:53PM
Mitaukano at 12:55AM, May 16, 2010
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mlai
She got ripped off the air? Considering that she tried to emulate Hilton… good. God still lives.

Sorry I felt people were more familiar with one of the most influential female comedians of our time.

Also the emulate Hilton thing was a joke the whole darn thing was about the craziness of media.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:05PM
Reinderdijkhuis at 8:07AM, May 16, 2010
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ozoneocean
That's not even partly true. According to unreliable wiki, the software wasn't even released until 1997. -I don't know if they used actual hardwired processing machines to do it before then, but I'd doubt that was very wide spread due to what was still very much standard practise then and probably even now: simply doing multiple recordings of the same verses and splicing in the best ones. No artificial modulation needed.



Ozoneocean is right. Before the mid-1990s, turning an out-of tune performance into an in-tune one was considered one of the things that studios couldn't do for you.

What could be done prior to then was shifting the entire performance up by a fixed amount, so you could lift a vocal in one key from a multitrack recording and match it to a backing track in another key. But that didn't involve adjusting every individual note separately. This could also be used to create artificial harmonies, and because the amount of pitch shifting was fixed, it could be done on the fly as, for example a guitar effect.

Before that, there were octave dividers which could split the signal of a single note and add a doubled frequency to it so they were an octave higher, but these got very muddy if you fed them more than one note at a time. Before THAT, pitch could be adjusted by speeding up or slowing down the tape, and if you had a LOT of studio time, you could use that to auto-tune but unless you wanted to have it sound otherworldly, you might as well spend the time on a dozen other takes instead.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:04PM

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