AutoTuneTheDrugoftheMusicIndustry

fallenleafblackbeansOil and Offshore

Nov 8, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)

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There is something to be said for those with natural musical talent; their ability to
know what the audience wants to hear, controlling inflection, intonation and vocal quality
while still grabbing the attention of the audience
.

Throughout
years

of study
ing music,
and g
oing to see live performances, there has been a lessening of these desirable qualities.
Live shows are no longer about legitimizing the talent that these artists have
.

They are
simply excuses to put on extravagant productions, usually the
visuals are more
enthralling than the music is
.

For this, we have Auto
-
tune to blame
.


Auto
-
tune has decreased the amount of effort the artist puts into their work
.

Most
chart
-
topping artists have no musical training, and do not write their own songs
.

Th
ey
have become mannequins to the designers of the music industry
.


A blank slate that can
be molded into musical perfection by way of a computer and a sound engineer
-

creating
artificial talent
.


It is astounding how much can be changed by using a simple p
lugin
.

Through the abuse of Auto
-
tune, the music industry has decreased the level of musical
capability by
its artists, making the artists and their processes
less credible
.


Auto
-
tune was created by Andy Hildebrand in 1996
.


Hildebrand was an oil
consulta
nt, and he "interpreted seismic data" for the oil industry, providing them with a
map of appropriate and plentiful drilling locations (Tyrangiel)
.

This technology worked
by analyzing sound waves
.

It was a “mathematical formula called autocorrelation,
Hil
debrand would send sound waves into the ground and record their reflections,
2


providing an accurate map of potential drill sites” (Time)
.

After a large amount of
success at this trade, Hildebrand was dared by a colleague at a work function to create
someth
ing that would allow them to sing in tune all of the time
.


After several attempts,
Hildebrand successfully altered his oil technology in order to create Auto
-
tune, with the
first prototype being released in 1996
.


This idea may have began as a novelty, a
joke, but it soon spread to studios
throughout the country
.

When it was first established, it was a surefire way to fix small
flubbed notes in the studio
.

It saved producers time and money by avoiding rerecording
sessions and over dubs
.


Auto
-
tune works
by identifying musical characteristics of a
person’s voice, and alters it
.

For example, if a person were singing in the key of C, a key
with no sharps or flats, and sang a D sharp, the note would be altered to either a D or an E
because the note D sharp d
oes not exist in the key of C
.

These instances would be
duplicated based on the key signature of the piece of music
.



When Hildebrand created this tool, there was another aspect to the editing process
that he added
.

It was the speed at which the out of
tune note would be retuned
.

Depending on the speed of the piece of music, this tool would make sure that the
transition between notes was natural sounding
.


The tool was extremely useful when used
at lower speeds, but became mechanical sounding when it rea
ched a transition speed of
zero milliseconds
.

3



It was a few short years after that experimenting with Auto
-
tune became a
trending topic for music producers
.

On Cher’s hit, “Believe” there is audible vocal
manipulation
.

The sound is reminiscent of a robot
ic version of Cher, along with a
monotonous vocal tone that makes the song obviously altered
.

This manipulated sound
was a product of adjusting the retune speed
.


When the speed was at is highest, the
transitions between notes became faster and faster, ev
entually eliminating the natural
transitions altogether
.

As for who is to blame, Hildebrand says, “I never figured anyone
in their right mind would want to do that
.
” However irritating this sound may have been,
the song was a hit, and so the abuse of Auto
-
tune began making waves
.



Although the trend seemed to have died out shortly after Cher’s hit, it has again
made a comeback, with a vengence
.

Artists all over the world have suddenly auto
-
tuned
their voices beyond recognition
.

Time magazine correctly de
scribes it as “comically
artificial, like a chorus of '50s robots singing Motown” (Tyrangiel)
.

And so, like flare
jeans, Auto
-
tune is back, and hopefully not for good
.


An artist by the name of T
-
Pain made the most significant strides in the use of
Auto
-
T
une
.

In his 2005 hit “I’m in Love (Wit a Strippa)”, he used auto
-
tune on all of his
vocals
.

The lyrics, “She poppin she rollin she rollin/ She climbin that pole and/ I'm N
Luv with a stripper/ She trippin she playin she playin/ I'm not goin nowhere girl
I'm
4


stayin/ I'm N Luv with a stripper”
.

Needless to say, it was not the lyrics that made the
song so popular, it was the unfamiliar, yet catchy, vocal sounds that are now emanating
from every club and dance party in the U
.
S
.
A
.

It

s unfortunate yet appare
nt that there is
a direct correlation to the primitive nature of songs, and the amount of Auto
-
tune that is
used
.



T
-
Pain has even gone so far as to openly attribute all of his success to Auto
-
tune
.

He said in an interview, "I know [Auto
-
Tune] better than

anyone," says T
-
Pain
.


"And
even I'm just figuring out all the ways you can use it to change the mood of a record”
.

Still, the question remains whether Auto
-
tune is just changing the mood, or changing
what is actually the last non
-
mechanical aspect of the

album
.


T
-
Pain has been offered
large amounts of money to teach other artists how to use the studio tool, such as Diddy,
who offered a percentage of his album sales to T
-
Pain in exchange for lessons
.

Meanwhile Auto
-
tuned vocals have been increasing in num
bers on the airways
.


The question at hand is whether or not Auto
-
tune has been abused
.


It is now a
norm for producing an album, and an artist rarely goes without using the tool
.


When a
number of music producers were interviewed by Time Magazine, “none c
ould remember
a pop recording session in the past few years when Auto
-
Tune didn't make a cameo
--
and
none could think of a singer who would want that fact known” (Tyrangiel)
.

“There's no
shame in fixing a note or two," says Jim Anderson, professor of the C
live Davis
5


department of recorded music at New York University and president of the Audio
Engineering Society
.

"But we've gone far beyond that
.



Though it may come as a surprise, there are several artists who agree with those
who oppose Auto
-
tune
.

In 2
009, the band
“D
eath Cab For Cutie


wore blue ribbons to
the Grammy Awards in order to raise awareness about Auto
-
tune abuse
.

Ben Gibbard,
the front man said about the issue, “We’ve seen a lot of good musicians being affected by
this newfound digital mani
pulation of the human voice, and we feel enough is enough”
.

His comment on the difficulties of new musicians to be discovered was reiterated by his
enthusiastic descriptions of the so called “Auto
-
tune abusers”
.

He rallies to, “bring back
the blue note, a
nd [let’s] really try to get music back to its roots of [having] actual people
singing and sounding like human beings
.
” Although Gibbard’s enthusiasm is shared by
many other people, no one proposes a plan to stop the abuse of Auto
-
tune

(Montgomery)
.


Even

live performances are being affected
.

Not only

are the shows overdone and
reliant

on props and visuals, but the singers are lipsynching, or worse, using auto
-
tune
microphones
.

These microphones have a vocoder programmed into a computer system
that is broa
dcasted through the sound system
.

Running the vocals through a live auto
-
tune, these can even morph the characteristic of someone’s voice
.

All the performer has
to do is sing in sync to the music, and the microphone takes care of the rest
.


6



It’s clear tha
t something must be done
.

Perhaps not by wearing ribbons, but by
enforcing the rule, or at least majority, that these artists are not just performers, but real
musicians
.

Gibbard’s point about the increased difficulty of making it as a musician, is
very
true
.

Recently, IFPI, released a statement that in order for an artist to make it into
the global perspective, they must put at least one million dollars into the project
.

This
breaks down to a two hundred thousand dollar advance, another two hundred for
recording as well as two hundred for three music videos
.

The tour support costs almost
one hundred thousand, as well as an additional hundred thousand for promotion and
marketing
.


Since it
s adoption by the music industry in 1996, Auto
-
tune has added seve
ral
features to its program
.

Including one that can mimic the sounds of an individual, and
reproduce them
.

Auto
-
tune is run through a program called Pro Tools, which is used in
pretty much every studio around the globe
.

The vocal and instrument tracks a
re laid out
on a grid, and in order to make them all match up, they all have to be perfect
.

One
Grammy winning record producer says, “Let’s just say I’ve had Auto
-
Tune save vocals
on everything from Britney Spears to Bollywood cast albums
.

And every sing
er now
presumes you’ll just run their voice through the box” (Triangiel)
.


7



Music executives are running their industry like a factory
.

In walks the slightly
above average looking girl, and out walks a super star that can belt notes higher than
Barbara St
reisand and a platinum album in a little under a year
.

In a press release about a
new product, Antares Tech released these details: "New Throat Length control actually
allows you to modify vocal character by passing it through a variable
-
length physical
m
odel of the human vocal tract" (AntaresTech)
.

In essence, they have created a
technology that can duplicate, and even manufacture vocal qualities that are unique to
each and every person
.



These types of programs are expensive, and require a fair amount
of experience to
run
.

The people producing the album often have more say about the content of the album
than the artist does
.


Since creating an album has become more of a fashion show than a talent
competition, musicians are struggling more than ever
.

Bec
ause talentless performers can
now become best sellers, the music industry is becoming more and more difficult
.

In
addition, the number of people who seem to display talent is increasing, making those
who really do have natural talent, fade into the backgr
ound
.

The music industry is
creating false norms, making it harder for performers who do not use auto
-
tune during
live performances, to entertain an audience because they expect the artificial sounds
created in the studio
.


8





For many musicians, Auto
-
tune

is seen as the reason for the sudden rift in music
industry
.


As the music seemingly is becoming more perfect and in
-
tune, thus are normal
everyday musicians seen as having less and less talent
.

When most people first become
interested in music, they wor
k on developing their skill set, learning the ins and outs of
music theory
.


They are then able to create a basis upon which to build skills as an actual
musician
.

Learning the theory behind the trade helps musicians recognize what
characteristics of a so
ng are appealing, and why, making their music successful
.



When a musician begins to get involved with recording studios and the inners
workings of creating an album, they often realize how little of the musical knowledge
they gained, is relevant in this
process
.

Playing guitar in a studio is no more than
strumming a few chords, only to have it duplicated, tuned and modified in tone quality
before being added to the track
.


Drum tracks are constantly being reset and altered so
that they are perfect, down
to the millisecond
.

It then becomes obvious that someone
without any musical background could have done the job
.



When it comes down to it, music will continue to be manipulated and altered from
it’s original form as long as there is a demand for it
.

Un
til then, musicians will struggle
with being original in an industry of phony, similar sounding hip hop and rap artists
.

The
teenage audience has ultimately altered their taste in music just as a person will choose
9


the artificial pop
-
rocks over a natural
and unique tasting apple
.


It’s unfortunate, but
when their health and their interest levels come to an all
-
time low, they will crave the
natural and stripped down taste of that organic apple
.


In other words, there will come a
day when the Auto
-
tune novel
ty will get old, and people will once again appreciate the
nuances of error and character in the music they appreciate
.














w







10



Works Cited


"Introducing Auto
-
Tune Evo."
Antares Tech
. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2010.

http://www.antarestech.com/p
roducts/auto
-
tune
-
evo.shtml

This press

release is scholarly because it explains the functions of a technological

device pertaining to my subject.


Montgomery, James. "Death Cab For Cutie Raise Awareness About Auto
-
Tune Abuse."

MTV
. N.p., 10 Feb. 2009. Web.

25 Feb. 2010.

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1604710/20090210/death_cab_for_cutie.jhtml

This article provides a statement from a chart
-
topping artist on the subject of

Auto
-
tune, and their opinions. This article supports my thesis, by

providing first ha
nd account of a popular artist, and the fact that they

believe Auto
-
tune is impeding the growth of musical artists. Although it is

from a popular media source, because my topic is so centered in the media,

this source is credible.


Tyrangiel, Josh. "Auto
-
T
une: Why Pop Music Sounds Perfect."
TIME Magazine
. N.p.,

5 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2010.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1877372,00.html

This source explains how and why Auto
-
tune came to be established, and how is was

integrated into the
music production process. It also details where and when it first
became popular,

and which artists have come to use it as a trade mark. This article comes

from TIME Magazine, which is a scholarly source, as defined by our school

library.


"Taking Pitch Co
rrection to the Limit."
NPRMusic
. NPR. June 2008.
National

Public Radio
. Web. Transcript. 2 Mar. 2010.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97312511

National Public Radio is a government grant funded radio program that involves
professional
s

speaking in part of their specific field.













11



Works Consulted


"Auto
-
Tune Abuse in Pop Music."
HomeTracked
. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

http://www.hometracked.com/2008/02/05/auto
-
tune
-
abuse
-
in
-
pop
-
music
-
10
-
examples


Bertino, Ni
c. "How to Auto
-
t
une your voice like T
-
Pain."
Auto Tuts+
.
N.p., 2010.

Web. 25 Feb. 2010.

http://audio.tutsplus.com/tutorials/production/how
-
to
-
autotune
-
your
-
vocals
-
like
-
t
-
pain
-
cher
-
or
-
daft
-
punl


Hathaway, Jay. "How to Auto
-
Tune Yourself in Garageband."
Download Squad
. N.p
.,

n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.


http://www.downloadsquad.com/2009/09/18/how
-
to
-
a
uto
-
tune
-
yourself
-
in
-
garageband


"Vocal Editing and Pitch Correction."
Steinburg
. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/musicproduction/cubase5_product/c
ubase5_newfea
tures/cubase5_newfeatures_2.html