Saturday, March 16, 2013

Auto tune article

Just read a wonderful article (shout out to Craig Havighurst for tweeting it).

"@chavighurst: In case you missed it, the best article about auto-tune ever:"

First, I must say that going into the article I was dead set against auto tune. I'm a fan of live music and the little "misses" and ad-libs just give music & singing character. Yes you want it to be pleasing to the ear, but natural pleasing is always better than fake pleasing to me.

There were several things in the article worth quoting - "As humans, we crave connection, not perfection." I couldn't agree more, which is one reason I prefer live acoustic music - from both sides of the microphone.

"“It’s makin’ me money, so I ain’t about to stop!” T-Pain told DJ Skee in 2008."

This reminds me that it's the music BUSINESS and profit drives it, so it comes as no surprise. Like other things in modern music though, *I* don't have to like it. :-)

There's an analogy that the creator of auto tune uses when asks is it evil - “My wife wears makeup, does that make her evil?”

That's a great analogy. I prefer women with less makeup - more natural and less fake, but a little eye shadow never hurt. :-) But makeup caked on like a clown face... Nope.

He also says - “I just make the car. I don’t drive it down the wrong side of the road.”

This next quote really sums up the main problem I have with auto tune - "Neil Young, Bob Dylan, many of the classic artists whose voices are less than pitch perfect – they probably would be pitch corrected if they started out today."

This next quote is kind of long, but you need the entire paragraph to see it in context...

“"I was listening to some young people in a studio a few years ago, and they were like, ‘I don’t think The Beatles were so good,’” says producer Eric Drew Feldman. They were discussing the song “Paperback Writer.” “They’re going, ‘They were so sloppy! The harmonies are so flat!”"

Now ANY technology that makes people think the Beatles were "[not] so good" should raise a red flag. Okay, maybe not the technology, but the overuse of it at least.

Again, I'm a fan of live music. I like it organic. I play with a gospel group most weekends and they still use a lot of live music but they also use more and more tracks. They are doing something I've started seeing a trend of - using tracks for part of the music and playing along using the live instruments.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not knocking it! It has allowed more and more people to experience singing in public, and that's a good thing. But given my druthers... Well - it's live music all the way. :-)

The article's author ends with an example of letting a friend use auto tune to let four of them sing in good harmony. It made something mediocre into something they were proud of, and that's okay.

By the end of the article I had changed my mind about auto tune. I don't hate it anymore, but I do hate the overuse of it. :-)

Here's the last quote, and I think it's a great summation of her thoughts as well as mine...

"The Auto-Tune or not Auto-Tune debate always seems to turn into a moralistic one, like somehow you have more integrity if you don’t use it, or only use it occasionally. But seeing how really innocuous-yet-lovely it could be, made me rethink. If I were a professional musician, would I reject the opportunity to sound, what I consider to be, “my best,” out of principle?

The answer to that is probably no. But then it gets you wondering. How many insecure artists with “annoying” voices will retune themselves before you ever have a chance to fall in love?"

1 comment:

Craig H said...

Wise and balanced response. I decided I'm glad auto-tune came along if only because it's forced this important philosophical idea of authenticity versus artifice into the musical conversation.