Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Real-time Pitch-perfect Singing with Autotuners

Autotuners are a piece of hardware that can correct and improve vocal pitch in real-time which are being used in the recording process and at concerts (GlobeTechnology). Unsurprisingly, people find this concept controversial, and this is clearly seen in the Slashdot article on the subject.

I'd say 90% of the Slashdot views are basically saying:

  • It's cheating and thus removes the emphasis on talent, which means that people with real talent get even less than they deserve.
  • It's against the spirit of what live music should be about. Imperfection is part of the live music deal, part of what makes it interesting. Interaction with the crowd and showmanship are what live music is about. People don't want the live performance to sound just like the CD.
    (There's a whole lot of stuff there which I think is pretty irrelevant, such as saying that that live music should be about improvisation and evolution of the music, which is irrelevant because using or not using an autotuner does not, in itself, have any bearing on this issue. There's also a number of autotuner/kareoke jokes :-))

    I can appreaciate their concerns. I prefer music that's genuine, too. However, Autotuners are a simply a tool, and like any other tool can be used for "good" and "bad" (as an example of the "good", if a singer in can't quite hit a note right in the studio on a particular day an autotuner can save a lot of time and money, which is certainly good for the little guy). The real issue is why commercialism has such a hold and whether anything can be done about it.

    But surely, you might say, there's nothing wrong with pointing out that something's wrong? The problem is with treating a symptom as if it were a cause, because it's unproductive and hides the real issue.

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