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Is use of Auto-Tune in music fair?

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Some say that using Auto-Tune gives some singers an advantage, but others say that it's a fair tool to enhance vocal performances. What do you think?
  1. Live Poll

    Is use of Auto-Tune in music fair?

    7 votes
    1. Yes
    2. No

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  • ScienceRulesScienceRules 931 Pts   -  
    Well auto tune can make bad singers sound better but can't make them good singers. Hence the singer should work on his or her vocal skills but auto tune definitely makes different songs sound good. Since it is just like any other effect we apply so it is nothing bad. Just have to be used judiciously I would say.
    [Deleted User][Deleted User]
    Your love became a chorus played only by my memory.
  • DebateChampDebateChamp 139 Pts   -  

     I see Auto-Tune primarily is a tool that allows for the occasional pitch fixing of a small part of a vocal performance. Before Auto-Tune I had numerous debates with singers about a particular phrase that I felt was especially emotional and effective but had one slightly sharp or flat element. I’d say “But the performance is great! No one is going to notice that tiny pitch issue.” Often the singer “just can’t live with that line” so we’d record it again. (We’ve been fixing pitch in vocal performances by re-recording for a long time.) However, when we’d re-record the line, invariably it wouldn’t be quite as emotional or expressive, but it would be more in tune. The singer would be satisfied and I’d be disappointed. Now, thanks to Auto-Tune, I can pitch fix the little problem and save that great performance.

    Additionally, Auto-Tune is harangued as special effect or as an obvious effect on a vocal. From the robotic vocorder effect to flanged vocals, from “telephone” vocals to vocals with a lot of repeating echoes, we’ve been creating obvious effects on vocals for a long time. Vocal effects are fun. They can be creative and expressive, or they can be overdone and clichéd, but they are hardly new.

    Auto-Tune is sometimes used to fix an entire vocal performance, rendering it more accurately in tune than is natural. This may indeed make for a slightly less emotional performance, but it may also make for a slightly more engaging performance. It doesn’t rob the vocal of most of its expressive qualities: dynamics, vibrato, timbre, etc. It’s just a slight refinement and often just a matter of taste — not a wholesale destruction of musical expression.

    New technologies allow for new forms of creativity. They are essential to the process of renewal, to the seeds of inspiration. Abused, used poorly, tried as shortcuts rather than creative outlets — these faults lie with user. Nevertheless, McLuhan taught us that “the medium is the message.” If Auto-Tune is inherently bad then you have to argue that recording is inherently bad. One may argue that there have been negative effects of recording — the professionalization of music performance, for example — but I’d say the scale falls heavily in favor of recording as a cultural gift, and Auto-Tune as well.

    MayCaesar[Deleted User]
  • DebateChampDebateChamp 139 Pts   -  
    Well auto tune can make bad singers sound better but can't make them good singers. Hence the singer should work on his or her vocal skills but auto tune definitely makes different songs sound good. Since it is just like any other effect we apply so it is nothing bad. Just have to be used judiciously I would say.

    "Auto-Tune is great for fixing vocals, but we use Auto-Tune in a way it wasn't designed to work. A lot of people complain about musicians using Auto-Tune. It reminds me of the late '70s when musicians in France tried to ban the synthesizer. They said it was taking jobs away from musicians. What they didn't see was that you could use those tools in a new way instead of just for replacing the instruments that came before. People are often afraid of things that sound new." Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk)

    Technology has long held an uncomfortable position in music. Part of this discomfort inevitably comes from trying to understand technology's relationship to humanity and leads to an artificial separation of the two into dubiously separate spheres. From modern-day DJs exclusively using vinyl, to "March King" John Philip Sousa attacking recording technology, there has often been a mistrust of the supposedly new and technological in music. Auto-tune is just one of many examples of a technology being attacked for its supposed lack of authenticity, humanity or emotional content. Many fail to see either the increasingly creative uses of the technology or their own hypocrisy and elitism in attacking something as "technological".

  • DebateChampDebateChamp 139 Pts   -  

    If you turn on the radio these days and switch to a Top 40 station, you’ll notice that all the songs sound the same. Well, they do at least in one crucial category: Every pop singer has amazingly perfect pitch. Of course, the trend doesn’t come from a sudden influx of talent but from software. Auto-Tune, created by Antares Audio Technologies, can re-tune a singer’s pitches so that a tenor’s high A sung a quarter-tone flat lands at a perfect 440 Hz.

    On the surface, Auto-Tune sounds like trickery, and it is to some extent. But while attempts to stop the use of technology have failed in the past, the industry’s obsession with Auto-Tune will eventually fade, and there are signs that that day is nearly here.

    Most people know of Auto-Tune through the work of artists like T-Pain, who exaggerate the effect to achieve a distinct sound, or from comedy clips like “Auto-Tune the News,” which apply the technology to flat speech to give the impression that the person is singing. Fewer realize that the technology also is responsible for the remarkable pitch of nearly every pop record of the last decade and a half, or that live music at concerts is often filtered through software boxes that ensure a pitch-perfect performance.

    The original Auto-Tune algorithm was devised in 1996 by the creator of an oil-surveying technique, and it uses a mathematical trick involving autocorrelation functions to correct the pitch of sound waves. Almost immediately, mild doses of Auto-Tune were used to fix mistakes and avoid doing extra takes of songs, but the 1998 Cher song “Believe” became the first major hit to exhibit the characteristic “yodel” effect that occurs when the algorithm is cranked up to full-strength and the retune delay is set close to zero milliseconds.

    Auto-Tune unquestionably degrades the art of singing, largely because it makes pitch control a matter of a few mouse clicks rather than a challenge that once took many years to master. Worse, a generation of listeners accustomed to the centered pitches of Auto-Tuned recordings might have trouble enjoying jazz and blues singers, who often slide in and out of notes for effect.

    However, to say that AutoTune takes talent out of the equation is an exaggeration. The technology can’t make your little sister’s shower singing sound like Aretha Franklin. An average singer using AutoTune simply sounds like an average singer who has amazingly perfect pitch placement (see Katy Perry’s entire oeuvre).

    Auto-Tune may have lowered the bar for pop hits, but it only caps a half-century of movement away from conventional notions of talent and musicianship. Rap already showed that you can have a popular record without any singing at all, just rhythm and a story. Furthermore, aside from rare exceptions like Mariah Carey, pop singers of the past 30 years or so have become famous because of their style and their dance moves, not their dulcet tones, and AutoTune doesn’t make it any more or less true.

    It’s hard to imagine that, had Auto-Tune existed in the 1980s, the music of Madonna or Duran Duran would sound much different. If anything, Auto-Tune can be credited with bringing melody and songwriting back to the pop charts. If performers like Ke$ha want to use pitch-correction software to add a simple melody to the chorus of their rap songs, so be it.

    In addition, while AutoTune appears ubiquitous in the rarefied world of the Billboard Top 40, it hasn’t had nearly as big of an impact in other genres where musicianship has traditionally been more important, such as jazz. Furthermore, contestants on American Idol regularly serenade viewers without the software, and their pitch problems don’t seem to faze the show’s voters.

    After the auto-tuned comedy segment at the Oscars last month, I’m confident that the public is now aware enough about Auto-Tune that it is no longer a sneaky deception but simply a tool at an artist’s disposal. The comments that Auto-Tune blurs the line between reality and artifice could easily be made about digital editing, which allows engineers to create Frankenstein versions of vocal tracks cobbled from multiple different takes or even different singers. Yet no one would write songs about the “death of editing” the way Jay-Z urged other recording artists to stop using Auto-Tune.

  • DebateChampDebateChamp 139 Pts   -  
    As music continues to grow and evolve, obsession with perfect pitch will eventually subside. After all, it is boring to hear song after song where every pitch is perfectly centered. Untalented celebrities will always rely to studio magic to truss up their singles, and engineers may quietly use pitch correction algorithms behind the scenes to avoid doing additional takes. However, a new wave of artists who eschew pitch-correction will soon rise, just as punk emerged as a backlash against over-produced disco hits.
  • ScienceRulesScienceRules 931 Pts   -  
    Yes. Everyone inspite of criticising and attacking technology do use it in their life. Even talented singers use it sometimes. Definitely auto tune lacks a fine emotional touch but that doesn't mean it is bad. It all depends on how you use it. If people are having problem with the new algorithm they can always devise another or can go back to the original one, which was much less refined. 
    Autotune degrades, yes maybe it does. But I think it debases the singer's quality, passion and love for music cause he or she gets the correct pitch and almost everything merely by some clicks. Music or any other form of art requires pursuit, which he or she won't really value or understand.
    piloteer[Deleted User][Deleted User]
    Your love became a chorus played only by my memory.
  • independentlyindependently 106 Pts   -  
    I think it is fair, we developed this technology as it progressed in the music industry. People at one point thought capos on guitars were a cheap cheating tool for people who couldn't play barre chords, but now it is seen as a fair tool. Is it unfair to drive a car instead of walk? Thats how I see it.

    This technology also helps more of the less skilled create music that sounds good, along with things like DAWs making live performance/skill of instruments an option instead of a requirement for musicians. I think if creating music is easier, then we will get more music which is a win in my eyes.

    Now... is it FAIR that I have to hear OBVIOUS robotic autotune from modern artists now? My opinion might be different there.
    ScienceRules[Deleted User]piloteer
  • MonketrunkMonketrunk 78 Pts   -  
    I think that autotune is just a different sound. Some people don't enjoy listening to autotune and some believe it can really enhance an artist's abilities. I feel that it doesn't really matter if it is "cheating" if the listener gets a better final product overall. Obviously we should not try to restrict innovation in music (not saying that autotune is anything new). If we look back to around 2000-2010 we can see some really interesting examples of autotune, not as a tool to hide the fact that you cannot sing, but as a new way to create an interesting sound (particularly Daft Punk and Kanye West). I do not believe that artists should use it to make up for a lack of skill, but there is nothing stopping them from doing so.
  • piloteerpiloteer 1327 Pts   -   edited July 2020

    What do you mean by "auto-tune"? There is an auto-tune effect that can be used on a microphone, but the listeners can tell when that effect is being used. But there is also a method used after a vocal recording has been made, and they actually adjust the vocals if they are not in tune. That method is not apparent to the listeners at all.   

    I think either method is valid so long as it is applied to the artistic method.  
  • piloteerpiloteer 1327 Pts   -   edited July 2020

    I have no idea what it is about either method (With or without auto-tune)  that could be somehow disingenuous artistically. There are no rules when it comes to art, and the Cher song may have been annoying to the bulk of us, but it was because of that song that the fans actually got an understanding of the new technologies being used in recordings and live music and what is actually going on. That, in an of itself lends some credence to the artistic viability of that song. Cher does not actuallyneed to use an auto-tune because she can sing just fine. It is obvious that the use of the auto-tune in that song was for effect more than anything.  

    I also get the feeling that you think skill goes hand and hand with what constitutes good music. We all know Rush was absurdly amazing at everything, but I would much rather listen to a velvet underground song or something by the ramones than that self indulgent Canadian rubbish. Technical skill doesn't always make for great music, and a lack of skill doesn't always become rubbish.

     Truth be known, no matter how you slice it, Micheal Jackson was talented. He was a powerful singer, and he could dance like nobodies business. Even if it's pop, and the music is made for mass production, that doesn't  mean it lacks artistic sensibility, it just means you yourself do not prefer that type of music. 

    Lastly, your predictions of what happens in music like there's some kind of pattern that can be pinpointed, is merely conjecture. Nobody knows what will govern future trends in music, or any art forum for that matter. Plus, in basic terms, nobody knows the future.            
  • JustAnAllMightFanJustAnAllMightFan 497 Pts   -  
    I'd say it's fair because it's profitable. The music industry isn't about who is the most vocally talented, if that were the case the customer base would flock to different artists. It's about who is the most marketable and creative. You can't blame the industry they're only doing what is profitable.
  • xlJ_dolphin_473xlJ_dolphin_473 1506 Pts   -  
    piloteer said:

    What do you mean by "auto-tune"? There is an auto-tune effect that can be used on a microphone, but the listeners can tell when that effect is being used. But there is also a method used after a vocal recording has been made, and they actually adjust the vocals if they are not in tune. That method is not apparent to the listeners at all.   

    I think either method is valid so long as it is applied to the artistic method.  
    Antares Auto-Tune, the effect I am talking about, has a 'retune speed' wheel which changes how quickly the vocal is pulled to the selected note. A retune speed of zero gives the 'Cher effect' where the change is instantaneous. A longer retune speed will make for a subtler tuning effect. 
    I do see what you mean though, and I suppose this debate can apply to other pitch correction software like Melodyne, etc.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3947 Pts   -   edited July 2020
    I do not know if it is "fair" or not (depends on your definition of fairness), but it surely degrades the musical quality and makes it sound extremely fake. I am a huge audiophile and a musician, and I listen to a lot of Jazz and Blues with unfiltered singing. After that singing, listening to something with used auto-tune reminds me of those old early versions of machine-generated speech that sounded like stereotypical robots from old Hollywood sci-fi movies. It, frankly, does not even sound like a music produced by humans; it sounds like something a neural network has generated.

    Just compare these two versions of "We are the World": the old one:
    And the new one:
    Well, I could not listen to the new one past the 3rd minute, because of the overabundance of the auto-tune and other computer processing effects. The old version, on the other hand, sounds great and authentic. This is how human voice is supposed to sound: not in perfect tune with the perfect tone, but vibrating around it in chaotic patterns. This is something computer (at this stage, at least) has proven unable to replicate.

    This, really, is just a lazy way to produce a lot of music. I have produced some music with multiple instruments on my own, which is far harder than when you have an entire studio of professionals working - and still I never resorted to this. I could move some sounds around manually at the post-processing stage, increase or decrease volume of some sounds, etc. - but I would never resort to inserting fake sounds that were never played or sang. I only play with what I have managed to produce by actually playing the instruments with my hands; the tone, the instrument, etc. always stay as they were in the raw, original version.

    Modulating human sound is a fascinating topic to explore and learn to incorporate in modern music - but auto-tune is not the way to do it. You use auto-tune when you have just sang a song and only have a few minutes to produce a studio version of it - and even then you do not use it all over the place, but only in cases when the tone is completely off and only partially. And if your raw song has wrong tones everywhere, then you, probably, should not sing and should pay to a more experienced singer to produce the track for you. :)
  • xlJ_dolphin_473xlJ_dolphin_473 1506 Pts   -  
    Excellent post. I agree with you that for genres such as jazz and blues, autotune has no place in these genres. I produce EDM, and in this genre I use a lot of synthetic sounds... the entire genre revolves around the synthesiser, and because of the nature of the music, it's important for the vocals to be completely on-pitch and clean. One way of ensuring this is to use auto-tune. When editing vocals, I tend to use some auto-tune, just to tidy up the vocals everywhere. Human voices are not perfect, but for EDM, the music sounds better if they are. I'm not a huge Auto-Tune fan, but I use it quite a lot nonetheless. It may not be 'real' or 'authentic', but it saves me a lot of time, and makes the vocals sound clean. Thank you  :)
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3947 Pts   -   edited July 2020

    I see your point, and, I suppose, I was looking at these things from too narrow a perspective. I agree that in some musical styles auto-tune may be quite useful, as long as it is not overdone. ;)

    Even in Jazz and Blues, I always welcome instrumentalists who introduce new electronic sounds, adding new sides to the styles. I in particular like the Japanese pianist Keiko Matsui in this respect: she manages to combine traditional oriental music with jazz fusion and with various electronic sounds typically heard in sci-fi movie or video game soundtracks - and the combination of these is truly magnificent, creating almost a new style of music, yet having clearly determinable elements of particular styles. I recently obtained her album Walls of Akendora, featuring highly sophisticated and original songs, and there she truly let loose her desire to experiment with new electronic sounds - to a great effect.

    My objection, probably, should target not auto-tune itself, but how many musicians use / abuse it. There are absolutely valid ways to use it that make the final product better than it would be otherwise, and your approach sounds reasonable!
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