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Author Topic: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)  (Read 6752 times)

Bruno Putzeys

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Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« on: April 11, 2011, 05:55:13 am »

I'm just back from Rwanda where I visited the missus who's still waiting for a residence permit to come over to Belgium. That, clearly, is a private worry. A less private worry concerns Rwandan pop music as can be heard blaring in markets and minibuses. Most, but not all, are built on a zouk beat. Most are fairly monotonous (no breaks, no changes). Every single one of them, no exceptions, has autotune on the voice, set to maximum for effect. There are no pop songs on the radio where the vocalist's voice can be heard the way it sounds normally. None at all. Forget about hypercompression. Stop worrying about youths supposedly preferring coding artefacts over linear PCM. This is real drama: a whole generation of African kids growing up without ever hearing what a singing human sounds like.

I could find no better example of how colonialism works. Some new idea, stripped of context, washes up on a foreign shore and gets taken for the essence of modernity. The missionaries of old started by building a church first, then a school, then stopped short of completing the hospital. African countries are now more religious than Salt Lake City and several managed to replace their own language with French or English entirely, because that would make them modern, or so the missionaries said. Then came the IMF, imposing privatisation as the essence of economics. This includes all of the infrastructure that isn't there yet and therefore not a profitable investment as it would only serve goat farmers who can't provide the return. They, in turn, remain goat farmers, with Jesus and the Virgin Mary plastered on their walls and a clutch of 7 or more children who greet passing abazungu with "good morning" right until dusk (after which we all turn black which makes them lose interest).

And in its own small way, here's autotune posing as the essence of modern music making, barging in to wipe out an entire tradition. When will people realise that randomly selected ideas delivered to isolated cultures turn into cargo cults? I know it's pointless to blame autotune for this, but some ideas had better stayed in the lab.
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Bill_Urick

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2011, 06:23:15 am »

Damn, Bruno.

Hope she's able to join you soon. Sorry you guys are having to go through this.

Sorry 'bout the autotune as well...
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rjc

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2011, 09:25:31 am »

...And in its own small way, here's autotune posing as the essence of modern music making, barging in to wipe out an entire tradition. When will people realise that randomly selected ideas delivered to isolated cultures turn into cargo cults? I know it's pointless to blame autotune for this, but some ideas had better stayed in the lab.

I know what you mean, but there may be life (music) after auto-tune. And I think that applies to all cultures on the planet. The invasion of robot voices is everywhere and blots out a lot of what went before.

That is, autotune really only produces the semblance of music, leaving out the life and depth, reality and excitement - it's soul. What's produced is a curiously vapid sound that is superficially a bit similar to music. But far less interesting.

After enough people have managed to bore themselves silly with this particular latest and greatest invention, it could be that singing and human performance will resurface.
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Ray Cologon
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ExcuseMe

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2011, 04:26:49 pm »

I really do hate auto-tune being overused.  Then again, I really hate rock music being homogenized into denim jackets and misogynistic lyrics.  But music comes and goes, in waves.  Right now there is some kid in his basement, listening to the Clash, Boston or Nirvana on his headphones, and he's going to change the world. 
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ExcuseMe

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2011, 05:08:44 pm »

A random little update on this subject.  My buddy and I were talking about auto-tune while I was helping him put up some sound blankets in his studio for a demo.  He said he always uses auto-tune, and had even used it on my album, he just didn't bother to tell me.  When I looked shocked, he just shrugged.  "I know how to use it properly.  Apparently getting paid millions of dollars as a producer makes you forget how." 
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itallchanged

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 12:51:43 am »

I don't use it at all. I don't understand how it ended up being used so much. Ive had a break from playing music and recording.. I'm slowly getting back in to it.. I honestly stay away from whats being recorded these days, unless a friend points out music that was actually played and sung by humans.. I believe computer recording is a net loss.. It has not improved music at all, imho. It has allowed everyone to record.. I don't see this as a good thing.

This 'thing' we do is so different now. As a player and singer whos been at it for a very long time, I cant believe what passes for 'good' pop music.. I just cant believe it..

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Rabbit

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2011, 03:41:18 am »

I've managed to avoid using it so far. I know I'm going to feel like a thief or worse the first time I do. Must be that Catholic upbringing or something....
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rjc

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2011, 11:17:10 am »

I've managed to avoid using it so far. I know I'm going to feel like a thief or worse the first time I do. Must be that Catholic upbringing or something....

Well, yes, but try not to feel too bad about it.

On one level, it's actually somewhat analogous to the distant past where an invention that solved a different musical problem - the electric guitar - was viewed with skepticism and alarm by an older generation who thought it sounded harsh and unmusical, and who supposed it was probably a fad that (to their mind, thankfully) would be over soon enough. I remember listening to their conversations with some skepticism of my own.

Meanwhile, I've recently read that there are singers who enjoy and aspire to the sound of autotune so much that they've learned to mimic its artifacts, with the result that they sound autotuned even when they aren't. Seems self-defeatingly silly to me, but what do I know.  ???   ;)
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Ray Cologon
Darksky Media
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killdill045

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2015, 03:54:32 am »

I'm slowly getting back in to it.. I honestly stay away from whats being recorded these days, unless a friend points out music that was actually played and sung by humans.. I believe computer recording is a net loss.. It has not improved music at all, imho. It has allowed everyone to record.. I don't see this as a good thing. ?
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Jim Williams

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2015, 12:49:59 pm »

It's not all bad, I've had a few belly laughs at a karaoke bar hearing folks attempt to sound like they are using auto-tune. It's like humans tring to sound like Cylons.
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Mx. Remy Ann David

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2015, 03:28:04 am »

Here's my take on auto-tune. Get it? I said take.Okay now I'm going to get serious... if that's possible?

Auto-tune is great. If it's not overused or relied upon to turn non-talent into talent.

We all don't record every kind of music art genre out there. Some of us are a little more selective. So I only work with people who actually have, talent. But they must be able to deliver a good live performance.  And in that recorded performance (whether studio or live or live in the studio) and they deliver great performance... except for that one or two slightly mis-pitched notes. And I know they have the talent to deliver. I'll correct those couple of notes with auto-tune. Whether it is sung or played on an instrument.

But if they can't deliver a good live performance? I'm not going to perpetuate a fraud. I can't. I won't.

I've worked with the best of the best. And both of my parents were world-class musicians and singers. My ex was a world-class operatic singer. And recording those types of people are pleasure beyond belief!

For the working-class garbage... I mean garage band, bands. I'll still make small corrections here and there but not everywhere.

So when everybody is finally ready to barf over these over relied upon computer oriented productions. We might get back to some actual music? But then, the masses are the masses. And most of them are relatively talent free, talent light, low Cal talent, light talent, talent less. Then screw them! Let somebody else be the whore that will record them. They're still going to go out of business. Because their horrors. And they have no integrity.

So I'm broke but I have my integrity and my studio. And hopefully that soon will change? As I am in a new place now where people do come to make their mark on the music world. And not all garage I mean garbage bands.

Mx. Remy Ann David
CROWmobile.com
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Jim Williams

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2015, 11:02:28 am »

40 years ago I had crappy recording gear and amazing artists to record.

Now I have amazing recording gear and crappy artists to record.
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oneflightup

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Re: Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 06:58:19 am »

Hey Bruno,

I enjoyed reading your rant :) Very articulately put.

I try and keep away from auto tune as much as possible.

I like Jim's comment.... indeed, where are all the singers who can actually sing?!

Nick

One Flight Up Recording Studios
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