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Autotune, on balance, imho, evil. (warning: rant)

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Bruno Putzeys:
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.

Bill_Urick:
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...

rjc:

--- Quote from: Bruno Putzeys on April 11, 2011, 05:55:13 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.

--- End quote ---

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.

ExcuseMe:
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. 

ExcuseMe:
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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