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Re: [bbshop] Use of Autotune

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  • Jeffrey Reifsnyder
    Tim, A buzz isn t really a tell-tale of autotune s use. That probably means you were hearing a problem with the speakers you were listening with. It doesn t
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
      Tim,

      A "buzz" isn't really a tell-tale of autotune's use. That probably means you
      were hearing a problem with the speakers you were listening with. It doesn't
      really mess with the vocal quality too much, at least in small doses,
      although there is certainly a difference. I tend to notice that voices sound
      too perfect or too computerized with autotune. That's due to the inherent
      digital modification of the sound waves; in a graph of the sound waves, the
      autotuned voice will look more smooth than the raw recording. My biggest
      annoyance with autotune is that it's not Pythagorean tempering, it's equal
      tempering (in layman's terms, pure tuning versus the tuning of a piano's
      keys). Although, some of the new versions apparently let you get a more fine
      tuned control of the notes. The average listener won't notice the tiny
      tuning issues in an equal tempered tuning anyway.

      Bad autotuned tracks will have a very stepped sound to them; swipes will be
      broken down by the program to individual notes instead. However, skilled
      recording engineers can get around that.

      To answer your specific question, autotune speeds up the process. Or, in the
      case of not so hot singers, makes it possible at all.
      From wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune):
      In 2009, *Time* magazine quoted an unnamed Grammy-winning recording engineer
      as saying, "Let's just say I've had Auto-Tune save vocals on everything from
      Britney Spears to Bollywood cast albums. And every singer now presumes that
      you'll just run their voice through the box." The same article expressed
      "hope that pop's fetish for uniform perfect pitch will fade", speculating
      that pop-music songs have become harder to differentiate from one another,
      as "track after track has perfect pitch."[18][19] Timothy Powell, a
      producer/engineer stated in 2003 that he is "even starting to see vocal
      tuning devices show up in concert settings"; he states that "That's more of
      an ethical dilemma�people pay a premium dollar to see artists and artists
      want people to see them at their
      best."<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune#cite_note-Tribune-10>

      Another quote taken from wikipedia:
      According to the *Boston Herald*, "Country stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
      have both confessed to using Auto-Tune in performance, claiming it is a
      safety net that guarantees a good performance.

      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune#cite_note-8>I hope that helps.


      Jeffrey Reifsnyder
      e-mail: jayreif@...
      cell: (713) 890 - 2530


      On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 3:45 PM, tpblead <tpbuell@...> wrote:

      >
      >
      > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I
      > really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant
      > use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to
      > tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but
      > my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I
      > heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of
      > Autotune.
      >
      > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to
      > staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of
      > this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the
      > performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right,
      > would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
      >
      > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude
      > going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on,
      > or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they
      > couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other)
      > show.
      >
      > Thoughts?
      >
      > Tim Buell
      > Autotune free.
      > And usually at least close to on key.
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • GSBMedalMusic@comcast.net
      Autotune use reminds me of the older method of dubbing Marni Nixon s voice for Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady!) and Natalie Wood (West Side Story) being the most
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
        Autotune use reminds me of the older method of dubbing Marni Nixon's voice
        for Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady!) and Natalie Wood (West Side Story)
        being the most notable.
        (Don't even get me started on the il-logic of casting Audrey Hepburn
        for the Eliza Doolittle
        when it should have been Julie Andrews all along....)

        It's the "cheaters method"! That's why it just feels WRONG to those
        of us who work so hard to be really good
        at our particular singing craft.

        While the overdubbing MAY have created temporary good "Hollywood",
        it really cheated us in the long run of having the best person for the job
        enshrined forever in film/video. Stupid producers.......

        That being said, I will though confess that my just-prior quartet
        used a form of Autotune to fix a ***few*** notes
        here and there.

        Even though we had (thank God!) our 5th ear in the studio with us (my
        husband Jay G.)
        to help monitor what we did record ("Good take, but we can do it
        better!" "Ok we have a punch point at
        just before the tag." etc. etc. etc.), we still had the reality of
        the economics involved.
        At $100 per hour for studio/engineer/5th ear time, we need to keep
        efficiency in mind
        for our anticipated budget. And we were NOT inclined to go over
        budget, with none
        of us necessarily being (ahem) independently wealthy. ;-)

        Most everything we did, though, probably 98-99%, was "autotune" free
        on that recording,
        so I don't feel like we "cheated" people out of what we REALLY
        sounded like - live and in person.
        Those who bought our CD told us they listened to it over and over and
        over again,
        so I knew we had created a worthy product and not one steeped in
        musical artifice.

        [BTW, I'm one of those "audiophiles" still hanging on to a rather
        VAST vinyl records collection
        simply because the quality - full, rich, resonant in harmonics
        spectrum - has not yet been beat
        by the digitalized, "compression", synthized, autotune era.]

        On a diff. tack but related, I recently met one of the legendary
        "one-take wonders" in the Chicago
        voiceover world. He was having fun playing trombone at the jazz "show
        up with your horn and sit in" night
        at an area restaurant. (Thanks Annie Mac! to you and your mom!)
        THAT kind of talent - "one take" to lay down accurate and appealing
        singing vocals - was HIGHLY
        prized and rewarded in the ad industry. I'm guessing it still is, but
        the jobs are just fewer and farther in between
        because the ads world doesn't seem to value writing great catchy
        jingles much any more.

        - Helen Giallombardo
        autotune-knowledgeable but leaning heavily towards the "keep it real" end
        of the auditory spectrum
      • Shelley Herman
        Here s the story about My Fair Lady: Movie studio head Jack Warner decided Andrews lacked sufficient name recognition for her casting in the film version of My
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
          Here's the story about My Fair Lady:

          Movie studio head Jack Warner decided Andrews lacked sufficient name
          recognition for her casting in the film version of My Fair Lady; Eliza was
          played by the established film actress Audrey Hepburn instead. As Warner
          later recalled, the decision was easy, "In my business I have to know who
          brings people and their money to a movie theatre box office. Audrey Hepburn
          had never made a financial flop."

          My personal opinion is, although I am a very strong Julie Andrews fan, I
          think that Audrey Hepburn is one of the most beautiful women that ever lived
          and that she and Marni Nixon did a wonderful job as Eliza. When she walked
          down the stairs in that white dress, I thought that she was the most
          stunning lady I ever saw.

          BTW Marni Nixon appeared in the Sound Of Music. She was one of the nuns.

          Replacing voices in movies is nothing new. We were even shown how it works
          in Singin' In The Rain, and we are lucky to have Mario Lanza's voice in the
          Student Prince instead of a lesser voice.

          When making recordings we always keep in mind that, unlike live performance,
          a recording will be played and replayed many times and the performance must
          be as close to perfection as is possible. That's why we do retakes and
          punch-in's. Auto tune is another story, it's often making up for lack of
          ability.

          Shelley Herman
          saherman@...
        • Webb, Allan
          The best revenge for Julie Andrews is the fact that she won the 1965 Oscar for Best Actress (for Mary Poppins), and Audrey Hepburn wasn t even nominated for My
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
            The best revenge for Julie Andrews is the fact that she won the 1965 Oscar for Best Actress (for Mary Poppins), and Audrey Hepburn wasn't even nominated for My Fair Lady that year (although the movie itself won for Best Picture and a few other things). Julie Andrews was nominated again the following year for Sound Of Music (which won Best Picture). So much for the studios knowing what they're doing.

            Allan

            --
            Allan Webb
            Certified Director, Barbershop Harmony Society
            Lead Emeritus, Masters of Harmony
            Lead, Pacific Coast Harmony
            Senior Staff IT Engineer, Qualcomm Incorporated
            San Diego, CA
            awebb@...
            --


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Michael Moran
            When music is recorded today many affects are used. Some are for pitch and bend and others are used to enhance the sound. Sometimes they use them because they
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
              When music is recorded today many affects are used. Some are for pitch and bend and others are used to enhance the sound. Sometimes they use them because they can and the young folks today aren't in to real true audio. When producing a show, time is money and money is time. Many producers of programs such as the one you are talking about want to get it done and move on with no respect for talent and artistry. They are paying for studio time. The beautiful thing about Barbershop and some other forms of acapella music is that it is real, it has feeling and it touches our hearts and souls.

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: tpblead
              To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2010 4:45 PM
              Subject: [bbshop] Use of Autotune



              Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.

              I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.

              My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.

              Thoughts?

              Tim Buell
              Autotune free.
              And usually at least close to on key.





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • karenmaney
              To those who think Autotune just has equal temperament, it actually has 29 different tuning systems. Here s an experiment:
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
                To those who think Autotune just has equal temperament, it actually has 29 different tuning systems. Here's an experiment:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE8DvCx54v8

                I autotuned the same intro on several different systems. They are not in the order listed in the video screen. I want to see if barbershoppers actually prefer one over the rest. I included pythagorean, mean temperament, and just intonation since I've heard barbershoppers talk about all of these. Also included are two I've never heard of, "partch" and "valotti," and the dreaded equal temperament.

                Can you tell the difference?

                Karen Maney
                www.SingMyPart.com



                --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "tpblead" <tpbuell@...> wrote:
                >
                > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.
                >
                > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
                >
                > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.
                >
                > Thoughts?
                >
                > Tim Buell
                > Autotune free.
                > And usually at least close to on key.
                >
              • Ben McDaniel
                Auto-Tune can give a really neat effect to the voice when used as an effect. I don t like it when it is used to fix tuning, though, because it sounds weird
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
                  Auto-Tune can give a really neat effect to the voice when used as an
                  effect. I don't like it when it is used to fix tuning, though, because
                  it sounds weird (hence its value as an effect). One problem is that
                  the voice doesn't sound right when it is completely pitch-steady, and
                  the other problem is that it screws up consonants. And when it fixes
                  pitch, it changes the timbre, which affects the vowels and the tone
                  color and individuality of the voice.

                  As an effect, it's just like any other cool solo vocal effect, whether
                  it's narrow bandpass (like the Beastie Boys), talk box (like Peter
                  Frampton), speeding up or slowing down the vocals (like Strawberry
                  Fields Forever), backmasking (like "!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC
                  er'yehT"), intentionally analog-overdriven vocals, or any kind of
                  phaser or delay. Most of those would might not work do much for
                  ensemble singing, but they can sound really cool with solo vocals.

                  Auto-Tune is only one of the problems with modern vocal recordings.
                  Another is extreme compression and clipping. The audio is compressed
                  (I'm not talking about data compression, but rather the audio effect)
                  until everything is the same volume, and then it is turned up so high
                  that all the waveforms are clipped and everything sounds loud. The
                  overcompression results in obvious changes in tone (if you make a
                  single note louder, it sounds more bassy; if you make it softer, it
                  sounds more trebley -- overcompression results in the volume and tone
                  changing constantly). The clipping results in lots of non-harmonic
                  distortion (harmonic distortion is like a blues guitar; non-harmonic
                  distortion is like a blown speaker).

                  And, of course, data compression screws up audio as well. A high
                  bit-rate mp3 doesn't sound bad, but audio data compression with a low
                  bit rate or one that's been compressed multiple times gets a jangly
                  sound that's just horrible. It's on television all the time now that
                  the audio is digital and the data is compressed (it's most noticeable
                  when an audience is applauding -- listen for that jangly sound during
                  applause sometime), and it's really terrible on internet videos. It's
                  even a problem in movies, where rather than using no data compression
                  with standard 16-bit 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling per channel, which is all
                  the human ear can hear, they use a higher bit rate and sampling and
                  compress the audio data. So they're adding compression that make the
                  sound worse -- you can actually hear it -- so that they can have
                  dynamic precision that you can't hear and high frequencies that you
                  can't hear. (Actually, now that I think about it, for movies 16-bit
                  might not be enough precision -- it's so loud that you could hear when
                  a sound dropped from one bit to zero bits, unless they added some
                  one-bit noise, which might be audible on a big theatre sound system.
                  But there's absolutely no reason to make the sampling rate higher than
                  40-some kHz.)

                  Anyway, I'm not sure why I felt the need to say all of that, but
                  Auto-Tune, audio compression, clipping, and audio data compression
                  really bother me. Give me a recording of a quartet (or any music) with
                  a stereo pair any day (the audible difference between individual mics
                  and a stereo pair is a rant for another day).

                  Ben McDaniel
                  Newton, Kansas
                • Paul Girard
                  ... The smoothing may be taking the overtones out. ... The term pure tuning doesn t explain the idea. I would say rational tuning, as in Just Intonation
                  Message 8 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
                    On Dec 2, 2010, at 6:58 AM, bbshop@yahoogroups.com wrote:

                    > Re: Use of Autotune
                    > Posted by: "Jeffrey Reifsnyder" jayreif@... jay.reif
                    > Wed Dec 1, 2010 7:21 pm (PST)
                    >
                    > Tim,
                    >
                    > A "buzz" isn't really a tell-tale of autotune's use. That probably
                    > means you
                    > were hearing a problem with the speakers you were listening with. It
                    > doesn't
                    > really mess with the vocal quality too much, at least in small doses,
                    > although there is certainly a difference. I tend to notice that
                    > voices sound
                    > too perfect or too computerized with autotune. That's due to the
                    > inherent
                    > digital modification of the sound waves; in a graph of the sound
                    > waves, the
                    > autotuned voice will look more smooth than the raw recording.

                    The smoothing may be taking the overtones out.

                    > My biggest
                    > annoyance with autotune is that it's not Pythagorean tempering, it's
                    > equal
                    > tempering (in layman's terms, pure tuning versus the tuning of a
                    > piano's
                    > keys).

                    The term "pure" tuning doesn't explain the idea. I would say
                    "rational" tuning, as in Just Intonation ratios or "harmonic" tuning.

                    > <snip>

                    > Jeffrey Reifsnyder
                    > e-mail: jayreif@...
                    > cell: (713) 890 - 2530



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Bruce B
                    Saw a neat demo on Youtube using barbershop to show teh sound with and without autotune. Check out:
                    Message 9 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
                      Saw a neat demo on Youtube using barbershop to show teh sound with and without autotune. Check out:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20-ydkc094E&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1


                      Bruce Baedke <><
                      Bass - Pride of Iowa Chorus

                      --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "tpblead" <tpbuell@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.
                      >
                      > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
                      >
                      > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.
                      >
                      > Thoughts?
                      >
                      > Tim Buell
                      > Autotune free.
                      > And usually at least close to on key.
                      >
                    • marty.lovick
                      Great Gold medallists .. true champions, and ... oh never mind :-]
                      Message 10 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
                        Great Gold medallists .. true champions, and ... oh never mind :-]

                        --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "Bruce B" <kbaedke@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Saw a neat demo on Youtube using barbershop to show teh sound with and without autotune. Check out:
                        >
                        > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20-ydkc094E&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1
                        >
                        >
                        > Bruce Baedke <><
                        > Bass - Pride of Iowa Chorus
                        >
                        > --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "tpblead" <tpbuell@> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.
                        > >
                        > > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
                        > >
                        > > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.
                        > >
                        > > Thoughts?
                        > >
                        > > Tim Buell
                        > > Autotune free.
                        > > And usually at least close to on key.
                        > >
                        >
                      • Michael Moran
                        Ben that was a very well thought explanation. ... From: Ben McDaniel To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 11:24 AM Subject: [bbshop]
                        Message 11 of 12 , Dec 5, 2010
                          Ben that was a very well thought explanation.

                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: Ben McDaniel
                          To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 11:24 AM
                          Subject: [bbshop] Re: Use of Autotune



                          Auto-Tune can give a really neat effect to the voice when used as an
                          effect. I don't like it when it is used to fix tuning, though, because
                          it sounds weird (hence its value as an effect). One problem is that
                          the voice doesn't sound right when it is completely pitch-steady, and
                          the other problem is that it screws up consonants. And when it fixes
                          pitch, it changes the timbre, which affects the vowels and the tone
                          color and individuality of the voice.

                          As an effect, it's just like any other cool solo vocal effect, whether
                          it's narrow bandpass (like the Beastie Boys), talk box (like Peter
                          Frampton), speeding up or slowing down the vocals (like Strawberry
                          Fields Forever), backmasking (like "!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC
                          er'yehT"), intentionally analog-overdriven vocals, or any kind of
                          phaser or delay. Most of those would might not work do much for
                          ensemble singing, but they can sound really cool with solo vocals.

                          Auto-Tune is only one of the problems with modern vocal recordings.
                          Another is extreme compression and clipping. The audio is compressed
                          (I'm not talking about data compression, but rather the audio effect)
                          until everything is the same volume, and then it is turned up so high
                          that all the waveforms are clipped and everything sounds loud. The
                          overcompression results in obvious changes in tone (if you make a
                          single note louder, it sounds more bassy; if you make it softer, it
                          sounds more trebley -- overcompression results in the volume and tone
                          changing constantly). The clipping results in lots of non-harmonic
                          distortion (harmonic distortion is like a blues guitar; non-harmonic
                          distortion is like a blown speaker).

                          And, of course, data compression screws up audio as well. A high
                          bit-rate mp3 doesn't sound bad, but audio data compression with a low
                          bit rate or one that's been compressed multiple times gets a jangly
                          sound that's just horrible. It's on television all the time now that
                          the audio is digital and the data is compressed (it's most noticeable
                          when an audience is applauding -- listen for that jangly sound during
                          applause sometime), and it's really terrible on internet videos. It's
                          even a problem in movies, where rather than using no data compression
                          with standard 16-bit 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling per channel, which is all
                          the human ear can hear, they use a higher bit rate and sampling and
                          compress the audio data. So they're adding compression that make the
                          sound worse -- you can actually hear it -- so that they can have
                          dynamic precision that you can't hear and high frequencies that you
                          can't hear. (Actually, now that I think about it, for movies 16-bit
                          might not be enough precision -- it's so loud that you could hear when
                          a sound dropped from one bit to zero bits, unless they added some
                          one-bit noise, which might be audible on a big theatre sound system.
                          But there's absolutely no reason to make the sampling rate higher than
                          40-some kHz.)

                          Anyway, I'm not sure why I felt the need to say all of that, but
                          Auto-Tune, audio compression, clipping, and audio data compression
                          really bother me. Give me a recording of a quartet (or any music) with
                          a stereo pair any day (the audible difference between individual mics
                          and a stereo pair is a rant for another day).

                          Ben McDaniel
                          Newton, Kansas




                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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