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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
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      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]
    • 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 2 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
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        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 3 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
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          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 4 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
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            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 5 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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              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 6 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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                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 7 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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                  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 8 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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                    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 9 of 12 , Dec 5, 2010
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                      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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