The Magic of Autotune

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A pure voice is such an enchanting thing to hear. It is our main focus at Lochwood to train students to hit the right notes with spirit, character, and plenty of personality. They are taught to follow the proper techniques to sing correctly, and to let their individuality shine in their voices. Most of all, we value the principle of encouraging students to improve their own voice without attempting to imitate someone else's.

However, these days it is a rare occurrence to hear personality in a song. There is no quirk in the perfect notes, no flaw in any of the polished voices. This causes so many students to become discouraged when they hear music playing on the radio that sounds nothing like their own voice. They forget how fabricated it actually is--yet it is so important to remember that most pop music has been manipulated almost to a point beyond recognition. "We were born to be real, not to be perfect,"--but unfortunately, the original recording and true voice of the artist is often lost in the onslaught of autotune and the changes it brings.

NATS Journal of Singing features an article on what is called "cosmetic surgery for the voice." Written by Paul Presto, Jr. with Robert Edwin--who is a leading authority on Contemporary Commercial Music and child voice pedagogy--the article discusses the illusion of computer programs used to 'improve' the voice considerably. The two men equate the process to steroids taken by athletes and plastic surgery for beauty pageant contestants.

The most interesting part of the article was their experiment. Robert created an alter ego known as 'Les Pitchy' and recorded a version of The Star-Spangled Banner in which he sang badly on purpose, simply so that Paul could work his magic to 'fix' the off-key piece. He pulled up the recording with Pro-Tools--the Photoshop of a musician's world--and corrected the many cracks and mistakes. The end result made Robert's voice sound completely different--turning something incredibly lousy into something near perfection. You can listen to the two versions down below.

This serves to remind us that you were born with the voice that you have to use it to the best of your ability! Never try to become someone else, because you will lose sight of what you were meant for. The true manner of achieving a beautiful voice is to embrace yours for what it is, and become the best you can be :)

Author: Kirstan D.

Resource: NATS Journal of Singing, January/February 2011: Volume 67, No. 3, pp. 327-330