The Science of Autotune: How Singers Use Technology to Perfect Their Voices

You've probably heard it before: that weird, electronic sound in a singer's voice. That's autotune. And while you may think it's a crutch used by less-talented singers, the truth is that autotune is actually an essential tool for many vocalists. In this article, we'll explore why singers use autotune and how it helps them perfect their voices. We'll also discuss the science behind this technology and why it works so well. So if you're curious about autotune, read on!

The Science of Autotune: How Singers Use Technology to Perfect Their Voices

What Is Autotune and How Does It Work?

Autotune is a software program that is used to correct pitch in recorded music. It works by analyzing the communication and tone of the person singing or playing an instrument and then automatically adjusts the pitch to match what it hears. This gives the recording a more polished sound and can make it easier to sing along to or play with other instruments. 

Autotune has been around since the late 1990s, and was originally meant for use in studios to make recordings sound better. However, it soon became popular with artists who wanted to use it to create new sounds or change their voices in interesting ways. Today, autotune is used by all sorts of musicians, from pop stars to rappers to metal bands. 

While some people believe that autotune should not be used, as it takes away from the performer's natural ability, others argue that it is a useful tool that can help singers to sound their best. When used sparingly, autotune can be an effective way to improve the quality of a vocal performance. However, it can make a singer sound unnatural and robotic when overused.

Why Do Singers Use Auto-Tune?

There are several reasons why singers use Auto-Tune:

To Change Their Voice

To change their voice

One of the most common reasons is to change the sound of their voice. This can be used to make a singer sound more like their audience expects them to, or to make them stand out from the crowd. 


To Ensure All Notes Are Sung In Tune

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Another reason why singers use Auto-Tune is to make sure that all of the notes they sing are in tune. This is especially important for singers who want to record their vocals, as it can be difficult for a less experienced vocalist to stay in tune when singing without a backing track. 


To Fix the Pitch of A Note

It is easy to go off-pitch when singing, especially when singing high notes. Auto-Tune can be used to fix the pitch of a note that has been sung out of tune and make it sound more like the note that was intended to be sung. 


To Create New Sounds

to create new sounds

Auto-Tune can also be used to create new and interesting sounds. By manipulating the pitch of their voice, singers can create sounds that would not be possible to create without the use of Auto-Tune.


It Is Easier to Use Auto-Tune than To Sing in Tune

As mentioned above, not all singers are gifted with the ability to sing in tune. (Insane, really, that should be the minimum requirement to be a successful singer!)

This is where Auto-Tune comes in handy, as it can be used to ensure that all notes are sung in tune, without the singer needing to put in any extra effort. 


To Be In Tune With The Rest Of The Song

When recording vocals, it is important to make sure that they are in tune with the rest of the song. This can be a challenge, especially if the singer is not singing with a backing track. Auto-Tune can be used to ensure that the vocals match the pitch of the other instruments in the song, making for a more polished

sound.


To Save Time and Money

To save time and money

In a perfect world, all singers would be able to sing in tune and wouldn't need the help of Auto-Tune. However, this is not the case. Hiring a vocal coach to help you learn how to sing in tune can be expensive, and it can take a lot of time to see results. Auto-Tune is a much quicker and cheaper way to get your vocals sounding in tune.


To Sound Like Everyone Else

In the music industry, there is a lot of pressure to sound like the music that is already selling. This can be especially true for singers who are just starting out, as they may feel like they need to imitate the successful singers of the moment in order to have a chance at success. While this is not necessarily a good reason to use Auto-Tune, it is certainly one of the reasons why some singers choose to use it.

How Has Autotune Been Used in The Music Industry?

Autotune in Popular Culture

autotune in pop culture

Autotune has been a controversial topic ever since its inception in the late 1990s. Originally designed as a tool to help correct pitch issues in recorded vocals, autotune quickly became synonymous with the over-produced, robotic sound of pop music.

In recent years, however, autotune has undergone a renaissance of sorts, with many artists using it to create unique and evocative vocal effects. At the same time, the increasing popularity of autotune has also had a profound impact on the music industry, changing the way that songs are written and produced.

Whether seen as a tool for creating art or destroying it, there is no denying that autotune has revolutionized pop music.

Pros and Cons of Autotune

Pros:

  • Autotune can be used to fix pitch issues in recorded vocals, making them sound more polished.
  • Autotune can be used to create new and interesting sounds that would not be possible without it.
  • It is easier to use autotune than to try and sing in tune yourself!

Cons:

  • Everybody starts to sound the same.
  • Autotune can make vocals sound robotic and over-produced.
  • The use of autotune can be seen as a crutch by some, and it is not always viewed favorably by music critics.
  • It is a false representation of the singer's true voice.

Autotune FAQs

Do Singers Use Auto-Tune Live?

Short answer: No, not typically. while auto-tune is sometimes used in live settings (particularly with pop/R&B singers), it is not generally considered necessary or desirable. Why? Because good singers should be able to hit their notes live without use of any pitch-correction devices. 

Now, that said, there can be exceptions. If a singer is going for a very specific sound that includes heavy use of auto-tune (think T-Pain or Kanye West), then they may opt to use the device even in a live setting. And in some cases, ambitious stage productions may make use of auto-tune as part of the overall effects (particularly if there are backup singers or other vocalists on stage who are not the main focus of attention). But for the most part, if a singer is using auto-tune live, it's because they can't hit their notes without it.


Is Auto-Tune Cheating?

I wouldn't say it is “cheating” because what is considered “cheating” is subjective. Some people might say that using auto-tune is cheating because it means you are not singing in tune. Others might say that it is not cheating because there is no set standard for art. There are no rules that suggest that a singer needs to sound this way or that way. So ultimately, it is up to the artist to decide whether or not they want to use auto-tune; if it makes the song sound good then why not?


How Can You Tell if A Singer Is Using Auto-Tune?

There are a few ways to tell if a singer is using Auto-Tune. One way is to look for the telltale “wobble” in the voice. Another way is to listen for unnatural sounding notes, or notes that sound too perfect. Finally, you can sometimes tell if Auto-Tune has been used by checking the pitch of the vocal track against that of the instrumental track. If they don't match up, then chances are good that Auto-Tune has been used.


What Singers Have Used Auto-Tune?

While the use of autotune has been controversial since its inception, there is no denying that it has become a staple of pop music. Whether it is used to correct pitch or create unique vocal effects, autotune has helped to shape the sound of modern music.

Some of the most famous singers who have used autotune are:

  • Justin Bieber,
  • Travis Scott,
  • T-Pain,
  • Will.I.Am,
  • Aphex Twin,
  • Lil Wayne,
  • Lady Gaga,
  • Beyoncé,
  • Kesha,
  • Jason Derulo,
  • Bon Iver,
  • Chris Brown,
  • Snoop Dogg,
  • Future,
  • Daft Punk,
  • James Blake,
  • Chromatics,
  • Frank Ocean,
  • Kanye West,
  • Britney Spears,
  • Nicki Minaj,
  • Chance the Rapper,
  • Sufjan Stevens,
  • Paris Hilton
  • Rihanna.

While not all of these artists use autotune in the same way, they all have one thing in common: they use it to help create catchy and memorable tunes that fans can't get enough of.


Do All Singers Use Autotune?

While many artists and rappers have used autotune at some point in their music career, not all singers use autotune. In fact, many singers have shied away from using autotune in order to maintain the integrity and “realness” of their voice. This is a personal decision that each singer (or label) has to make for themselves.

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