Missing the note

 

Few singers are perfect. sometimes, the pitch of their vocal slightly misses the exact note they are trying to hit. If they are little out of tune, the vocal track can still be rescued – or ruined, depending on one’s point of view. The pitch of the note is dependent on the frequency of the sound wave. The A above middle C is usually defined as 440 Hz. Therefore manipulation of the frequency can produce a different note or hit an exact note from a noise that is slightly off-key. Musical scales are divided into 12 pitches each separated by a semitone. The difference in note between two adjacent keys on a piano or frets on a guitar neck.

 

Pitch correction

 

The goal of pitch correction is to retune a slightly higher or lower note to the nearest semitone. In the system usually used by MIDI instruments in which pitch is assigned a number, with 440-Hz A being 69 and each semitone increasing or decreasing the pitch number by 1, it is related to frequency F by a simple formula. So, using a computer to correct the frequency back down or up would ensure that recording sounds in tune. Nevertheless, sound engineers can’t simply change the frequency itself. The duration of the sound would change too- that’s why sped-up tapes sound chipmunk-like. This is because the frequency of the wave is related to its speed via its wavelength. Today, producers can alter the frequency without changing the speed by going digital.

 

Auto-Tune

 

The term Auto-Tune has become embedded in popular culture as a common description, or generic term. It describes audible pitch correction in music. Andy Hildebrand is the engineer that created Auto-Tune. Hildebrand developed methods for interpreting seismic data. He subsequently realized that the technology could be used to detect, analyze, and modify the pitch in audio files.

Auto-Tune effect was first developed by  Antares Audio Technologies. This effect uses a proprietary device to measure and alter pitch in vocal and instrumental music recording and performances. Originally, it disguised or corrected off-key inaccuracies. It allows vocal tracks to be perfectly tuned even though they are originally slightly off-pitch.

The processor slightly shifts pitches to the nearest true, correct semitone (to the exact pitch of the nearest tone in traditional equal temperament). Additionally, producers often use the Auto-Tune effect to distort the human voice.

 

Commercial use

 

The earliest commercial use of Auto-Tune as a vocal effect in a popular song was Roy Vedas’ Fragments Of Life on August 17, 1998, and later in Cher’s “Believe” and Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”. The effect differs from a vocoder or the talk box. For example, in an early interview, the producers of “Believe” claimed they had used a DigiTech Talker FX pedal. ”Sound on Sound” editors felt this was an attempt to preserve a trade secret After the success of “Believe”. So, the technique became known as the “Cher Effect”.

Originally, engineers designed Auto-Tune to discreetly correct imprecise intonations. However, Cher’s producers used it to “exaggerate the artificiality of abrupt pitch correction.” This technique soon became a widespread technique used in live performances and in pop recordings throughout the first ten years of the 21st century. Modern day examples of artists known for using Auto-Tune are T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Future, Migos, Travis Scott, and Lil Uzi Vert.

 

Additional resources & source texts

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune