June 30, 2023
Auto-tune overload. Aren’t we sacrificing musicality for so-called perfection?
Technological innovations have changed the music industry and led to the loss of soul in modern music. The challenge is to find the middle ground.
When singers record their vocals, they may not hit every note perfectly. ‘Auto-tune’ is a digital audio processing technique used in music production to correct or enhance the recording post-factum. It’s a virtual tool that adjusts the pitch of a recorded voice to make it sound more in tune.
Still, auto-tune has its limitations. While it can correct some inaccuracies, it cannot magically transform an unprofessional voice into a great one – the effect of such an attempt will sound incredibly exaggerated and robotic. The good news is that basic singing skills are still required.
Although technology certainly offers a lot of creative possibilities and is an integral part of modern music production, excessive use of auto-tune causes the music to lose its soul.
In an era dominated by a relentless pursuit of perfection, the pervasive influence of auto-tune in contemporary music should raise a question: are we sacrificing the raw essence of musicality, especially the human voice, in favour of some artificially polished facade?
Many singers nowadays sound very similar to each other, and one of the main reasons behind this is the widespread use of auto-tuning. The main danger we are facing is that it has already led to a certain degree of sameness across the music industry, as you have probably noticed while listening to the currently popular tracks.
The use of auto-tune has already redefined singing standards and resulted in a number of artists facing criticism over the alleged superiority of their image over their actual voice and vocal skills – Britney Spears and Rebecca Black might serve as an example.
These problems can be further aggravated by implementing artificial intelligence engines (AI), which combine auto-tune with generative abilities and thus, allow the manufacturing of a voice similar to – or an exact copy – of a particular artist. Recently, the American rapper Ice Cube announced that he would sue people who ‘cloned’ his voice with the use of AI.
Excessive use of auto-tune technology, especially when employed to distort the voice during a live performance, sparks debates about authenticity and emotional connection with the audience.
Music in general, and live music in particular, audiences seek a connection with an artist and appreciate the unique qualities of a singer’s voice, including all the imperfections rendering it distinct and relatable.
In an era fixated on attaining flawlessness, the prevalent influence of auto-tune technology should prompt a question: aren’t we sacrificing the inherent musicality – particularly the essence and emotional depth of the human voice – for an unnaturally perfect sound?