How the oil industry accidentally created autotune

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Years ago when the use of autotune became prevalent I would have replied to this article with a harangue about the destruction of the quality of popular music autotune has caused. About the ejection of portamento that artists too young to have learned to develop it effectively gleefully adopted. About its eager acceptance by the recording industry, likely due to the fact that it allowed them to create “talent” rather than pay the going rates for vocalists who had already established theirs. About how autotune was one more step along the path to 100% synthetic music that seems inevitable.

Thanks for the opportunity to review that stance. I have learned, in part through my own journey towards playing a musical instrument, that there are many levels of sophistication when it comes to appreciating music. The music loving world is vast and diverse. Music that I find too simple and repetitive to tolerate has a broad and enthusiastic following. At the other end of the spectrum, I may never fully come to terms with opera, Gregorian chant, or several other categories. But that’s on me, not the music.

Autotune has its place in the toolbox, and the great thing about the time in which it was developed is that we have many more choices over what we hear than we did a few decades ago. There’s still a market for people who like hearing a healthy proportion of flawed, minimally polished performances in their personal mix!


I think the interesting thing is the persistence of this sfx. Most musical electronic manipulations like guitar distortion are specific to an instrument backing a singer. The voice box used by Peter Frampton was a novelty (which I like)… Autotune has persevered for some strange reason beyond it’s novelty.

I don’t like it.

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