Saturn Moon

Melodyne – The Autotune we Don’t Hear

Autotune is many times more popular than commonly thought. In spite of the Cher/T-Pain effect permeating the Hip Hop industry with robotic vocals, Autotune was surprisingly designed for an entirely different purpose: Natural, transparent, and genuine vocals.

Instead, we commonly associate it with the extreme settings that result in the Cher Effect, where the pitch correction is set to do a 100% hard correction at a 0ms delay, completely removing any transitions that would ordinarily softly glide notes to the singer’s notes.

 

Autotune, however, is used more often for non-robotic, transparent vocals. More often than even Autotune, the industry has settled with an alternative tool called Melodyne

What is Melodyne? 

In short, it’s post-production pitch correction software. It is an audio editor that allows each individual note to be edited by hand. It can be slightly adjusted or massively shifted. Vibrato can be added or removed. Wobbly notes can be made smoother. Notes in the wrong formant (sounding too low or high) can be adjusted, and loudness problems can be smoothed out. 

It’s so powerful that it is now used on almost every song that can be heard on the radio today. Very few artists completely avoid using this elusive tool. Even live performances are touched up. Producers often correct a singer’s vocals without their knowledge, and fewer takes are required in the studio to get a good vocal. The tool is both incredibly powerful and industry-changing. 

What could go wrong? 

Unfortunately, there is another slight issue with the pervasiveness of pitch correction software: The human voice isn’t designed to hit the note 100% on target, every single time. 

Any song from the 70s,, 80s, and 90s has natural pitch imperfections as a result of singers naturally singing a little sharp or flat on a note. Our ears were used to hearing these imperfections. They did not sound out of tune, but rather gave the song a certain expressiveness from the singer. 

Nowadays, we remove many of these imperfections with post-production software. Notes are hit 100% on-target thanks to Melodyne and Autotune, and our ears are no longer accustomed to hearing the natural imperfections and nuances of the voice. 

The end result is that a live performance is shocking compared to the studio performances. Good singers are now slammed as being untalented simply for being unable to reach an impossible standard. Even live performances are usually touched up in the studio afterwards as a result, and it has simply become the expectation of the industry to have brushed up vocals. 

Because of its pervasiveness in the industry, we’ve lost a certain touch and feel with the vocals that exist within newer songs. And while it has allowed good vocals to be released from songs that otherwise had poor takes, it can result in artificial sounding mixes as seen in Michael Jackson’s posthomous records (where producers over-processed his vocals using such tools): 

Producers of Michael Jackson’s posthomous work used Melodyne extensively, resulting in the over-processed sound that is not typical of Michael Jackson’s work.

Pitch correction is a double edged sword. 

It’s given the industry the ability to take poor live performances and make them great. It’s given recorded TV performances the ability to screw up a little in front of the camera while still being released in good shape. And it has allowed great artists to record fantastic songs without needing the talent to be American Idol singers out of the box. It has been a huge tool used by the industry to enable fantastic vocals to come from anyone. 

The only downside is that when used incorrectly, it results in nuances and imperfections being removed, and thereby changing the character of the song. Its pervasiveness in the industry has become something that we must simply accept: It is here to stay, and our ears are accustomed to hearing it. It is no feasibly possible for a singer to sound “in tune” without the processing our ears have become primed to hear. 

Insults Never Win The Wise

Insults are the bioweapons of today’s culture war. We are fighting turmoil worse than has been seen in many decades. It’s a witch hunt on both sides of the aisle, and as someone who has talked extensively to people from both sides, I’ve come to one conclusion above all else. Insults can never be used in lieu of a logical argument. Those who resort to them rarely have a sound argument to stand upon at all. 

The instant, logical question to follow this is with regards to whether insults are ever warranted. And the answer, perhaps, is that of course insults have their place. But we must be able to answer a critical question: Why? Why, this time, is this insult warranted? 

Oddly, we quite often see a situation where insults and personal attacks are made entirely in-place of any logical stance whatsoever. And therein lies the beginnings of our problems, where we have completely bogus arguments and illogical stances being taught in our schools as facts. And we accept them blindly because we are fooled by nature of the egregious attacks that are made against us. But all too often, we can never answer the question: Why? 

We are in for a surprise. 

We are so busy fighting each other that we’ve forgotten that we may one day face a FAR worse enemy that we have not yet conceived. Massive uprisings or authoritarian governments do not rise within a vacuum. In the wake of turmoil within society, we’ve laid the foundations for something much more sinister.  Moral authoritarianism is being planted in plain sight, and it’s not something that history judges lightly. 

So, with insults, doxxing, and censorship now being the bioweapons of today’s war between two radically different worldviews, let’s example the nature of our mode of attack. Let’s break down the  elements of these attacks that make them effective. Let’s determine why they work, and why they are dangerous. 

Arguments today essentially depend upon: 

  1. Hurling enough insults to intimidate your opponent
  2. Framing their arguments as “hate speech” – something they undeniably detest, and therefore silencing them. 
  3. Doxxing/censoring people
  4. Creating faulty premises that force your opponent to arrive at a faulty conclusion. 

It’s easy to see the other side as the “guilty one” when reading the above, but both sides do this. Not only this, but both sides do it excessively and rarely look in the mirror. The truth gets lost in the madness, and we may never find out if an argument is worth its salt. 

What is missing? In short, it lacks any logical premises at all. Intimidation is used in lieu of evidence, logic, and facts. 

We have failed to answer the critical question: Why? 

90% of the time, those resorting to insults are doing so because they have no credible arguments left. They are counting on you to care too much about your reputation and image. They are counting on you to be afraid of being framed in a negative light. They are counting on you to be unable to dodge sham arguments with facts. 

And sadly, too many people fall for it. It becomes a powerful form of distraction, and we forget to examine whether an argument is established upon a sound foundation. We forget to examine an argument critically, as we so often train our students in Academia to do. 

The secret to changing the game is to examine the premises.

Deconstruct a faulty argument from the foundations, not from the rooftops. It’s a curveball. It’s not one they expect. And it’s not one they can dodge with insults. Use the very premises that they present, and examine them to arrive at the truth, rather than on an arbitrary stance. 

And this works because it forces the discussion to examine the reasons for an argument, and not just the tip of the iceberg. Only in examining the reasons can we arrive at a consensus that fully understands the viewpoint. We reject the snuck premises that cause us to arrive at illogical conclusions without knowing why. 

And all-too-often, we build mountains on sand. The very foundations that an entire ideology is based upon are faulty and weak, and yet we push them as fact to today’s young and old. And it works. It works because they frame any dissent as unjustified, egregious skepticism. They gaslight the critical man into believing that their experiences are hateful and unjust.

But why? 

And that’s a question that, all too often, the bully is unprepared to answer. Because to do so would be to self-incriminate. 

Insults can never win over the wise.