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September 11, 2009

The Battle Over Bionic Vocals

Wall Street Journal:

A major battle is unfolding in the most divisive conflict the music world has seen in years: the Auto-Tune war.

A brand of software invented to make sure singers hit the right notes in the recording studio, Auto-Tune has been repurposed by many acts to transform their voices into a robotic warble. This trend, which began in rap and spread into rock, country and other genres, has won Auto-Tune more fans—and critics, who see it as a symbol of all things artificial in pop music. Everyone from top-selling pop artists to bedroom musicians and casual music fans are taking sides.

Last March at Stanford University, a vocal group called the Harmonics began incorporating Auto-Tune into its live act. Their performances fired a debate about authenticity in the a capella community. "For us, it's not 'how a capella are we,' it's 'how cool are we,'" says Charlie Forkish, the Harmonics' 22-year-old music director.

Though few popular singers will admit to correcting their notes in the studio, only a small minority request that Auto-Tune not be used, says Harvey Mason Jr., who has produced dozens of best-selling artists. Producers will use any tool at their disposal to get a hit record, Mr. Mason says, but he's wary of backlash, especially when it comes to the Auto-Tune croak. "It's dangerous and risky to use that mechanical sound on artists who are amazing singers," says Mr. Mason. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at September 11, 2009 12:11 AM


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