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If you switched on the radio in the summer of 1998, chances are you got a taste of Cher's 'Believe,' an up-tempo ode to bouncing back after a rough breakup. More than a quarter century after first rising to prominence as a 1960s folk artist, the 52-year-old Cher was once again climbing the charts. In malls, dance clubs and laser bowling alleys across the country, 'Believe' played frequently. By the time the dust had settled, the song had become Cher's bestselling recording ever -- and one of the bestselling singles of all time.

At the time, the most notable feature of the song was an electronic modification on the vocals. The effect first appears 35 seconds into the song, while Cher sings 'I can't break through.' On each of the last three words, Cher's voice undergoes a bizarre electronic glitch.

Auto-Tune is a piece of software which corrects singers when they sing out of tune, either live or in the studio. It was invented by an engineer who was developing acoustic tests for interpreting seismic data, and when he realised that it could be used to alter pitch, he changed the landscape of music forever.

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The reason behind that glitch was Auto-Tune, a pitch-correcting software designed to smooth out any off-key notes in a singer's vocal track. Released only the year before 'Believe,' it was the recording industry's favorite dirty secret: With only a few clicks of a mouse, Auto-Tune could turn even the most cringe-worthy singer into a pop virtuoso. But most music studios kept it around simply to fix with the occasional wrong note.

During the recording sessions for 'Believe,' however, Cher's British producers had put the software into overdrive. Instead of lightly tuning the pitch of Cher's voice, they had adjusted the levels so sharply that it became an unmistakable part of the song. The effect was weird and robotic, but against a background of synthesizers and high-energy percussion, it worked like a charm. Opera singers have long been using vibrato, a technique of delivering a note in a constantly wavering pitch. As far as Cher and her producers were concerned, though, Auto-Tune was simply a computerized twist on the technique.

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As 'Believe' hit the airwaves, the producers aimed to keep the lid on their new toy. So much so, that when interviewed about the technique by a sound engineering magazine, they lied and said it was due to a vocoder, a well-known voice modulation device used since the 1970s [source: Sillitoe].

But the truth eventually trickled out, and when it did, Auto-Tune's inventor, Harold 'Andy' Hildebrand, was shocked. Auto-Tune was supposed to be a behind-the-scenes trick for the recording studio. The New Yorker had compared it to blotting out the red-eye in a photograph, and Hildebrand himself compared it to wearing makeup [source: Frere-Jones, NOVA]. Girls games download cooking games.

But now, Hildebrand's brainchild was making Cher sound like a robot. 'I never figured anyone in their right mind would want to do that,' Hildebrand told Time magazine [source: Tyrangiel] Whether he realized it at the time or not, Hildebrand's electronic creation was about to become one of the largest technological influences on popular music since Les Paul invented the modern electric guitar.

Summary of pitch correction applied on a sound including proper vibrato (Auto-Tune)
Vocal pitch editing using VariAudio on Cubase6

Pitch correction is an electronic effects unit or audio software that changes the intonation (highness or lowness in pitch) of an audio signal so that all pitches will be notes from the equally tempered system (i.e., like the pitches on a piano). Pitch correction devices do this without affecting other aspects of its sound. Pitch correction first detects the pitch of an audio signal (using a live pitch detection algorithm), then calculates the desired change and modifies the audio signal accordingly. The widest use of pitch corrector devices is in Western popular music on vocal lines.


Prior to the invention of pitch correction, errors in vocal intonation in recordings could only be corrected by re-recording the entire song (in the early era of recording) or, after the development of multitrack recording, by overdubbing the incorrect vocal pitches by re-recording those specific notes or sections. By the late 70s, engineers were fixing parts using the Eventide Harmonizer H49. Prior to the development of electronic pitch correction devices, there was no way to make 'real time' corrections to a live vocal performance in a concert (although lip-syncing was used in some cases where a performer was not able to sing adequately in live performances).

Pitch correction was relatively uncommon before 1997, when Antares Audio Technology's Auto-Tune Pitch Correcting Plug-In was introduced. This replaced slow studio techniques with a real-time process that could also be used in live performance.[1]

Auto-Tune is still widely used, as are other pitch-correction algorithms including Celemony's Direct Note Access which allows adjustment of individual notes in a polyphonic audio signal,[2] and Celemony's Melodyne. Pitch correction is now a common feature in digital audio editing software, having first appeared as a Pro Tools plugin and now being found in products such as Apple GarageBand, Apple Logic Pro, Adobe Audition, FL Studio, Digital Performer, and Steinberg Cubase. MorphTune also provides this functionality. It is also available in the form of rackmount hardware, such as the TC-Helicon VoiceOne. There is also a large stompbox pedal that provides pitch correction in a small device that could be used at a show by plugging the vocal microphone into the pedal and then sending the signal to the PA system. A free VST plugin known as GSnap can also be used to get the same effect. In the LinuxFOSS community, Autotalent and Zita-AT1 offer this functionality.


Pitch correction[edit]

The most common use of pitch correctors is to fix wrong intonation (tuning) of notes sung by vocalists in popular music sound recordings. The use of pitch correction speeds up the recording process, because singers do not need to keep singing a song or vocal line and re-recording it until the pitches are correct. The pitch correction software can correct any pitch errors in the singing without the need for overdubbing or re-recording.

While pitch correction is most associated with fixing vocal intonation errors, it can also be used to fix intonation in recorded instrumental parts such as violin, cello or trumpet.

Vocal harmony and vibrato[edit]

Pitch correctors are commonly used in music studios to add the sound of vocal harmony to certain sung words or phrases without re-recording those lines again at the necessary pitches or using backup singers. Depending on the model used, various vocal effects can be added and the better quality devices can be adjusted to allow expression to remain in the music. Some pitch correctors can add vibrato.

Extreme effects[edit]

What Is Auto Tune In Songs 2017

While pitch correction devices were initially designed to produce natural-sounding effects, producers discovered that by setting extreme parameter values, unusual effects could be obtained. Pitch correction devices became popular in the late 1990s as a distinctively electronic, vocoder-like voice effect. A notable example of Auto-Tune-based pitch correction is the Cher effect, so named because producer Mark Taylor originated the effect in her 1998 hit song 'Believe'.[3] The effect has been used by composer John Boswell for his Symphony of Science and Symphony of Bang Goes The Theory (a BBC science show) mash-ups. American Rapper T-Pain is known for his skillful use of this effect.


One criticism of pitch correction is that it allows recording engineers to create a perfectly in-tune performance from a vocalist who is otherwise not skilled enough to give one, adding a degree of dishonesty to music.[4] This concept was featured in a 2001 episode of The Simpsons, entitled 'New Kids on the Blecch'. In the episode, a cartoon representation of a pitch corrector (labeled 'Studio Magic') was used to make up for the total lack of singing talent in a manufactured boy band, of which Bart Simpson was a member.

In 2003, Allison Moorer began attaching stickers to her 2002 album Miss Fortune reading 'Absolutely no vocal tuning or pitch-correction was used in the making of this record.' [5]

A Chicago Tribune report from 2003 stated that 'many successful mainstream artists in most genres of music—perhaps a majority of artists—are using pitch correction'.[6] Timothy Powell, a producer/engineer, stated in 2003 that he is 'even starting to see vocal tuning devices show up in concert settings'; he states that 'That's more of an ethical dilemma—people pay a premium dollar to see artists and artists want people to see them at their best.'[6]

In 2010, producer Teddy Riley claimed that the processing of Michael Jackson's voice with Melodyne caused fans to question the authenticity of the voice on the posthumous album Michael.[7] Riley claimed that because he did not have a 'final vocal' from Jackson, Melodyne had to be used 'to make his voice work with the actual music,' 'to get him in key' and this resulted in the vibrato sounding 'a little off' or 'over-processed.'[7]

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See also[edit]

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  1. ^Anderton, Craig. 'In Search of the Perfect Pitch; The fix is in'. EQ. 2006-07-01. Pg. 46.
  2. ^Hodgson, Jay (2010). Understanding Records, p.233. ISBN978-1-4411-5607-5.
  3. ^Sillitoe, Sue & Bell, Matt (1999-02). 'Recording Cher's Believe'. Sound on Sound. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.
  4. ^Daley, Dan (October 2003). 'Vocal Fixes: Modern Vocal Processing In Practice'. Sound on Sound. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  5. ^Everett-Green, Robert. (2006-10-14). 'Ruled By Frankenmusic; The computer program that cleans up singers' pitch is reshaping the character of pop'. The Globe and Mail (Canada). Pg. R1.
  6. ^ abRyan, Maureen (27 April 2003). 'What, no pitch correction?'(PDF). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  7. ^ abCollett-White, Mike (2010-12-13). 'Voice on Jackson album far from finished article'. Reuters (UK Edition). Thomson Reuters.

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