Music and Auto-tune

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  • Topic: Music, Auto-Tune, La Salle University
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The Effects of Auto-Tune on the Music Industry

A Term Paper
Presented to
Ms. Edwina Bensal
Department of English and Applied Linguistics
College of Education, De La Salle University

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for
Basic Research Skills / English for Specific Purposes (ENGLRES) 2nd Trimester, AY 2010 – 2010

Doroja, Juan Marcos R.
Licup, Trisha Anne T.
November 18, 2010

I. Introduction
Music demands perfection. In the music of today, Auto-Tune, which is a software plug-in that allows music to be manipulated, has had a hand in the creation of almost 90% of the public’s favorite pop songs in recent times[1]. It has become an indispensable tool in the production process, erasing mistakes and adding effects that would be unheard of in music prior to the 21st century, with the exception of Cher’s 1998 “Believe”, which laid the foundation to the trend in the first place[2]. To this end, the primary aim of the researchers is to flesh out the effects that Auto-Tune has had on the industry as an example of how computer software affects music, and in particular, the artists who make the music. To fully accept the importance of this study, one must acknowledge the fact that music has had a lengthy and tumultuous history for as long as recorded music has existed. The innovations and techniques introduced by new instruments and equipment meant that entire eras came and gone carrying these innovations until new ones emerged. Now, to quote [1], “The most important piece of musical equipment of the last 10 years is not an instrument or a physical object. …It is what’s known as a ‘plug-in’, a specialized piece of software made to be inserted into other, bigger pieces of audio software. Auto-Tune bends off-key notes into pitch perfection.” Auto-Tune broke ground by introducing a new form of innovation unlike the physical media that has changed music before. The importance therefore lies in what this new form of innovation implies in the face of how music has traditionally existed until now, because a different form of innovation will bring about a different form of change. For this paper, the researchers will explore selected details surrounding Auto-Tune. These details include the following: the mechanism that allows Auto-Tune the ability to manipulate music, the efficiency it provides the music production process, and finally the implication the addition of unique effects to music has on how the artists who actively make use of it are perceived. Emphasis will be placed on the artists, as ultimately, the paper will lead the reader from the basics of Auto-Tune to the discussion of the following: Auto-Tune lowers the value of musical artists, as the creative musical paradigm is shifted from one’s talent to technology.

II. Body
Auto-Tune’s most distinctive quality lies in its ability to correct mistakes in songs during production. It accomplishes this through the coming together of the principles of autocorrelation and pitch shifting[3]. In the beginning, autocorrelation was used for surveying the earth for seismic research and finding oil. It uses sound waves from a source upon which the reflections of the waves are recorded on a geophone. It was then found that the surveying model was capable of detecting not just oil, but also the pitch of sound[2]. Meanwhile, the method of changing pitch is the separation of the signal of the voice into minuscule parts, otherwise known as ‘grains’. Each grain possesses a period of the signal. Afterwards, the grains are released in a manner matching the desired pitch. Thereafter, autocorrelation and the method for pitch correction came together to create what is now known as Auto-Tune.

The pitch correction technology of Auto-Tune provides artists the ability to correct any mistake in a song whether it be almost insignificant or when it completely misses the intended pitch[4]. Let us revisit the phrase “Music Demands Perfection” – listen to a radio...
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