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Is it cheating to use Auto-Tune?

The Auto-Tune debate is unlikely to go away. Those who can, sing. Those who can't use Auto-Tune.


RP reader Jim Covington contributes to the great Auto-Tune debate...

"I have been involved with the music for over 50 years and in the music industry and education fields for nearly all of those years. Back before there were processors available to the masses, there were artists concerned with merely expressing their art.

Artistry does not mean 'without flaws'. It is merely an interpretation of something that conveys a view point, flawed though it may be. It pleases some but not all. That being said, the advent of computer processors brings on the age of 'non tolerance.

Processors are incapable of impartial judgment. The programs to run the processors are based on a series of 'on' and 'off' signals. Hence a 'yes' or 'no', a 'black' or 'white', a 'right' or 'wrong', and finally 'perfection' or 'imperfection' society which has spilled into every aspect that the society is built upon.

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Have you noticed how intolerant the world's people have become when it comes to any 'gray' or flawed areas? An example might be as follows. In school, a student is considered a disgrace, a failure if they do not get 'A's' or at least 'B's'. 'C' being the standard measurement of 'average' is not good enough, flawed. It represents the 'gray' area. An area between perfection [success] and imperfection [failure].

In the music industry, to be specific, with the advancement of technology, engineers have begun to see that there can be a level achieved that was once thought beyond their grasp.

An example might be the 'lack of noise' which was once thought beyond the grasp of recording studios and which today is easily achieved applying today's technology. Now with the ever advancing software, the public has a chance to enter that magical, unique 'club', of the creational entity [the record company].

The software enables enhanced personal creation by the masses, though they be personally flawed, their personaL artistic uniqueness exposed for the first time in history where the whole world is able to hear and see.

So it comes down to the question and issue of using the latest technology to express a person's creation. Yes, just as Leonardo da Vinci was entitled, and in many ways encouraged, to use the technology [unique chemical pigments] of that time that not only enhanced the brilliance of nature's colors, but expressed his interpretation of nature, though it did not truly express nor exposed nature's flaws.

In addition, because of their chemical makeup the paintings tended to last much longer and adhere longer to materials than other painters pigments. Was he cheating? The world did not think so. So it would seem, with Auto Tune..... the singer, producer, or engineer is simply expressing their interpretation of the song [vocal tonal perfection ] which will please as many of the audience that they are attempting to reach as possible.

It is not cheating to use the technology of the day and age, UNLESS there is an attempt to defraud, to state openly and defiantly that the 'art' presented is the 'true' example of 'fact' and not merely the expression of the creators. It would not hurt the 'true' artist to be willing to state in some printed form, the technology used in creating the artful expression.

Should the artist is unwilling to do so, then they would need to be exposed, as was the case of the singing duo, 'Milli Vanilli'?"

Thanks Jim.

By Jim Covington Sunday April 11, 2010