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Saturday, June 9, 2012

HOW TO USE AUTOTUNE (free VST plugins inside)


Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're going to talk about how to correct the pitch of vocals, or any other instrument. These pitch correction tools are usually plugins that takes a wave sound and drag it as it was a midi sample, higher or lower on the piano roll in order to match the correct note you need. 
In the last few years the technology has been developed in order to limit the inevitable degradation of a sound that is pitch shifted, especially when applied the vocal parts, which are the ones where the pitch correction is more noticed: today the pitch correction is blended with the introduction of a synth line almost inaudible right below the vocal, in order to help it to sound more "in tune". 


Obviously the pitch correction part should be seen as a "last resort", to use only if you notice, before starting the mixing phase, that there are some errors that cannot be recorded again, but that at the same time are too big to not be noticed, and that risk to ruin the song.
First off let's say that auto tuning tools works fine only with clean, monophonic sounds: any kind of background noise, or rasp vocals, or distorted sound may be misinterpreted by the algorithm and lead to mistakes. It's also suggestable to process the vocal parts without sibilant letters (s), and the guitar - bass parts where there are no slides-bendings.

There are two types of autotuning tools:

1) Automated Pitch Correctors: These are the kind of tools, such as Antares Autotune, or the free Gsnap and Kerovee, where you can choose the key of the song and other parameters, and let the plugin to automatically slide the wave on the piano roll, in order to match in real time the scale used on the song. It's a good thing not to leave it activated for the whole song, but to Automate it in order to be switched on only when needed, and turned off when unnecessary. It is also possible to create a MIDI track and route the plugin on it in order to manually decide the pitch as it was a regular synth, in facts today the industry standard is using Autotune manually, line by line, in Graphic Mode.

2) Pre - Scanning Pitch Correctors: These plugins, such as Waves Tune and Celemony Melodyne, works by pre-scanning the track and creating a "MIDI-like" version of the track itself inside their interface, so that you can use real-time autotuning (like an automated pitch corrector), or correct the pitch manually without creating an external midi track. Offline working (which means "not in real time") takes more time and efforts, but usually leads to a better result, since it leaves to you the decision of which single syllable (or even part of it) to be processed and which not. With the best Pre - Scanning pitch correctors, such as Melodyne, it's also possible to modify the single notes of a chord of an Acoustic Guitar, for example, just like a Midi file.


The famous/infamous "Cher effect" present on the song "Believe" has been obtained by forcing the vocals through wrong scales, or manually writing notes for the voice in order create that unnatural-sounding "glitch" (obviously in this case it has been an arrangement choice, but sometimes it's just a pure error).

In conclusion, regardless to the kind of plugin you may choose, autotuning should be used with extreme caution, only when impossible to record again, and only for the single parts that really needs it, since often is better to hear a more natural interpretation, although not perfectly in tune, than the "Midi-sounding" voice that sometimes can be heard, even on commercial songs. The risk is to have a completely flattened and lifeless voice, altough perfectly in tune :)

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2 comments:

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