I hear a whole lot of serious debate about the term “Pitch Correction”: from friends, from people I don’t know, from people I should know, and even from people I don’t want to know. Somehow, there seems to be an issue about “tuning” instruments, mainly vocals.
Personally, I don’t think there’s much of an argument here: of course vocals (and instruments) should be in tune, if at all possible, says me! If you can’t hear tuning issues, it shouldn’t matter to you anyway. But if you can, it makes all the difference in the world on listen-ability to music. The only time out-of-tune music is good, is when it makes a point, musically, such as: to introduce or reinforce, say, a silly or stupid character in a play—or, some good punk music (The Cramps-and many others) uses it well; to sound cool-sloppy.
NOW-for my BIG points: Pitch Correction can be done in two ways:
Slave-drive an artist during the recording, to get it right. Be aware, this can turn a 3-minute song into 80 or 90 full takes and/or punch-ins, and really frustrate and wear out the artist involved. Still, it’s proven. “Been there, done that.”…and I will again. The old way…
Use Pitch Correction software, such as Melodyne, Autotune, and others included in certain DAW (search it) software, for free. Cubase and Logic but have excellent ones. The new way…
With these Pitch Correction tools, the producer can still overdo this, wrongly. I can spot this familiar sound in music in a Mall easily, and I personally detest it. The rest of the pop world doesn’t seem to mind for some reason, which is fine with me too.
Next: it can be used as an effect-“robot-sound”. That effect is a one-trick pony-type thing, but it can work really well. Again, it’s used to prove a musical point.
And finally: to do it correctly. IF Pitch Correction is done correctly: ie the producer uses his (or her) ears and judgment in a creative way, this can take a wonderfully-performed, soulful performance by a singer-that is 92% perfect, and save it! I really like this aspect of the computer and producer helping, not hurting or holding back musical performance in the studio. After all, recording in a studio IS truly an un-natural thing, at its core. Performing “live” is really the only “true” performance. (debatable, I know)
To me, the really BIG question here is this: what is more natural: to record something 90 times (instead of the once you get on stage) to get a recording take? Or spend a few minutes-to an hour, correctly tuning a good working-take from a singer?
The answer? Both work.
Slave-driving can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be miserable.
Software Pitch Correction is also work, but it can preserve “feeling and soul”…but it can be miserable, if done badly.
Until next time, have fun while learning to make music!