The Black & White

When artists put Auto-Tune in, I auto-tune out

By Molly Kaplowitz

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I used to enjoy listening to the radio, but sometime last year I realized I no longer liked mainstream music.  I’ve stopped tuning in because of a despicable music feature: Auto-Tune.

The Black Eyed Peas sing out of tune notes at this year's Super Bowl. Their performance exhibited their reliance on technology in order to produce music. Photo courtesy

Musicians’ use of these pitch alteration and voice distortion technologies will never be acceptable because they subtract from the music’s originality.

Despite their rising popularity among artists, using voice effects to “improve” the musical quality of a song doesn’t make the music better.  The most renowned artists of other generations worked without them, and their music is still appreciated today.

Today’s artists should be held to a higher standard for their natural talent, not for the ability to use technology to enhance songs.  Adding voice effects doesn’t accurately reflect emotions. Pieces can come off as contrived and silly, rather than works of art.

Take, for instance, the Black Eyed Peas’ Super Bowl performance, where no note was on pitch.  Or the T.V. show “Glee,” which uses Auto-Tune to perfect the pitch of songs. Or T-Pain, “the king” of Auto-Tune.  The renowned rap artist has made entire albums using the enhancement.  Instead of making music better, voice effects make his songs nearly intolerable.

Auto-Tune also distorts the sound of the music to the point where the listeners can’t understand the lyrics.  If used in excess, it creates an unnatural “yodel” in the singer’s voice.  It comes off as cheesy and gimmicky because artists use it throughout songs instead of strategically applying it to a few notes.

Mainstream artists should return to an older musical style where it’s up to their voice, their instruments and their creativity to create beautiful, entertaining songs.


3 Responses to “When artists put Auto-Tune in, I auto-tune out”

  1. A. Geek on March 20th, 2011 2:12 pm

    Voices but have been enhanced (or distorted, depending on your point of view) ever since electronic amplification hit the scene in the late 1800s. No professional sings using a totally neutral amplification. It’s all enhanced. As for autotune in particular, I agree that it does sometimes make songs sound strange. But remember that autotune is relatively new. I have no doubt that autotuning will gradually be refined to produce ever more natural sounds. Five years from now, you won’t be able to tell that a singer was autotuned – all the artificiality will be gone – and the result will be the beautiful voice everyone wants.

  2. -insert name here- on March 21st, 2011 9:41 am

    I agree with A Geek. Autotune has become more and more natural over the past years. In fact, autotune has become mainstream music in Japan thanks to Vocaloid – Hatsune Miku, etc.
    Not that I like autotune or anything. It can ruin music when used excessively.
    But to a certain extent, autotune creates awesome techno music – so why not use it to our advantage?

  3. someone on March 22nd, 2011 8:38 am

    It’s sad it’s been a natural thing for music; it kills the music. Then again, I know who NOT to listen to because of auto-tune.