AutoTune LIVE

Snowman999

Active member
I sincerely did not know auto tune could be applied at a live performance. This video goes through Michael Buble's poorly autotuned performance on a live morning talk show. He was going to compare it to his live MSG performance. But, it turns out, autotune was being used there also.

It's fascinating and horrific at the same time. All the magnificent singers throughout the years. Now, the supposed best, are autotuning live. There is no plus to this. It's simply awful.


For me. This is what going to see someone live should be like. It's great, when everyone is "on". Lucinda Williams did a week straight at a hall. Every night she performed one of her albums from beginning to end. This is LIVE LIVE, and what it's all about. Heart and soul.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Doesn't it make you appreciate all those singers of days gone by who could really SING and hit the notes?

For a hack like me, Autotune might be a good thing. I'm no professional, and people aren't paying me a day's wages to hear me sing for an hour. If I was a pro selling tickets to people it would be a personal embarrassment to have to use it.
 

Snowman999

Active member
Damn capos :laughings:
She is one of the most humble, I can't believe people like me, singer songwriters I've ever met. When she says Thank You, and gives praise, she means it from the bottom of her heart. She was up there panicking.

I did once. My guitar went out of tune, and I need a tuner to tune. Common sense exits when panic sets in. Someone from another band had to come over and tune my guitar for me off stage. I completely forgot how. I'm sure that's what was going through her mind.

She dedicated that song to her boyfriend, who I think it was his birthday.

Doesn't it make you appreciate all those singers of days gone by who could really SING and hit the notes?

For a hack like me, Autotune might be a good thing. I'm no professional, and people aren't paying me a day's wages to hear me sing for an hour. If I was a pro selling tickets to people it would be a personal embarrassment to have to use it.
Dolly Parton regularly forgets lyrics.

Brian May was in the Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo. He wasn't playing his home made guitar, I think it was a strat. He was doing the run, and he fucked up. He tried it again and fucked up. He took the guitar off and flung it across stage. He was pissed. I think that was at the Meadowlands.

The stupid part of running vocals through autotune live is, people can't tell what's in or out of key live. The music is extremely loud, and it all blends. Me and my singer both sang off-key. Not just a little, a lot. In a live review, the reviewer mentioned the "strong vocals". We were good at selling it. Listening to it on tape, it's really bad. But, live in the moment, you can get away with most anything. So, doing shit like this is unforgivable. I hated him before knowing this. I despise him now.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I'm truly amazed by this - especially the guy who analyses every single piece of historic music he can find to discover tricks and errors.

Many of us are in the music business. We use every trick in the book open to us. We record a solo in the studio and we mess up we do it again, and again. Then we snip out the worst bits and fix them with good bits from other takes. We spot a flat note and fix it, we create as good a product as we can. Everyone wants to do the best job we can. My band's live recording had vocals fixed, guitar solo's fixed and on one song, my entire bass track re-recorded because I made far too many mistakes. We decided to do a medley version that is extended, and I forgot the order completely. Once I replaced mine, the keys player wanted to do his again too.

I'm not sure how many of you use IEMs, but sometimes pitching is very, very difficult when you cannot hear something. I struggle to pitch accurately with IEMs and fretless bass.

If you were rich and famous, and really good, what would you do? Accept you sing occasionally out of tune because your reference is lost - maybe the keys are your 'lock' and in your IEMs you have loads of brass and bass, but no keys - you'll miss the notes. So - what do you do to rescue it with your budget? Autotune might do the job, but in chromatic mode, you get perfect pitch as long as you are closer than 50 cents away. Drift to 51, and you are tuned horrifically. It's a gamble, and even with really careful adjustment, it can go wrong badly, as the clips show. That weird effect where we lose tuning ability when loud makes help sensible - but of course it can go wrong and the people running sound should be able to knock it off when it goes wrong - but sometimes, knocking it off makes it even worse.

All the tools we have should be used, but even then, it can go wrong. Sinatra developed his knack of sliding up to notes because he was singing with very loud bands with no modern assistance, and singing like he did was his way to get into tune, like when you tune your guitar and the tuning seems to suddenly snap in. A few people can hear a note and sing it perfectly. Give them five minutes and ask them to sing that note without hearing it? Most get close. Those with perfect pitch (yes, I know that's an old term) can sing an F without any help.

When I go to a show, if I don't know somebody is having tuning assistance, I'm perfectly happy. If some idiot has tweaked the autotune so they sound like Cher, then that's bad, but here's a thought.

Presumably in the famous Cher song, the autotune was already in circuit, when they discovered the weird effect worked on her voice, so was it actually tuning the rest of the song gently, and just setting it to 11 for that short phase? NDA's probably make sure we will never really know.

Who wants to hear out of tune shows? Doing it in the studio to create as close to perfection, means you really have to do this live too, doesn't it?
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
I'm sure any studio these days would want to slap some autotune on my vocals. Unless I'm way off, I'm comfortable with it as is. While gigging in the past, audiences accepted it fairly well.

I can empathize with Lucinda. Playing bass, I have begun a song in the wrong key yet it didn't sound horribly wrong. Just... off. Then, when I got to the chorus, I instinctively jumped right into the correct key and was confused because my muscle memory didn't recognize the change in the pattern of my finger's movement. I almost got lost again trying to figure out what I had done. Once I realized I was where I was supposed to be, I calmed down and stayed locked in to the end. And all this correction and confusion happening in a 2-3 second period :eek::p

Being off on the side of the stage, I didn't get as panicky as Lucinda here. Had I been up front singing lead, I would have choked for sure. Even without a capo.
 
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VomitHatSteve

Hat STYLE. Not contents.
I'm not sure how many of you use IEMs, but sometimes pitching is very, very difficult when you cannot hear something. I struggle to pitch accurately with IEMs and fretless bass.

If you were rich and famous, and really good, what would you do? Accept you sing occasionally out of tune because your reference is lost - maybe the keys are your 'lock' and in your IEMs you have loads of brass and bass, but no keys - you'll miss the notes. So - what do you do to rescue it with your budget? Autotune might do the job, but in chromatic mode, you get perfect pitch as long as you are closer than 50 cents away. Drift to 51, and you are tuned horrifically. It's a gamble, and even with really careful adjustment, it can go wrong badly, as the clips show. That weird effect where we lose tuning ability when loud makes help sensible - but of course it can go wrong and the people running sound should be able to knock it off when it goes wrong - but sometimes, knocking it off makes it even worse.
I find being in key is way easier with IEMs. If you have some modicum of control of your mix, you can dime your own voice and whatever instruments you need for reference. (Sorry guitarist, but you're basically muted)
I find that I fugue out way more and can have trouble connecting with the crowd since I'm isolated from them; but my technical performance is always improved.
 

Snowman999

Active member
I'm truly amazed by this - especially the guy who analyses every single piece of historic music he can find to discover tricks and errors.

Many of us are in the music business. We use every trick in the book open to us. We record a solo in the studio and we mess up we do it again, and again. Then we snip out the worst bits and fix them with good bits from other takes. We spot a flat note and fix it, we create as good a product as we can. Everyone wants to do the best job we can. My band's live recording had vocals fixed, guitar solo's fixed and on one song, my entire bass track re-recorded because I made far too many mistakes. We decided to do a medley version that is extended, and I forgot the order completely. Once I replaced mine, the keys player wanted to do his again too.

I'm not sure how many of you use IEMs, but sometimes pitching is very, very difficult when you cannot hear something. I struggle to pitch accurately with IEMs and fretless bass.

If you were rich and famous, and really good, what would you do? Accept you sing occasionally out of tune because your reference is lost - maybe the keys are your 'lock' and in your IEMs you have loads of brass and bass, but no keys - you'll miss the notes. So - what do you do to rescue it with your budget? Autotune might do the job, but in chromatic mode, you get perfect pitch as long as you are closer than 50 cents away. Drift to 51, and you are tuned horrifically. It's a gamble, and even with really careful adjustment, it can go wrong badly, as the clips show. That weird effect where we lose tuning ability when loud makes help sensible - but of course it can go wrong and the people running sound should be able to knock it off when it goes wrong - but sometimes, knocking it off makes it even worse.

All the tools we have should be used, but even then, it can go wrong. Sinatra developed his knack of sliding up to notes because he was singing with very loud bands with no modern assistance, and singing like he did was his way to get into tune, like when you tune your guitar and the tuning seems to suddenly snap in. A few people can hear a note and sing it perfectly. Give them five minutes and ask them to sing that note without hearing it? Most get close. Those with perfect pitch (yes, I know that's an old term) can sing an F without any help.

When I go to a show, if I don't know somebody is having tuning assistance, I'm perfectly happy. If some idiot has tweaked the autotune so they sound like Cher, then that's bad, but here's a thought.

Presumably in the famous Cher song, the autotune was already in circuit, when they discovered the weird effect worked on her voice, so was it actually tuning the rest of the song gently, and just setting it to 11 for that short phase? NDA's probably make sure we will never really know.

Who wants to hear out of tune shows? Doing it in the studio to create as close to perfection, means you really have to do this live too, doesn't it?
As a person who is in the music business, I find it incredible that you think faking a vocal for an audience is OK. It's not. It's the problem with modern music. In the studio a band should do everything they can to bring the song to life. To make it, all it can be. No one has an issue with that. It just makes everything recorded up to and through the 50s that much more astounding. They couldn't fake much, if at all. All those magnificent big band recordings.

If you're releasing a live album, and can't find the best live performance, then redoing a part isn't terrible. But, it's still not what the audience heard that night. It's only partially live. There's a Johnny Thunders (my all time favorite) live in England video, and obviously his guitar work and vocals were redone. It makes the video worthless in my eyes. They couldn't even sync the sound. It's beyond fake. But, if everyone except one person is great, redoing that one person isn't a crime.

If you can't sing, then you really shouldn't be fronting a band to begin with. I can't. I did. I got nowhere. Because I can't sing, along with a whole host of other reasons. To use autotune on a live vocal is pathetic on every level of artistry.

NO. You don't have to reproduce what's recorded live. You need to bring passion, heart and soul. If I want to hear a record, I'll stay home and listen to one. LIVE actually has a definition. Actual musical ARTISTS don't have to add that type of effect to their voice live.

Here's a great one about a magnificent singer who left the world way too soon. This is what 99% of singers PRE autotune could do.

 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
And if the carpenters had access to everything we have now, the results would have been even better! I'm also in the music business, and am really surprised you believe that live is best. Often the live stuff you hear on YouTube recorded via the fans phones is pretty awful, compared to the tweaked versions we expect to hear.

Sorry, but I've heard far too many big names singing dreadfully to subscribe to the live is always better. Worse, I've heard so many great gigs and then reviewed the recording to discover so much was pretty dire and we didn't notice.

I'm also pretty ancient and remember the most terrible big band show. Anne Shelton and I think the American Squadronaires. The band were great, but she really struggled and it pretty well killed what was left of her career. She tried to slide into the correct note, a la Sinatra and failed badly, often not making it, or worse, overshooting. A couple of the solos from the clarinet player were horrible too - and this video showed the show pretty badly.

Even the Carpenters live shows were less good than Richard ever liked, if you read the stories. Live is uncontrolled, and the good singers cannot sing properly if they cannot hear. Autotune units sold pretty well, you need to ask who it was buying them. Indeed, so many bands have been using click for years that we're losing track of what is live and what isn't! So many one-nighters here in the UK use tracks, and very often the only person who really knows is the sound guy. However, more and more just have a MacBook and qlab on stage that one of the band control. Aging stars who can't hit the high notes might have those on the track to not reveal their voice has gone!
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
The problem with Auto Tune Live is that what is technically correct doesn't necessarily sound right. The machine can't tell the difference between an artistic manipulation of pitch and an error. So the risk of fixing errors is wrecking artistry. If a live vocal performance by a really good singer goes so far off the rails that you need Auto Tune Live to fix it, the results probably won't be all that interesting to hear anyway. If it's only a little off here and there, Auto Tune Live is probably killing the artistry, so that would be less interesting. I'd rather hear an artistically interesting performance with some imperfections than robotically perfect pitch (and I'm not referring to Auto Tune Effect that sounds like a movie robot).
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I can cite one instance when I think having a backing track is ok. This is from the Jeff Beck's Tribute to Les Paul. Of course, as Imelda May states, she specifically recorded the backing vocal to imitate what Mary Ford did on the original. The interesting thing was that when Les and Mary started doing those songs live, they "faked" it by having Mary's sister off stage singing the backing vocal live! How weird is that??? We've gone one better than Les did.

 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
And if the carpenters had access to everything we have now, the results would have been even better!
That's really besides the point. That's like saying that if you had the car in 1972 that you have now, you could have got from Essex to Carlisle quicker, for that great holiday you had in '72.
I'm also in the music business, and am really surprised you believe that live is best
He didn't actually say that.
Often the live stuff you hear on YouTube recorded via the fans phones is pretty awful, compared to the tweaked versions we expect to hear
The stuff one hears on YouTube is often awful for two reasons. Sometimes it's the stuff used to record the song, other times, it's because the band is not cutting it. But people are so desperate to hear anything that they have continually accepted dross, and so dross now hangs in there with the rest of it.
It's part of the price one pays for freebies.
There's no such thing as a free lunch. 🤯
Sorry, but I've heard far too many big names singing dreadfully to subscribe to the live is always better
The argument isn't that live is always better. The argument is that there is and has long been, for many, many artists, a big difference between what one can do in the studio and what can be done live. And that a live performance should be just that.
But there is also an aspect that seems to me to always be overlooked, especially in discussions about autotune, and that is there is something very different about singing vs just about every other musical application. And that's partly why live autotuning gets so many peoples' backs up.
Worse, I've heard so many great gigs and then reviewed the recording to discover so much was pretty dire and we didn't notice
You kind of kill your own thrust here, Rob. That is precisely the point ~ lots of flubs and missed notes go down in a live performance and nobody notices {well, much of the time. I've noticed when singers were off lots of times} because the moment passes before one registers and even if one notices, it doesn't matter because you're somewhere else in the song and that moment has passed, forever. It rarely spoils what you've witnessed.
Anne Shelton and I think the American Squadronaires. The band were great, but she really struggled and it pretty well killed what was left of her career
Good. So it should have. If you can no longer sing, what are you doing getting up singing ? 👎
Even the Carpenters live shows were less good than Richard ever liked, if you read the stories
Yeah, but Richard was tweaking on speed and he was also something of a perfectionist....and he was somewhat jealous of the attention that Karen would get when he considered himself to be the brains behind the music.
Besides which, the notion of the artist not being entirely satisfied with their work, while the consumer loves it, is as old as the hills. John Lennon said, if left to him, he'd re~record and re~mix all the Beatles songs.
Well, I wouldn't let him !
Aging stars who can't hit the high notes might have those on the track to not reveal their voice has gone!
Ageing stars who can't hit the high notes shouldn't be singing the songs with those high notes ! Or they should be adapting their voices and arrangements.
That's what I had to do when the doctor 🧛🏿‍♂️ ran off with my thyroid 🤒 🤕 and high notes 👄 became a thing of the past ! 🌖 🌔
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
But then we would have Elton John. Or the other popular trick of one of the band singing the high note the ‘name’ can’t manage. When the band members can’t actually sing their own melody, maybe it is time to stop.

the keys player in one band I work with is quite ill. Part of his symptoms are fingers that wont bend, and the wrong notes went up and up. His singing was unchanged, so the band came up with a cunning idea. We use click as we are a four piece and on some songs we need sleigh bells, a gong, a twenty second scratchy old fashioned record version of one song that the band suddenly take over, a motor bike sound. We also the. Added a string track for a couple of songs, and for one, a pedal steel. We don’t use vocals and we don’t use our main instruments, but the clicks were created from the studio tracks, and the four voices and four instruments are sitting in the files, unused.

front of house started to raise the fader on the keys stem track, for maybe six of the songs because he couldn’t play them properly. The band were listening to his live playing in their ears, but the audience were hearing decent keys. It was quite a few gigs before the sound guy told the others on the band and they the told the keys guy, who instead of being upset was hugely relieved. We then added the new keys track to the IEM choice. We couldn’t do this for about four songs, because they can’t be clicked because they vamp around while the audience sing in the words and that often goes on for ages, so luckily he can play that one ok live.

this is cheating. We can live with that, but the alternative is a worse audience experience. To save their souls, they just dropped the common comment to the audience about live music!
 

TheSynthDev

Member
I definitely understand where you are coming from in terms of being upset about the use of auto-tune in live performances. While I can see how it can take away from the natural beauty of a singer's voice, I also think there can be times when it is used appropriately and can actually enhance a performance. For example, if a singer has a really powerful voice and they are performing in a large arena, auto-tune can help to make sure their voice is heard clearly by all of the audience members. In cases like that, I think it can be a really valuable tool. That being said, I do agree that there are definitely times when it is overused, and I think it's important to be aware of when that is the case so that we can make sure to support the artists who are choosing to stay away from auto-tune.

_______
Jason Hook. Audio Enthusiast and Software Developer
Remove or Isolate Vocals from any Song 👉 https://www.UnMixIt.com/
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
For example, if a singer has a really powerful voice and they are performing in a large arena, auto-tune can help to make sure their voice is heard clearly by all of the audience members.

I don't understand this statement. Autotune doesn't increase clarity, volume or EQ or compress the signal, does it? It's pitch correction, unless you overcook the settings to get the robotic sound.
 
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