So today I has a group of young MCs and singers in the studio and while I was mixing one of the tracks, one of the singers asked if we could tune his vocal a bit. We fired up melodyne and got to work.
I was working under his instruction, he wanted a very hard tuned sound – not a T-Pain style Auto Tune but he didn’t want any imperfections in his voice – I tend to not like tuning my recordings unless absolutely necessary (which it rarely is in my opinion – especially when I’ve tracked the vocal, I like to get it right at source).
After a while the rest of the group were getting frustrated with the time he was taking over tuning his vocal (it was only a 2 hour session) and wanted to get on with other things. He replied “trust me it won’t be long, its quicker than rerecording it”.
This bugged me a bit, the singer is only in his teens and because of the “tools” in our audio arsenal he has, seemingly, decided that he doesn’t need to work for the best possible take because he can fix it in the mix!
All tuning programs add something to the sound of a track, you can hear when auto tune – or, to a lesser extent, melodyne -A�has been used, but I would also argue that they take something away from the track. The emotion and feeling in a vocal track, normally, lives in the slight breaks in the voice, the “imperfections” in the performance – that’s why Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan and the like are so emotive – they might not win The Voice but they convey their feelings onto the record.
Its not that I think melodyne or auto tune are evil or bad or unnecessary I just feel that we, as artists, should strive to do our bests – after all, quality in, quality out!