Love it or hate it, since it’s introduction in 1997 Auto-Tune has gone on to become a a huge part of modern music making. There is a great deal of debate about the various merits and drawbacks of being able to correct the pitch of a vocal recording and whether this in someway reduces the character, soul, or lets flat out ability of the recorded vocalist.
I doubt that there are many studios in the world that don’t have the software or hardware installed, nor many producers that have crossed path with it at one time or another. However whether they would openly admit to using it, or for that matter admit to a singer that they had used it on their recording, is another matter.
Perhaps I will go into my own vocal recording techniques and thought on using pitch correction in a different blog. For now though, the debate reminds of the talk around the introduction of sequencers and samplers in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I remember reading that it would cause the downfall writing new and interesting music, and that all music from that point onwards would become generic and boring.
To my ears there was generic and boring music before the advent of sequencers and samplers, just as there was after their introduction. There was also some fantastic music too.
Anyway, I didn’t start writing this to get into a debate with myself. I do enough of that in my own time. I’m writing this because Antares, the company behind Auto-Tune have annouced that they are working on a new product, ATG-6. Also known as Auto-Tune for Guitar.
A video has been released showing a prototype version of the software in action.
Apparently the software will offer real time pitch correction, individually across each string of a 6-string electric guitar.
In the simplest form this means that it can keep each string of your guitar in tune. So whether the whole guitar is out of tune, or if just one string goes out after a particularly wild bend during a solo, the software will detect this and adjust the pitch of this string(s) automatically on the fly without you even noticing.
Beyond that it will allow you to apply lots of other virtual tuning effects such as open tuning, capos, 7-srings, 12-strings, bass and octaves.
It will also allow you to change the tone of your guitar pickups. So you could be playing with a Les Paul humbucker…
and have it sound like a Strat or Telecaster single coil pickup.
This is all very interesting. I guess the proof will come when the product gets in to the hands guitarist we see what can be done with it.
Despite all this though, the holy grail of tuning guitars will always undoubtedly be a 12-string acoustic guitar. However I doubt whether anybody, man or machine, will ever get one of those suckers to stay in tune.
Heh, try playing an 8-course lute (15 strings – two courses tuned at octaves, five doubled, one single string on the highest course). They’re great fun to keep in tune. Or my 7-string bass viola de gamba – only 7 strings, but they’re made of gut. Oh yes, that’s fun.
As for autotuning software, I suspect you could use it to make some very interesting sounds, if you deliberately set it up to kick tunings away from the original notes, you get very different harmonic patterns to what you would expect from that instrument at that pitch. Assuming it can be configured to do that kind of gross distortion, and you don’t end up just resorting to using your DAW’s pitch-shifter.
I’m not particularly keen on using it to cover up lack of tuning ability from a singer though, I think that’s something singers should be expected to learn.
Wow, the 8-course lute and bass viola de gamba sound like they must be a joy to keep in tune 🙂
Like you it’s the weird, wonderful and interesting things that you could do with the software that would interest me the most.
All the best,