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  • Orçun Ayata

Why you shouldn't use Auto-Tune


I came across Rick Beato's new YouTube video today. I like his videos a lot, and I find them helpful for gaining both knowledge and vision. He was always criticizing the auto-tuning trend, not just for its effect but for using it for 100% correction. In his new video, he also makes a connection with how the new AI technologies can create music that is much more digital.

We've grown to trust computers more and more in recent years, even in the arts. We play a part, and we immediately hit the "quantize" button. I remember myself, sometimes I wasn’t even listening to what I actually played. Instead, I was listening to the corrected version of the drums I just played. I would only undo it if I heard something strange.

Singers are used to hearing perfectly edited songs in the studio, so when they listen back to what we just recorded, they expect to hear themselves perfectly. Not even that, but they also want to hear their vocals as close to the final mix as possible. That means mixing and mastering on the go.

Even though I think that we don’t have to perfect a certain vocal part perfectly in pitch, because we can fix it afterward, and we should focus on our attitude instead, I don’t believe that fixing everything perfectly is the right way of creating music. And as Rick Beato concludes, AI can definitely create that. It already creates some elevator music, which is also as boring and predictable as today’s pop music. So we don’t have any reason to believe that it cannot create the new Justin Bieber song.

But I’m somehow hopeful about this whole AI thing. I cannot say what would exactly happen in other industries such as graphic design and illustration, but I think I have some ideas about what would happen in the music industry.

Rock was the most popular music genre for many years, and it represented many things for many people. For example, it meant anarchy and a stance against capitalism and governments for some people. And it was also the rock'n'roll soul that you lived by every day. But nowadays, rap music, which is now the most popular genre, means almost the opposite. It’s tied to capitalism in that rappers cannot write any lyrics about anything but money, drugs, and car brands.

I believe many people will grow tired of these automatically generated songs in the near future because AI will be able to create more "perfect" songs in a matter of seconds. I’m not even thinking about the listener, but no artist would like to be in the same pouch with artificial intelligence. I wouldn’t want to be.

My idea is to hug our un-perfect recordings and mistakes, stick to hours of experimentation with sounds, and get nasty. Maybe AI can also try to experiment, but as it doesn’t have feelings at this moment and cannot replicate them, it cannot have real reasons to be experimental. It will just try something different without any real reasons when you ask it to be creative. But it won’t even understand how it feels to be experimental in the first place.

Lately, I mixed a beautiful post-punk song. I usually ask for the project files if my clients also use Logic Pro. I realized that he was using the "Pitch Correction" auto-tune plugin on his vocal. After simply removing that plugin, the song began to play. I didn't even feel like editing the vocals because I like how the vocals sound when there is no pitch correction.

So, my idea is to keep being nasty and keep making sh*t music without correcting your so-called "mistakes," because it's beautiful the way it is.

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