Found on Instapundit (yes, it really is more than a warblog):
Pitch correction, the dirty little secret of the recording industry. (Chicago Trib, if registration requested, use cpunks/cpunks for username/password.) Briefly, this means that a singer's voice is electronically corrected. Massaged. Cut & pasted.
Using increasingly common studio software such as Pro Tools, flat notes can be fixed, off-key vocals can be spruced up and entire performances can be cut and pasted together from several different takes.
According to industry insiders, many successful mainstream artists in most genres of music -- perhaps a majority of artists -- are using pitch correction.
"My own opinion is that it can be a very, very handy tool, but unfortunately now it is something that is cropping up on the records of artists who can actually sing," says Andy Karp, vice president of A&R for Lava/Atlantic Records.
Previously, it was just used on the voices of artists who couldn't actually sing?
Now, electronic modification of voice has been going on a long time. Remember when Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released? Well, no, you probably don't, that was back in the late Pleistocene, but critics at the time noted that the album couldn't really be taken on tour, because it depended on studio effects that couldn't be done live, the first time that was true of any record.
The Chicago Trib article waxes semi-hysterical about Milli-Vanilli, but that's not what's going on here. Milli-Vanilli was 100% fake. This is, oh, maybe 50% fake. Big difference. Right? Right?
Two pundit-y points I'd like to make about this, each on a different scale of 'meta':
1. For ten years, I've been saying that in the future, every movie is going to be animated. We're well on the way now, at least with big-budget, special-effects laden epics, like the new Star Wars movies, Spiderman, and so on: all those computer-generated special effects are, in fact, animation, stuff drawn with a computer that never had any existence in reality. It's only a matter of time before the software and hardware are good enough and cheap enough that every part of even low-budget films will be cheaper and easier to animate than to shoot live. This evolution has been slower to invade sound than vision, perhaps because voice is harder to fake than visual objects: a computer can still fake a scene that will fool the eye better than it can fake a voice that will fool the ear.
But this kind of story shows that we're on our way towards 'animation' of voice. We're not there yet, by a long stretch, but the voices we hear in media are becoming more and more detached from real human voices, just as the images we see are becoming more detached from anything that can happen in the real world. Ten years ago, I thought we would soon have nothing but animated films, and all actors would be voice actors. But now I wonder, maybe we don't even need voice actors? Maybe the voices will all be animated too.
(Don't tell me that CG can never replace the verisimilitude and grittiness of reality, that we'll always need films shot on real locations with real actors: I know that. CG and CA will never take over completely, there will always be a dynamic tension between computer-derived media and 'real' media. And that's a good thing, and both sides of media will learn from the other, and teach each other their tricks. Nonetheless, I suspect that the vast majority of video, movies and TV, ultimately will be CG and CA, and 'real' actors and sets will be the realm of the edgy and experimental filmmakers.)
2. The second pundit-y point I want to make is that this story illustrates the growing primacy of mind over body, that has been evolving slowly since, well, since humans developed large brains. It used to be that a great song was sung by a singer who could perfectly control their breath, their vocal cords, the shape of their mouth. Now, it's produced by a person who can develop software, and the person who can use that software effectively. The software can't turn a bad singer into a good one, but it can turn a mediocre singer into a pop star. Ultimately, the singer may not be necessary at all, the guy at the mixer console and computer may be able to do it all.
The mind taking over the functions of the body has been happening for a long time. Ditch Witches replace ditch diggers, automatic elevators replace elevator operators, smart bombs replace cannon fodder. At least if it's your side that has the smart bombs.
Yes, it's the mind that controls the bodies of actors and singers―but the body has always been necessary. For the first time in the performing arts, the body is becoming increasingly unnecessary.
The cyborgs are taking over, if not exactly in the way we expected.
|Origin obscure. The top radical is 'building/roof', the bottom radical is 'convey' (与). Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Convey copy of building.'|