There is a debate over whether or not this new technology is a good thing. How far is too far? Some people elect not to use it. They feel that pitch correction takes away from the natural feel and vibe of the performance. Others use it on everything. Where to you stand? I’d love to hear your comments on this.
When I am working on projects for clients I allow them to make this decision. I may offer suggestions, but the ultimate decision rests on them. When I am working on my own music, I use Melodyne tastefully and sparingly. I do not like to create harmonies or make drastic pitch changes with Melodyne. On my voice, it just sounds too artificial. The natural tone and vibrato of my voice does not lend itself to drastic edits in Melodyne. In addition, I tend to use bends and inflections that don’t translate well on pitch correction.
I don’t agree with creating a performance that did not exist in the recording session. When we use pitch correction to totally change the pitch or rhythm of the notes, the recording engineer is filling the role of the artists. The artist should be the one creating the notes not the engineer. It is a huge let-down to hear a person live in concert and realize that he/she is not the artist you thought he was.
However, there are times when we record a magical moment in the studio. I feel that the most important aspect of recording is capturing an emotional and expressive performance. What do we do when the expression and emotion was just right on a take, but there were one or two notes that were a little out of tune? It may take a long time to recreate that type of magical performance on another take with perfect intonation. In this type of situation, I may decide to use a slight bit of pitch correction to just fix up the rough spots of a valuable take.
Sometimes, we get tired or distracted while working through a recording session. This is especially true when a person is filling the role of both the artist and recording engineer (most home studio singer/songwriters). We may listen back to a take and think it is great during the recording session. Then we start up the session the next day and realize there are a few pitch or timing issues with the take that we thought was perfect yesterday. We can either set everything up again and start over, or try to fix those minor issues with pitch correction software.
Nobody sings perfectly all of the time, but we want our recordings to sound perfect. If you know that you can sing it correctly, but you need to save time; pitch correction software may be a great solution. However, if you can't sing or play in tune at all and you use pitch correction to create a performance that you cannot do on your own, then you should spend more time practicing and developing your craft. Going to a live show and hearing a performance that sound much worse than the album is a real downer for the fans. I know that today's pop music industry is more about image, and pitch correction is used heavily by many artists who look great and sing terribly, but I am an old fashioned kind of guy. I think that music should be about the music. Let's come back to an art where we appreciate well written songs and skillful musical performances. The tasteful use of pitch correction is one step in the right direction.