What are they auto-tuning? A harp?

So, today we learnt that they use auto-tune technology on the X-factor. It must be a mighty important story, ranking as it did over the Pakistan floods. Hmm.

For those that don’t know, this is a computer algorithm that corrects dicky tuning in singers competing on the show. It can nudge their voice up or down if they just slightly miss the note they were aiming for, and give everything a more polished sound.

Is it wrong? Well, if you think you don’t want to hear auto-tuned voices you’re too late. Studio time is expensive, and this technology is cheap, so I’d imagine that there are a great many number of records out there that have been tweaked from cuckoo to songbird without everything sounding like Cher in ‘Life after love’. Simon and the entourage of lawyers/spin doctors/PR Gurus and alike were quick to point out that it is only added in post-production and that the stool pidgeons judges hear the real thing, and then it’s altered to make watching the programme more bearable. But hang on, I’m sorry, don’t these programmes make money getting people to vote in a quasi-democratic way for the one they think is the best. Isn’t this skewing the result a little. Why, that’d be like Sky News showing bias against Labour in an election or something.

The truth is though, you’d use it wouldn’t you? I mean, as a classical musician you spend every day of your life trying to make sure everything’s in tune. That your fingers fall in the right place, at the right angle, in the right way. Every time. But if the pressure was on you to make a studio record, with 4 big Texans smoking cigars outside the studio window pacing up and down and pointing at watches, you’d use it wouldn’t you?

The difference comes afterwards though, doesn’t it? I mean, you’re going to go away after the session and practice like you’ve never done before. You can’t mime a concerto with an orchestra, or mime the violin along to a piano trio. And I’m sure the X-factor winners do the same, hairbrush in hand.

Sorry for the abrupt ending – a pig appears to have got tangled in my washing line whilst flying passed my garden. That keeps happening…

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