Steve Perry denounces the prevalence of Auto-Tune, the popular audio tool used for pitch correction and vocal effects.
âAuto-Tune has turned everyone into one singer,â former Journey frontman said in a new interview with Kyle Meredith, âwhich I think is tragicâ.
First introduced in 1997 by mathematician Dr Andy Hildebrand, Auto-Tune was designed to support or enhance original vocal performance. “When voices or instruments are out of tune, the emotional qualities of the performance are lost,” according to the device’s patent. His big break came in 1998 with Cher’s single “Believe”.
Perry, however, says these “emotional qualities” actually come from the unedited human voice.
“A very brilliant musician spoke to me about it for a long time,” he would say when you listen to someone as beautiful as a [Barbra] Streisand, your heart is just going, ‘I can’t believe she can do this. How does she do that? ‘”Said Perry.” And then you listen to Muddy Waters and you get an emotional touch as well. Well, they’re two totally different vocal directions, two totally different vocal timbres, different styles. Well, one is angelic and beautiful and the other has some struggle, and this is also the struggle and imperfections that you are fighting for. There is this human thing.
âSinging is the most primitive thing. It really is a very primitive form of communication,â Perry added. “And, obviously, it’s going to last a while – that’s why I’m not so happy that people are erasing that description we just talked about with Auto-Tune.”
Some fellow singers may share Perry’s opinion. Others, however, have recognized that Auto-Tune’s potential benefit extends beyond pitch correction.
“I would say if John Lennon had had a chance he would have been everywhere,” said Paul McCartney in the first episode of “Watch the Sound,” an Apple TV + docusery hosted by producer Mark Ronson. “Not so much to fix your voice, but just to play with it.”
Lennon’s son Sean agreed, noting that his father didn’t care about his autonomous voice and surely would have chosen to pursue something unprecedented.
âPart of the reason he found all of these flangers and phase effects, because he was always trying to find a way to make his voice better for him,â Lennon said. âHe didn’t just keep up with technology, but The Beatles and my dad, they were always on the cutting edge of what was going on. I think he certainly would have tried Auto-Tune.â
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