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How the auto-tuner killed American pop music
Technology has eroded vocal craftsmanship and created lazy artistry
Published 9/26/2011
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In the past, a combination of the slick beats, fun attire and raw talent created a musical experience that swept across the world, giving listeners something new to put their groove to. It’s too bad, really, because this may come as a shock, maybe even a little outlandish, but once upon a time, pop singers could sing.

Pop music has its story just like every musical genre. However, no matter how much we have come to love it, pop has disseminated into an aesthetic medium rather than a performing art.

The Grove Dictionary of Music describes pop music as “a term used widely in everyday discourse, generally to refer to types of music that are considered to be of lower value and complexity than art music, and to be readily accessible to large numbers of musically uneducated listeners rather than to an élite.”

Also according to Groves, the term "pop music" originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced. From about 1967, the term was increasingly used in opposition to the term rock music.

The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock shows that early pop music drew on many forms of music such as the sentimental ballad for its form, vocal harmonies from soul music, instrumentation from jazz, tempo from dance music and orchestration from classical music to develop the genre.

In the article "Pop: Implications of technology” by D. Buckley, the author shows a correlation between the development of technology due to pop music, such as an improved microphone in the 1940s.

It is in this correlation that pop music has to technology that has advanced the genre into a collection of lazy artists who have lost their ability to perform live.

Correction software has encouraged laziness among every musical artist that utilizes it, and this is easily seen. I encourage everyone to check out a video of your favorite pop artist from a live performance. While listening, notice that their intonation and tone quality embody the essence of vocal chords churning in a garbage disposal.

While there are some artists, such as Lady Gaga, that represent exceptions to this trend, the development of pitch enhancing software has had a predominately negative effect on the industry. Artists now use it as a crutch in the recording studio.

Enhancement software is not all bad. Many artists have used it to create high quality productions for their albums while others use it to create a given effect wanted for a given song. It is the growing dependency on the tool that makes it a problem in the industry.   


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