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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: It's not just Autotune - how singers cheat today (Pop Theory)

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So I've got to know if you want to go

So you may think that someone like Louise here would not be able to become a world class

pop star...

Not with that voice right?!

But with modern vocal production, it's more than possible.

Let me show you how.

Hello, and Welcome toPop Theory”, the series where we dive into the secrets of modern

pop music.

This episode is all about vocal production, that is, how to make a singer sound as good

as possible in the studio.

Youre probably already familiar with Auto-Tune, or rather, pitch correction.

Do you know what auto-tune is?


It sounds a little bit like a robot.

Like a robot?

When you dont really have a lot of talent, press the Auto-Tune and make it sound perfect.

If I would tell you that Taylor Swift uses Auto-Tune, would that change

I don't think that Taylor uses that kind of stuff.

Justin Bieber uses auto-tune?!

For most peopleAuto-Tunehas become synonymous for all kinds vocal processing.

But actually, the branded processor Auto-Tune can only do a specific set of things.

The first hit single to use Auto-Tune was ChersBelieve,” and it used the most

extreme setting, making it sound robotic in a way.

That kind of sound had not been heard before, so within a year of the release ofBelieve,”

Auto-Tune had been sold to every major studio in the world.

The inventor said that Auto-Tune might be to music what Photoshop is to photography:

everyone uses it, but not many are keen to admit it.

Lets quickly listen to what Auto-Tune can do.

Here I have a short phrase of me singing.

Just because I

I want you to love me.”

Okay, so lets try to put Auto-Tune on it.

Just because I

I want you to love me.”

Can you hear the subtle difference?

Its a bit more accurate and you could say that its got more of apopsound to it

This is the Retune Speed wheel which changes how extreme the effect is.

You can get the effect from ChersBelieveby turning the wheel to 0, while turning it

the other way will make the effect less and less noticeable.

Basically, Auto-Tune takes the incoming signal, that is, the voice, and takes it to the closest

note, making it in pitch.

You can think of it sort of like a guitar where wherever you push on the neck, youll

get a real note because of the frets, but the voice without Auto-Tune is more like a

violin, where you have to kind of slide around sometimes to get to the note you want.

The pitch of a note is defined by its frequency, and is measured in Hertz.

The note A has a frequency of about 440 Hz while the closest note above it, A sharp,

has a frequency of about 466.

So if I would sing a note in between these two frequencies, Auto-Tune would try to correct

it either to A sharp or to A. And if the note Im singing is actually pretty much perfectly

inbetween these two notes Auto-Tune might have trouble identifying which note I am going

for and it would create awarblingeffect, like this.

I want you to love me.”

But changing the frequency is only part of what Auto-Tune does.

Have you ever wondered why speeding up a song sounds like a chipmunk is singing?

Its because you are increasing the frequency of the sound.

But it also means youre shortening the note.

So the cool thing that Auto-Tune does is that it changes the frequency AND the length of

the note.

First, we record every phrase of the song on its own five times.

We make sure that Louise sings in a few different ways so we have more options later.

Thats perfect, lets do thatOnce we have the best possible takes from the singer,

lets get to the production magic.

Through a process known ascomping,” well listen and find the best parts of

every take we recorded, and combine them.

This creates a sort of Frankensteins Monster where sometimes every note comes from a different take!

Then we do some cutting and time-stretching to make sure that every note is exactly as long as we want.

Now, Ill use a combination of two separate tools, Melodyne and Auto-Tune, to sort out

the pitch.

I cant make it on my own, I cant make it on my own."

Finally, I use the original vocal to generate dubs and backing vocals to give it a bigger,

fuller sound.

I cant make it on my own…”

Do you think that you guys could be pop singers?

Anyone can be nowadays.

You can get anyone off the street, Auto-Tune it.

(Singing) And then Auto-Tune kind of

(Singing) Brings it together.

*random man passing by singing*

So is vocal production a bad thing?

As with anything, I wouldnt say that the answer is a clearyesorno”.

There are a few positive things that modern vocal production has allowed for in music.

First off, more precise vocal recordings.

And secondly, it has allowed for faster work flows in the studio meaning that your favourite

artists can make music way faster.

And thirdly, it has allowed people like T-pain, Kanye, and Drake to make music in new ways

sounding kind of like robots, but its like a new aesthetic for singing.

So even though your favourite artist probablycheatsa bit in the studio, try to remember

that the tracks that you love by them might not have existed without this technology speeding

up their workflow.

So with that in mind lets listen to what vocal production has done for Louise.

I dont want to be alone anymore, anymore.

I cant make it on my own anymore, anymore.

So I gotta know

If you want to go

Grab a cup of joe

And then buy me a dog, a dog, a dog, a dog

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