How autotune works and how it changes singers’ voices: the technical explanation

L’Autotune it is a software capable of tune automatically the singers’ voices by changing their frequency. One of the first songs created with this technology was “Believe” Of Cher In the 1998 and since then this technology has become increasingly popular – especially in trap scene with artists like Ball Enough or Travis Scott. Contrary to what we might think, however, theorigin of Autotune it has to do… with the oil exploration! But let’s go in order and see not only the history of this software but also yours operation from the technical point of view.

  • 1How autotune works
  • 2The types of autotune
    • 2.1Live autotune
    • 2.2Autotune in Studio
  • 3A brief history of Autotune

How autotune works

Autotune It’s a one time software received a sound the tunes automatically going to modify his frequency to match that of “correct” notes. For example, if we sing with our voice a “There” falling, the software adjusts the frequency to match that of a “There“correct, that is 440 Hz.

But obviously with this tool you can also do many other things, such as set a certain tone and have our voice change to fit within this note range. In this case Autotune breaks his voice in its basic components – therefore many frequencies – and modifies those out of tune to match them desired scale. Then it puts all the frequencies back together to return the “modified” entry.

Obviously the more the starting voice will be out of tune – therefore far from the frequencies of the right notes – the more the autotune effect will be felt.

The types of autotune

Up to now we have talked about Autotune in a generic way, but in reality there are such software two large typologies: L’autotune in the studio and thelive autotune.

Live autotune

Live Autotune is Autotune in a strict sense. In fact, even the name suggests it, Auto – Tune, Meaning what auto-tuner. In this case the entry is changed to real time: when a singer uses the microphone the voice reaches the computer, is converted and corrected digitally, and then sent back to the speakers. All in a few thousandths of a second.

To clarify, this is the autotune that is (sometimes) used by some artists during concerts. The strong point of this technology is certainly its speedsince in tiny fractions of a second it modifies the entry and returns it modified.

Autotune in the studio

L’Autotune in the studio it really shouldn’t be called that but Pitch editing software – although for simplicity we will call it Autotune in the studio. In this case there is no need to have an instant fix but we focus much more on quality: in fact you can edit every single note by hand and it is possible to be much more precise compared to the live counterpart.

In any case, both types of software have many parameters that can be modified, for example the speed at which you move from one note to another. In fact you can set or one step more abrupt, giving the classic robotic effect that we all know, or you can do it this way more gradualmaking the voice sound more “natural”

A brief history of Autotune

L’origin of Autotune it is absurd and has to do with the oil exploration. In fact, one of the most used techniques in this field is that of reflection seismic which plans to exploit seismic waves to locate oil underground. In the 1996 the engineer Andy Hidebrand invents an instrument – ​​which at the time did not yet call us Autotune – to clean up the signal frequencies and therefore have better quality data.

At the same time Dr. Hidebrand was also a musician, so the following year he had an intuition and exploited the same operating principle to create an instrument that was capable of making singers in tune by modifying the frequencies of their voice. Over the years this instrument has become more and more popular, starting with the single “Believe” Of Cher up to today’s trap scene, with artists like Travis Scott, Future, Ball Enough And Tedua.