Saturday, June 20, 2009


Last month Jay-Z proclaimed the death of autotune, a digital effect with it's roots in analog vocoders developed early in the 20th century.

Originally developed with the telecommunications industry in mind, the technology was eventually discovered by musicians who began to incorperate it into compositions as a novelty.

The Sonovox

Here's a clip of Alvino Rey whose 'singing guitar' used technology that would eventually become the Talkbox.

Along with the vocoder, the talkbox was frequently dismissed as a gimmick.
Nonetheless these devices that electronically merge the voice with instrumentation found their way onto a huge number of records, across genres and across decades throughout the 20th century.

Around The World Daft Punk, directed by Michel Gondry (not)

Battlecat using a Talkbox.

Mack Maine with Lil Wayne on autotune

Autotune, B.o.B.


DJ4AM (11:11) "ATLANTIAN REFUGEE" said...

I'm calling bullshit!

Jay-Z goes along with every trend until it's the proverbial dead horse, then he acts like he's our savior, saying the public made hima gangster rapper, proclaiming the death of auto-tune, laaame! Besides, auto-tune is not a vocoder, it's a device that makes it possible for tone-deaf people to sing, just listen to Uncle Kracker, when the vocalists voice cracks it means that the device is working too hard, Kanye, Akon, T-Pain, y'all can't sing... Rodger from Zapp, Frampton... they can sing.

DJ4AM (11:11) "ATLANTIAN REFUGEE" said...

also, it makes you sound like your drowning, to all of the auto tune artists, save some money and sing with your face down in the bathtub, for at least an uninterrupted hour

me said...

i love me some robot voice... and i always will.

M. V. said...

Yeah you're def right Jay-Z isn't some innovator or hardcore purist in his critique of autotune, but he is a taste-maker.

Tons of other people have ctriticised it's use and abuse, B.o.B. for example.

But his D.O.A.statement is significant because of his commercial status, and media visibility.
Like, "CEO of Jay-Z Inc. now officially regects auto-tune."

You're right too that autotune isn't the same thing as a vocoder, it's just a plugin designed to use a digital phase vocoder
to 'correct' pitch.

But I think it's interesting that artists are aestheticising that type glitchy distortion, zeroing in on those sounds that are so similar to it's analog predecessor.

DJ4AM (11:11) "ATLANTIAN REFUGEE" said...

Creatively used, it used to be very cool, but now it's been stigmatized, I blame Kanye, the technology isn't in itself lame, just the gimmicky usage, if we want to see where the whole thing really started we have to go gay:

Cher "Believe"

but the best is the South Park "Gay Fish" thing.

me said...