Autotune Demystified: How Pitch Correction Software Actually Works
Ever since we included pitch correction into our online mixing services I’ve noticed a few artists have some unrealistic expectations for what autotune can do for them. So to clear the air, I’m going to tell you what autotune can’t do for you and explain why. This is mostly for rappers and people who can’t sing (or at least don’t know they can’t sing).
If you’re straight rapping, autotune isn’t going to make you sound like you’re singing. I’m not sure how some rappers have this idea that if they’re rappin’ like “talk rappin” with zero melody that autotune is going to make them sound like Drake. I remember hearing a Meek Mill song where he had his audio engineer apply autotune to his raps and as you can imagine it sounded terrible. Meek justified it as saying something like he’s a fan of Future, which is a major face palm cause Future is actually singing (okay not really but enough to make the autotune do its thing).
Which brings me to my next point: Autotune won’t work if you’re singing completely off key. The way autotune works is if you’re singing off key by one or two notes (on either side), it’ll bring you back in key. For example, if you’re supposed to hit a C note and instead hit C#, autotune will bring you back down to C (or if you sing a B note, it’ll bring you up to C). However, if you’re supposed to hit a C note, and you a sing a G note, it’ll sound like a painful warble from hell which is basically autotune saying, “please take some singing lessons bruh”.
Major Key Alert: Future-esque Rappers
Now I’m not sure if this fully applies to Future, cause for some of his songs (his most recent) I can’t figure out what key the man is singing’ in (and doubt even his engineer knows as it sounds like it’s set at “Chromatic”). But it applies to rappers like Rich Homie Quan who are some what singing (within a note of the correct note) and are singing within’ the correct scale for the song. Here really is the major key (in the Dj Khaled sense not the musical sense) to using autotune: Figure out the key of the song and set the autotune to that key. That’s it! Even if you can’t sing and you do that you’ll realize how much you can’t sing because the autotune will at least be pushing you into the correct scale. Moreover, you can craft melodies within your vocal range and finesse the autotune to sound decent (it’s pretty much what every successful autotune rapper has been doing since forever).
Also Meek Mill should never use autotune.