Polyphonic Pitchshifting

This should not be. Hopefully heavy metal will be safe from this abominable re-jiggering, but I’ve got little hope.

Like all great technologies, it increases amplitude without shifting the normal, making the good better and the evil worse.

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Seems as this would fit well with Ableton Live.

I want an Akai MPC with on the fly polyphonic pitchshifting. Now that would rock.

Seems like a lot of tech to change one note in a two-finger barre chord, so yes, heavy metal will be safe.

It will, however, be able to make crappy musicians sound a lot better in their recordings. This is already being done for singers and such, but now it can be done for guitar players at every level. Expect a lot of crappy bands live from now on!

You’d probably get better and more musical results from picking up a good sampler and some current guitar libraries. You can get pretty damn close to the real thing these days.

The basic concept is what I meant, but yes this is light years ahead.
It would be easier for me to re-record a guitar part but it will let “engineers” take samples of chords from many different instruments and “make” music, no more need to hire session players, almost anybody will be able to make music if you’re computer literate.

Well, that’s already true. You’d be hard pressed to tell a fake instrument from a real one. Modern software uses physical modeling and/or gigs of samples. I would like to hear what this software can do in the hands of someone who’s not trying to fix a mistake or to sound like a real instrument or voice. Pitch correction software can be pretty cool in songs that exaggerate it wildly and use it in as an instrument in itself.

I’d like to emphasize that Melodyne is not new technology. Neither is pitch correction, although nothing has done it as effectively as Melodyne, and what it accomplishes goes so far beyond the audio editing tools offered not only by other pitch correction tools but by other dedicated audio editor. At the risk of marketspeak, these guys really are offering a new paradigm.

The only thing new about their upcoming DNA technology is that you can apparantly (the software won’t come out for another several months, and I have yet to check it out firsthand) pull mixes into instruments, and chords into individual voices. For audio guys like me, this is holy grail shit right here. There is an amazing video from the Musicmesse floor where the creator shows it off. At around the 12 minute mark, they show it in action on an old Chet Baker track, pulling the stereo file into its component instruments, and then reconstructing the trumpet melody in real time. It’s absolutely brilliant.

Also, please don’t think of this as “Oh, this will just be used so that you won’t need any talent to make music anymore”. You haven’t needed talent to make a record thanks to studio trickery for the past thirty-five years or so anyways. Melodyne is at its least interesting as a repair tool, and at its most interesting as a creative tool to do stuff that was simply impossible before. I can’t wait to play with the new version. Gimme!

If you want to see what Melodyne has been doing for the past six or seven years, there are demos available at their website. The Melodyne Studio 3 demo has a great self-guided tour that teaches you most of what you need to know about the program in ten minutes or so, and demonstrate that even though they’re about to split the atom in audio terms, their existing work is still perfectly capable of blowing your mind.

This is incredible. And to think about how easy it might make transcribing songs. Wow.

Quote of the week.

Yes it will make studio work alot easier/faster/perfect and unfortunately even more soul-less than it already is.
Talk to any of the greats and they’ll tell you some of their best and most creative sounds or recordings were “accidents”.
So instead of someone flubbing a chord and coming up with something alot cooler, you’ll have a studio “expert” “fixing” it removing any human quality and or feel, vibe and soul from what might have been.
Oh well, that’s technology for ya.

Despite being really friggin’ awesome this technology isn’t going to have a dramatic effect on the music industry, not in any apparent way at least. Like Sockpuppet said, people have been making “soul-less”, uninspired crap for over 30 years now! I just see this as another tool in the recording toolbox; some will use it for good and some will use it for evil.

Besides, it would take some serious damn voodoo to make modern pop-music any worse than it already is!

Drewl, would you mind letting us know exactly how many of the greats you’ve polled to come up with this statement? Is it zero? I bet it’s zero. :D

I like to compare recording music to filmmaking, in that there are a couple of different approaches you could take: documentary, feature film, and effects blockbuster.

The documentary approach is, hypothetically, the ideal. You’re capturing the music exactly as it is performed, exactly as it sounds in the room. This would be truest to the ideal of “human feel”, “vibe”, and “soul” that gets thrown about in discussions like this - a little too freely in my opinion. Very little music is recorded under these circumstances.

The “feature film” approach is probably the most common. You’re not trying to capture reality. What you’re trying to do is present things in the best possible way. That means a great room, it means choosing this mic instead of that mic, it means using the best gear available, and it means using the best tools and techniques available. Some of your favourite recordings are probably the direct result of a lot of studio shitfuckery. (You didn’t think John Bonham’s drums actually sounded like that on their own, did you?)

And yes, that includes editing together a performance. I remember working on an album many years back, and in addition to being the recording engineer I also played a lot of the instrumentation. We were working on one song, and I was about to lay down a solo over one of the tracks. The artist and my girlfriend were both in the room, and their jaws dropped as I set up a loop of the 8-bar solo section, improvised through 8 passes, and started picking and choosing the best phrases to build the final solo. They didn’t think you could do that, and even more surprised when I told them that this was basically how everybody does it.

Is it a nicer story if I was inspired, had the time to write a melody specifically for that piece, and was able to play it in a single uninterrupted pass? Hell, yeah, absolutely. Does it make the lead that I sliced together suit the piece any less, or sound less good in the final mix? Nope.

On a more grandiose scale, one of my professors from when I studied recording engineering is a noteworthy producer with a body of work that encompasses a lot of artists who would be considered ‘greats’ by just about anybody’s standards. He routinely would record multiple tracks of a lead or vocal, feed all the tracks from the tape machine into a little gizmo he controlled that would take multiple signals in and put one signal out. He controlled which track was played at a given moment by a series of small switches. So basically, despite the fact that this was thirty years ago, he was editing performances in real-time. Does the fact that it was analog tape instead of Pro Tools make it any more or less “real”? His editing chops, were the right tools for the job, and were as much a part of the artistry of his records as the musicians he worked with.

He had a great story about working with Johnny Winter, and I think that Johnny had shown up to the session inebriated, and they had to comp together the performances to get something to show the label. Because Johnny played slide guitar, one of the edits was physically unplayable. However, when Johnny heard the finished take in the meeting with the label, he was stunned not by the edit, but by how good he was to have played that part. The artist (as many artists do) had no idea he was edited in the first place. Most importantly, by using the studio tools at hand, a great finished piece was created.

The third approach, the “effects blockbuster”, utilizes a wealth of studio tools and techniques, and the effects are as much the star of the show as the performers. However, just as this approach is responsible for the last three Star Wars movies, it’s also responsible for the first three. Keep that in mind before you condemn it.

So yes, Melodyne can be used to fix artists who can’t sing or perform. Once again, this particular genie has been out of the bottle for decades anyways. However, it can be a life-saver in a situation where time or budget is short and there isn’t time to re-cut vocals. Better yet, it can be used to enhance a performance where the character is great and emotive, but something is technically wrong (such as an amazing performance but one note is just off… this is a tool that lets you keep everything that is great about that performance and correct a mistake, thus actually preserving the character and “soul”). And most interestingly, it allows creative possibilities that were simply not available before. So did the synthesizer, the electric guitar, and multitrack tape.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but I think that technology creates much more opportunity for artistry than it takes away.

Jimmy Page often said he would leave in “mistakes” especially when overdubbing solos to give songs a rawer “live” feel.
Some guys from Liverpool used to deliberately “screw things up” to see what new sounds could be made.

I didn’t “poll” anybody, just have read alot about bands and musicians.
Is it a great new technology? Of course.
Will it affect me in any way? No.
It’s easier for me to re-record parts than dick around on a computer.
More fun too.

That’s the heart of the matter. Well said, Sockpuppet.

The existence of this technology doesn’t deny anyone the ability to record the way you describe, drewl. Leave the griping about new technology to the early-bird dinner set.

Thanks, rrmorton. Drewl is correct to worry that these tools will be used to make a lot of shitty music, and make a lot of poor performers sound decent. However, these tools will also be used to make good performances great, and they will inspire artists on both sides of the mixing console to explore some very cool new territory. (I can’t wait to see what the DNA technology will do to the remix market.)

Technology does not equal soulless.

Kick me again, you missed the left nut =/

It is pretty cool tech. And showing that video to people is a great way to see some seriously shocked facial expressions.

Believe me I’m not griping, I really don’t care.
There’s always been crappy music alongside the classics and it’s not the tools to blame.

How about the people who use the tool to ‘mess stuff up’? You’re not talking from a position of correctness here.