Obama, iphones and acoustic phonetics

August 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Manufactured pop is not new. The 80s saw the assembling of pop acts …. boy bands, spice girls and their ilk … and their subsequent mass production and mass marketing to us the people. But since the nineties another trick up the music industry speed is the auto-tune gadget. Auto-tune essentially works by smoothing out the pitch of a singer’s voice. For those of you who have had a look at a/your voice using praat software will be familiar with the wiggling line know as pitch. To stay on tune, the line must not wiggle so. Auto-tune irons out or flattens the little wavers in that line, a perfecting of the pitch of the singer’s voice.

image from http://www.antarestech.com/products/auto-tune-evo.shtml

The use of auto-tune has become ubiquitous if not controversial in the music industry. Many commentators argue that something of the voice is lost in the production of perfect pitch. Some musicians too explicitly reject electronic ‘plastic surgery’ on their voices. However, equally some musicians have made a name for themselves by openly adopting the aut-tune as part of their musical and vocal style. Perhaps the most well-known of these artists is T Pain.

And this is where the iphone comes in. In the land of apps it wouldn’t be long before an iphone app would replicate the pitch perfecting software of auto-tune. Called I am T Pain, the app allows iphone users to auto tune voices.

Here we can see a comedic sequence where T Pain auto-tunes President Obama producing a catchy tune about healthcare ..

So acoustic phonetics-loving, hip-hop loving, iphone owners are able to manipulate the human voice uncovering the musicality of just talk …pretty cool huh?

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