Dr. Andy Hildebrand is the one who invented autotune, making it public in 1998 when Cher released “Believe.” Hildebrand earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, so creating this powerful piece of software was just what he loved doing.
But some people wonder if he and his autotune ruined the music industry. Isn’t autotune cheating?
Not according to Hildebrand.
“Cheating in the old days used endless retakes to get a final result,” he told PBS1. “It’s easier now with Auto-Tune. The real impact of Auto-Tune is that it changed how studios produce vocals.”
“If you’re going to complain about Auto-Tune, complain about speakers too,” he said2. “And synthesizers. And recording studios. Recording the human voice, in any capacity, is unnatural.”
Whether or not you agree with him, autotune is here. And it’s here to stay. Now it’s up to us to use it well.
What does Auto-Tune actually do?
Autotune is a piece of software that adjusts notes that a person sings (or that an instrument plays) to fit into the scale of a song, essentially correcting the notes to fit the song. So if you have a song in the key of C major, you can adjust the singer’s notes to match only the notes in C major. Typically, producers and mixing engineers will manually correct only the off notes rather than applying autotune to an entire track.