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How a mining engineer’s invention made pop singers all sound the same

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Anyone who listens to commercial radio nowadays has probably been hit with the impression that a lot of pop music sounds very similar. It’s easy to dismiss this complaint as a gripe of the old and the cynical, but science actually bears this out: pop music has indeed been pretty homogenous throughout its history and is becoming ever more so.

In one 2014 study, researchers in the US and Austria analysed more than 500,000 albums, across 15 genres and 374 sub-genres. The complexity of each genre of music over time was compared to its sales. And almost always, as genres increase in popularity, they also become more generic.

In itself, this does not mean much – since genres and subgenres are always emerging. It may be considered a truism that a genre becomes accepted once its rules are defined – and once the genre is established, deviation will result in a new genre or sub-genre. For instance, funk emerged as a new genre out of soul and RnB, with a far stronger emphasis on rhythmic groove and the bass.

Another study, in 2012, measured the evolution of Western popular music, using a huge archive known as the Million Song Dataset, which contains vast amounts of low-level data about the audio and music content in each song. They found that between 1955 and 2010, songs had become louder and less varied in terms of their musical structure.

These are trends – but the perception among many listeners is that this homogenisation of music has taken a big leap forward in recent years. And there are a couple of important technological developments that have made this happen.

The loudness war

Dynamic range compression is the (usually automated) continual adjustment of the levels of an audio signal, primarily intended to reduce the variations in loudness. Its overuse has led to a “loudness war”. The musician who wants a loud recording, the record producer who wants a wall of sound, the engineers dealing with changing loudness levels during recording, the mastering engineers who prepare content for broadcast and the broadcasters competing for listeners have all acted as soldiers in this loudness war.

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But the loudness war may have already peaked. Audiologists have become concerned that the prolonged loudness of new albums might cause hearing damage and musicians have highlighted the sound quality issue. An annual Dynamic Range Day has been organised to raise awareness, and the non-profit organisation Turn Me Up! was created to promote recordings with more dynamic range. Standards organisations have provided recommendations for how loudness and loudness range can be measured in broadcast content, as well as recommending appropriate ranges for both. Together, these developments have gone a long way towards establishing a truce in the loudness war.

Auto-Tune

But there’s another technology trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Auto-Tune, which a surprising number of today’s record producers use to correct the pitch of their singers, actually originated as a byproduct of the mining industry.

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From 1976 through to 1989, Andy Hildebrand worked for the oil industry, interpreting seismic data. By sending sound waves into the ground, he could detect the reflections and map potential drill sites – in effect, using sound waves to find oil underground. Hildebrand, popularly known as “Dr Andy”, studied music composition at Rice University in Houston, Texas and used his knowledge in both areas to develop audio processing tools – the most famous of which was Auto-Tune

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At a dinner party, a guest challenged him to invent a tool that would help her sing in tune. Based on the phase vocoder, which covers a range of mathematical methods to manipulate the frequency representation of signals, Hildebrand devised techniques to analyse and process audio in musically relevant ways. Hildebrand’s company, Antares Audio Technologies, released Auto-Tune in late 1996.

Auto-Tune was intended to correct or disguise off-key vocals. It moves the pitch of a note to the nearest true semitone (the nearest musical interval in traditional octave-based Western tonal music), thus allowing the vocal parts to be tuned.

The original Auto-Tune had a speed parameter which could be set between 0 and 400 milliseconds and determined how quickly the note moved to the target pitch. Engineers soon realised that this could be used as an effect to distort vocals and make it sound as if the voice leaps from note to note while staying perfectly and unnaturally in tune all the while. It also gives the voice an artificial, synthesiser-like sound, that can be appealing or irritating depending on your personal taste.

This unusual effect was the trademark sound of Cher’s December 1998 hit song, Believe, which was the first commercial recording to intentionally feature the audible side-effects of Auto-Tune.

Like many audio effects, engineers and performers found a creative use for Auto-Tune, quite different from the intended use. As Hildebrand said: “I never figured anyone in their right mind would want to do that.” Yet Auto-Tune and competing pitch correction technologies, such as Celemony’s Melodyne, are now widely applied (in amateur and professional recordings – and across many genres) for both intended and unusual, artistic uses.

Its became so prevalent, in fact, that these days it is expected almost universally on commercial pop music recordings. Critics say that it is a major reason why so many recordings sound the same nowadays (though the loudness wars and overproduction in general are also big factors). And some young listeners who have grown up listening to auto-tuned music think the singer lacks talent if they hear an unprocessed vocal track.

It has been lampooned in music and television and on social media, and Time magazine called it one of the “50 Worst Inventions”. But if anything, both its subtle, corrective use and overt, creative use continues to grow. So if you can’t tell your Chris Brown from your Kanye West, it may be down to Dr Andy.

Joshua Reiss, Reader, Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Henry Sapiecha

www.goodgirlsgo.com

Former Voice contestant Christina Grimmie shot dead in Orlando

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Singer Christina Grimmie, who had competed on the US TV programme The Voice, has died of her wounds after being shot in Florida, police say.

HELLO TEAM I wanted to give you a fun 30 second preview of each song, in short 30 second promo form! 😀 Hope you guys enjoy these little snippets of my brand new EP. PREORDER NOW! https://itunes.apple.com/us…
//Officially comes out February 21! Check me out on the Rachel Platten tour as well, tour dates & tickets here!
http://christinagrimmie.com…

They say a man opened fire on her when she was signing autographs after a concert in Orlando.

The assailant – who was tackled by Ms Grimmie’s brother – then shot and killed himself. The 22-year-old singer died in a local hospital.

In 2014, Ms Grimmie finished third during season six of The Voice.

In a tweet, Orlando’s police wrote: “With deep regret, we have confirmed Christina Grimmie, @TheRealGrimmie has died from her injuries.”

Meanwhile, Ms Grimmie’s publicist said: “It is with a heavy heart that we can confirm that Christina has passed and went home to be with the Lord.”

Police say Ms Grimmie was shot about 22:45 local time on Friday (02:45 GMT Saturday) at The Plaza Live in Orlando.

The gunman opened fire as she was signing autographs for fans with Before You Exit band.

The attacker, whose name has not been released, had two guns.

Orlando Police Department spokeswoman Wanda Miglio said Grimmie’s brother “immediately tackled the suspect”.

“During the struggle, the suspect shot himself. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene,” the spokeswoman said.

She described Ms Grimmie’s brother as a “hero” for stopping the attacker “from not hurting anyone else”.

A police investigation is now under way into how the suspect had managed to enter the venue with the firearms.

News of the attack spread quickly on social media, with many fans voicing their shock and anger.

Ms Grimmie first came to prominence as a teenager for her renditions of hit songs, amassing a huge following on YouTube.

In 2011, she released her debut musical recording Find Me. Her second EP – Side A – followed in February 2016.

GIRL SHOPPING

Henry Sapiecha

THE YOUTUBE BILLION VIEWS MUSIC CLUB

The figures here are staggering with the numbers of views ranging in the thousands of millions for some music clips. I have dedicated this section of my site to pay tribute to those artists who are doing something right.

As the clips become available I shall endeavor to publish them here. They will be in no particular order, just as they come in and are over 1 billion views- ENJOY THE JOURNEY

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TEN TWILIGHT SONGS FOR ENTRY INTO THE NEXT LIFE

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1…Sarah McLachlan –

In the arms of an angel

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2…Tell me now what you see

by Moya Brennan

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3…When Tomorrow Starts Without Me 

by Stephen Meara-Blount

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4…R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts

(Official Music Video)

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5…Mike And The Mechanics –

Living Years (Live At Shepherds Bush)

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6…”the lion sleeps tonight

a real original African version

by Miriam Makeba

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7…Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”

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THESE ARE SOME OF MY FAVOURITE SONGS – HENRY SAPIECHA-MORE TO COME

Henry Sapiecha’s fav songs

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Chris Isaak -Wicked ways

Chris Isaak – Dancin

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 Mariah Carey – We belong together

Mariah Carey – Boyz 11 men – One sweet Day

Mariah Carey – Hero

Mariah Carey – I’ll be there

Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross – Endless Love

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Celine Dion – Goodbye’s [The saddest Word]

Celine Dian – I’m your lady

Celine Dion – Because You Loved Me

Best Of Celine Dion (HD/HQ) Celine Dion Best Songs Collection

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Shania Twain – From This Moment On

Shania Twain – Man! I feel like a woman

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Shania Twain  & Willie Nelson – Blue eyes crying in the rain

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When you say nothing at all – Ronan Keating

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Tracey Chapman – Baby can I hold you

Tracey Chapman – Fast Car

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Aerosmith. I don’t want to miss a thing

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Whitney Houston – I will always love you

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Michael Bolton – When a man loves a woman

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Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart

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Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers – Islands in the stream

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Willie Nelson – Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

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Julio Iglesias – Crazy

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Patsy Cline – Crazy

Patsy Cline – After Midnight

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Joe Cocker

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Joe Cocker – You are so beautiful to me

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Brian Ferry -Addicted to love

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Bryan Adams – [Everything I do] I do it for you

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Bob Seger – Old Time Rock N Roll

hollywood nights – bob seger (w/lyrics) HD

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AC/DC Highway to Hell

AC/DC Thunderstruck

AC/DC TNT-Dynamite

AC/DC Hells Bells

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The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance 1970 (HD) Full Album

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – The wind cries mary ( Original Video Film )

Jimi Hendrix – Johnny B. Goode

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Stevie Ray Vaughan — Superstition

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Crossfire (1/24/89)

Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble ‘One Night In Texas’ Live 1989

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Rolling Stones – Playing The Blues

Rolling Stones – Paint It Black

Rolling Stones: “Satisfaction!”

Rolling Stones – Carol – 1964

The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter – the best version ever.

The Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler (Live) – OFFICIAL

Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar – 1971 – Top of The Pops – BBC UK.

The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women -Live-’69

Mick Jagger & Tina Turner ☮ State Of Shock & It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (Highest Quality)

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Dire Straits – Money For Nothing

Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms

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Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall (HQ)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 You (official music viedo)

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Crystal Gayle – Ready for the Times to get better

Crystal Gayle – Rocky Top Tennessee

Crystal Gayle ‘Till I Gain Control Again (Official Video)

Crystal Gayle – Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (with lyrics)

Crystal Gayle – Talking In Your Sleep (with lyrics)

Crystal Gayle – When I Dream (with lyrics)

Crystal gayle – help me make it through the night

Crystal Gayle – the woman in me

Nobody Wants To Be Alone – Crystal Gayle

I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love – Crystal Gayle

You Never Gave Up On Me by Crystal Gayle…with Lyrics

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ENDLESS LOVE Lionel Ritchie duet w Diana Ross w lyrics

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Beyoncé – Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

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Ciara – Love Sex Magic ft. Justin Timberlake

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Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress by The Hollies

The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

The Hollies “The Air That I Breathe”

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Steve Earle – Copperhead Road

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Spirit In The Sky Norman Greenbaum

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ooo

Henry Sapiecha

 

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