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Loretta Lynn once said that when you start to believe your own press, you are a fool (or something to that effect. It was a while ago I heard it.) I'd like to use that analogy to make a point about another flattering hype-spinner... tuned vocals.

Tuned vocals are a double edged sword. They are sweet music to the listening ear when the untuned version would irritate, distract or hurt. They are sweet liars to the performer. When we start to believe we really sang the vocal that way, we are fools... fooled into complacency... and a playback of a recording of our next live gig may surprise us in unflattering ways.

Here is what I strongly advise those singing in the studio.

    * Circumvent the issue: Sing as in-tune as possible so there is as little need for tuning as possible.

    * Have a discussion with your producer and/or engineer: Ask how they envision having your vocals tuned in a way that sounds natural within your genre (read: instead of overtuning!!) There is no reason to lose a 'heart moment' in a vocal if it could just be goosed slightly one way or another with a tuner to pitch correct it. But there is also the danger of losing the 'heart moment' if the vocal is overtuned and sounds too mechanical or unhumanly perfect. The odds are that your producer is of a similar mind, but letting your preference for more "insightful" use of vocal tuners be known can make a difference.

    * Have the guts to hear your untuned vocal. Know what you really did.

    * Train your voice to be able to sing in live performance as well as your tuned vocal! Otherwise, trusting that you really sing that way can cause you some major embarrassment.

Like all tools, tuning used wisely can greatly enhance the impact of your vocals. Unwisely trusted, tuning can give you a false sense of security. Let the tuned singer beware!

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Tags: judy rodman, overtune, pitch, singing in the studio, tuner, vocal

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Comment by Juni Fisher on April 11, 2011 at 4:28pm
Amen sister! I just sing it right, if not the first time, the second or third...but tuning...no.

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