Intonation means how “on key” something is. Intonation is obviously very important early in the recording process. Autotune is fine and does work, but it’s better and easier to make sure the intonation is correct before wrapping up the session. However, sometimes you’re stuck with whatcha got, so let’s talk more about intonation and autotune.
There isn’t really a tip to ensure great intonation from a session musician, other than to hire someone with a great sense of pitch. Failing that, you’ll just have to autotune it later.
“But can’t I just leave the singer/guitar player/trombone’s natural notes?”
I mean, sure, it’s your song. But I would caution you that current songs and music all use autotune (mostly) and it’s pretty much a requirement if you’re planning on submitting to major labels. If those aren’t your goals, feel free to leave it as-is.
Keep in mind, however, that if your target audience listens to current pop music they are already used to hearing everything autotuned. I listen to all genres and eras of music, and I can absolutely tell if an artist has used it or not. So if your session musician is off, people will know. If they have a great enough voice you can possibly get away with it because the character is still there, but if not I recommend just autotuning it and enjoying the correct intonation!
“I’m a purist. I would never use autotune. Give me the real notes!”
Fine, again it’s totally up to you. In certain genres (folk, jazz, etc) this is more common anyway. But again, your listeners may be used to hearing autotune frequently. Their ears will judge your work before their minds can process what they’re hearing. Just an FYI for you!
“But Mella, you’re a pro singer. YOU would never use autotune, would you?!?”
Sorry to disappoint you, but yes. When I hand my stems over to clients, they do what they want with it afterward. If they are a pop or EDM producer, they’re most likely throwing some autotune on it. That doesn’t mean I half-ass it before submitting! But they want crystal clear intonation on every note, which is something a human just can’t provide.
Ultimately, I don’t think the argument about autotune’s usefulness will end anytime soon. I also don’t think the use of autotune will end anytime soon, so whether you love it, hate it, or are indifferent like me, we can all expect to hear it for the foreseeable future!Autotune: Love it? Hate it? Don't care? What are your thoughts? Click To Tweet