Since the introduction of Antares Auto-Tune, in 1997 , pitch correction algorithms have considerably changed popular music and music production. This technology allows producers to change the intonation of a vocal performance to be perfectly in tune, based on a tuning reference (usually A-440 Hz). The wide dissemination of pitch correction plugins, from different vendors and at all price ranges, have made this technology easily available for professional and amateur producers.
In the present day, it is possible that the majority of popular music recordings use pitch correction algorithms, to some extent . New products, like Melodyne, allow producers to go even further and manipulate not just pitch, but intensity, duration, breath sounds, etc. These new technologies have changed the paradigms of music production, and are subject to a lot of criticism, since it is possible to make an unskilled vocalists performance — even one with big intonation problems — perfectly in tune.
On the other hand, pitch correction can be really time saving, for example, when you have an awesome take with some minor intonation issues, and you don’t have time or budget to redo the recording. Tools like Melodyne also enable producers to create vocal harmonies from the original take, with no need to record any extra voice, which might reduce the production costs considerably. Even though the recording might loose some of it’s potential in terms of expressiveness, it can come in handy in certain situations where you don’t have a singer available to record an extra voice.
Another common use of pitch correction is for manipulating the voice sound itself, creating an effect that sounds a bit like a ´robotic voice´. This particular use of pitch correction was made famous by the 1998 hit Believe, from Cher (see below). Since then, many other artists have used it in a similar way, specially in electronic music genres.
In conclusion, the use of pitch correction algorithms such as Auto-Tune and Melodyne have become widely spread. It changed popular music in several different aspects, and it keeps changing as new technology becomes available. Even though there is lot of criticism around it, it can’t be denied that it is a useful technology, and that it’s use can’t neglected by music producers.