Maybe you watched the Grammys over the weekend. That wouldn’t be surprising.
What WOULD be surprising would be if you’d been thinking, “tonight would be totally different without petroleum”. But you wouldn’t be crazy if that had crossed your mind.
Why? Two words: Auto-Tune.
Love it, hate it – whatever you think of Auto-Tune, it’s all over the Grammys, and pop music generally. And Auto-Tune, came right out of the oil business. Really.
What Auto-Tune does with music, is fix sound waves, aka singing. You hit an off-key note, Auto-Tune puts you back on key.
Andy Hildebrand invented it. But before he did that, he worked in – the oil business. His work then also involved sound waves. In this case, it was making sense of waves bounced off rock formations under the surface of the Earth, to look for oil. But as Hildebrand told CNN, Auto-Tune “uses the same science of digital signal processing”. And some years later, he brought that science to the sound waves of song.
In the beginning, Auto-Tune was used for pitch correction. No need to retake an entire song just to fix one off-key note.
Then came 1998, and Cher’s “Belief”. Her producers used Auto Tune to distort her voice…
…and the rest is, well, the history of pop music ever since.
As in, Kanye West and Beyoncé, Tim McGraw and Frank Ocean, Black Eyed Peas and Daft Punk, Madonna and Lady Gaga, Chance the Rapper and Faith Hill and Celine Dion and on and on and on. In fact, the short list, would be the musicians who DON’T use Auto-Tune.
We wrote this story before they announced the Grammy winners Sunday night, but odds are, more than one of them, was an Auto-Tune winner.
And if you’re feeling a little Grammy withdrawal, we’ve got you. Here’s one more time, Auto-Tune-style…