actually, i can believe it’s not butter

September 18, 2009 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

there’s a series of videos floating around on the interweb called auto-tune the news where several rather talented musicians turn news clips into entertaining pop songs. using a computer program, the speech from various newscasters is pitched to musical notes, creating a song. what is truly surprising, besides the gormlessness of daytime news anchors, is how good these songs sound. if i were to hear these songs on my car radio, i would assume it was just the latest and trendiest pop or r&b song.

that’s because in essence, they are. if you’ve been to a live concert, you’ll know that while the music is more exciting, the sound just doesn’t seem as polished as the illegal mp3s you’ve downloaded. that’s because the recording has been bent, mixed, processed, and mastered to sound pristine perfect. computer software can adjust the pitch and timing of  notes sung off-key or off beat and as a result today’s radio stations mostly broadcast talentless teenagers, chosen more for the range of their hip gyrations than the range of their voices. if you managed to catch the live, un-processed black eyed peas performance before the start of the NFL season opener last thursday, you’ll know what i’m banging on about.

you might expect this to bother an irascible grump such as myself but actually, i’m really quite fine. i have already been desensitized by countless dispelled illusions of photoshopped pictures, augmented and tucked celebrities, and computer generated trickery in movies. it was only a matter of time before music was affected by our propensity towards artificial enhancement.

if you ever leave margarine on your counter top on a hot summer day, you’ll notice that it does not spoil. because margarine is manufactured in a chemical factory from plastic, sin, and yellow coloring, not even bacterial and fungal decomposers find it fit to eat. so why do we, as higher primates, continue to accept these shameless substitutes for art, film, and music? and if brainless microorganisms have enough sense to avoid dining on margarine, shouldn’t we be clever enough to distinguish between cultural margarine and cultural butter?

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Entry filed under: commentary.

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