It seems like the whole world is currently obsessed with Auto Tune. Despite its long history in the audio world (even before it was ever a plugin), Antares Auto Tune seems to be hitting a popularity streak thanks to the likes of T-Pain and his iPhone app. Just type “Auto Tune” into the YouTube search bar and you’ll be entertained for the next week straight!
But as far as what you and I are concerned about (using a pitch correction plugin for audio work), Auto Tune is quietly being out shined by it’s German arch enemy, Melodyne. Made by a company called Celemony, Melodyne is by far the easiest, fastest, most powerful and natural sounding pitch correction software out there.
Using a simple graphical interface that shows notes as orange blobs, Melodyne lets you easily see your performance, grab a note, and move it somewhere else. This can be a subtle pull sharp or flat, or it can be a complete re-write of the melody. You can even stretch notes out longer or shorter to change timing. In the background Melodyne will adjust the formant of the note along with any cross fading that’s necessary to keep it sounding fluid and natural.
If that weren’t enough you can quickly add or remove vibrato (on a note by note basis if need be), adjust the volume of individual notes, affect the transition or scoop from note to note, and even globally quantize pitch to a scale and timing to a grid of your choice. Pretty dirty stuff if you ask me.
You Won’t Go Back
If you haven’t used Melodyne yet, you really owe it to yourself to play with it. It’s hard to really appreciate how elegant and intuitive this program is until you’ve gotten your hands on it. I starting dabbling with it back in 2005 and now I can’t imagine using anything else. It is more than simple pitch correction, it is performance correction one very level imaginable. This is especially powerful when you only want some subtle tweaks. It is musical and tasteful, and really you don’t hear it doing anything at all. Perfect.
If you bought a Pro Tools system in the last 4 years or so (like the one included in the $500 studio I recommend) then you received a free copy of Melodyne called Melodyne Essential. It is a one track version that lets you do all of the things I mentioned above. Unless you’re doing something crazy you won’t need anything more. You should install that puppy now and get to work. It’s awesome.
And if you don’t have a copy, head over to the Celemony site and give it a good browsing. For under $200 you can access this crazy good software and go buck wild. Again, it’s not a necessity to make great music, but it’s a super powerful tool and those guys at Celemony truly have something amazing going on. Melodyne is a fantastic addition to any DAW as it gets pitch correction right: it simply corrects, not affects the sound.