DesiHipHop’s Music 101 – How Oil Refineries Gave Birth To Auto-Tune!

, aims to push forward the Hip-Hop culture in South Asia. For this, it is very crucial to make the artists aware of the general things every musician who aspires to sell his or her music should be aware of. In fact, DesiHipHop’s Music 101 aims at doing just that! In other words, this series will give our readers information about how the music industry works, and what are it’s most common factors. Without further ado, let’s begin!

DesiHipHop's Music 101: Origin And Significance Of Delay

Regardless of how much you like a genre, the roots and influence of pop is significant. In other words, pop music has influenced several other genres. You can’t deny the fact that you’ve heard vocals that sound more robotic and processed. This effect changed the music industry forever and is known as auto-tune. The process of pitch-correction is not new in the industry. But do you know how it was invented? Lets find out.

The history and origin of auto-tune

A majority of producers use auto-tune to create a fresh sound through vocals. However, the auto-tune was originated by the mining/oil industry. As a matter of fact, Dr. Andy Hildebrand, the father of auto-tune is an electrical engineer. Andy was working for Exxon and was controlling seismic signals in the oil mines. The purpose of sending these sound waves is to find the possible and promising drill sites for finding oil. Andy developed this process and named it audio-correlation. As a result, he realised that the same concept can be used for correcting audio pitches and keys of a sound but he didn’t work on it.

“When you’re processing pitch, you add wave cycles to go sharp, and subtract them when you go flat. With auto-correlation, you have a clearly identifiable event that tells you what the period of repetition for repeated peak values is. It’s never fooled by the changing waveform. It’s very elegant.” said Dr. Andy.


Dr. Andy (R) was inducted in the Technology Hall of Fame in 2010

“Why don’t you make a box that will let me sing in tune?”

He was challenged by a female friend at a dinner party. She demanded to create a tool which could help her sing in key and sound dulcet. Dr. Andy had studied music at Rice University, Houston earlier and the knowledge came in handy for him. Furthermore, he used the mathematical theories used in Vocoder and blended his studies of seismic signals to form a new processor. As a result, Antares Audio Technologies was born. The first auto-tune released under the brand came out in 1996.

In other words, auto-tune is an audio processor which corrects the off-key notes of a sound. It is majorly used for vocal correction. Peavey AT-200 Guitar models are using real-time pitch correction ever since its birth. “Fragments of Life” by Roy Vedas witnessed the first auto-tune use on record. Tracks like “Blue (Da Baa Dee)” by Eiffel 65 and “Believe” by Cher gradually adapted the pitch-shifting. The effect became popular as Cher Effect because of the unawareness of auto-tune.

One of Andy’s team member was secretly hired for $60,000 to pitch correct Cher’s song. “He took her vocals, one phrase at a time, transferred them onto a synth as samples, then played it back to get her pitch right. I put him out of business overnight,” said Andy. The auto-tune processor was used by several artists to perform live. It was discovered that if auto-tune is set to its maximum settings, the processor processes the sound in real-time.

T-Pain Vs. Antares Audio Technologies

T-Pain is one of the most iconic artists who made pitch-correction popular. T-Pain decided to file a law suit against the company for using him as the image of auto-tune. In fact, his name literally helped the sales of the company as T-Pain was at the peak of his career. On the other hand, T decided to release his own effect called The T-Pain Effect as a collaboration with Izotope, Antares’ competitors. Unfortunately, the effect didn’t beat the sales of Antares’ Auto-Tune.

It was featured in “50 Worst Inventions”. Regardless of the drama, the sales are growing each day. How did you like this story? Let us know in the comments down below.