Glee Auto-Tunes Jane Lynch

jane_lynch_glee.jpg

Were Sue Sylvester a real-life human being -- and not just some cartoon-like television creation -- she'd probably take to the Internet with her fury about what Glee has done to her singing voice. As you've no doubt heard over and over again, during the all-Madonna episode of Glee (airing April 20), Sue's real life avatar, Jane Lynch, will don a cone-shaped bra and sing Madonna's iconic single, "Vogue." Critics have been going cross-eyed about how awesome the performance is on Twitter over the last couple of days, but there hadn't been any clips online to corroborate their excitement. Until now...

In a sample compilation of all the songs appearing in the Madonna episode, you can check out a brief audio-only clip what Lynch's performance sounds like. Correction: What Lynch's performance filtered through a battery of computer programs sounds like. Jeez, you'd think she was Cory Monteith! Also, beware: The Lea Michele rendition of "Open Your Heart" will make you want to visit North Korea for a vacation.

[ontd]



Comments

  • Claudia says:

    Come on guys... this preview has no the best quality also her voice sounds to me very much like this:
    Jane Lynch - Hold 4 You *MUSIC VIDEO* (Another Cinderella Story)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnzMRDO8doM

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    They only did for Jane what every producer has done for Madonna herself.

  • anonymous says:

    Too bad they autotuned Jonathan Groff in the new episodes -- someone who has a quite natural, beautiful voice and sounds unlike he does on Broadway.

  • jane says:

    Hey, it's me, Jane. I don't think I was auto tuned, my pitch is pretty good. Are you talking about the kind of mechanical thing they did with my voice? I'll check with the powers that be but I don't think I was auto tuned.

  • syd says:

    is it just me that finds glee a horrible, horrible, show?

  • The Cantankerist says:

    You're kidding, guys, aren't you? They're all Autotuned on Glee. Every vocal in that sampler is pitch-corrected - some not by much, but you can hear it in the vibrato of each note. It's Glee's standard operating procedure for production.
    Admittedly, Jane Lynch's vocal has been (deliberately) more roughly handled than some of them, but all vocals on the show bear traces of that. Sadly, it's just the way of the modern studio now.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    Just for the record -- being AutoTuned doesn't mean you can't sing, or can't sing on pitch. It's a series of processors applied to the track that make it sound any number of different ways.
    (However, in the case of Madonna and Cher, it makes them sound in tune.)

  • The Cantankerist says:

    To clarify Sweetbiscuit's clarification "for the record" - Autotune is a pitch corrector. It's not quite "a series of processors applied to the track that make it sound any number of different ways", it's an effects processor that applies a series of algorithms to a signal (normally vocal, but it is also used on instrument tracks occasionally) to make it sound at a specified pitch. You can certainly use it to make people sound out of tune, but it's built to make a voice/instrument "snap" to a certain scale.
    In Antares' own words - in the opening to the manual of the plug-in version of Autotune - it is "the most powerful intonation correction tool in the world". That's what it does, and that's how it's used on "Glee". It certainly doesn't mean you weren't in pitch in the first place, but you're bound to be *more* in pitch after it, because that's what it's for.
    If you set it to a very fast "retune speed", you get the effect first made ubiquitous by Cher in "Believe", and that's clearly the direction they've gone in for Jane Lynch's voice - it means that as a voice slides up to the next note, Autotune breaks the slide up into discrete notes and tunes each of them ruthlessly to a nominated scale (hence the machine-like sound of it, especially in transition). You hear it all over the place now - Gaga's "Telephone" probably the most recent high-profile example - and everyone recognises it.
    At a slower retune speed, Autotune won't grab at every millisecond of a note that passes; it'll wait until the voice settles on a note for long enough, and then average/remove the natural variation in it so that it hews to the nearest note in the defined scale. It doesn't "ping" between notes like the hard-n-fast setting does; it simply flattens the voice out so that it sits *exactly* on pitch - not a fraction of a semitone in any direction.
    Now, when folks think of Autotune, a lot of them think of it only as it is used in the first instance. But this second, slower-retune version of Autotune is by far the more prevalent. It's all over "Glee", for instance, making sure that whenever people harmonise, they sound like synthesisers (because the chords sound too clean - because, for human voices, they *are* too clean; the waveforms are aligned in unnatural sympathy).
    This is not to diss "Glee" or its singers, who may well be prodigiously talented vocalists. The point is: you can't really tell. A singer's craft isn't just about pitch, but it is dependent on the way in which pitch is used: the heartfelt cries of Aretha, the long, langourous swells of k d lang, the precision pops of Mel Torme or the slow, bruised drift of Sinatra. Autotune removes all that and opts instead for a quasi-fascist adherence to The Exact Note, as if that were the key to singing well.
    But here's the thing: None of the singers I mentioned above, and very very few singers in the world, sing naturally on the exact note. Most swell up from just south of the pitch - k d rather more so - which is why their syllables have such tension and presence. (What's more, they use slurs and glisses and hundreds of other vocal techniques to add more complexity and interest to the delivery.) There are singers who hit notes with reliable precision out of the gate - Alison Krauss comes to mind, in a live framework - but they're very rare and (on the evidence of Youtube footage etc) none of the cast of "Glee" are among their number.
    And here's the thing: even with that rare accuracy, Krauss' voice sounds nothing like an Autotuned note. There's a distinct quality to a voice that has been artificially tuned and shaped to make the waveform sound at (in the case of middle A) 440 cycles per second exactly - a synthetic timbre - and once you know how to recognise it, you can hear it everywhere; not just in the new R&B but in Green Day and the "folkies". Even on the critically-adored "Raising Sand" album of duets between Robert Plant and Krauss herself, Plant is Autotuned to within an inch of his life on many tracks.
    I'm not surprised if Jane doesn't know it - alright, I'm a little surprised if Jane doesn't know it, 'cos it's so brutally applied to her track there - but most performers don't. Here in Australia there's a music quiz program called "Rockwiz" - very entertaining - and if you attend tapings of it, and then see the telecast versions, you'd think you'd seen two separate performances, such is the pitch-correction. But if you sang on it, you'd probably just watch the telecast and go "wow, yeah, I nailed it"! And if you just saw the televised version, you'd be none the wiser.
    But, at a time when we're asking the big social questions about Photoshopping and airbrushing models into unattainable shapes, nobody seems to care that the same thing has been omnipresent in music for the last ten years as well. The thing that makes me antsy about it in "Glee" is the same thing that makes me antsy about it everywhere else it's used (which, at the moment, is everywhere): real people don't sound like that.
    ...Sorry, what was the question?

  • The Cantankerist says:

    I just noticed that I "Here's the thing"ed two paragraphs in a row. Here's the thing: it's late and I'm tired. I'm goin' to bed!

  • Diana says:

    The cast of Glee (not including Jane Lynch) sang at the White House, live, after Easter. Live always sounds a little more rough than the studio recordings, even for "trained professionals" and they sounded just fine. There is nothing wrong with auto-tuning, especially for a video that is supposed to be for fun. I think people are taking this way too seriously. It's a comedy. If you like the show, you can appreciate the amusement in Sue Sylvester portraying Madonna in the video. If you do not like the show, why are spending so much time following it to do nothing but berate it? If you are not interested, find something else to do.

  • Anonymous Coward says:

    "Live always sounds a little more rough than the studio recordings, even for "trained professionals" and they sounded just fine."
    There's a decent chance they sounded *better* live than on the recordings. Glee's ham-fisted use of Autotune on the show has not only resulted in Cher-like warbles on "Physical", but it's removed the performers' natural voice dynamics on numerous tracks, and that's a huge shame.

  • Good points made in your article... I see you have some comments, so I am not the only one who found good and useful info here, I just wish the commenters would speak to the point and on the subject...

  • Cailean says:

    I want to appreciate my entertainment, not have it spoon-fed to me. The overuse of autotuning does spoil the experience for me. A little is fine if spot-correction is necessary, but the "Glee" producers (or perhaps the execs above them) seem to have no faith in their performers, and even less in their audience. What's the point in aspiring to be a good singer when we foster this culture where it doesn't matter?

  • Cailean says:

    I want to appreciate my entertainment, not have it spoon-fed to me. The overuse of autotuning does spoil the experience for me. A little is fine if spot correction is necessary, but the "Glee" producers (or perhaps the execs above them) seem to have no faith in their performers, and even less in their audience. What's the point in aspiring to be a good singer when we foster this culture where it doesn't matter?

  • The following comment takes issue with the very first sentence of this article and goes on for actually quite a while helping to make it clear how the commenter didn't want to browse further.

  • Mike says:

    Yeah, it's just you.

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