Tribute Saved by Technology
by J David Leonard
A lot of listeners dismiss vocal correction software as being just an effect (T-Pain, Cher) or for those who can't sing (too numerous to mention). But there was one time in the studio where it was an invaluable tool.
The young man in my recording session was a songwriter who had tragically just lost his father a few days earlier in a motorcycle accident. He had rewritten the lyrics to an earlier song so that it was a tribute to his memory and their relationship, and wanted to sing it at the funeral. The problem was, he couldn't get through a single line without his throat closing up from the emotion.
So we went through the song, line by shaky line, until we had a performance where there were no obvious cracks in the voice. I had just gotten Melodyne - a piece of software that shows each vocal line as a series of blobs on a grid that can be manipulated however you choose. For the next hour and a half I went through each phrase, tweaking them until they sounded in tune and in control, yet full of expression and emotion.
After the funeral he called to thank me and let me know how much the song had meant not only to him, but to his entire family. I'm sure that recording will be treasured for generations.