Check out any Facebook post of brands like Antares, Celemony and Synchro Arts, the leading brands in tuning and timing technology, and you'll see many of their posts with comments like 'get a real fucking singer!' or 'get some talent.' or 'do it right instead of cheating!' I can only imagine that when Madge used AutoTune on Eurovision some of them had a nervous breakdown.
Of course, many of those making the comments will be taking a welcome break from having just chopped up 5,000 pieces of audio in their DAW of choice so they can make sure everything is super tight. Or if they are a purist, they'll leave the performance well alone they'll certainly not use any additional audio edits as that's cheating too!
And if they really want to ensure they've got the art of recording and mixing nailed then there won't be using a single plug-in on the mix, they'll get it all right when tracking. You see plug-ins are for the weak; real professionals use hardware, the kind of stuff that costs £3000 instead of £30 for the emulation because it feels good having to work all that extra time to buy the hardware version, it's the audio industry equivalent of training for a marathon... plug-ins are for wimps!
And not only plug-ins but automation is for snowflakes. Screw all that quick mouse action, let's go back to when real sound engineers had everyone from the tape op to the drummer with their hands on the faders to account for no automation... that's when real records were made.
These were the good old days when you didn't find a computer in a studio but industrial sized 24 track tape machines, the size of a fridge but less useful, after all, you can keep beer cold in a refrigerator. Tape was real recording, none of those ones and zeros can compare to the smell of oxide spinning around all day... after all who wants a vocal booth when you can fill it with tape machines and other hot and noisy gear?
But hang on a minute, multi-track tape is cheating, real bands record in one take and directly to a two-track stereo machine right through the mixer and that kind of take requires an engineer with real talent.
Mixers? Use some real skill and set up the band in a room with two mics, so you don't need a mixer, it will take some time and talent to get the same result as using multiple mics placed correctly, but at least an engineer with scruples can sleep at night.
But don't tape machines use electricity, that stuff you get simply by plugging into an outlet? Where's the effort in doing that, get off the grid and hire a team of people to ride bikes and generate your own electricity, and for that matter invent your own power source rather than riding off the back of Edison and Tesla's hard work.
And when you've finished your hard work in the studio, knowing you've done it right then, you can walk down to the river for some water, run around the woods for an hour hunting some dinner. Then make a fire (no matches mind you) for a well-earned spot of food... and no sleeping bags or blankets, keep a clear conscience and sleep under leaves.
If you hadn't figured it out yet, this is what we Brits call taking the piss, parody if you will and for effect, real analogue effect for that matter. What's more anyone with some knowledge of comedy history will see parallels between what I've written and Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch, so even my article is derivative, busted!
So my point? Technology, the real meaning of the word and not the narrow one that seems to allude to anything powered and with software running it, has been making life easier for us for millions of years. Ever since someone worked out you could fashion rocks into tools or smash them hard to make a fire we have been on a quest to make life easier and tasks faster.
Some suggest the most significant technological advancement of modern times has been the washing machine, and you thought it was the iPhone, didn't you?
Ha-Joon Chang, an economist at Cambridge University, claims that: "The washing machine changed the world more than the internet". In an article on Helpwiththewashing they write;
"The invention of the washing machine gave women back a vast amount of time. Free from the shackles of laundry, many women found themselves with enough time to enter the labour market.
By entering the labour market, the status of women in society began to change. Women could now make an independent living, meaning that they no longer had to rely on provision from men. This played a huge role in men and women being perceived as equals in society.
It is because of this changed perception of women in home and workplace that makes Ha-Joon Chang and Hans Rosling believe that the washing machine is one of the most important inventions of all time.
Still Not Convinced?
One of the easiest ways to highlight the impact of the washing machine is to look at societies that have washing machines. By comparing them to ones without washing machines we can see the huge impact they have had.
In Peru, a study conducted in a slum with 30,000 residents found that doing laundry took 6 hours a day up to three times a week. This doesn't only contribute to chronic lower back pain and respiratory problems, but also means that the residents have no time to dedicate to finding a way out of poverty.
In Africa, people have to walk upwards of 4 miles each way to access the water required to wash their clothes. Using traditional methods, such as washing in a river, leads to detergents contaminating the water source. This is bad for both them and the environment.
There can be no doubt that if the citizens of Peru and Africa had to spend less time doing laundry that they would be able to dedicate more time to working, starting a business, or finding other ways to halt the poverty cycle."
Technological advancement has the power to free us to do things we thought otherwise impossible, the invention of the computer and then the internet means I can record and mix in ways previously both financially and technically out of my reach. Furthermore, I can find clients, do work, raise invoices and get paid, all because of modern technology I've been able to leave a job I hated and set up my own business and make a success of it - largely thanks to all that fantastic technology. Am I cheating by not getting in a car every day and travelling to a building? Is my accounts package cheating because I've never done a single day book-keeping, credit control or accounting training in my life? Of course not.
OK I’m busted and for 99% of my working life I cheat, but then again so do you.
Do you see how absurd the argument is when we start to take it to an extreme conclusion?
Technology is ethically and morally neutral; a mobile phone enables my elderly parents to stay in touch with me any time day or night. The same phone in the hands of another can allow them to piss me off royally when they are playing their tracks on the speaker at full volume on the train. That's always a moment to show someone that an iPhone can fit sideways up someone's ass if enough force is applied. And no I'm not condoning that, it's more an illustration used for comic effect.
In the same way, modern recording technology is fantastic for showcasing the talents of writers, musicians, engineers and producers who embrace it and make astounding creative gifts for the world. Yes, it's also used by some who have zero talent, or at least less than we'd like, but so what? Are your talent and skill so fragile that technology in the hands of what you consider 'lesser mortals' will usurp you and put you out of a job? If you need reassurance the same things were said about drum machines when they arrived, history shows us we still have drummers, and in many cases, those most in demand embraced the technology to increase their usefulness as musicians.
Some people use AutoTune, VocAlign, Beat Detective, in fact, the list goes on of modern recording 'cheats.' If you don't like it, then don't use it and get over it. If you are serious about not cheating in life, then stop wasting time on forums and social media posting hackneyed pissy comments and spend the time wisely getting today's water and hunting for your dinner in the woods. After all isn’t that what a purist would do?