Stuff Your Mom Never Told You About Vocal Harmonizers

A long time before Auto-Tune, the vocal harmonizer, or (vocoder, pitch shifter, talk box) reigned as our primary tool for manipulating and messing with a singer’s pitch (i.e. a vocal synthesizer)
That is a device which raises or lowers the pitch of an audio signal. Simple devices raise or lower the note (pitch) by one or two octaves, while more subtle devices provide a range of internal modifications.
“If you’ve listened to pop music in the past 40 years, you’ve probably heard more than a few songs with a robotic sound. That’s thanks to the vocoder.”
Pitch correction, and therefore the term “Harmonizer, Vocoder, Talkbox” quickly created its way into recording studios all around the world, today there are many models and modifications, hopefully there are plenty of reviews online. The notion of overdubbing multiple voices harmonized, or multitracking the lead vocal to form a natural “doubling” result and backing voices became extremely popular.
In the middle and late 70s, a piece of studio hardware that might be used to bring false notes into line is introduced. With that hardware, vocals could be tuned up or down over many octaves in real time, used to generate primitive vocal harmonies from one lead vocal. Despite the vocoder’s popularity, in those days it absolutely was still far away from accessible. Artists like Moroder and Herbie Hancock were using this technology. The Sennheiser vocoder price $10,000 (about $45,000 today) or more.
Within the 1980s, samplers became widely on the market and affordable and it absolutely was simple to “sample” a bad note and play it back while “bending” it with a pitch wheel. and finally, software package came along within the 1990s that led to simple manipulation of vocal pitch.
Many artists within the late ’90s additionally started using pitch correction in their live shows, setting the hardware in order to fix their vocals.
Nowadays, you just can’t imagine a song without the vocal effect processor, autotune, vocoder, talk box, harmonizer… call it as you like.
Within the 1920s, Homer Dudley at Bell Labs created a tool whose function was to make it easier to transmit telephone conversations over long distances by reducing bandwidth.
It also played a big role during the second world war when Bell Labs created the vocoder in 1942 that enabled conversations between Churchill and Roosevelt in order to be tougher to intercept. That vocoder deformed the speech making it virtually not possible for Germans to crack. The deformed speech would be restored along at the receiving end where it could be understood. The very first vocoder was sensitive, high maintenance and seven feet tall, an overheated room full of capacitors, vacuum tubes, and transformers.
So while the vocoder wasn’t originally designed for musical purposes it’s crafted its name within the world of music. The vocoder went through a remarkable transition from world war device to musical impact. The German band, are very first musicians which used the harmonizer in their projects. The band’s music was primarily electronic therefore using the vocal effect processor made a lot of sense. Bob Moog and Wendy Carlos changed several synth models once studying Dudley’s original device so as to make their own vocoder to be used on the Clockwork Orange soundtrack.
Many well-known musicians have used this device and some of them are Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Neil Young, Coldplay, Daft Punk and many innovative young artists. Adapted by almost everyone from Dr. Dreto Daft Punk, presaging Auto-Crooners like T-Pain, Akon, and Future, the frog gurgles, HAL lullabies, Flubber hiccups, the vocoder continue to give voice to that divide between man and machine.
But, not only do musicians use vocoders. It additionally has application in voice effects in other arts, TV shows, cartoons, animations, movies, video games, etc. Typically for robots or talking computers. Vocal effect processors have currently become standard options of computer-based hardware and software package synthesizers.
The speech and its sound are often shared into 2 aspects: pitch (the vibration of the vocal cords) and prosody (the modification of the pitch characteristics and extra sounds, like sibilance, accomplished by varied movements of the mouth)
It’s attainable to strip out the pitch and replace it with a selected pitch (in the case of a vocoder usually one controlled by a keyboard) while holding a lot of the prosody info.
You can easily use a pitch generated by a keyboard or different instrument and modify it with prosody characteristics from speech to form a brand new, robotic voice-like sound. This is basically what a harmonizer does.
Some of today’s most famous vocal effect processors are TC Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-G XT, Digitech VLFX Live Performance, TC Helicon Play Acoustic, Boss VE-20 + 2 EMC20 + 2 EGC20, TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3, Digitech VLHM, DigiTech Vocal 300 and of course, most popular Antares Audio Auto-Tune 8.

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