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Alicia Keys - flat Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 16th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Alicia Keys - flat

I wanted to post a reply in a 2 year old thread and thereby revive it, but it was closed for some reason. So here goes:

I'm joining the club of people (with great ears, congrats!), who hear how flat Alicia Keys is on for example "No One". It bugs me everytime I hear that song - yes, it became such a big hit that you still hear it on the radio.

Also, I want to point out why the argument that "everything is so autotuned today that when someone sings without autotune, you think it's out of tune when it really is just natural" is not valid. Howcome the great singers recorded in the 60s/70s etc. still sound GREAT - and Alicia doesn't? She's pitchy compared to the greats of the 70s. Goodbye to that argument.

Another argument was that "the engineers meant it to be that way, or else they wouldn't have done it". Ok ... in that case, the people are incompetent, because she's still pitchy in a bad way. I know all about prioritizing "soulfulness" over "slight pitchiness", but it's another story, which is not in question here.

Just had to get that off my chest ... now feel free to close this thread - as long as you leave it open for everyone to see
Old 16th December 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 

I utterly detest the term "pitchy" but I agree with you...

that New York song or whatever that she does with Jay Z, the one they did at the World Series or whatever...cringe-worthy. It's tough to listen to it recorded, but the straining and yelling she's doing to hit notes from that original live performance is PAINFUL to me.
Old 16th December 2010
  #3
TWM
Here for the gear
 

While my hearing is not great and probably getting worse, my sensitivity to pitch has increased over the years. I only recently noticed that a vocal on a song that came out 6-8 years ago was quite flat. And sometimes you're concentrating on the whole picture so much, you don't notice some details until too late. I really dislike the Cher effect but used judiciously, pitch correction can make a huge difference without hurting the "soul" of the performance at all. I'm not familiar with that song but the fact that it's a hit shows that most people don't notice. Besides that, she's attractive, probably a really good piano player, decent songwriter, good performer. IMHO Alicia Keys not a great vocalist. I was dismayed when Rolling Stone put her in the same category as Mary J. Blige for "great soul singers".
Old 16th December 2010
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Her voice sounds sore, as if it's on its last leg but she's singing on anyway. I think the producer(s) were aiming for a certain effect that wasn't possible in the 60's & 70's: They wanted it to sound as if the singer is right in front of you, emotionally strained and singing her heart out. It certainly sounds that way to me, at least when listening with headphones on and the volume cranked.

Maybe that's why they chose these takes and left the pitch well enough alone.
Old 17th December 2010
  #5
Deleted #157546
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I don't know what you guys are hearing.

All I hear is someone singing their soul out; which is what I think was intended.

I enjoy listening to Ak every once in a while. Everything is raw and gritty. Not everything musically lines up on the grid perfectly, but that's not what it's about with her.
Old 17th December 2010
  #6
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T.R.'s Avatar
 

Excuse me, but would you mind explaining to a German what a FLAT vocal is?
I mean FLAT usually describes things without much highs or lows. What exactly does that term mean in the context of a vocal performance?
And just to show you guys that I understood the intentions of The Moan Zone: yes, what the heck, man, I mean seriously: ****ty ****crap. Come on!

Thanks in advance and all the best!
Old 17th December 2010
  #7
Gear Nut
 

But her butt is not.
Old 17th December 2010
  #8
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oh-no's View Post
But her butt is not.
Now this is where the thread gets closed...
Old 17th December 2010
  #9
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Goliath|Audio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fenfire View Post
Excuse me, but would you mind explaining to a German what a FLAT vocal is?
I mean FLAT usually describes things without much highs or lows. What exactly does that term mean in the context of a vocal performance?
And just to show you guys that I understood the intentions of The Moan Zone: yes, what the heck, man, I mean seriously: ****ty ****crap. Come on!

Thanks in advance and all the best!
Out of tune lower in pitch.
Old 17th December 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by barhab View Post

Also, I want to point out why the argument that "everything is so autotuned today that when someone sings without autotune, you think it's out of tune when it really is just natural" is not valid. Howcome the great singers recorded in the 60s/70s etc. still sound GREAT - and Alicia doesn't? She's pitchy compared to the greats of the 70s. Goodbye to that argument.

Another argument was that "the engineers meant it to be that way, or else they wouldn't have done it". Ok ... in that case, the people are incompetent, because she's still pitchy in a bad way. I know all about prioritizing "soulfulness" over "slight pitchiness", but it's another story, which is not in question here.

The reason the singers in the 60s and 70s still sound great is because they were better singers generally but ALSO because nobody was using digital tuners back then. As a result the degree of pitch variance that the instruments allowed while still sounding good was much much greater.

If you think of the tuning within a song as a line or tightrope, back then that line was just broad enough that you could run up and down it without too much worry and get on with the business of expressing. Now that line is a millimeter wide. You can barely see it much less stay on it. Now every A4 is 440hz to within an inch of its life. It's unnatural, it sounds like crap and the expectation it puts on singers is not just unrealistic, it's downright stupid. This is a major problem with modern music (along with clicks. don't get me started on those!) and a huge part of why it's generally so boring and well... unmusical.
Old 17th December 2010
  #11
That last paragraph ought to be carved into the Statue of Liberty or something.
Old 17th December 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
That last paragraph ought to be carved into the Statue of Liberty or something.
Just write it on your forehead like I did!
Old 17th December 2010
  #13
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gussyg2007's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
The reason the singers in the 60s and 70s still sound great is because they were better singers generally but ALSO because nobody was using digital tuners back then. As a result the degree of pitch variance that the instruments allowed while still sounding good was much much greater.

If you think of the tuning within a song as a line or tightrope, back then that line was just broad enough that you could run up and down it without too much worry and get on with the business of expressing. Now that line is a millimeter wide. You can barely see it much less stay on it. Now every A4 is 440hz to within an inch of its life. It's unnatural, it sounds like crap and the expectation it puts on singers is not just unrealistic, it's downright stupid. This is a major problem with modern music (along with clicks. don't get me started on those!) and a huge part of why it's generally so boring and well... unmusical.
Wow that is an amazing observation !!!
So true !!
Old 18th December 2010
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Just write it on your forehead like I did!
Oh... you mean that's not a tattoo?
Old 18th December 2010
  #15
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Old Goat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
That last paragraph ought to be carved into the Statue of Liberty or something.
Yep! Explains why I sounded better in the 70s. At least, I think I did, but I was self-medicating heavily then...
Old 18th December 2010
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
Oh... you mean that's not a tattoo?
Well I don't usually confide this to people Joel but it's actually a birthmark!
Old 18th December 2010
  #17
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Old Goat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Well I don't usually confide this to people Joel but it's actually a birthmark!
OMG! The Chosen One!
Old 19th December 2010
  #18
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AfterViewer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fenfire View Post
Excuse me, but would you mind explaining to a German what a FLAT vocal is?
I mean FLAT usually describes things without much highs or lows. What exactly does that term mean in the context of a vocal performance?
And just to show you guys that I understood the intentions of The Moan Zone: yes, what the heck, man, I mean seriously: ****ty ****crap. Come on!

Thanks in advance and all the best!
Hey fenfire! Flat in this case is referring only to the off-pitch vocal notes in Alicia's singing. In essence: not sharp or standard tuning.
Old 19th December 2010
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by fenfire View Post
Excuse me, but would you mind explaining to a German what a FLAT vocal is?
I mean FLAT usually describes things without much highs or lows. What exactly does that term mean in the context of a vocal performance?
And just to show you guys that I understood the intentions of The Moan Zone: yes, what the heck, man, I mean seriously: ****ty ****crap. Come on!

Thanks in advance and all the best!
Flat usually means out of tune, hitting the note lower then it they should. But a singer can also be sharp, hitting the notes slightly higher then they should
Old 21st December 2010
  #20
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chrisdee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by barhab View Post
It bugs me everytime I hear that song
Why not just stop listening to the song ?

After winning 12 grammy's she might have some other songs you can enjoy.
Old 21st December 2010
  #21
Deleted User
Guest
Sometimes auto-tune is justifyable.

She's one of these instances.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #22
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AfterViewer's Avatar
 

"Justify my auto-tuned Love" .
Old 22nd December 2010
  #23
Deleted #157546
Guest
I can't speak for the other albums, but I've been doing a lot of listen to her most recent album.

No complaints from here. Sometimes it is just best to leave things alone.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
BachEnvy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
The reason the singers in the 60s and 70s still sound great is because they were better singers generally but ALSO because nobody was using digital tuners back then. As a result the degree of pitch variance that the instruments allowed while still sounding good was much much greater.

If you think of the tuning within a song as a line or tightrope, back then that line was just broad enough that you could run up and down it without too much worry and get on with the business of expressing. Now that line is a millimeter wide. You can barely see it much less stay on it. Now every A4 is 440hz to within an inch of its life. It's unnatural, it sounds like crap and the expectation it puts on singers is not just unrealistic, it's downright stupid. This is a major problem with modern music (along with clicks. don't get me started on those!) and a huge part of why it's generally so boring and well... unmusical.

I just wanted to say, damn that was very insightful.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
I don't know what you guys are hearing.

All I hear is someone singing their soul out; which is what I think was intended.

I enjoy listening to Ak every once in a while. Everything is raw and gritty. Not everything musically lines up on the grid perfectly, but that's not what it's about with her.
All I hear is a woman who sounds like she is giving birth to an echidna!
No one, arghh, No one, arghh, NO ONEEEEEEEEEEEARGHHH
Old 22nd December 2010
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Sometimes they can hit the notes but there is nothing special about the voice, it is 'flat' in a sense it is a pain to listen to, and a struggle for the singer.

You don't need to be a world class singer anymore, and if you are, nobody notices.
Old 25th August 2016
  #27
Here for the gear
 

I just wanted to come here and say that I love the OP.

Alicia keys should be bludgeoned for those horrible notes in that song. Or at least the people that produced it. It sounds plain awful. No excuses, no auto-tune bs, just out of tune and horrible.

That is all.
Old 26th August 2016
  #28
Gear Head
 

Everything is relative. Maybe she is not flat but the backtrack is too high in pitch.
Old 26th August 2016
  #29
Some people seem to think 'perfectly tuned' Equal Temperament keyboards offer perfect harmonic interval values. They do not. By a long ways. The 12 Tone Equal Temperament system is ALWAYS out of tune with itself. Every interval pair except octaves.

Out. Of. Tune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_...ust_intonation

Many good singers who grew up singing with choirs and vocal ensembles learned to sing pure harmonic intervals against each other -- that's the only way you can get that really satisfying vocal pitch lock inside a given ensemble harmony that the best duos and ensembles get.

But that will put the singer(s) potentially in conflict with ET instruments in the mix (primarily keyboards, mallet instruments, and guitars).


BTW, I do believe I heard at least one small bit of tuning correction in the Keys song.

She's not just an experienced singer but an accomplished pianist. Like other sophisticated singer-pianists, she has had to learn how to accommodate the inclination to sing harmonically correct 'Just' intervals to the forced out-of-tuneness of her ET accompaniment instrument. For those interested in such issues, they might want to compare and contrast Keys' approach with other skilled singer-pianists -- particularly those from the pre-tuning era. An interesting starting place might well be a certain Miss Nina Simone.

PS... I'm not really a fan of Keys -- but it's not because I think she's 'out of tune.'



.

Last edited by theblue1; 26th August 2016 at 08:32 PM..
Old 27th August 2016
  #30
Speaking of ensemble harmonizing and just pitch intervals, I've become quite intrigued by the technique sometimes used in chantsong (isn't that redundant?) where two singers will lock into their respective pitches so tightly that the combination of the two tones (the sound waves will travel independently through free air but combine when they hit a microphone or ear drum) produces a ghostly third tone. In some vocal ensemble traditions the intentional use of such combination tones has been called 'air.'
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