Pitch shift

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For the British electronic metal band, see Pitchshifter.
POG octave effect

Pitch shifting is a sound recording technique in which the original pitch of a sound is raised or lowered. Effects units that raise or lower pitch by a pre-designated musical interval (transposition) are called "pitch shifters" or "pitch benders".

Pitch/time shifting[edit]

The simplest methods are used to increase pitch and reduce note durations, or vice versa, reduce pitch and increase note duration. This can be done by replaying a sound waveform at a different speed than it was recorded. It could be accomplished on an early reel-to-reel tape recorder by changing the diameter of the capstan drive shaft, or using a different motor. As technologies improved later designs of motor speeds could be controlled by electronic servo system circuits. This arrangement using “vari-speedcapstan motors allowed the speed change to be achieved more simply.[1] As for vinyl records, the same thing can be done; placing a finger on the turnable to give friction will retard it, while giving it a 'spin' can advance it. However altering pitch and time independently is much more difficult.

Pitch shifter and harmonizer[edit]

A pitch shifter is a sound effects unit that raises or lowers the pitch of an audio signal by a preset interval. For example, a pitch shifter set to increase the pitch by a fourth will raise each note three diatonic intervals above the notes actually played. Simple pitch shifters raise or lower the pitch by one or two octaves, while more sophisticated devices offer a range of interval alterations. Pitch shifters are included in most audio processors today.

A harmonizer is a type of pitch shifter that combines the "shifted" pitch with the original pitch to create a two or more note harmony.

In digital recording, pitch shifting is accomplished through digital signal processing. Older digital processors could often only shift pitch in post-production, whereas many modern devices using computer processing technology can change pitch values in real time.[2]

Pitch shifting should not be confused with pitch correction, a process that uses digital signal processing (DSP) software such as "Auto-Tune" to correct intonation inaccuracies in a recording or performance. Pitch shifting raises or lowers each pitch in a recording by the same diatonic interval, whereas pitch correction makes different changes from note to note.[3]

Notable uses[edit]

Numerous cartoons have used pitch shifters to produce distinctive animal voices. Alvin and the Chipmunks recordings with David Seville (aka Ross Bagdasarian) were created by recording vocal tracks at slow speeds, then playing them back at normal speeds. Voice artist Mel Blanc used pitch shifting techniques to create the voices of Tweety and Daffy Duck.[4]

One notable early practitioner of pitch shifting in music is Chuck Berry, who used the technique to make his voice sound younger. Many of the Beatles' records from 1966 and 1967 were made by recording instrumental tracks a half-step higher and the vocals correspondingly low. Examples include "Rain", "I'm Only Sleeping", and "When I'm Sixty-Four".

Electronic musician Burial is known for including pitch-shifted samples of vocal melodies in his songs.[5]

Goregrind uses vocals that are often pitch-shifted to sound unnaturally low and guttural.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Analog Tape Recorders". UCSC Electronic music studios 1996. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Voice Modelling Processor". Sound on Sound 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "Making Tracks: Pitch Doctor". Penton Media - date undisclosed. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "What makes Daffy Duck?". Top looney golden age cartoons - date undisclosed. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Jenkins, Pete (July 2010). "Dubstep Basics: An Introduction To Dubstep Production". Sound On Sound. 

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