Autotune The News Becomes A Billboard Hit

from the who-gets-publishing-rights? dept

Hopefully by now, you've come across the "Autotune the News" phenomenon, where various news clips are turned into sometimes brilliant music numbers thanks to the magic of autotune and some very creative individuals. However, it seems that they're now taking it to the next level. Their incredibly popular "Bed Intruder" song taking the statements of Antoine Dodson on a newscast about his sister getting raped, hasn't just gone "viral," but it's actually hit the Billboard Hot 100 and is selling really well on iTunes:
Apparently some of the proceeds from the song are going to the Dodson family, as well as the makers of Autotune the News -- which perhaps answers some of the questions I had about who gets the songwriting "credit" and copyrights in such situations. I wonder if anyone used in a clip (or a news organization) would ever sue for infringement.

In the meantime, however, it looks like the "Gregory Brothers," the team behind Autotune the News, have figured out plenty of ways to turn their success into something more. They're already working on a pilot for Comedy Central, among other projects...

From a cultural perspective, though, this whole story again shows how culture is changing in very interesting and powerful ways. When we talk about things like "remixing" and "mashups," we tend to hear from a chorus of folks who brush off such things as mere copying and not worthy of being considered art in itself. But there's a lot more to it than that. What makes culture culture is the shared experiences around that work. This song is not only musically interesting, but also calls attention to a horrible incident that happened as well. And, again, some will brush it off as being meaningless, but the power with which it has interested so many people is not something that should be ignored.

Filed Under: autotune, autotune the news, culture, remix

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  1. identicon
    Patrik, 20 Aug 2010 @ 11:31am


    You are aware of how auto-tune works, right? It's not all that creative (not in the same way that something like sampling can still be creative). You just pick the notes you want to oscillate between, and pick an algorithmic pattern to cycle through those selected notes... hell you can just "ask" it to set an audio signal to a major/minor scale without any knowledge of what a scale is. Not that it's a bad thing that people with limited musical knowledge can make more complex music now, but we should all know about our craft.

    Or you set it to 'auto-tune' to the nearest 'acceptable' note. So if you sing a Middle A at 216hz (not quite an A), then auto-tune will 'correct' it to the proper 220hz... nothing very musical about it. In fact, those slight deviations from the 'proper' note are what most of us consider "musical." They're a part of what are called "transients" and capturing them is uber important to attaining a lifelike recording. For instance: Frank Sinatra consistently sang a quarter-tone flat (for example: between an A and an A# for the uninitiated); auto-tune would have 'corrected' that and we'd be left with a much less musical sounding performer.

    It's all moot though, there is no "correct" in music. Led Zeppelin tuned ALL of their instruments down a quarter tone--supposedly to make it harder for people to play along with the records, but I don't know that that's totally true. More likely, Robert Plant's voice had greater flexibility in that range.

    And in Mozart's era, a proper Middle A was almost a full half tone lower than what we call an A today. So that means that what Mozart would have considered an A, we would consider an Ab/G# (A flat and G sharp are different names for the same note, by the way)

    Music is so simple!!! Plaese to allow everyone to understandz that they don't need to put any effort into producing it!

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