Auto-Tune: Technology and Worship


July 25, 2019

By Ryan McLouth

To auto-tune or not to auto-tune, that is the question! If you’re unfamiliar with the term auto-tune, it is a device or technology that can be used to correct errors in pitch or intonation of a vocal performance. 

In recording studios, the post-production use of the technology allows a performance with tuning issues sound closer to perfect. In recent years, developers have made it possible to also use auto-tune and pitch correcting software in live situations. In some cases, we can easily hear the changes that the software makes to the voice, which resembles an unnatural robotic timbre. 

In other instances, the technology has developed to the point of being nearly undetectable to the listener. This “tool” has made its way into worship music as well. I have attended and helped lead music at some churches that utilize auto-tune technology in the last few years.

The question is, should we be using this technology? Is it helpful, or is it a hindrance? On one hand, it can make less skilled singers sound more desirable, taking a performance that may feature some distracting problems or qualities and making it better. However, this could be a slippery slope. Shouldn’t singers that perform at a level that is less than desirable be asked to work harder on their craft to develop a higher quality performance? What about singers that already perform at a higher level? Does this discredit all of the work that they put into performing at a higher level?

Personally, I have several thoughts on this topic. I think that auto-tune is a crutch, making it possible for individuals that are not willing to work hard enough for a quality performance to execute one. (Or something similar to one.) If a person would like to lead music for a church, they should be willing to invest time and work to improve their abilities as a musician. Secondly, pitch correction software may give those singers an unrealistic understanding of their abilities and what is required to produce high quality music.

What do you think? Does your church use this technology? Should it be a part of worship music? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Thanks for tuning in this month! If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me at any time via e-mail at rmclouth@centralmethodist.edu or phone at 
660-651-9964.