One of these tools is a pitch shifter. A Pitch shifter is an excellent tool and can be used in many different ways. The use can be minimal, or it can dramatically change the sound or mood of the song.
Although it is mainly used for vocals, can be used for any track, and in addition, you can use it on guitars, other instruments, weird sounds, and more. But if too much pitch shifting is used or misused, it can ruin your mix. So, it is crucial to know the correct ways to use pitch shifter for vocals or sound design
What Is Pitch Shifting In Music
A Pitch shifter is a tool that can change the pitch of the sound which means it can lower or raise the pitch of the sound. It can be used as an effect or as a correction tool and many producers and mixing engineers use pitch shifting in modern music.
You can say that pitch shift is like the auto-tune, but there are significant differences. With auto-tune, you choose the key, and it automatically corrects the pitch based on the key, and many times, the sound becomes inorganic.
But with a pitch shifter, you are in control of the sound and you choose what to change, how much change you want, and so on. Also, you can make dramatic changes, and the sound will still be natural.
5 Tips To Use Pitch Shifter In Music
There are many different ways a pitch shifter can be used for mixing vocals or other audio tracks but it’s hard to list all of them in one post. So, here are the five most helpful pitch shifter tips for mixing.
Correct Out Of Pitch Notes
The first thing you can do with pitch shifting, which is very useful, is correct wrong notes. Although this tip is helpful for most tracks, I think it’s best for vocals.
We are humans, and we can’t sing all the notes correctly, and here comes the pitch shifter to help us. But this doesn’t mean that you can record a lousy performance and correct it with a pitch shifter.
It’s for minor edits and it helps to correct a few wrong notes. This way, the sound, and vocal performance will stay organic and natural. Because too much effect can make sound robotic.
And this is why pitch shifter is a much better solution than auto-tune, although auto-tune has its place. Notes corrected by the pitch-shifting method will sound organic and natural because you control it while auto-tune is automatic.
Although pitch shifter is a great tool, it can’t do magic so remember this – don’t rely solely on tools. You need to have as good a recorded performance as possible and correct only a few notes and your music will sound natural, not robotic.
Change The Pitch Completely
The following way a pitch shifter can be used in mixing is to change the pitch of the source sound completely which is an important tip. There could be many cases when you could want to change the pitch of the vocals or instruments.
For example, you may want to hear how the mix sounds in a different key because sometimes a song sounds much better in a lower or higher key. And here comes the pitch shifter to save you.
You can put a pitch plugin on any track and lower the pitch in seconds or put it on the master bus and lower the key of the whole mix.
This trick is used for guitars, especially in heavy music when guitars are tuned low. However, because lower-tuned guitars tend to have less string tightness, the playing might not be comfortable, and the sound might not sound good after recording.
So, you can record standard tuning guitar with all the tightness, and then with a pitch shifter, you can lower the pitch. It will sound authentic and more likely better.
Old days engineers were using this trick but it was more challenging because engineers had to slow down the tape and do other tricks. With a pitch shifter, it’s much more manageable.
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Create Vocal Harmonies
A Pitch shifter is a handy tool for vocal harmonies and vocal harmonies are fundamental in music. An excellent vocal harmony can change the song and make it much better and more enjoyable.
You can use a pitch shifter in two ways for harmonizing vocals. You can record two vocal tracks, use a shifter on one track, or copy a single vocal performance and harmonize it with a pitch shifter.
Because you control the sound with the shifter effect, you are free to do anything – you can do very subtle changes or go crazy and create a weird and unique sound.
Although the harmony will be artificially enhanced, it will still sound natural but it depends on you and how you use it. For example, incorrect use of pitch shifters may ruin the performance. So, you should be very careful and wise.
Some engineers like using auto-tune for harmonies, but the results will be much better with a pitch shifter.
Make Vocal Double
Like vocal harmony, doubling the vocals is also essential in vocal mixing. Also, it’s a prevalent practice, and every song you love uses double vocals.
Vocal doubling is mainly used in choruses because it makes the sound bigger, fuller, and more exciting. And we all know how strong a chorus is for a song, so it won’t be popular if a song doesn’t have a good chorus.
In most cases, vocal doubles are the same part recorded twice but sometimes, it’s not perfect. And it should be, two vocals should sound like one if you want to get a good result.
Pitch shifter can help you with this. For example, if a double vocal is not as good as the main vocal track, you can quickly correct it with a pitch shifter. Likewise, you can glue two vocal tracks together with a pitch shifter.
Or maybe you want the second vocal take to be in a different key or even a bit out of tune to create a natural chorus sound. You can do it with shifter too.
This tool gives you freedom and a vast amount of choices when mixing vocals and the best thing is that it doesn’t make sound artificial if used in the right way.
Use Pitch Shifter As An Effect
And the last but not least tip to use a pitch shifter in mixing is to use it as an effect. It works with vocals or any musical instruments. Using a pitch shifter as an effect is not a new concept, and many famous musicians used it to create a specific effect or mood.
A good example and one of the first adopters of pitch correction is Chuck Berry. He used pitch correction to make his sound younger. Beatles used it too, and perhaps the most famous one is Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. Jack White recorded guitars through a pitch shifter, and that’s why it sounds like a bass guitar.
And you can create as weird sounds and effects as you want because pitch shifter allows you to open your creativity and create incredible sounds and music.
Change the mood of guitar, bass, vocals, pianos, and even drums. There are no limitations. You can express yourself however you want, and pitch shifter helps you do it.
A Pitch shifter has many uses, and it can drastically change the song’s sound or you can use it as a pitch correction tool where you have much more control than with an auto-tune. Or, if you want a peculiar and unique sound, you can do it with a pitch shifter.
The important thing is to use this tool wisely because it can do all of these things, if you misuse it, then you get bad results. So, first, understand how it works, practice it on different tracks, gain experience, and create awesome music.
I’m a guitar player and avid home recording enthusiast. Love trying new recording tricks and modern tools. I’ve created the Apartment Recording blog where I share my knowledge about recording with the