Auto Tune Vs. Pitch Correction: What’s The Difference?

Yes, we all know you’re a fantastic singer. But no singer is perfect, not even the best.

Auto tune vs. pitch correction
Daft Punk, a band that loves to use auto tune

That’s why pitch correction and auto tune can come in handy as tools (not as crutches).

So what’s the difference between pitch correction and auto tune? When should you use each?

Pitch Correction

Even the greatest singers of all time rarely have absolute perfect pitch throughout an entire vocal session.

Pitch correction is just a way to correct specific notes you sing, bumping them flatter or sharper to be more exact.

And no, you can’t just “fix it in the mix.” If that were the case, anybody could fake being a great singer.

This is a manual process, so whoever is doing the engineering and editing could spend hours correcting pitch, depending on how good the singer is and how perfect the singer tried to perform in the studio.

Auto Tune

Auto tune became famous when artists like T-Pain and Daft Punk hit pop culture with their heavily autotuned songs. You’d know the sound when you hear it.

Auto tune is an automated but less precise version of pitch correction.

Basically, auto tune allows you to choose the key you’re working in so the notes you sing will be automatically adjusted to fit the closest note. That’s why auto tune makes you sound like a robot.

Which Should You Use — Pitch Correction or Auto Tune?

The answer is both. Or you shouldn’t use either.

First, it depends on what style you’re going for.

If you want to sound like T-Pain, then go crazy with the auto tune. But if you want listeners to hear your raw natural voice, then maybe don’t use either.

But probably, you’ll want to use just a bit of pitch correction here and there.

Not too much that you hide your beautiful voice behind it, but not too little that melodies sound off from their respective harmonies.

But the only way to really know is to try it out for yourself!

Here’s an example of some heavy-handed use of auto tune:

I first wrote a version of this article for iSing Magazine

3 Ways Nina Simone Was Unique (And What She Can Teach Us)

It might be stupid to ask, “What was so special about Nina Simone?”

DIY musician tips
Nina Simone (photo via NPR)

The real question is, “What wasn’t special about her?”

But just to set the record straight, here are the three main reasons why Simone stood out and was a tidal wave of influence in the music industry and society as a whole.

Her unique tone

That full, strong voice that could jump an octave and still keep a rapid vibrato — that’s really what made Nina Simone special. It’s what made her stand out among her peers. No one had a voice like her, and we won’t hear another voice like hers for a long time.

And she wasn’t just born with an amazing voice — she worked hard.

She attended Juilliard School of Music in New York (she dropped out for financial reasons). She practiced, and that practice led to her timeless voice.

She was a Civil Rights singer

Simone wasn’t just a singer, she was a Civil Rights singer. She became known as the voice of the Civil Rights Movement in the music world.

Her song “Mississippi Goddam” was in direct response to the 1963 assassination of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evans and the bombing at the Birmingham church.

And after the 1968 murder of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Simone’s bassist wrote “Why (The King of Love Is Dead)” and Simone performed it with her band at the Westbury Music Festival.

These are only a couple examples of how she was a voice for a lot of African-American folks in the 50s and 60s.

She was versatile

Not only did she have great vocal range, but she sang more than just one genre of music as a lot of singers often do.

She could sing jazz, blues, and folk music, even covering Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun.”

But in everything she did, her classical training shined through.

But still, people saw her as a soul singer, often calling her the “High Priestess of Soul,” even though she hated that nickname.

“If I had to be called something, it should have been a folk singer because there was more folk and blues than jazz in my playing,” she wrote in her autobiography, according to

Simone is someone every aspiring singer should study.

What can DIY musicians learn from her?

This: if you want to be good, you gotta learn your craft, practice a ton, stand for something good, and be open to different types of music.

I first wrote a version of this article for iSing Magazine.

How To Write A Song In 5 Simple Steps — Part 2

Click here to read How To Write A Song In 5 Simple Steps — Part 1.

3) Start writing

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney (photo via Mojo Magazine)

There are two common ways songwriters start a song: music first or lyrics first.

A lot of songwriters start with the music and melody before writing the lyrics, often coming up with gibberish lyrics in order to find the structure of the melody.

For example, Paul McCartney woke up one day with a melody in his head. He came up with nonsense lyrics so that he could remember the melody and get the phrasing just right.

“Scrambled eggs, oh you’ve got such lovely legs,” he sang. This became one of the most covered songs in recent history, the Beatles’ “Yesterday.”

On the other hand, when you start with the lyrics, make sure they have a repeating rhythm and words that sound good together and rhyme. Think of it like writing poetry.

4) Edit and play!

Paul McCartney and John Lennon
Paul McCartney and John Lennon (photo via Zumic)

This is the fun part. Sing the melody over and over, smooth over the awkward phrasings, work out the kinks, and give your lyrics more focus.

If you’re a new songwriter, make sure the melody is in a range that works for your voice. As you get the hang of songwriting, you can start writing melodies that stretch your vocal range, getting you to inch out of your comfort zone. That’s how you get better!

RELATED: How To Get Better At Songwriting

5) Get trusted feedback

Paul McCartney and John Lennon
Paul McCartney and John Lennon

This is not when you post your song online; you’ll get so many different criticisms that you won’t know which to listen to.

What you should do first is go to someone who has a good musical ear and will be upfront with you. This could be an honest friend or a fellow musician (not your mom!).

Now, stop imagining yourself as a songwriter and just start writing!

While you’re at it, you should check out Evernote, the app I use to do all of my songwriting. Get a free month of Evernote Premium here.

Versions of part 1 and 2 were originally published in iSing Magazine

How To Get Better At Songwriting

For those of us who love songwriting, we find it frustrating. Sometimes it’s just the worst.

How songwriting feels sometimes

It’s difficult, but practice is what makes us better at spitting rhymes and stringing together melodies.

Professional lyric and songwriters didn’t start there — they, like a lot of us, started as amateurs. So with that in mind, here are four tips on how to become a pro at writing song lyrics.

Study The Pros

Leonard Cohen

The greats learned from the greats, and so should you. Study the best of the best, print off their lyrics, break down their phrasing, rhyming, imagery, and storytelling. Use their techniques.

Some pros you could start studying are Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and John Lennon — these guys knew how to put words together in a beautiful way.

It’s time to become a student again and stay one until you’re done writing songs (which should be never).

Copy The Pros

Bob Dylan

Austin Kleon is an artist and author who wrote a book called Steal Like An Artist. The whole idea of the book is to take ideas from others (i.e. the pros), add your own spice, and create something of your own.

For example, if you, just for fun, rewrite “Like A Rolling Stone” by Dylan, you’ll get a better feel for how he structures his words, how he describes things, and his storytelling process.

Then jot down what you’ve learned and try using the same methods on your own song.

Be Consistent Like The Pros

Paul Simon

Malcolm Gladwell, a best-selling, deep-thinking author who does meticulous journalistic research, writes in his book Outliers  that “ten thousand hours [of practice] is the magic number of greatness.”

He cites Bill Gates, who started coding as a teenager, and The Beatles, who played an extremely high number of gigs before becoming stars in the States.

The point is, practice songwriting like heck. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. You’re not born amazing, you have to earn it.

RELATED: How To Write A Song In 5 Simple Steps


Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway writes in his book A Moveable Feast, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” And, boy, that’s true.

The first thing you put down on paper is not always the best. The first draft is almost never the last. Rewriting your lyrics is part of the songwriting process.

I first wrote a version of this article for iSing Magazine