Just a girl?
August 26, 2006 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Muse + 120% pitch shift = Gwen Stefani
posted by mr.marx (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Let me be the first to ask: have they ever been seen in the same place at the same time?
posted by namespan at 11:42 AM on August 26, 2006


Spooky. There must be some explanation involving harmonics or something. Or selling your soul for musical success.
posted by GuyZero at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2006


I remember pitching up Michael Dorn's "There is the theory of the Mobius...a twist in the fabric of space, where time becomes a loop" from Star Trek: TNG, and it sounding almost exactly like Ron Howard in Happy Days. Odd. I never tried the reverse, though...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2006


Perhaps I just haven't listened to Gwen Stefani sing since Tragic Kingdom, but the shifted version doesn't sound all that much like her to my ears.
posted by aaronetc at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2006


Oh, come on. It doesn't sound like her at all.
posted by clockzero at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2006


Wait...you mean that if you pitch shift a man's voice upwards a whole bunch...it might sound like a woman??

Call the Music Police.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:59 AM on August 26, 2006


Uncanny.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:10 PM on August 26, 2006


It didn't sound even remotely like Stefani.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2006


It doesn't sound like Gwen Stefani, it sounds like the guy from Muse pitch-shifted. Maybe that seems crazy if you've never played with a pitch-shifter before.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2006


It's not that similar - I'd have struggled to work it out if the visuals weren't there.

If we're posting links from this week's B3TA mailout, this Dr Who/Call Centre one is pretty funny.
/derail
posted by TheDonF at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2006


Pitchshifter?
posted by TheDonF at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2006


Yeah, I'm not sure I would have heard Gwen Stefani in that if the pictures of her weren't there. And now I'll never know. Have to test it on my roomies, sound-only.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2006


It would sound more like Gwen Stefani if the guy hadn't put the Muse song first.
posted by fire&wings at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2006


It does remind me a little bit of early Weezer.
posted by clockzero at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2006


There's a lot of stuff out there that sounds like it's trying to be a Gwen Stefani song, like the new Fergie and Paris Hilton singles... but I don't quite hear it here.
posted by bobo123 at 12:43 PM on August 26, 2006


I'm going to throw my vote in with the "no it doesn't" crowd. I also decided to listen to it rather than see the images (and found that my brain did try to think it sounded more like gwen when I did watch it), but to me it just sounds like muse pitch-shifted.
posted by Stunt at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2006


Nothing at all like Gwen. Gwen has boobies.
posted by loquacious at 12:48 PM on August 26, 2006


Nothing at all like Gwen. Gwen has boobies.

I always thought she looked like a 12 year old boy
posted by Deep Dish at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2006


It sounds more like her than not like her. It's not a perfect resemblance but it's definitely there. I was surprised.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:56 PM on August 26, 2006


Sounds more like Drugstore to me.

The slowed-down Gwen linked further down sounds way better (probably because it doesn't involve a Muse record).

Gwen has boobies.

Boobs, yes. Boobies, no.
posted by cillit bang at 1:00 PM on August 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Even better is the other way around (mp3).
posted by tomplus2 at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2006


'musing.
posted by pointilist at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2006


Yeah, it really does. Part of that is similar phrasing, part of that is the already pitch-corrected nature of major label releases. With many of the vocal idiosyncracities smoothed out by ProTools etc., a lot of people sound a lot like each other. Like how that guy from Muse sounds like about a million other mid-tempo Brit crooners (though I'm sure someone with more familiarity than I will point out how, no, he sounds nothing like that guy from Keane or Athlete or Coldplay or James Blount or even kinda like the guy from Mercury Rev, though I think that's really just the theramin reminding me of the saw...)
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2006


And the slowed-down Stefani sounds like 4 Non Blondes.
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2006


You are factually mistaken, klang. Those British crooners are all copying Thom Yorke, as far as any right-thinking person is concerned, and I challenge anyone who disagrees to engage in an acrimonious and infantile bout of mud-slinging.
posted by clockzero at 1:28 PM on August 26, 2006


Part of that is similar phrasing, part of that is the already pitch-corrected nature of major label releases. With many of the vocal idiosyncracities smoothed out by ProTools etc., a lot of people sound a lot like each other.

Yeah, that must be it!

Those British crooners are all copying Thom Yorke

Indeed.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:32 PM on August 26, 2006


Yorke is a wuss.
posted by item at 1:34 PM on August 26, 2006


item, I really want to abuse your position here, but you're not giving me much to work with.
posted by clockzero at 1:41 PM on August 26, 2006


"Whoh" indeed.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:45 PM on August 26, 2006


Another spooky one is Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra) and Dolly Parton. I used to play ELO LPs at 45 to achieve that effect...may need to update my tech
posted by robla at 1:46 PM on August 26, 2006


To paraphrase a common snark:

Is this something I would have to own a radio to understand?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:57 PM on August 26, 2006


This Gwen Stefani, she sings?
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2006


Thom Yorke derail: he's hiding behind all those unnecessary letters.

I second the ProTools-enhancement normalizing vocals theory, not to mention the coincidental Gwen Stefani rasp correlating nicely with the pitch-shifted brit-crooner rasp.

These big pattern-matching machines we pack in our skulls are really quite eager to do the job evolution groomed them for, methinks.

Move along, nothing to hear here.
posted by abulafa at 2:18 PM on August 26, 2006


... and if you notch it up 200%, it sounds almost exactly like Alvin and the Chipmunks.
posted by randomination at 2:24 PM on August 26, 2006


We're all chipmunks now.
posted by furtive at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2006


What I'd like to know is how to use Audacity to pitchshift a vocal without affecting any of the other music. It'd be cool to be able to do that. You could appreciate songs all over again with a new sounding vocalist.

Maybe Bellamy doesn't sound like Stefani but it is a distinctively feminine difference with the pitch shift. This isn't anything new. I recall a similar MeFi link about this awhile back where someone discovered on one particular song Madonna could sound like Rod Stewart or Pat Benatar could sound like that guy from Crash Test Dummies or whatever. It's amusing but not ground breaking.

Occasionally you can hear this kind of tweaking on modern recordings post Milli Vanilli. The most famous of which is on Cher's last big selling album. It was pitchshifted like crazy. She can't actually hit all those notes she's never been that good. Awesome performer. Great showmanperson. Mediocre singer. I hear if you pitch shift her up just a tad, she sounds like Sonny Bono.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:50 PM on August 26, 2006


What I'd like to know is how to use Audacity to pitchshift a vocal without affecting any of the other music. It'd be cool to be able to do that. You could appreciate songs all over again with a new sounding vocalist.

So you'd like to...make the vocals be totally out of key?
posted by cortex at 2:56 PM on August 26, 2006


Wow. Listening to Glen Stefani sing "I'm just a girl" has rocked my entire experience. I've been told before that they use extensive digital effects just to make her voice sound reasonable, and this just makes it seem more plausible.
posted by Clamwacker at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2006


Pitch up Bruce Springsteen and you get Dolly Parton.
posted by moonbird at 3:52 PM on August 26, 2006


Reminds me of a rumour back in the eighties that Kylie Minogue never actually sang on her records, it was actually Rick Astley pitch shifted up, based on the fact that if you slowed down I Should Be So Lucky, it sounded like Rich Astley.
posted by chill at 3:58 PM on August 26, 2006


"So you'd like to...make the vocals be totally out of key?"

Eww yeah I guess it wouldn't work then would it? But if you pitch the whole thing it makes the whole song sound weird. I guess ultimately this discovery is kinda like discovering Mentos & Diet Coke is an explosive combination. Sure it's cute and all... but doesn't quite impact the universe now does it?

It's like discovering that The Fifth Element is really boron. Once you get past it's thrilling atomic weight, there really isn't anything all that exciting about boron.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:06 PM on August 26, 2006


Eww yeah I guess it wouldn't work then would it?

Heh. Yeah. But getting different vocalists to record against carefully recorded different-key emulations would work. Though that's a whole different thing.

Also, step off of boron.
posted by cortex at 4:16 PM on August 26, 2006


Man, that 'Muse', who or whatever that is, is so obviously Yorke. And Stefani is pathetic. And, no, it's not that close, especially with the slow vibrato.

But they both look real pretty.
posted by toma at 4:22 PM on August 26, 2006


Pitch up Dolly Parton and you get a big boobed blonde whore.
posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments at 4:26 PM on August 26, 2006


The song featured in the clip isn't really representative of Muse TBH. Muse is more big bombastic guitars and organs with Matt Bellamy's reedy voice amplified in front of it.

I think Muse sounds more like Kent than Radiohead, and Kent got there first.
posted by randomination at 4:29 PM on August 26, 2006


The reason it sounds a bit like Stefani is that she sings with a kind of weird effect, I don't know the techical term or even how to describe it exactly but she slighty varies the pitch within a single note, kind of how a warped record sounds for a second. It's the same effect you get from the pitchshifter, kind of.
posted by cell divide at 4:40 PM on August 26, 2006


randomination: The song featured in the clip isn't really representative of Muse TBH. Muse is more big bombastic guitars and organs with Matt Bellamy's reedy voice amplified in front of it.

You mean, they don't normally suck as bad as the clip used?

The pitch-shifted version just sounds wrong.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:45 PM on August 26, 2006


I don't know the techical term or even how to describe it exactly but she slighty varies the pitch within a single note

Vibrato. Chrissie Hynde's was endearing because it was natural, Gwen's is contrived and just grating.

Muse doesn't really suck that much, but Bellamy does sound a bit too much like Thom Yorke for me to either really like them or take them seriously. I kind of put them in the Our Lady Peace category: a band I won't instantly hit the Next button on the IPod when they come up, but neither do I search for them.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 4:58 PM on August 26, 2006


Actually sounds a bit more like Brandi *Swoon!* Carlile(Embedded audio) to me... or a twelve-year-old Thom Yorke.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:14 PM on August 26, 2006


What I'd like to know is how to use Audacity to pitchshift a vocal without affecting any of the other music.

You can't. There might be multi-band pitchshifters out there, but I've never heard of one and doubt it would do the trick very well.

And cortex, it wouldn't be out of key if you moved it up an octave.

I second the ProTools-enhancement normalizing vocals theory

Has anyone saying this used ProTools?

Occasionally you can hear this kind of tweaking on modern recordings post Milli Vanilli. The most famous of which is on Cher's last big selling album. It was pitchshifted like crazy. She can't actually hit all those notes she's never been that good.

I think you're confusing a pitch shifter with an auto-tuner or a vocoder. Auto-tune is used on most modern records. Pitch shifters and vocoders aren't. And of course, ProTools =/= auto-tune.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:16 PM on August 26, 2006


(A pitchshifter being a tool that transposes a track by a specified amount/interval, a vocoder being a tool that combines tone from an instrument with formants captured from a voice, and an auto-tuner being a tool that alters individual pitches within a track to be more in tune.)
posted by ludwig_van at 5:18 PM on August 26, 2006


On everybody copying Thom Yorke: It's pretty well established that the particular modern croon popularized on The Bends was a copy of the Jeff Buckley vocal style. In this month's Paste or Mojo (or possibly some other music mag) Thom Yorke talks about how he was having trouble recording the vocal tracks for The Bends and the band was getting fractious. The producer decided that they needed to have a night off and took them all to see Jeff Buckley play, and Radiohead got so fired up that they hurried back to the studio and knocked out some tracks.

If you like that sort of thing I recommend Jeff Buckley's Grace.

Zachsmind: The boron joke made me howl with laughter.
posted by Kattullus at 5:25 PM on August 26, 2006


posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments:"Pitch up Dolly Parton and you get a big boobed blonde whore."

Whore? Whore? Have you considered getting a "Third Account for Ignorant and Unwarranted Comments"?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 PM on August 26, 2006


OT:
posted by Deathalicious at 5:36 PM on August 26, 2006


ludwig_van: Yes.

Was avoiding a bunch of "pitch 'correction' normalizes the voice in such a way that only the non-sinusoidal signals retain source characteristics so two such normalized vocal samples sharing percussive (broad-spectrum) characteristics may sound similar when reprocessed into the same pitch" babble.

Regarding Stefani's vocal style: (non-snark) is it still vibrato when it only happens on the attack and not sustained throughout? It seems like there'd be another vocal term for it.
posted by abulafa at 5:52 PM on August 26, 2006


That's strange: If you play Talk Talk and No Doubt's (Gwen again!) version of Talk Talk's "It's My Life" They're played at EXACTLY the same tempo (except for a few bars, near the middle, where they've dropped in something suspiciously like a riff from the Police's "Roxanne")
posted by Dub at 5:58 PM on August 26, 2006


"120% pitchshift" strongly resembles Super Psychedelic Rainbow Ken Burns Effect. I am using Firefox 1.5.0.6 does anyone else see this?
posted by arialblack at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2006


"Those British crooners are all copying Thom Yorke, as far as any right-thinking person is concerned, and I challenge anyone who disagrees to engage in an acrimonious and infantile bout of mud-slinging."

Yeah, or (as noted) Jeff Buckley, though I tend to associate Buckley with more unnecessary histrionics than anything else. But I think more than just Yorke, which would be the influence they'd all acknowledge/get miffed about, they sound more and more like each other, a vague amorphous blob of similarly treated affectations and croon.

And yes, Ludwig, I have worked with correcting vocals in ProTools and generally understand both the sound and the technique. And if you don't think people that don't have extensive experience can't still immediately identify the similarities in that style of treatment, and that there aren't similarities in these voices, then you're vastly overestimating the value of experience over a good ear.
posted by klangklangston at 6:42 PM on August 26, 2006


Yeah, or (as noted) Jeff Buckley, though I tend to associate Buckley with more unnecessary histrionics than anything else.

Can I buy the next round? Klangklangston, I don't know you, and odds are, sadly that I will never meet you and be able to buy you a real beer, but you consistently post comments on MeFI that are almost exact transcriptions of things I have said in bars over the years. So, this virtual round is on me, bro.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 6:58 PM on August 26, 2006


is it still vibrato when it only happens on the attack and not sustained throughout?

Yes.

And if you don't think people that don't have extensive experience can't still immediately identify the similarities in that style of treatment

I'm saying it's incorrect to act as though ProTools, a piece of multi-track recording software, is somehow responsible for the way some people apply plugins to vocals tracks.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:37 PM on August 26, 2006


I too think the Muse guy is trying to copy Yorke. I wonder if changing the pitch of Yorke (or Jeff Buckley, now that he seems to be the original Yorke) would make him sound like Gwen Stefani. Anyone got the time and software?
posted by micayetoca at 7:40 PM on August 26, 2006


Gwen Stefani has boobs?

Oh, since the boob job, I see.
posted by liquorice at 9:01 PM on August 26, 2006


Thom Yorke talks about how he was having trouble recording the vocal tracks for The Bends and the band was getting fractious. The producer decided that they needed to have a night off and took them all to see Jeff Buckley play, and Radiohead got so fired up that they hurried back to the studio and knocked out some tracks.

That was the night they recorded Fake Plastic Trees-- the second take is the one on the album. Yorke has always acknowledged Buckley's influence at that point, saying that he gave him the courage to sing falsetto. [/RH dork]
posted by jokeefe at 10:04 PM on August 26, 2006


I didn't think it sounded anything like Gwen Stefani, although the pictures on Youtube were a nice way to enforce the suggestion.

The pitched-down "I'm just a girl" sounds EXACTLY like Danny Elfman, though.
posted by mmoncur at 4:15 AM on August 27, 2006


I too think the Muse guy is trying to copy Yorke. I wonder if changing the pitch of Yorke (or Jeff Buckley, now that he seems to be the original Yorke) would make him sound like Gwen Stefani. Anyone got the time and software?
Here is Yorke's current single, Harrowdown Hill^, pitch-shifted up by 20%.

It sounds like... ermm...

It sounds... like...

Look, I think I need to spend the rest of the day in the garden.

*turns computer off*
posted by randomination at 4:19 AM on August 27, 2006


cortex : "So you'd like to...make the vocals be totally out of key?"

Pump 'em up an octave (or down an octave) and you're in key. So probably only useful for dropping high singers low and low singers high...pitch shifting someone singing high even higher would just result in chipmunks, and dropping a baritone lower would just make deathmetal.

ludwig_van : "I think you're confusing a pitch shifter with an auto-tuner or a vocoder."

I haven't heard the Cher album, so I can't say anything with any certainty, but if the song was in C, with no troublesome low notes, but some hard to reach high notes, she could have sang the whole thing in A and then pitchifted it up to C, no? Some death-metal, for example, uses a pitchshifter (not a vocoder or autotune) to drop already low vocals an entire octave, into gutteral rumbling. So it seems like it could be done, with a much smaller interval, to help someone reach a few high notes that they normally couldn't. Now, if someone is having problems hitting high notes and low notes, then, yeah, a pitchshifter could in no way work, and auto-tuner or vocoder would be far more likely.

I think the problem with Pro-Tools (er, rather, the perception of Pro-Tools) is that it only comes up among non-musicians in discussions about correcting vocalists' lack of skill, drummers' lack of rhythm, etc., so people outside of the industry associate "covering up for bad musicianship" with "Pro-Tools". I would've fallen into that trap as well, if it weren't the fact that the first place I ever heard of Pro-Tools was from an electronic musician who used no live instruments or vocals.
posted by Bugbread at 6:02 AM on August 27, 2006


>What I'd like to know is how to use Audacity to pitchshift a vocal without affecting any of the other music.

You can't. There might be multi-band pitchshifters out there, but I've never heard of one and doubt it would do the trick very well.


Well, you could isolate the vocals if* the stereo separation is right, and then throw them whereever you like. *Big if, YMMV, etc.

But then you'd still be throwing the vocals entirely out of key. Yes, yes, unless...

Pump 'em up an octave (or down an octave) and you're in key. So probably only useful for dropping high singers low and low singers high...pitch shifting someone singing high even higher would just result in chipmunks, and dropping a baritone lower would just make deathmetal.

Exactly. Sure, shift 'em by an octave. That's not exactly encouraging granularity—you'd be able to hear shit as sung by Alvin or Satan, and that's it.

Might was well say, "Au contraire! We can get the kitten out of that crevice! We need only shoot it in the face!"
posted by cortex at 8:25 AM on August 27, 2006


I haven't heard the Cher album, so I can't say anything with any certainty, but if the song was in C, with no troublesome low notes, but some hard to reach high notes, she could have sang the whole thing in A and then pitchifted it up to C, no?

Sure, I suppose so, although I think the effect would be pretty obvious. I interpreted the reference as being about something like Cher's "Believe," which tends to come up in conversations about vocal processing. The production on that track is explained here.

I think the problem with Pro-Tools (er, rather, the perception of Pro-Tools) is that it only comes up among non-musicians in discussions about correcting vocalists' lack of skill, drummers' lack of rhythm, etc., so people outside of the industry associate "covering up for bad musicianship" with "Pro-Tools".

Indeed. I mean, blame Waves for L3 and Antares for Auto-Tune before you blame DigiDesign for ProTools. It's an excellent piece of software. (And so are L3 and Auto-Tune, they just tend to get abused.)
posted by ludwig_van at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2006


There are much more elaborate ways for changing the gender of a vocalist than simply using a pitch shifter. Pitch shifting only works if the male singing voice is high (Bellamy) and female voice low (Stefani) so that the formants of the signal do not overly change. Note how the track was sped up only 20% while the difference in average vocal range is about one octave (100%) between males and females.

It's not just pitch shifting or auto tune anymore, modern vocal effects processors include for example format-corrected pitch shifters, where the resonances of the signal are kept in the same place while the pitch itself is altered (demo, changing an adult female to a child).
posted by ikalliom at 9:54 AM on August 27, 2006


The Yorke shift was fab, thanks randomination.

Of course, playing records at the wrong speed with excellent results would be very familiar ground to John Peel listeners.

.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2006


"I think the problem with Pro-Tools (er, rather, the perception of Pro-Tools) is that it only comes up among non-musicians in discussions about correcting vocalists' lack of skill, drummers' lack of rhythm, etc., so people outside of the industry associate "covering up for bad musicianship" with "Pro-Tools". I would've fallen into that trap as well, if it weren't the fact that the first place I ever heard of Pro-Tools was from an electronic musician who used no live instruments or vocals."

Oh, no, that's not how I meant it at all. It's just that there are certain tropes that happen when you use digital studio software lazily that are pretty apparent. Like how you can tell when someone has used FruityLoops for drum programming. ProTools (or FruityLoops, for that matter), is totally inaudible and unobtrusive when used correctly.
posted by klangklangston at 12:14 PM on August 27, 2006


I guess I'm the only guy who thinks that sounds a lot like Gwen.
posted by ®@ at 12:27 PM on August 27, 2006


I think so too. A lot, actually.

(btw, thx randomination for taking the trouble with the Yorke shift. The results were kinda unsettling, weren't they)
posted by micayetoca at 2:32 PM on August 27, 2006


Speaking of Jeff Buckley and pitch shifting and all that malarkay, I always loved that track (think it was on live á l'olympia but not too sure about that) where he plays Kashmir as it would sound if you played the LP at 78 rpm! It's kind of awesome!
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:25 AM on August 28, 2006


I was 10 when I learned that playing Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" at 45rpm (rather than 33 1/3) makes him sound like Dolly Parton.

...Just sayin'.
posted by parilous at 9:13 AM on August 28, 2006


moonbird -- D'oh -- I just saw your comment. Sorry for the duplicate without credit. :\
posted by parilous at 9:16 AM on August 28, 2006


In other news, Nickelback still sucks.
posted by leapfrog at 2:27 PM on August 28, 2006


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