I watched Britney Spears’ new song, “Gimme More,” on TV. I couldn’t help feeling that not one second was left unmanipulated and unprocessed. As a musician and a producer, do you feel that technology is taking the honesty out of recorded music? —Matt McArthur, Vancouver, B.C.
Yes and no. There are instances where a singer is nothing more than a visual vehicle for a group of music professionals. There are plenty of tools available to shape a novice singer’s out-of-tune, out-of-time vocals into something acceptable. This might be labeled as “dishonest music,” but I’ve found benefits to the judicious use of corrective recording tools. Here’s one scenario that’s happened to me more than once. I wake up in the morning and begin working on a new song. While composing, I might sing a verse or chorus off the top of my head. The first time I sing, the words usually resonate the deepest—all other versions are attempts to “perfect” that inspirational first version. With those same tools, I can fix a “morning vocal,” which might have some pitch errors. Is this dishonest? To me, it’s trying to keep the magic of a first take, with some slight adjusting. There’s not much popular music that isn’t processed to some degree. In my mind, it’s the difference between using corrective tools to salvage a brief moment of a performance, as opposed to using it to create something that otherwise doesn’t exist. —Bob Mould
Bob Mould’s next album, District Line, comes out Feb. 5 on Anti- Records.