Pitch is one of the key fundamental aspects underlying all music. Intrinsically intertwined with melody and harmony, play somebody a well-known tune using anything that can produce a few tones, be it a child's music box, a sine wave generator, or a grand piano, and they will have no problem identifying it. That's the power of pitch, and when you marry up great tunes with compelling rhythms, you have pretty much all you need to make awesome music.
Modern software gives you the tools you need to transform music in a way that would leave a 17th-century composer gawping like a fish on a space station. Want to harmonise a melody with nothing more than a few clicks? Done. Need to knock a few dodgy notes in a recorded melody into tune? We've got you covered.
Pitchshifting tools come in all shapes and sizes. Click through the gallery to check out our top 10 creative pitchshifting plugins, there could be something in there for you.
1. Antares Auto-Tune 8
The eighth full version of perhaps the most famous plugin of all time. While it’s built around features designed for invisible pitch-correction of monophonic audio, its flexibility means it’s packed with creative possibilities too for those who are prepared to let loose with it.
2. QuikQuak Pitchwheel
Cheap and very cheerful, this bonkers plugin sits confidently at the ‘creative’ end of the pitch manipulation spectrum. Its inertia-animated Pitch and formant-shifting Timbre wheels open it up to everything from gentle correction to the most adventurous of experimentation.
3. Celemony Melodyne
This is, by some margin, the most powerful pitch manipulation software on the market, and beyond its obvious uses for correctional work, its astounding polyphonic editing presents endless creative opportunities, from “rewriting” audio material on a note-by-note basis, to extracting elements and/or MIDI parts from full mixes.
4. DMG Audio PitchFunk
Pitchshifting is just one element of this mind-boggling sound mangler, which also features filtering, delay, granular processing and more, not to mention three LFOs and an envelope follower for getting it moving. More an in-depth sound design tool than a workaday pitchshifter, PitchFunk is wild, inspiring and enormous fun.
5. Waves SoundShifter
Waves’ versatile time and pitch correction plugin gives easy control over both, and also enables automation of those two properties in Graphic mode. As you’d expect, the quality and transparency of results are impressive, making SoundShifter a powerful and fairly priced option.
6. Audio Damage Discord 3
Much more than ‘just’ a pitchshifting plugin thanks to its delays, filters and LFOs, but not one to turn to for quick corrective tasks, Discord 3 offers three repitching algorithms – Vintage, Clean and Granular - for a wide range of sounds and styles. At this price, no adventurous producer can afford to be without it.
7. zplane Elastique Pitch 2
As you’d expect from the company behind the pitchshifting built into so many DAWs, zplane’s own offering sounds phenomenal. Featuring an X/Y control pad, up to 12 semitones of Pitch and Timbre adjustment, dry/wet mix and a delay module, it’s easy to use, too.
8. Zynaptiq Pitchmap
Spectacular in its ability to repitch full polyphonic mixes or individual elements within them, Pitchmap is a tricky one to categorise. Featuring keyboard- based scale selection and MIDI control, it doesn’t sound quite as natural as Melodyne, but the fact that it does its thing entirely in real time makes it a fascinating and highly creative alternative.
9. Aegean Music Pitchproof
Pitchproof’s old-school sound and approach certainly keep things simple, with a menu of fixed shifting intervals and scale-specific harmonies, plus Detune control and a dry/wet mix knob for harmonising the input signal rather than simply repitching it. Obviously, since it’s completely free, you’d be mad not to get it!
10. Eventide H3000 Factory
Despite lacking many of the original H3000 algorithms, this plugin version of Eventide’s legendary hardware sounds incredible and features a very usable virtual patch cable system for modification of its 450+ presets. If you have any interest at all in classic studio gear, the H3000 Factory demands your attention.
For much more on the subject of pitchshifting, pick up Computer Music 220, which is available in both digital and print formats now.