Rock Band 3 to Feature Pitch Correction

The latest installment in the Rock Band franchise will be the biggest fantasy of them all.

The Cambridge-based technology company iZotope announced this week that they have licensed the most recent version of their pitch-recognition and correction middleware to Harmonix for use in Rock Band 3, “assisting players to sing on key more easily with pitch correction and bringing the tools that pros use into the living room.”

From a technology standpoint, it’s truly incredible that this is possible, even though to iZotope CEO Mark Ethier, Harmonix’s licensing of the middleware is simply about creating a competitive entertainment product. “With the production values of video games rivaling that of commercial albums and blockbuster films, consumers expect the same caliber of video and audio quality during dynamic, real-time game play,” Ethier said in a press release.

And from a consumer’s perspective, gamers across the country are probably thrilled to know that there is something out there that will get their tone-deaf friends and relatives to sing on key.

But we sincerely hope that Harmonix, which is still figuring out how to employ the pitch correction technology, uses it wisely, either by making it something you have to unlock through achievement or something that disappears on the highest difficulty levels.

The other aspects of Rock Band – and the game’s general appeal – are more about enjoying a group’s ability to complete tasks together, and we’d never confuse Rock Band for a music education tool. But as the idea of using technology to augment music-making grows more pervasive, we worry about its long-term effects on music-making in general.

Singing is one of the most intimate modes of music-making that we have, and the last thing we’d want to see happen is have a generation of children grow up with the idea that it’s only fun if you can do it with pitch-corrected perfection.