But the Harmonics, part of Stanford for almost two decades, are about as musically big as a small set of student voices could be. The group’s penchant for creative risk has been galvanized by departing music director Charlie Forkish, ’11, who over the last three years has driven the Harmonics into such technologically edgy territory that they’ve gotten national attention.
One part of Forkish’s arsenal is Auto-Tune, software with the ability to correct vocal flaws by processing the audio to make singers sound pitch-perfect. Producers also can create an assortment of effects. Last year, the Wall Street Journal devoted a story to how controversial the use of mechanized tricks had become. The article spotlighted the Harmonics’ use of Auto-Tune in live performances as a catalyst for debate about what should be considered authentic a cappella.