Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Materials Are Close To Sound Proof?

I have been called “A Renaissance Man”, which is a bit embarrassing to me. However, 22 years ago for a period of 18 years, I had multiple careers, doing music at night (singing in a show or playing lead trombone in a big band) but I also had a “day gig”. I got licensed by the Board of Architecture and by the Contractors Board. Part of my tests included acoustics. It was a must to understand sound transmission control. It also was a must to understand acoustics because it was on the test.

I had the pleasure of drawing the plans for the mixing room which was built at NBC Burbank, CA, where the Tonight Show was filmed (back when Johnny Carson was on it). Sound behaves similarly to light with absorption, reflection, dispersion and in other ways. Sound is a vibration and a floor slab can be affected by ambient sound.

Some studios isolate the slab from adjoining areas by literally cutting it away (if remodeling for a studio) or by isolating it during the pouring of concrete if it is new construction. Many things can be done for sound transmission control. Sometimes there is a space between a double wall. Sometimes resilient channels are used to mostly isolate gypsum wallboard from studs or furring strips against a concrete or CMU wall. Sometimes insulation is used within the walls. There are several types of assemblies which have been tested and are designated by STC ratings.

At NBC, there were 2 layers of a foam-type material between the bottom plate of the wall and the floor slab. In this instance, there was concrete, a foam rubber material, and then the wood bottom plate. The wall was built with a space between it and the concrete wall that it paralleled. The side walls additionally were covered with Auralex. There site is here: Acoustical Materials and Acoustical Panels - Soundproofing Solutions, Doors, Windows, Walls

The front of the room was glass and a “normal wall” , creating an LEDE design (live end-dead end. The interior walls were set with a laser transit to tolerances in the thousandths of an inch and none were parallel, nor was the ceiling parallel to the floor.

There is a lot more to consider than materials, when controlling sound transmission. Some people say that lower frequencies, such as a bass will pass through concrete more easily than higher notes. Yet, as I sit and type this, in a concrete “flat plate designed” building, I can hear the lovely young Italian harpist playing over my head. Understand that there is a concrete floor between us, the underside is covered with gypsum material and her floor is covered with a carpet and padding. I can hear all frequencies of the notes she plays. They are not loud, but are audible.

I have designed condos, recording studios, churches, hospitals, stores, many houses (approx. 2,500), and radio stations. This also took place in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. Being a musician and a singer, I always thought about sound and was eager to learn more about it.

A good question might be which materials conduct, transmit, reflect, and/or absorb sound. Each has its own quality. It is possible to soundproof a room but it is also cost prohibitive. If you are building a studio or music production work space, you’ll have a budget to consider. Fiberglass insulation does not conduct sound well. Styrofoam insulation may conduct sound slightly more than fiberglass insulation.

Sound will travel through air and water, so molecular density is a factor and so is the frequency of the vibrations involved. There are people with much more theory behind this, acoustical engineers, and they can always be consulted for in depth ideas, too.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Question I Was Asked

I’ve been a vocal coach officially since 1994 but I worked with vocalists all the way back to 1975.  Chest voice is called chest voice because someone at some time noticed that the chest vibrated, when he/she sang in the lower part of the range.  The same is true for high notes and the vibration felt in the head.  Some people call middle voice “mixed voice”. 

First, I would point out that it is not necessarily an accurate description and can be misleading to think that you are mixing head voice and chest voice. 

Secondly, middle voice is in the passaggio, which has been mis-translated as “passage area” when in fact, it means passage way. 

Thirdly, many people are confused about the ranges of a voice and mistakenly believe that chest voice is a specific sound and that head voice is a specific sound and middle voice is a blend or mixture of the two.  When your voice is working at its optimum, there is not a radical difference in your sound from one register to another.  In fact, you should be able to do a glissando, seamlessly, from chest voice up to head voice and also in the opposite direction and at any volume level.  If you cannot do that, something is not working correctly. 

You should have the freedom of your entire range, without breaks or “shifting gears” and also with whatever quality you wish for expressing yourself artistically.  One other thing to consider is that you should be able to sing as if you have one voice, not two or three.  As a singer progresses in training with me, he or she may find that there will be variables with an overlap of ranges as far as how it feels to the singer.

  It ALL blends after being properly trained and with no strain or hoarseness involved.  We are working toward a consistent sound with effortless control, ultimately.  Make sense? My site is

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Recipe For Singing

"There Are Many Methods For Singing"

Yes, there are many methods for singing.  Many are outdated.  Many are useless.  Many have no basis in science or in practice.  Many have harmed voices of singers who used them.  There is only one way, or method, which works for everyone.

Can You Cook or Bake?

If you have made cookies, a cake, chicken piccata or eggs benedict, you know that you must have all the recipe's ingredients, and also that the ingredients must be combined, prepared and heated in a specified way.  The better the ingredients, the better the outcome.  Cookies without sugar or honey or something sweet added will not taste sweet.  Bake them too hot or for too long, also, and they won't be so great.  Omitting an ingredient will guarantee inferiority.  Doing the right thing at the wrong time or simply doing the wrong thing will guarantee failure.  Is there an actual recipe for singing and singing great?  There is.  People will charge you as much as $500 for an hour to start learning the so-called secrets, methods, or principles.  Yet, some of those people know little or nothing about style and also may be sorely lacking in musicianship.  What if you need help with those things. too?

The Recipe For Singing:

  • Does not ignore music, science, physics, or medical science.
  • Uses the muscles in a coordinated way to safely produce vocal sound.
  • Has been proven over and over among the top professionals.
  • Does not impose limits.
  • Gives a singer the freedom to express.
  • Does not alter your natural sound.
  • Involves more than vocal technique. 17 more things than vocal technique.  You may already have some of those but you may need to develop others.

Vocal Technique

  • Vocal technique should not harm your voice or cause strain.
  • It should give you freedom of your entire range with no breaks.
  • It should help you have endurance for concerts and/or recording.
  • It should give you the flexibility and accuracy of pitch needed for modern singing.
  • It does not deal in myths or lies, such as telling you to "sing from your diaphragm". Doctors know that this is a myth and why.
  • It does not tell you to "place your sound".  That is physically impossible and science reveals why.
  • It deals in fact, not in fantasy. You do not have to visualize anything.
  • It does not inhibit you with expressing yourself.

There Are 18 Ingredients In The Recipe For Singing

Vocal technique is only one of the 18 ingredients and it is a vast subject within itself!  18 Ingredients?!  What are they?  Adele has them.  Amy Winehouse had many of them.  Bruno Mars has them.  Adam Levine has them.  Lady Gaga has them. Christina Aguilera has them. Do you have them?  Would you like to have them?

Basic Music Terms for Singers

Monday, February 06, 2017

If you play the game right, you're gonna lose.  What?  You ARE going to lose.  BUT... You're also gonna win.  NOT talking about the superduperbowl.  If you're a singer, a composer, an actor, a painter and in doing so you're a TRUE artist, there is a "game" you play.  It's a serious game.  A trumpet player friend who played in Buddy Rich's band told me about the game.  Every time he played, he tried to make it better than the last time.  Two things he realized: 1) It's a losing game to play because you get to a point when improvement is so slow it is hardly noticeable, if at all.  2) There comes a time that you ARE good enough for what is needed AS A PROFESSIONAL.  BUT (and this reaches beyond the moon) you still keep playing the game of trying to improve beyond where you are.  When you stop trying to improve, well, that's the level of artist you are.  "Art" is an unwinnable game from this perspective but the great thing about it is that there is no limit to it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Thought, Word, and Deed

I remember a bumper sticker on a guy's truck. He was the right hand man of an ex-felon gold smuggler who became a multi-millionaire in commercial real estate. The ex-felon (gold laws have since changed) bought properties when the economy was down and sold when it was up and kept maybe 100+ million, which he leased out. His right hand man, who never was as wealthy had a bumper sticker on his truck which said, "The one who has the most toys when he dies wins." I once thought a little like that but was never a multi-millionaire. I had all the arrogance and then some, though. By choice, now, I have very little in the way of "things". I do have some clothes, including over 100 shirts but they mostly sit and are not used. My time is spent writing novels, screenplays, music, and musicals and doing some teaching and some traveling. I think we have 7 computers between the two of us but very little furniture and no car. I don't think that I AM what I do, though. Not at all. It would be easy to say that I am a musician, singer, writer, composer but I do those and the "am" part lies far behind the activities. I was in architecture and other things but they don't define me and they don't enslave me and they don't put me in a box. If someone were to say, "What do you really do?" implying that I had to choose one thing, I finally have the answer. I express through creating and the field, the genre, the activity are the vehicle, but not the driver of it.
Chuck Stewart is a composer, musician, singer, and writer.|

When air pressure is reduced in the air stream emanating from the lungs, this results in diminished pressure and tension of the vocal folds (used to be called "vocal cords"). Three simple ways to do this are: warming up with lip rolls (lip trills) OR on tongue trills as in a "rolled R, like in Spanish or on a phonated 'Z' and done on: tetrachord plus one-up and down, on arpeggios or even on octave glissandos-ascending and descending. These also can be reversed pitch-wise. Now the good news. There are vocal coaches who teach this and also charge as much as $500 per hour. I, myself, paid $175 an hour for this and to learn much more, a few decades back. Over 200 Grammy winning singers and singers from all styles and genres, including Broadway warm up like this. Why? Because it works and it causes no strain (if you do it correctly) and it can help ensure a career that lasts and a voice that is freed up, relaxed, and endurance is better than NOT warming up. It is better than the old bullshit things done in most choruses led by pitifully inept people and also by the vocal coaches who should not even be in the business, spouting all the worthless clich├ęs, most of which reveal absolute ignorance of anatomy, physics, and acoustics. For instance, if you think you "sing from your diaphragm" you do NOT know how it works. Talk to a pulmonary physician if you want some expert opinion on that and if you think you sing from your diaphragm after that conversation, you might want to see a physician who works with people with delusions. The diaphragm has no proprioceptive nerves in it, so you cannot even feel it. Do NOT blame me because I did not make or design your diaphragm. It is also the "INHALE muscle" and the expiration of air is done by the elasticity of the lungs and thorax. It is NOT my fault. If the expiration of air is forced, it is done by the internal intercostals, the triangularis sterni, and the rectus abdominus (abdominal muscles). WHY would I mention this? Because if you distract yourself with typical misinformation, not only will you never improve, but you also will have your attention in places of fantasy and your musicianship and your sound and your performance will suffer greatly. So... I did not design or make the human body but I have taken the time to study anatomy and to work with some physicians (5 of whom were students of mine) to verify that my information is correct. I am not the source, so don't attack me.

How long should a person warm up? Until the person is warmed up. Some days it could be 5 minutes. Some days it could be longer. People are biological but not always logical. Life is not the same as inanimate objects, possessing predictable quantifiable control or results like structural steel and operate within the confines of the laws of physics although those do also apply to peoples' actions such as: inertia, momentum, acceleration and other principles. If a person warms up for 20 minutes or more and is having any difficulty singing, it is not the warm up which is the issue. It is lack of correct training, done correctly and a failure to comply with the participation with the knowledge, which we call practice. This brings us back to a person at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outer (or inner) force...inertia

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DON'T sing when you are sick!!!!

When you are sick, don't sing! If you do, you risk injury if you have a cold, you may also have swollen vocal folds. Swollen tissue is more easily injured. Think of the last bad pair of shoes you had and got a blister and you felt pain but you kept walking. Then it broke and you bled. This happened to my wife a couple of months back. It proves the point. Irritation can lead to a blister and a blood blister and you do NOT want that on your vocal folds BECAUSE those are ...precursors to nodules (callouses) and they do NOT vibrate correctly. If nodules are surgically removed and you are left with scar tissue, it also will not vibrate the same as normal tissue and your sound may suffer horribly. If you are hoarse, do NOT sing! Hoarseness is the sound that swollen vocal folds make. It should be a warning signal to you! Read this:…/adele-cancels-second-phoen…/ar-BBvKtrF…

Friday, August 12, 2016


Marketing.  Marketing is the weakest skill most artists have.  Most artists who have "made it big" have done so because of actions taken by a team.  Marketing is the difference between success and failure.  Most singers, musicians, actors, artists, and entertainers fail miserably at marketing themselves.

Marketing brings about awareness of your existence as an artist.  If the world does not know about you and why you are unique and what your art looks like, you may as well be living in a little shack out in the middle of the forest, with no roads which lead to it.  You are a hermit.  You are unknown.  You are hidden.  You need to be discovered.  If you leave it up to chance, don't count on anything changing.

What can you do, to be found, to be known? 

You will be successful to the extent that you know how to market.  I wish that this weren't true, because it takes work and time and attention.  It also takes some education.  You don't have to get a bachelors or masters degree but you do have to know what works and what doesn't work.  This is the real make or break point in a career.  If you hire someone to do it for you, you might be doing some outrageous things that you are unwilling to do.  Think Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Madonna, years ago.  What if you don't like wearing a meat suit, strange shoes, being overtly sexy (if not vulgar) or being outrageous in other ways?  The truth is that everyone did not do those things but the truth is also that you absolutely have to know how to attract attention.

Ask me how.