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Soundproofing Basics For Musicians


Soundproofing basics for musicians

Musicians, singers, and students need sound advice on how to build their home practice rooms. There is no simple solution to the “sound insulation problem”, and each situation should be assessed individually.

Make A Plan

Making a plan is the first step. Remember the 5 P’s: Proper planning leads to better performance. First, make a thorough inventory of your targeted room and find out where the noise leaks are. A good strategy is to listen very carefully and identify those areas where you can hear the sound coming in and out.

Work through your list, starting with the obvious and easy fixes and then addressing each noise leak individually.

It Is All About Closing Off Escape Routes

All cracks and crevices will offer sound an escape route. Seal all cracks, crevices, and exit paths. Soundproofing a room does not work unless it is thoroughly sealed off, so that sound does not pass through. Like water, sound also goes through cracks. Sealing it all off can be difficult to accomplish sometimes, depending on how many electrical outlets, vents, windows, doors, and other breaks there are in the wall.

Doors And Windows

Be sure that your doors and windows close tightly. The frames of your doors and windows should fit snugly. Making “window plugs” could provide a temporary fix for sound leaky windows. 

Installing acoustical windows, such as the ones manufactured by Soundproof Windows, is a more permanent solution. Their website is at www.soundproofwindows.com.

Studs And Sill Plates

It is important that there are no loose studs, and the sill plates go right to the floor. This is determined by the good workmanship of the builder, but if the workmanship is not ideal, you are going to have to rectify it if you want a well-soundproofed room.

Caulk Everything

All cracks should be caulked with flexible caulk that does not crack during the settling process. Make sure outlets and pipes are not run through sound walls, surface mounted electrical fittings are used and caulking put around any wires that pierce the gypsum.

Some General Sound Theory

Sound will travel through any and all available medium. It will pass through a solid more effectively than it will through the air. The intensity of sound will be reduced during the process of transition from one material substance to another material, as what occurs when the sound goes from air to a solid wall and back again. 

As long as the wall does not move in response to the sound, the amount of sound reduction increases with density. This is called the transmission loss.

Flexibility Allows Coupling

Unfortunately, all walls are flexible. Any movement caused by a sound striking one side will result in the sound being radiated by the opposite side, a phenomenon known as coupling. 

Most isolation methods consist of ways to reduce the coupling effect and also prevent resonances when the sound reaches a resonant frequency with the material.

Soundproofing Floors And Airborne Noise 

MVL A Solution For Airborne Noise

A mass-loaded vinyl sound barrier (MLV) is an effective, relatively inexpensive solution for airborne noise. This type of noise consists primarily of conversations and television, as well as any sound that travels through the air, rather than vibrating from the walls or shaking the windows.

The source of airborne noise – like any other – must be treated. MLV can be used beneath the floor of multi-level buildings to absorb it. 

It can be spread directly across the floor, between sheets of plywood, and even over concrete. It keeps floors comfortable while at the same time absorbing sound. Its easy to clean with water and does not stick or disintegrate.

In addition, it can be used in industrial applications.

High quality MLV sound barriers will not tear or rip over time. 

Don’t Cut Corners When Installing MLV

You should keep in mind that any cracks or holes will allow sound to pass through, and are virtually impossible to repair once installed. Here it doesn’t make sense to cut corners, since the savings aren’t worth the soundproofing compromises that result. You either soundproof or you don’t. Think about it as a bucket with a bunch of holes in it – it is no good for the job intended.  

The best method for preventing footsteps and other airborne noise from disrupting the occupants below is to lay the MLV down on the floor and then add padding and carpet on top of it.

By filling cracks and holes, no matter how small or indirect, you can make a huge contribution toward keeping sound in your room. The MLV sound barrier seams should be caulked with acoustical caulk before starting the next step.

Mass Loaded Vinyl And STC Rating

A lot of people compare MLV to lead because it’s a very heavy, wear-resistant material, which adds mass to the floor and absorbs sound.

The STC rating is twofold when MLV is installed inside a wall. One example is a standard hollow sheetrock wall, with a thickness of 1/2″ Gypsum board, attached to metal studs, with a STC rating of approximately 23. With this configuration, ordinary conversation is understandable through it. The STC rating increases to about 49 after adding the MLV sound barrier. This is an amazing improvement!

Use Soundproofing Vibration Pads

Soundproofing vibration pads should be used to mount speakers and heavy appliances. Elastomeric neoprene is used to make the pads, which can support 50 pounds per square inch. It comes with or without cork – the cork being for heavier loads.

Residential Construction and Insulation

It’s best to build a house with the most effective soundproofing from the earliest possible stage. In a residential setting, walls typically consist of frames made as 2×4 wood studs covered with 5/8″ or 1/2″ gypsum board. The isolation will be around 35 dB the case where there are no holes in it. R-7 fiberglass filler will reduce that sound level by 5 up to 8 dB and reduce wall resonance. Acoustic properties of this insulation are limited, and it is designed primarily for its thermal insulation properties . That’s because it wasn’t meant for noise prevention, but rather for climate control.

Structural Noise and Preventing It

Increasing the thickness rating of gypsum can increase the sound isolation by 2 to 4 dB – a relatively minor amount , but its most important action is to lower the resonant frequency to at least below the audible range.

Reducing Coupling

The following are some strategies to reduce coupling between the outside and inside of the wall.

It is possible to make this connection springy or flexible by hanging a second layer of gypsum on resilient metal channels (i.e. RC-1 or RC-2), perpendicular to the studs, 24″ o.c.

Another variation is to use hat track channel and isolation clips (a little more effective but somewhat more costly) between the two layers of gypsum. These isolation clips are made of neoprene, and they have hat track channels that fit on top of the gypsum board to isolate the second layer from the first.

Another solution is to incorporate separated studs for the face of each wall causing there to be no direct connection from one face to the other, thereby creating a double wall. It tends to take up a lot of space, but the transmission loss is over 60 dB – exactly what is needed. This results in an outcome better than using cinder blocks and concrete.

This same principle can be applied to ceilings and floors. A ceiling that (where there is adequate head space) can be installed with a MLV sound barrier, followed by RC-2 Channel and a second layer of drywall.

You can replicate the performance of a double wall using a false ceiling hanging on springs.

It can be more challenging to deal with the transmission of sound through the frame of the building. Problems are sometimes caused by machinery such as air conditioners and refrigerators, which are often mounted on floors and walls and shake the structure. A similar effect can also be caused by footsteps, although less so. Bass frequencies also vibrate through the building structure, rattling windows throughout the house if they aren’t isolated.

Acoustic Conditioning Is Not The Main Issue

Building a music space requires that space be soundproofed first, before considering any acoustic conditioning for the room.

Keeping Bass Frequencies Contained

It can be difficult to keep bass frequencies contained, as much as outside noise from mingling with the music being played inside the room. Getting it right is especially challenging in recording or performing situations. However, it is not impossible! Soundproofing experts can help with your most challenging projects and ensure the job gets done right the first time.

Retrofitting

In a wooden house, sound tends to be transmitted along the floor joists. You may need to ensure that any load noisy machines such as fridges or aircondiioners are moved from connected joists that go into the room you want to isolate.

A studio floor in most existing concrete and steel buildings is usually completely “floated”, a very complex and expensive operation.

Generally, the fewer walls that connect the floor with the rest of the building, the better. The basement is best (if you have one). Garages usually heat and cool unevenly, and it feels like being outdoors – so not the best option.

Doors And Door Frames Are Critical

Generally speaking, the worst source of sound leakage is around doors. It is advisable to replace hollow doors with solid ones, and to make sure they are tightly sealed.

Flat rubber gaskets are used on doors that don’t fit well. Rubber and metal gaskets work well on doors that fit well already. The brush material is a good choice for all sliding surfaces. Don’t forget the bottom of the door – spring-loaded gaskets work the best.

Once the door is sealed, there still may be leaks around the doorframe. After removing the trim carefully, any gaps between the gypsum board adn frame must be caulked or spray filled with polystyrene foam. As long as you are pulling off trim, check for gaps behind the baseboards and around any window frames as well.

Many if not most interior doors are hollow and very light in structure, They do not stop sound well, even when tightly fitted with gaskets. Doors like this need to be replaced with a solid ones. Check manufacturer data on levels of sound transmission loss a given door provides. A think layer of plywood can also be applied to the door to reinforce it, also hanging a second reverse-opening door in the frame opposite it can make the nesseary isolation break. If none of this is practical, a heavy acustic curtain hung over the door will provide some help.

Acustic Drapes May Assist

A drape that consists of heavy material will also help block sound from doors and windows. Check out these options from Amazon.

Manageing Electrical Fittings

Electrical fittings are another source of leakage. Take the plates off light switches and receptacles, fill the gaps between the box and the gypsum, and add a sealing gasket when you put the plate back on. If switches or receptacles are found back to back in both sides of the wall, the gasket will not be enough to stop sound. Replace the electrical box with a surface mount type, and patch over the original hole. If rewiring is not an option, cover the offending outlets with a weatherproof-hinged cover.

Use closed cell foam to wrap around electrical plugs that are a source of noise leakage, and water pipes, air ducts, etc . If possible, encase noisy air conditioners and air ducts in an enclosure designed lined with closed cell foam. Visit http://www.yahoosoundproofing.com/americamat.html to purchase this type of foam.

Even if there is no direct air route for sound to follow, there can be flanking paths around heavy walls through thin ceilings or floors. The sound will subsequently pass through the crawl space or attic into adjoining areas.

For Musicians

Build a separate room within a room to allow for truly isolated spaces. The external room and the internal room have to be as tight and heavy as possible and the floor must not connect the two. There are prefabricated isolation rooms on the market for a hefty cost, or you can build your own using construction techniques similar to those mentioned above. It would be more appropriate if an architect designed something like this for your specific situation, but here is an example to give you an idea of what it could look like.

Floating Floor in a Room within a Room

There is an inner room built on a platform of 2 X4’s covered in two layers of 3/4 inch plywood. The platform is supported by neoprene pads that line up with the floor joists. It must be self-contained in the house so its walls and ceiling are only constructed inside the walls, containing 2X4 studs and two-inch gypsum. It is advisable to line the space between the walls with MLV Sound Barrier and to leave at least one inch between the walls (a higher number is preferable). The air duct needs to be very long, lined with sound-deadening (also called American MLV) material.  Order at this website: http://www.yahoosoundproofing.com/malovi.html

Room Treatment

We know that the shape of a room and its furnishings have an impact on how things sound – we’ve all experienced echoing bathrooms and overcrowded restaurants. A studio can easily be affected in a subtle manner by these effects, causing inaccuracies in the monitors’ sound. During the recording or mixing process, the music is constantly tweaked until it is just right, but once it is played in a neutral arena, the music sounds strange.

A lot of expensive instruments can be used to measure the acoustic quality of a space, but the best ones are those you use on your head. Listening to familiar recordings allows you to compare spaces. 

When you are playing in the right room, you hear deep bass, clear cymbals, and understand the words without effort. It appears that the mono signal is coming from a point exactly in the middle of the speakers, and it does not jump around with changes in pitch. Then listen to the silence– can you hear traffic from the street, a television, a refrigerator? Clap your hands, because it should widen the sound, but there should be little resonance and no echoes.

This will tell you whether the room has severe problems, or if there’s a more subtle issue showing up in the music. You might be surprised to learn how easy and inexpensive it is to control the sound level of a room.

Some More Theory

This is really just about how the sound gets from the speakers to the ears without messing it up. This is really just a subject of what happens after it passes your ears.

Essentially, three things that can occur when sound hits a given wall. It can be diffused, reflected, or absorbed.

The sound will be echoed from hard and flat walls. An echo is an example of a single strong reflection, but in general many reflections will interact in multiple ways to create reverberation. The reverberation period is the time it takes for a short loud sound to fade away. The “fading away” can be described scientifically as a drop in loudness of 60 decibels, hence the term RT60.

The amount of reverberation desired in a room depends on the activity taking place within the space. For musicians, the right amount of reverberation time between one and two seconds is preferred. This lets them hear themselves playing and increases the harmonic effects in the music. 

The more reverb the better in larger rooms since it fills the hall with sound. Listen to loudspeakers or speakers to hear speech or music. The amount of reverb that would be acceptable for critical listening would be somewhere around .8 to .1 seconds.

A reduction in the reverberation time can be achieved by replacing hard surfaces with more absorptive sections of the walls. The absorption qualities of all materials can be described by their coefficients of absorption, ranging in value from 0 to 1. The lower the number, the more reflective the material. The effective absorption of a surface is simply the COE times the area of the surface in square feet. For instance, the Coefficient of emissivity of brick is 0.04, while that of heavy drapes is around 0.6. Material absorption rates are complex, and for most materials, frequency dependence is significant. If the numbers used to compare materials are used, the predictability of treatment results is greatly enhanced.

The standing wave is the worst effect produced by reflections off flat walls.

Standing Waves

Two parallel walls will create standing waves. Specified frequencies are reinforced by the distance between walls (the sound travels exactly round trips on the speaker’s cycles, thereby causing a pressure front to pile up). 

The depth of tone of a voice is helped in bathrooms where several walls are parallel to each other, and the proportions are usually just right for music. In this instance, a ceiling height of 8 feet reinforces the 70 Hz frequency, referred to as a room mode.

A room with parallel walls can be designed to resist this phenomenon, or an existing room can be made to absorb sound by making one wall absorbent or breaking up its planes. Reflecting sound off a rounded surface or a complex surface diffuses it throughout the room. Diffusion works to remove “dead spots” in a room by spreading the reverberating sound evenly throughout the space, preventing standing waves.

The shapes and sizes for diffusers vary depending on taste and cost. Diffusers can be hung over a flat surface to break it up. Usually, pyramid shapes, lattices, or computer-generated random surfaces are best, but refrain from concave-shaped surfaces, which focus the sound rather than disperse it. The lowest frequency that can be affected by a diffuser that is one foot deep is 160 Hz.

Reflections can become more problematic when loudspeakers are the main form of entertainment in a room.

Interference

Phase interference is sometimes encountered when recording with multiple microphones. So if two sound waves arrive at the same point at slightly varying times, something will happen to the frequencies arriving at the same place at slightly different times. By placing your ear close to a wall, you will be able to tell that the direct sound will be interfered with by the reflections off the wall. If the direct distance is only slightly longer than the reflected distance, the effect is at its worst.

In order to combat phase interference, careful consideration must be given to speaker placement and listener placement. Avoid placing either so as to create short reflective paths off equipment, walls, or ceilings. The worst of problems tend to occur when speakers line up with a wall corner. If this cannot be avoided, make sure to design a wall or ceiling surface that will absorb the reflections.

Coloration

The reverberation becomes increasingly bass in tone as absorption increases in a room, so the high-frequency sound becomes more easily absorbed than the low-frequency sound. The room develops a tubby response when the coloring gets too intense. It is possible to block out low-frequency music by using devices known as bass traps and Helmholtz resonators, which absorb certain frequencies. The general rule is that the larger they are, the lower the frequency will be. Absorption should never be used in excessive amounts, and only sound-absorbing materials should be used.

Using thicker material for bass music in the studio requires covering 50-70% of the wall space. Moreover, foam DOES NOT OPPOSE sounds from passing through the walls. Foam lowers reverberation. It is vital to listen and identify trouble spots once a room has been built. The acoustic treatment of a music room is the final step to do it. It’s like the cherry on top, so to speak.

Conclusion

There is no substitute for “listening” and identifying the trouble spots when a room is almost finished. Acoustic treatment is the last thing to be done to a music room. It is the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Whether you are muting the high-end hiss of your microphones with pyramid panels, or putting up bass traps in the corners of the room to even out the low frequencies, you must first use your keen for those musicians who are building a recording studio. The average home does not have any need for pyramid panels, bass traps, or acoustic treatment of its walls. However, if you are a serious recording artist or music engineer and responsible for producing that perfect sound, you might be inclined to use these products. We will be happy to assist you with purchasing the right products for your particular needs, so please call us, and allow us to assist you.

Life Of Miles Davis – The Early Years


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

In Alton Illinois, Miles Davis was born in 1926 named Miles Dewey Davis III to a relatively affluent family and was named Miles Dewey Davis III on May 26th 1926. 

His father, Dr. Miles Davis, a dentist who moved the family to East St. Louis in 1927, could only be described as an educated person with a relatively privileged life. 

For instance, he must have been one of the few children in his time and place who had access to the advantages of a substantial family ranch, in northern Arkansas, as did Davis, where as a boy he learned to ride horses.

From an early age Miles’ mother, Cleota Mae Davis, encouraged him to learn to play the piano because she herself was a very good pianist, a fact she kept hidden from her son.

Miles Davis’s father, however, had other plans and gave him a new trumpet when he was 13 years old and set him up with a local teacher to learn the instrument.

The career of Miles Davis as a trumpeter can be seen as someone who has been influenced by his father, who chosen the instrument to provoke his wife, who disapproved of the instrument. As Davis explained later, the choice of the trumpet was a serendipity. 

In a sense, Davis’ instructor Buchanan was also serendipitous because, contrary to the prevailing attitude of the time, he stressed how important it was to play with no vibrato.

The clear signature tone in Davis’ sound was informed by this throughout his life and it was this that influenced his playing and ultimately his life.

As a way of enforcing Davis’ performance, Buchanan would slap the ends of Davis’ fingers if Davis had started performing with heavy vibrato.

The manner in which he plays his trumpet without vibrato became a signature sound for him as he developed over the years. 

He once said;”I prefer the round sound without any attitude to it, just like a round voice, without too much tremolo and not too much baseline bass, just right in the middle for me. If I cannot get the sound I am unable to play anything”.

He became involved in the musicians union when he was 16 years old and began working professionally whenever he was not in school. 

After the following year, and when he was 17, he joined the Blue Devils under the leadership of Eddie Randles. During this time, a second important musical influence came in the form of musicians such as Clark Terry and Sonny Stitt, who tried to convince him to join the tiny Bradshaw band that was passing through town at the time. 

This was not to be, however, since Davis’s mother felt that it was more important for him to finish his final year of high school.

Davis’s parents insisted on his pursuing studies while he was still a teenager, but had this not been the case, he would have been traveling the United States with the Billy Eckstine band which had visited St. Louis, Missouri in 1944.

Already there in the band were Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. For a couple of weeks, Davis was the third trumpet in place of Buddy Anderson because Anderson had become ill. The band left town, which meant Davis had no choice but to stay behind and continue his studies.

This same education would lead him to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and earn him a scholarship there. 

However, his studies became secondary since he first came in contact with and was introduced to the music of Charlie Parker in New York. 

More than anything else, it was this meeting that would ultimately determine the direction in which his music would take for decades to come.

Trumpet Playing Tips To Get You Started


If you’re a trumpet player, then this blog post is for you! We will be sharing with you some practical tips that will help both beginner and experienced players. You’ll learn about the importance of practicing your breathing techniques, how to get started on different types of exercises, what equipment to buy if you are just starting out as well as what pieces of music would be best suited for beginners.

Getting The Most Out Of A Practice Session

To get the most out of your practice sessions, try to be specific about what you’re working on and make sure that you can recognize any mistakes or difficulties in playing the tune.

Breathing

In terms of trumpet players today, breathing is perhaps the most talked about topic after embouchure development and lips.  Much of this discussion necessitates unnecessary complexity and often confuses the young beginner.

It’s important to remember that breathing is just as natural a process for playing the trumpet than blowing or drawing. You don’t need any special technique like “diaphragmatic” or “abdominal”. The most basic way of describing good breathing techniques would be: Put your mouthpiece in, take a slow deep breath and then exhale.

Before you try playing your instrument, start by breathing slowly and deeply to ensure that you are getting enough air.  Try doing this for about five minutes each day until it becomes more of a habit. A good suggestion is also to fill up your lungs with air by inhaling through your nose while counting to three.

Diaphragm

First, let’s talk about the diaphragm. Any surgeon will tell you that it contains very little muscle tissue, that it is very thin, and that, therefore, it cannot possibly withstand the pressure required for blowing a trumpet.  Furthermore, the diaphragm’s movement is completely involuntary. Therefore, if a player has no control over their diaphragm, it is better to just disregard the subject.

The natural breathing method is the correct breathing method. Anyone can learn how to breathe naturally in less than 20 minutes.  It is not your stomach that is moving at all, but rather it is your chest that is heaving as your body tries to replenish the “oxygen debt” you have created.

The same thing happens when trying to breathe properly while playing the trumpet, with a couple of differences:

1.  Music permitting, you breathe more slowly since you have no “oxygen debt” to replenish.

2.  As you KEEP THE CHEST UP, your abdominal, chest, and back muscles contract, expelling air from the lungs.

The player should practice breathing exercises daily.  They involve standing, walking, and running exercises, breathing in and out while keeping the chest up.

NOTE:  In regard to breathing, It is important to fill up from the bottom to the top so you fill your lungs, but do not overfill them.  In fact, it does no good to force air into the lungs once they are full.  If you do this, you will be tense while playing, and you need to remain relaxed.

Wind Power

In “Setting up Drills,” Herbert L. Clarke listed seven key physical elements that must be developed. Wind power is perhaps the most important of all – wind is air that is moving.  A person’s chest, abdominal or back muscles contract, creating pressure that causes air to move.  

The very best exercise for building wind power is holding a tone until all air is gone, and longer, until the stomach shakes.  Herbert L. Clarke and his students used this exercise 100 years ago!

Mouthpiece Placement

The mouthpiece should be placed on the player’s lips at the point where he feels the best vibration.  The mouthpiece of most trumpeters is placed slightly off-center, which does not help or hinder their playing.

Nevertheless, there are four things that will hinder vibration. These are:

1.  Excessive pinching of the lips together.

2.  Pressing too hard.

3.  Taking the lower lip and tucking it under the upper lip.

4.  Mouthpiece placed too low on the lips.

With a lower mouthpiece position, the vibrations are cut off more.

When the mouthpiece is placed higher on the upper lip, it offers several advantages:

1.  Larger sound, since there is a larger vibrating surface.

2.  The player has more endurance because there is a greater area of cushion between his mouthpiece and teeth.

3.  It is better to place the mouthpiece on the stationary lip which results in a more stable embouchure.  With practice, the player will eventually develop a strong feeling of gripping his mouthpiece.

A good recommendation is approximately 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip in the mouthpiece.

Embouchure

The embouchure, in its most simplified definition, is the technique used to produce a sound on the trumpet.

Embouchure development involves mastery of lip shaping and air control. The lips must be shaped into an oval shape with pressure applied evenly over their surface area while being relaxed enough so as not to cause any strain or pain to the lips. The back of the lower lip should be resting on the top part of teeth, and a small space left between them for air to escape during playing.

The embouchure and all other aspects of trumpet technique must work together in order to produce quality sound when blowing into the mouthpiece.

It is not uncommon that young players are instructed to use the index and middle fingers of one hand for embouchure development.

Lets break Embouchure into four headings: Lip alignment, corners, puckered embouchure, and “special embouchure.”

Lips:

The lips vibrate the best when they are aligned vertically with each other. If the player has an overbite, it may be necessary to extend the jaw or angle the trumpet.  No matter what, the lower lip must never be tucked under the upper lip.  If it is, the pressure on the mouthpiece will stop the vibration immediately.

Lip Corners

Keeping the corners of your lips too firm will cause too much tension in the lips.

Embourchure Puckered

Corners should be drawn towards one another forming what you might call a “semi-pucker”.  This will produce a bigger sound with more endurance, with more lip actually in the mouthpiece.

Special Embourchure 

Sometimes called “The Semi-Compression-Pursed-Pocket-Embouchure“. This is used by some players when playing for a long periods of time in the upper register of the instrament.  It’s a great approach when you need lots of endurance. Here’s how it works:

  1. Semi-compression:  The lips are firmly pressed together, but not “pinched”.
  2. Pursed:  As if drawing a string purse, the corners are drawn inward, creating a little hole in the center to counter the potential pinching effects of “semi-compression”.
  3. Pocket:  If you form air pockets between your lips and your teeth, it will make endurance greater. This prevents the mouthpiece from pushing the teeth directly against your lips, thereby making endurance better.

Of course, such an approach may not work for everyone. But it a good way to approach it if you need to play in high registers for sustained periods.

The Lips

Herbert L. Clarke wrote in 1936: “The lips do not play the instrument. Their only function is to vibrate”.  But in order for the lips to vibrate freely in all registers, they must be moist and together.

Make sure your lips are in a puckered shape when you form your embouchure. Imagine the letter “M” on your lips.”

Some discuss aperture size. Although no measurements can be taken, a smaller aperture will produce a more brilliant sound, and it will be easier to play in the higher register.  Maintaining the aperture as small as possible in the lower register will result in a more “focused” sound.

A smaller aperture is created when you play high and soft, whereas a larger aperture is produced when you play low and loud.

Tongue Level

Keeping the tip of the tongue lightly pressed against the lower teeth, the front-center portion of the tongue moves up and down in a “to and fro” motion to produce the necessary resistance for each note on the horn.  Playing at a higher pitch requires thinking “Tee,” while at a lower pitch it requires thinking “Taw.You will train the tongue to find the correct level for a note by practicing lots of lip slurs and interval studies.  Claude Gordon’s “Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing” provides a clear explanation of this concept.

Attack

Several method books state that the wind pressure is sealed off by the tip of the tongue pressing against the teeth, and then released when the attack is made.  Generally speaking, however, the tongue is not as wide as the oral cavity, so this cannot be the case.  

You would look like a balloon if wind pressure were pushing against the tip of your tongue. Air would leak out all over the place. For the wind to produce the full sound, it should move through the horn in one “clean sweep” straight from the lungs.

Therefore, the “Hee” attack is recommended to give the effect of the lips being set in motion by fast-moving air.  Hence, the player will be able to produce an attack with immediate fullness of sound through coordinating the tongue attack with this type of blowing.

Articulation

When the tongue is in its natural position, its tip is behind the lower teeth.  In saying “aw-ee-aw-ee”, you will notice the tongue tip stays slightly pressed against the lower teeth, while the front-center portion moves up and down.

Once the tip of the tongue is placed in the position behind the lower teeth and you think the syllable “Tee,” you have established the single tongue.  Upper teeth will be struck by the front-center portion of the tongue.

You would use the syllable “Kee” for the “K” tongue, “Tee-Kee” for double tonguing, and “Tee-Tee-Kee” for a triple tongue.

The tongue naturally descends into the “ah” or “aw” position as one moves into the lower register.

However, the syllable “Tu” must never be used, as this will result in a flat, lifeless tone.

Studying the tonguing technique used by good flutists may be useful, as correct trumpet articulation is exactly the same.

Wind Control

Having built up enough wind power, the player will want to develop softer control. This is essential for play without effort.

The best way to learn the soft control is to play in a soft, almost whispering tone. Despite this, you must make sure that you are producing a good tone using a steady stream of air.

The “Technical Studies” of Herbert L. Clarke are unparalleled in the effort of building control.

To become proficient with these exercises, Clarke suggests learning by imitating fine clarinet players.

A player can develop control over time, but once it is developed they can play at any dynamic level with a pure tone.

Fingering

It is important that the right hand be in its natural position in order for it to effectively finger the trumpet.

That position is this the right thumb being straight, and pressed against the first valve casing, not between the first and second valve casings.  There is a slight curve to the fingers with the “balls” of each finger resting on the valve caps.  The little finger should not be positioned inside the finger ring, as this will prevent the third finger from moving freely.

With the hand held in this position, the player must lift his fingers high, and strike the valves hard.

You can’t develop fingers by “pressing” the valves down. They have to be struck with the fingers instead. Some say to “bang” the valves. Although the idea is correct, this implies a form of distortion. A better word would be to “strike”.

Individually, each finger must be developed, and then in coordination with the two other fingers.  Particular attention should be given to the third finger, which is usually the weakest.  Using alternate fingerings that emphasize its use will bring this finger up to par with the first and second fingers.  One example of this is to play back and forth between E and F sharp, always using the third valve for the E.

What Flute Should I Buy For A Beginner: 9 Key Issues


There are lots of options when it comes to buying a flute for a beginner.

There are a few key issues to consider when choosing a beginner flute that suits your needs. Even though it is ideal to buy a flute in person from a reputable music store, it is possible to do research and buy it online and make sure it is the right instrument for you.

Looking for the best beginner’s flute for the money can be a daunting task, but this article can help you get started.

The Beginner Flute: Basics You Need to Know

The best instrument brands can offer you many compelling reasons to choose their flute offering, but understanding their main positive qualities can be difficult to get your head around.

We’ve made it easier for you with these 4 things to know before you buy.

1. Choose A Beginner Flute

Choose a flute especially designed for beginners so it is easier to learn on. It will make a big difference to have an instrument that is easy to play at the start so as to keep you motivated and interested in continuing to practice your instrument.

2. Cheap Is Usually Too Good To Be True

Although there are a number of cheaper options available today. Many of them are very cheap for a reason.

Occasionally, a cheaper brand can be as durable and well-designed as a higher quality brand. However, the less expensive brands usually fall apart more quickly or will develop faults quickly, leading to more costly repairs in the long run. So if you go for a cheaper option, it is very hit and miss.

Consider carefully your budget when making a decision on your best options while reminding yourself that a few extra dollars here and there might prove worthwhile in the long run.

3. Think About The Size Of A Flute

A young beginner may not have adequate arm length to handle a large flute. The flute needs to match the size of the person playing it, especially if the arm reach is limited

How can I determine for sure?

  • In your right hand, pinch a measuring tape at the 40cm mark (16 inches) with your fingers. 
  • Hold the end of the tape to your lips.
  • Your right arm should have no more than a 90 degree angle (right angle) at the elbow.
  • If the angle is 90 degrees or less, then a full size flute is suitable for you.

A recorder or a wooden flute may be a better option for you if your arm is straighter than a 90 degree bend, at least until your arms grow a bit. It can be a fun way to develop your skills while still keeping your finances under control. 

Also available is the slightly more expensive option of the curved head beginner flutes, which produces the same sound, pitch and playing experience as the ordinary flute, just with less need for the length of your arms.

4. Avoid Alternative Types Of Specifications

An open key modification is available as a way of improving sound quality for the professional player. However, this option is not ideal for a beginner because it will tend to hinder their ability to make a clean clear note without the precise placement of your fingers. Best to make it as easy as possible for the beginning flautist.

Whilst this article focuses on the standard flute, there are also other options such as alto flutes, piccolos and even bass flutes. It is important, however, to realize that each of these options differs greatly in pitch and playability; therefore, you should be familiar with the standard flute for some time before moving on to the alternative options.

5. Well-known Brands Hold Their Value

There is a good reason for the popularity of the good brands. For example, brands such as Yamaha and Mendini, while they are regarded as high quality and reasonably priced new instruments, typically retain most of their value when sold secondhand.

Learn more about best flutes for beginners that will retain their value on our review page.

6. Choose A Brand From A Woodwind Manufacturer

Make sure you choose a flute that is made by a woodwind manufacturer because the other options tend to be cheap and often need lots of repairs shortly after purchase.

7. Keep An Eye On The Future

When searching through the best flutes for a beginner, you should keep an eye on what your needs will be when you are an intermediate player. It shouldn’t be the main focus, but it is still worth keeping in mind.

One key issue to consider as you progress is will your focus be on ensemble playing in a concert band or will it be on solo performance?

In an ensemble you may find yourself playing in a unified voice, blending in harmoniously as a whole with the group. In this case you need a flute that blends in. For soloists, however, you should choose a flute that will set you apart and allow you to project over the accompaniment.

8. Consider A Wooden Flute If Cost Is An Issue

It can’t hurt to start with a wooden flute if you are concerned about the initial cost before you’ve fully evaluated if the flute is really your thing. Starting this way will teach you the fundamentals of how to control your breathing. You can then move on to a regular flute once you are comfortable that you want to continue along the flute playing journey.

9. Try Some Flutes At Your Local Supplier

Try a few different brands at your local supplier to give yourself some idea of what fits for you. Online is great, and it is possible to do the whole process that way, but there is a lot to be said for getting hands on as soon as possible to help with the process.

Conclusion: Is the Flute an Easy Instrument to Learn?

It is a very difficult instrument to master even with the best flute brands. It requires concentration as well as good coordination of your fingers and hands in addition to controlling your breathing. It also requires a good lung capacity. When you first begin, you can easily feel a bit dizzy after a while. It will get easier as you get used to breathing and controlling the notes.

You can play the first octave like you would play the first octave of a recorder, and once you nail that one, the rest is very similar.

A great place to start when learning with a flute is practicing holding long notes quietly, as this will help you to focus on your breath and make you feel less likely to experience dizziness.

How To Succeed In The Music Business: 10 Things You Must Do


A list of top 10 things is a favorite hobby of our society. It can help us maintain an illusion of ease amidst complexity. Why not make a list of the Top Ten Things to Do in Order to Get a Record Deal? No matter how many musicians don’t know what happens or doesn’t happen once they get their sacred “deal”, everyone wants one, or thinks they do at least – a chance at the big time right?

This list highlights 10 things you can do to increase your chances of landing a recording contract, but just remember there are a million ways of getting there. Based on my past observations, the list of considerations below is shared by a great many successful musicians who truly understand what it takes to succeed in this incredibly unpredictable business of music.

1. Make Music That Doesn’t SUCK!

We live in an era when everyone can write and record their own music. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your music will get record labels to develop, market, and promote that music. When asked, A&R reps always reply, “We don’t know what we’re looking for, but we will recognize it once we hear it.” Based on this comment, we can infer that your work must be truly original, dynamic, and creative. More than 95% of the demos on the market contain regurgitated ideas that were borrowed from other more talented musicians. Challenge yourself! The talent scouts in this industry hear hundreds of “want-bes” every week. How does your sound stand out from the rest that the public lists as “indistinguishable groups who all sound the same”.

2. Play Live Often, Even if it doesn’t pay money.

One way of telling a musician for the money and a musician for the music is to observe the different ways they go about their respective businesses. Devoted musicians have to play music every chance they get. Money-focused musicians complain that they are unable to find jobs at clubs that pay anything. You can expect a breakdown and disappointment if you expect to make your living solely as a musician in the first three to four years of your career. It is true that the most talented musicians have often struggled long and hard at their craft, and they have never given up. Play on the streets if you have to, play at schools, fairs, festivals, do benefits for other people and organizations. Donate your services to charities, churches, non-profit organizations and whatever else you can think of. Hang out at clubs, start jam sessions, or look for jamming opportunities. Check out your city, and you will see many places where musicians can perform. More people will attend your shows as you establish yourself, resulting in more paid gigs. Perform live, and then play again live, that’s what musicians are supposed to do.

3. Be a master musician on your instrument.

One of the strange developments in the late 70’s was the rise of garage bands, punk bands, and self-taught musicians, who just picked up an instrument, or started singing with friends, and 6 months later recorded a record and began playing live. New directions in music and some great music came out of that situation. Many years on, the novelty of hearing amateurs’ musical efforts has gotten a bit old hat. Before the 70’s, our heritage is mostly made up of music by musicians who idolised some amazing blues, jazz, folk playing legend or a fantastic songwriter that inspired them to make thier own mark.

It was an appetite for perfection from these inspired musicians. They were not satisfied with merely “good enough”, but were driven to be GREAT. No compromises. Get beyond whatever stage of development you are currently at, and take lessons or listen to your favorite guitarist’s record and pay close attention to what they are playing. 

Experiment with things you’ve never done before. Maybe it’s time for you to try something new in an effort to discover yourself, your “sound”, and increase your chances of standing out from the mediocrity that is your competition. 

Record labels are looking for innovative, accessible new sounds on every demo tape and from every new act in live venues. In fact, that is what they want. Our business is music, and when we hear new, original, and accessible material, we can invest with more security in you.

4. Protect Your Investment…Copyright your songs.

There is always something amazing about how few artists are willing to spend $25 to copyright their songs. By the way, these folks are often the same ones complaining about not being paid to perform their unknown music. The same action should be taken by any serious songwriter when an inventor comes up with some new product they think will appeal to a certain type of customer, namely, patenting their invention. Don’t wait too long to take care of this vital but simple task if you intend to develop your career as a musician who writes their own songs. If you truly believe in your music, then learn the basics of copyright protection. You can learn about copyright protection from the library or on the Internet. Do it now!

5. Design simple, but effective promo materials.

Writing effective promotional materials, including bios, fact sheets, cover letters, quotations, etc. is a daunting task to say the least. Promo materials should be as compelling and informative as possible, which is helpful for musicians in promoting their careers and securing deals. A good way to accomplish this is to take the time to reflect on any accomplishments, positive reviews, training awards, previous sales, and live appearance highlights, and to arrange them into a professionally written bio. 

Once the materials are collected, it is also necessary to determine who is to receive them, and to ask each recipient what type of information they would like to receive. Any gatekeeper in the music business should never receive “generic” kits.

6. Know The Labels and Publishers You Hope To Be Signed To.

Do you think you’d take some time to find out more about a company or corporation when applying for a job with them? Wouldn’t you want to know more about their stability, their reputation in the industry, and their executives background and experience? The same goes when searching for a record deal. Some musicians get overjoyed when a pressing company offers them a contract, or a publishing company becomes interested in signing them. The fact that a label or publisher has approached you for a deal is a compliment and recognition that they liked your music. However, without taking the time to learn about them, you may be making a terrible mistake. What percentage of royalties do they pay? What is their reputation in the music business? What special points are they offering? These questions and others can be crucial in making an unfettered decision about an arrangement that could go either way, depending on how you view them.

7. Have Your Own “Entertainment Law Attorney” Represent You.

Music business artists have always relied on entertainment law attorneys to get signed to any deal. That is the case today and will continue to be the case in the future. This is no time for humor, since every musician’s relationship with a record label, publisher, merchandiser, etc. will be handled by two attorneys who whittles down the contract for the musician and respective companies.

It should be made clear that, when all is said and done, the musician is never in the room during the negotiations. The music company’s lawyer and the musicians’ attorney meet, discuss the matter on the phone, and fax counter-offers between themselves. For any musician who is serious about the art of music, picking a reputable, ethical, well respected attorney who has experience in deals in the music industry is an absolute necessity.

8. Choose A Well Connected and Respected Personal Manager.

As a musician you always have the option of self-management, when developing your career. Lots can be learned by taking on securing gigs, doing some publicity, planning tours and handling various personal issues that arise within the band. However, there comes a time when the daily responsibilities of running your band become so overwhelming that you will need the help of a good manager. In my opinion, a musician or band who has worked hard to establish their career and has achieved some degree of success has a much better chance of “attracting” a professional, well-connected and respected manager.

Many upcoming artists don’t realize that to generate any income from a music career it can take years for the flow of money to be reliably there. For managers who do this job for a living, they can only work with clients who will pay them. The self-management of a band, or the assistance of interns and wannabe managers can pave the way toward professional management.

Over the years I have heard numerous horror stories about artists being approached by so-called “managers” saying they will help them in exchange for some amount of money. Legitimate personal managers don’t work this way. They get paid a negotiated fee for their services (get it in writing) for any business transactions they handle over a defined time frame (15-25%). The musician should NEVER pay a fee to a so-called manager who will only work if they are paid up front.

It is disappointing that scams like these still plague the business… be forewarned. Recording and publishing contracts are one of the most important responsibilities of a manager, hence why well-connected and well-respected managers are required. In the music business, it’s all about “relationships.” Who knows who, who can get to know who, and who does what successfully for whom is what this management game is about. Be careful when choosing the people who will represent you in any business dealings.

9. Don’t Take Advice From Anyone Unless You Know That They Know What They Are Talking About

In the beginning of this article I noted that there are a million ways to do something, and that these 10 tips are just my opinions based on years of dealing with music in general and musicians in particular. People have their own checklist of Do’s and Don’ts and the only value they offer is “opinions” on how to become a musician. The best way to know what works and what doesn’t in the music business comes from your own experience of building your own career – from your own interactions with the gatekeepers at labels, the media, management, and booking companies.

There is always an exception when it comes to a so-called “rule”. As I reflect on the advice I sought out and listened to over the years, the ones that struck home were from people who walked the talk and talked the talk as well.

Generally, the only source of feedback that might stand the test of time is a source you feel knows what they are talking about, and has had first-hand experience in the field you are trying to understand.

Make sure to choose carefully. Sometimes you can learn by your own or someone else’s mistakes – either way can help you make progress.

There are multiple milestones required for a successful outcome, so success isn’t founded on one single major success. In most cases, I basically listed all the mistakes and failures we’ve had over the years, and came up with a formula to make sure they never happen again.

10. Musician … Educate Thyself!

The ignorant, ill-informed musician is a threat to themselves. If you want a record deal, you must first learn about record deals and the business of music. 

There are many countless cases of musicians who have been exploited by their record labels and music publishing companies over the years. Why? Exploitation has been a big issue for decades. 

A decade ago, keeping musicians in the dark was standard business practice. These days, any musician who signs a record contract and finds out later what he or she signed has only themselves to blame. 

Twenty years ago, it was difficult to gain insight into every aspect of the music business. Not so today. There are dozens of excellent books available on each and every aspect of the music business. It is possible to access these books in bookstores, libraries, and through the Internet. 

There are now many major American cities offering seminar and workshop programs on the business of music, as well as many schools offering two-four-year programs. 

Many consultants, attorneys, and businesses exist so all that stands in the way of any musician getting a good contract is myth, superstition, stubbornness, and immaturity. 

It is very important to me to convey to every musician that they have been lied to about many aspects of the music business. They have been told many stupid things about it. 

“Spend money on quality instruments and equipment”… you have done that. “Spend time and money on practicing and rehearsing”, you have done that. “Spend time and money finding the best recording studio, producer and engineer you can”…you have done that. Nobody told you to spend time and money learning all you can about the business of music did they? 

If this is true, the fault in “not telling” musicians that they MUST spend some time and money educating themselves on music business issues is in the hands of the businessmen and women who kept their clients uninformed in the first place.

“Knowledge is bliss” should be the mantra of the musician of the new millennium. Take some time and spend some money to learn about the music business, a few hours now can protect your future forever!

What Is Digital Remastering


Recording studio mixing desk, music producer using soundboard

So you’ve recorded your music in the studio. You’ve got your demo tunes, and are spreading the CDs around like wildfire. It sounds good, but just not 100% like the “pros” sound. What’s missing? Why isn’t it as “loud” as the rest of your CD collection. The answer is simple. Digital Remastering is the solution. For years now record companies have re-released “new” remastered tracks of a band’s previous hits and albums in their artist catalog. Remastering gives music with good sound an extra push over the edge.

This is not something you can do in your bedroom studio. You need to go to somewhere that is equipped with a full digital studio array, so you as an artist can take the opportunity to take advantage of today’s cutting-edge digital audio processing technology. These groundbreaking computer audio applications allow extraction of tracks from a CD, digitally remaster them, and export the new tracks to CD, completely ready to distribute as a demo or album, and on the web.

How does Digital Remastering work?

Digital Remastering presents a new approach to increasing the loudness of recordings, without creating any artifacts. The algorithms and audio processing programs are specifically optimized for lifting the effective loudness of audio material. Even on a mix which has been set to maximum level, digital remastering can increase the subjective loudness and the ‘punchiness’ of the material with soft/hard boost. All parameters for dynamic processing are controlled by the material itself and are constantly updated. Presets let you choose the basic way of working, and help reduce the number of parameters for ease of use and optimal results: no ‘pumping’, no ‘breathing’ – and guaranteed no clipping!

Here’s an example

The following YouTube video clip shows “before” and “after” examples of what remastering can do for a band’s music.

It is clear to anyone by the example how dramatically digital remastering can enhance most studio recordings. The best part.. how cost effective the process can be. The average remastering price is very reasonable – worth the effort in upgrading your band’s demo or studio album without breaking the bank in the process.