Vocal Instructor Robert Lunte Talks TC-Helicon
Read this interview with Robert Lunte, originally published on the TC-Helicon Blog
Initially inspired by artists such as Steve Perry, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate; Robert Lunte sought a voice teacher who understood the techniques required to sing with hyper-extended range and power. The pursuit led Robert to eventually meet the legendary Maestro David P. Kyle of Seattle, WA.
Maestro David Kyle taught for over 25 years in New York, 4 years in San Francisco and nearly 30 years in Seattle. He was the preeminent private coach for rock and metal singers of the 70s, 80s and 90s; artists such as, Geoff Tate from Queensryche, Ann Wilson from Heart, Chris Cornell from Soundgarden & Layne Staley from Alice in Chains.
Robert’s home base is in Seattle, WA. So named The Vocalist Studio (TVS), the technique is inspired by Maestro Kyle. The cutting-edge strategy of TVS incorporates positive mental imagery, training with amplification, and developing head registers, so singers learn to bridge the path from chest to head voice with pop sensibility and metal edge. Robert Lunte continues the Maestro’s legacy, pushing the envelope of human phonation by incorporating new techniques and the latest scientific understandings of vocal modes, phonetics, and formants into the TVS techniques that have become internationally renowned.
“Yes, there are some other products out there, but the truth is, no other brand has the same quality or kept the best interest of singers in mind.”
Key to TVS is teaching vocalists to “bridge & connect”. Modern singers develop strength and coordination to seamlessly present a full voice from the chest into their head register and enable a 4 to 5 octave range. Singers develop incredible power, and the freedom from the tension that can happen when transitioning through vocal bridges from the chest to head register.
TVS is recognized as one of the leading contemporary studio in the world for expert training for in any genre, especially the modern vocalist looking to develop a rock/pop style.
To assist vocalists who cannot train privately in Seattle, WA, on the amplified stage of TVS studios, Robert and his International team of TVS Certified Instructors have produced a detailed book, CD and DVD training system called, “The Four Pillars of Singing: Definitive Techniques for the Modern Vocalist”. TVS is also a pioneering real-time training over the Internet via web cam and offers regular “Training Vocal Athletes” workshops in Europe, making the technique accessible to an International market of singers and voice enthusiasts around the world.
Robert says he is a frequent user of his TC-helicon products, “I have all the products pretty much, but the ones I use no less than about 25 hours a week are the awesome VoiceTone Create XT and VoiceTone D1. In the studio, I have used the Voice Works & the Voice Doubler Rack systems also.”
Whether he’s teaching or performing, Robert’s stylistic demands stretch far and wide – “As a voice coach, I work with singers from all genres except serious Classical singers. As an artist, I’m a rocker… but have the capacity and sensibility to sing other kinds of music. This year I intend to release a full length progressive metal project with producers Alessandro del Vecchio & Zack Uidl… beyond that project, I will seek to work on producing music with more of a dance feel to it. I’m open and capable of just about anything, but my heart and bulk of my experience is with the rockers.”
Roberts own influences are also extremely varied “I swing wildly from rock and metal to new age solo instrumental music. My strongest influences that have help lead me to become an extreme vocal technique voice coach are Geoff Tate from (Queensryche), Steve Perry (Journey), Ray Alder (Fates Warning) and James LeBrie (Dream Theater). I was also influenced on the lower end of the vocal spectrum by Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) and I love Morrissey.
Beyond vocal music, I have significant appreciation for solo, instrumental guitar and piano music. I am a huge fan of Pierre Bensusan, Alex de Grassi, George Winston, David Lanz and minimalist 20th century composers such as Philip Glass & Arvo Part.
There are many songs that inspire me and each one has a different flavour.
For example, one song that has been a theme for me since I was a kid to today is “Take Hold of The Flame” by Queensryche.
We asked Robert to tell us about his Master Classes, “The Training Vocal Athletes Master Class tours have been one of the most popular services that we offer at TVS. I have conducted over 14 Master Classes in the last four years in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Greece and the US. People absolutely love it because I’m bringing the TVS “bridging & connecting”
vocal techniques to audiences that just don’t have access to this kind of vocal pedagogy.
“TC-Helicon has played an important role in this amplified, “mics in hand”
We present and educate audiences on the most sought after vocal techniques that all singers are struggling to understand, namely… the ability to vastly expand vocal range and eliminate constriction on high notes by training singers how to seamlessly sing through the two primary vocal registers, chest & head. Upon successful execution of bridging the registers, we then show singers how they can master the manipulation of their own laryngeal physiology to create exotic formants that will result in producing acoustic properties in the head voice that effectively remove a “windy”, Falsetto mode phonation, with an exotic vocal mode we call Twang.
Simply put, TVS techniques teach singers how to sing high notes without constricting and then phonate in the head register with an exotic laryngeal configuration we call Twang, through carefully crafted formants to make head voice notes sound like chesty belts. It’s just an illusion for the audience.
When a TVS male singer sings a G4, he is not belting in his chest voice; he is phonating vocal twang, in the head voice through dark vowels and increased pharyngeal resonance. This makes the head voice sound like a chesty belt. It’s really cool and I’m one of the best in the world in showing singers how to do this. It’s been a lot of fun and a long journey of exploration, testing and research to figure out the formula for making your head voice sound huge.
The “Training Vocal Athletes” Master Class is also about bringing cultures together, building teams and we always offer about three full 10 hour days of private lessons in each location we go. The tours are also sponsored by a few pro audio companies; TC-Helicon has been one of those companies.
I have performed for audiences as large as several thousand and as a clinician with my “Training Vocal Athletes” Master Class tours, we are starting to enjoy audiences of almost 100 participants. For a vocal Master Class, that’s pretty good!
With the update release of my training system, “The Four Pillars of Singing”
2.0 almost at completion, I find that I’m moving into a phase where I will have more time to dedicate to my vocal artistry. This year I will be releasing a set of original progressive metal arrangements that were co-written and produced by my writing partner, Zack Uidl. I will also record a few “one-offs” that are song ideas that have come from other projects in the past that I have finally had a chance to complete. I am also actively looking to work with a band as well, so I’ll keep you posted on that. To be sure, my TC-Helicon pedals will be right there with me.”
We asked Robert how he came to start using TC-Helicon to which he responded, “Honestly, there are not that many alternatives for great vocal processing other than TC-Helicon. Yes, there are some other products out there, but the truth is, no other brand has the same quality or kept the best interest of singers in mind.
I think I’m one of the few voice coaches in the world that trains students with live amplification. We pull out a PA system in a 200 seat theatre in downtown Seattle and both my student and I have wireless mics. In this “live” setting, we use the TC-Helicon VoiceTone Create XT pedal. TC-Helicon has played an important role in this amplified, “mics in hand” methodology. TVS lessons are live and we do a lot of coaching on my students music, so when we migrate from the technique to the coaching of songs, I always give my students the “secret sauce” and hand over the wireless transmitter so they can enjoy the processing. Without TC-Helicon’s VoiceTone pedals, I would be left with old springy reverb and that just isn’t as cool.”
Robert’s TC-Helicon products are also used quite heavily in his own song-writing – “I find myself usually responsible for melody and lyrics and influencing arrangement, but not playing the parts. Currently I’m working with a few producers who are working with me to develop what we call “bed tracks” that have full instrumentation already tracked and then I write the lyrics, melody and record.
TC-Helicon products emerge as a song writing tool when you begin to use the different effects to create contrast in the arrangement of the songs. I believe the proper and tasteful use of the VoiceTone Pedals is not to just leave it at one preset through the entire song, but it’s more interesting to play around with different presets for different parts of the song. For example, a verse may just have a nice reverb or delay preset, but when you come to the bridge or chorus, you can enable the VoiceTone D1 and fatten the sound. This helps create contrast and colour in your music which is important to good writing. They are used the same way a guitarist would use their pedals. Now if TC-Helicon can just invent a way to make the pedal write my lyrics for me that would be great!
“Remove my ability to control my own processing when performing live and rehearsing… and you may as well remove my opportunity for anaesthesia and penicillin when I get sick!”
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a simpleton with the products compared to some customers. I’m not the guy that is going to dig in and figure out how to program minor 7th harmonies in the key of C#. To me, vocal processing is about ease and a simple user interface. It’s about “button on”, “button off”, so I can focus on my art. I probably should dig into the full capabilities of these pedals more seriously, but don’t have the time and the presets I use give me what I need. You can find some videos on my YouTube channel where my students and I offer a tutorial on the VoiceLive 2 and the VoiceTone pedals that’s very helpful for people.
My favourite presets on the products I use most are: VoiceTone Create XT – Delay 23 preset VoiceTone Create XT – Reverb 13 preset VoiceTone D1 – Just got mine, I love it, but still exploring.
VoiceLive 1 – Click this link to download my presets for VoiceLive1: https://thevocaliststudio.box.net/shared/ixsii7bo5a
In the studio, I have and will continue to use the TC-Helicon Doubler. In my upcoming studio work this year, I think I will experiment with interfacing the VoiceTone D1 to the mixing board and try to see if I can use it for mixing. The D1 is so revolutionary; I want to try to use it in the studio, not just live.
I feel fortunate to have a company like TC-Helicon. Remove my ability to control my own processing when performing live and rehearsing… and you may as well remove my opportunity for anaesthesia and penicillin when I get sick! It’s that important to me and I believe for all singers. For so long, singers have been ignored by the pro audio industry. In a world of hundreds of solutions and products for guitar, there has been little to no effort put forth for live processing and pedal systems for singers. It’s absurd. But TC-Helicon has changed that. I think singers owe TC-Helicon a big thanks for making these products. They are a dream.”
When asked what piece of advice Robert would give to any new up and coming vocalist, he shared, “Those that are prepared to truly get serious about singing must find training. Without training, you will be limited to only being able to sing, or shout, in the chest voice. The essence of great vocal technique and training of it is to learn to bridge the registers and develop the head voice resonance. If you’re not training to learn how to do these things, you’re not really doing anything that most other people can’t do. If you really want people to put the beer down and pay attention, you need to learn to phonate with formant and pitch that is far outside of the common pitch regions people are accustomed to in the chest voice. This means, learn how to do the hard stuff. Find a great voice coach and practice. Then, make it a lifestyle. Maestro David Kyle used to say, “The day you think you’re done, you’re done“. The training and self-improvement as a musician and artist never stops. There never is a day where you kick your feet up and say, I made it, I’m done. To be an artist, is to always be working for the next big achievement or production.
I would also say, be audacious. Some people think that means arrogance but it doesn’t. Audacious roughly translates to “fearlessness”. Be fearless, do the things that people say you can’t do or should not do. Damn the torpedoes. If all you do is what other people do, then all you get out of life is what other people get. Life seems to work and in fact, can become quite fun and exciting when you take risks and proceed without fear.
At The Vocalist Studio, my TVS Certified teachers, students and I hold a high value out of leading by example. I will not ask any student to sing anything I am not able or prepared to sing effectively myself. TVS is also about innovation, in some sense we are the contrarians in the vocal pedagogy world, we don’t follow and duplicate, we lead and innovate.
Cultivating partnerships is also a big part of the TVS philosophy. We are not a vocal organization that sits in ivory towers and insists we are right about everything or snub other methods and teachers. TVS has grown and become an International brand because of the value we put into creating win-win solutions for our students, teachers and sponsors.
I will pretty much guarantee amazing results in about 60-90 days, contact me or any of the TVS Certified Instructors around the world and we will be happy to show you how to sing amazing!”
Why not get in touch with Robert at:- https://thevocaliststudio.com/