Music has been a passion for Snoopi for the past 16 years. He has been
interested in music since 1987 when a friend took him to an open-mic
night at a piano bar. He sang a song that was already pre-programmed
into his Touch Talker device, and although he says it was “off
time” it went great. That night sparked an interest in music for
Snoopi, and for eight years he went to the Gay 90's Bar to regularly
perform comedy and music, while also taking music lessons.
Instead of starting off with simple songs, Snoopi jumped right in to
learning some very complex music by two of his favorite performers,
Christian singer Sandi Patti, and Pop Star Madonna. Snoopi began singing
with two pre-programmed Smooth Talker voices in his AAC device, but
after three years, he was able to improve the flow of his singing and
expand his vocal range by creating four voices with it! Just below,
you can listen to Snoopi's piece "One More Song".
Listen to his music in Windows
Media Audio format
Later, Snoopi was able to upgrade to a Vanguard (PRC,
Inc.) and DECtalk ® text-to-speech voice software with 10 voices
in it, which allowed him an even larger singing range than before. Since
the rules of singing are so different from regular speech, he manipulates
the voice’s intonation and phonetic pronunciation of typed words
in order to program and sing each song. The process is very tedious.
It not only involves learning the music, but also converting the music
tempo into milliseconds, then assigning pitches and time values to the
phonetic spelling of all the lyrics in order to produce his melodic
voice. It took him 2 years just to learn the basic scale because it
was such a difficult process to figure out how to get his voice software
to sing a musical scale.
“After 5 years I started getting good, but I would practice about
18 hours a day. So it was very much like learning to play any musical
instrument only I had no one to learn from.” Here is a video showing
how Snoopi programs his device to sing:
View video in Windows
View video in QuickTime
Read Video Description
At the time that Snoopi released his first album in 1999, he received
several award nominations. At that time, he felt that he had not fully
invented his professional skills. He felt uncomfortable receiving those
nominations because he felt he was receiving them simply because he
was the first AAC user to release a music album. Now that he is becoming
comfortable with his musical talent and style, he is more open to the
possibility of being recognized for his accomplishments and talent.
Snoopi believes that, “in order to be a leader, you have to know
yourself. I just feel ready to take the next step.”
Snoopi has not only learned a lot about music over the past 16 years,
but has also been able to connect with others. He has studied music
and performed with others, and they all enjoyed showing the audience
how their skills were improving over time. Snoopi has appreciated the
opportunity to show off his hard work and share a piece of himself.
The greatest point in his life was the opportunity to sing at a yearly
fundraiser for Healing of the Hearts, a program for people with AIDS.
So far, Snoopi has recorded two albums, “Words of Love”
and “Jam.” He is currently in the process of developing
a third CD, yet to be titled. He is also preparing to release a CD of
900 song files for people to load into their AAC devices.
Snoopi currently works at Fonix Corporation, developing even newer
versions of the DECtalk® voice software he has used for years to
perform. Snoopi is also considering creating a CD in memory of the inventor
of DECtalk® who has passed away. Snoopi says that if he ever wins
an award, he wants to say his acceptance speech and perform using two
devices, his Vanguard and a Dynavox, which he plans on acquiring in
the near future. That way, the focus can be on the Fonix DECtalk®
voice software and how it has helped him in developing his singing skills,
not just the particular device he uses.
Snoopi is still developing his style and musical identity, but is truly
happy looking back over the last 16 years at all the great memories
he has created.