WIKIPEDIA : List of overtone musicians

List of overtone musicians

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This is a list of musicians utilizing some form of overtone singing. The groups they work with should be listed after.

Traditional

These are musicians using a traditional method of overtone singing: Overtone singing originates among the people in the Urankhai region of Siberia, who have historic links to Mongols (although they might speak Turkic languages, like Tuvans).

Tuvans and Mongols

Rest of the World

Non-traditional

See also

References

 

 

  1. “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-10-07.

TRAN QUANG HAI : POLYPHONY IN ONE THROAT

TRAN QUANG HAI

POLYPHONY IN ONE THROAT

tran quang hai overtone singing

TRAN QUANG HAI

Introduction

Research can be done in many ways: by means of obervation of native performers after on or more visits to the country concerned, or by means of practising instruments and vocal training aimed at a better understanding of the musical structure employed by the population being studied. My own research does not belong to either of these two categories since I have never been to Monglia and I have never learned the KHOOMEI style (Overtone singing) from a Mongolian teacher.

What I am going to describe for you here is the result of my own experiments which will enable anyone to produce two simultaneous sounds similar to Mongolian and Tuvin overtone singing.

The Tuvan vocal phenomenon Khöömei (literally Throat) since the last ten years has thrilled World music audiences around the world from the USA to Holland, from Canada to Germany, Sweden, from France, Spain to Japan, Australia.

In 1969,I started my overtone research with Mongolian xöömij style which was very closed to Tuvan Sygyt style.Then, I wrote an article on my “discovery” of this split-tone singing style” on the acoustical point of view, in cooperation with Denis Guillou in a book published by Japan Foundation in 1980. Another important article with Hugo Zemp on my experimental research on overtones was published in Geneva in 1991. The film the Song of Harmonics, made by Hugo Zemp in 1989 with me as co-author was released in 1989 in Paris.

Only in 1977 I heard the Tuvan overtones for the first time from the LP edited by Melodia GOCT 5289-68 “Pesni i Instrumentalnye Melodii Tuvy “ (Songs and Instrumental Melodies of Tuva) with the cover notes by G.Tchourov.

Throat Singing in Central Asia

The most well-known area for overtone singing is found in Central Asia, more specifically Western Tuva and Northwestern Mongolia. A great number of singers practice overtone singing, a tradition going back to the time of the Silk Road trade, according to some references in Tuvan songs. There is a rich culture of overtone singing, as demonstrated by many different styles, the great regional and even personal differences and the number of singers. In Tuva five basic styles exist: called sygyt, khoomei, kargyraa, borbannadyr, and ezengileer. Borbannadyr was called in some regions, but the latter indicated in orther regions the general term for overtonesinging. Nowadays, it still has this function, but khoomei can at the same time be the name for a separate style, apart from borbannadyr. In addition to these styles some sub styles exist, such as folk and middle sygyt, steppe and mountain kargyraa, and the “stil Oidupa”. The latter is a substyle of kargyraa named after the singer who invented it , and it is considered as the first city style. The parametres for this emic – or folk classification, seem to be the melody of the fundamental, the melody of the overtones and the sound colour or over all sound.

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The Mongols did not have a traditional, general classification of their styles of overtone singing. The late folklore specialis Badraa and the singer Tserendavaa attempted to make such a classification of Mongolian xoomij. Their results seem to be based on two criteria: the places of origin and the palce of resonance in the body when singing xoomij. They came up with six different styles: uruulyn (labial) xoomij, tagnain (palatal) xoomij, xamryn (nasal) xoomij, bagalzuuryn (glottal or throat)xoomij, tseejiin xondiin or xevliin (chest cavity or stomach) xoomij and xarxiraa. The latter style is somewhat controversial, since different singers have different opinions about what constitutes it, and whether or not it is xoomii.

In addition to Tuvan and Mongolian styles Khakassian “xaj” and Gorno-Altaian “kaj” overtone singing, usually accompanying epic songs, should be mentioned. while Tuvan and to a lesser extent Mongolian musicians travel around the world performing their xoomej, little is known about other Central Asian styles.

A special case is the “uzliau” or “tamak kurai” of Bashkirs, who live in the european part of Russia, some few thousand kilometers from Tuva. It is the name for their overtonesinging, with melodies similar to those of ordinary folksongs. The Baskirs are a Turkic people, who moved from Central Asia or Saiano Altai in the first millennium. Wainshtein advanced the opinion that they could have taken with them this peculiar singing style when moving westward from Central Asia. If this is so, he writes, then xoomej existed before their migration, i.e. in the second harl of the first millennium.

Definition

The manner in which the Mongolian and Tuvin word is transcribed is by no means not uniform: HO-MI, HÖ-MI (Vargyas, 1968), KHOMEI, KHÖÖMII (Bosson, 1964:11), CHÖÖMEJ (Aksenov, 1973:12), CHÖÖMIJ (Vietze 1969:15-16), XÖÖMIJ (Hamayon 1973; Tran Quang Hai, 1980:162). French researchers have used other terms to describe this peculiar vocal technique such as CHANT DIPHONIQUE or BIPHONIQUE (Leipp, 1971); Tran Quang Hai, 1974; Gilles Leothaud, 1989), VOIX GUIMBARDE, VOIX DEDOUBLEE (Helffer, 1973; Hamayon, 1973), and CHANT DIPHONIQUE SOLO (Marcel-Dubois, 1979). Several terms exist in English such as SPLIT-TONE SINGING, THROAT SINGING, OVERTONE SINGING, and HARMONIC SINGING. In German, it is called ZWEISTIMMIGEN SOLOGESANG. In Italian, it is called CANTO DIFONICO ou CANTO DIPLOFONICO.

For convenience, I have employed the term „OVERTONE SINGING“ to describe a style of singing performed by a single person producing simultaneously a continuous drone and another sound at a higher pitch issueing from a series of partials or harmonics resembling the sound of the flute.

In Mongolia and Tuva, thee word KHOOMEI means pharynx, throat, and KHOO- MEILAKH is the technique of producing vocal harmonics. This most unusual technique, which takes the human voices to its limits, entails the production of two sounds simultaneously: a drone or fundamental that is rich in harmonics and reminiscent of the jew’s harp (the reason why this technique is also known as „jew’s harp voice“). This technique is strenuous for the performer according to Mongolian singers. The performer must tauten his muscles and swell his cheeks. Different sounds are obtained by varying the air pressure across the vocal folds, the volume of the mouth cavity, and tongue placement. In this way, variable pitch harmonics are produced to form the melody. The fundamental is produced in the back of the throat, passing through the mouth, and exciting throught the slightly parted lips and to a lesser extent through the nose.

Five Styles of Overtones in Tuva

It is necessary to have a clear idea about the five basic vocal styles of Tuvan overtone singing before analyzing the different items recorded in these 2 compact discs reviewed in this paper.

Khoomei is a vocal style which enables the singer to produce two sometimes three simultaneous voices: one fundamental with low sound considered as a drone, and the other(s) with overtones giving one or two formantic melody (ies). In acoustics, harmonics are sounds the frequencies of which are integral multiples. If the singer sings the fundamental pitch of 200Hz (written H1=200Hz), harmonics 2 (written H2) will be 400Hz, H3=600Hz, etc…In this paper, whenever I mention H2, H3, that means overtone 2, overtone 3.

Khoomei is the common term for overtone singing, the origin of all styles. It means literally „throat, pharynx“. It is considered as the oldest style by many Tuvan singers. It sounds like the sygyt style with high pitch fundamental, but less tension, softer overtones in the mouth. The use of rhythmic ornamentation accentuates the beat of the song. Nowadays khoomei is often faster and louder. Grace notes become tremolos as in borbannadyr style (after Mark Van Tongeren).

Sygyt (also written Sigit ) is a high overtone singing sounding like a flute, a whistle, mostly combined with text. The term sygyt means „whistle“. Songs in sygyt style start without overtones. At the end of a line, the melody ends with a sustained fundamental on which the singer surimposes a second melody with overtones (generally H9,H10 and H12, sometimes with H8,H9,H10,H12,H13). The best singers in Sygyt are Mongush Mergen, Tumat Kara-ool, Chuldum-ool Andrej.

Borbannadyr is sung from a fundamental in bass or baritone range. It is characterized by a pulsating asymmetrical rhythm and is not normally sung with text. The term is derived from the verb borbanna (to roll over). The singer employs the tremolo of overtones, and can create the triphonic effect with the fundamental , the first overtone level in fifth parallel (harmonic 3 : one octave + a fifth higher), and the second overtone level which gives the melody. This style is sung in a higher register than the one used in kargyraa with more nasal resonance. Mikhail Dopchun, Tumat Kara-ool, Anatolii Kuular are the best exponents of this style.

Ezengileer is produced by rapid vibrations of the lips, and is sung over a low fundamental. It creates soft shimmering overtone melodies.Both the high (nasal) and low (throat) sounds are important. The alternation of the two different sounds seem to define the style. It is characterized by a pulsating galloping asymmetrical rhythm which suggests riding on horseback. Ezengi means strirrup the metal parts of a bridle. Songs in ezengileer style were usually sung when riding on horseback. To-day the ezengileer style is rarely performed and is considered rather difficult. Mongush Mergen and Ondar Marzhymal are the best singers of this style.

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Kargyraa is a very low overtone, singing with long breath and open vowels (u, o, ö, a ) used in songs in which texts are sung. The term kargyraa is a homonym of the onomatopoetic verb kargyraa which means „to expectorate“. The pitch of the fundamental varies from 55 Hz to 65 Hz.

Apart from the five main styles, we can find other sub-categories: Opei-khoomei is a lullaby khoomei, similar to the rhythm of rocking a baby to sleep. It is sometimes called tönmes khoomei (never ending khoomei).

Khovu-kargyraa is a steppe kargyraa practised when riding a horse on the steppe with the wind blowing at the right angle into the mouth with lips curled. The wind amplifies overtones (this style can be heard in the compact disc Tuva – Voices from the Center of Asia – Smithsonian Folkways CD SF 40017, track 1).

Dag-kargyraa is a mountain kargyraa, practised in the mountains, producing an echo and singing with it. Tempo and timbre have a different rhythm than khovu-kargyraa.

Chelbig-kargyraa is a fan kargyraa, sung while continuously moving a fan in front of the mouth. The air circulation produced by the fan genereates different kargyraa effects.

Sygytting borbannadyr is sygyt singing in borbannadyr style, also known as the Gennadi Tumat style because he has developed it.

Chilandyk is a combination of sygyt and kargyraa alternating between high and low registers. It is named after the chilandyk (cricket) which produces the same sound.

Dumchuktaar (from the nose) means khoomei singing through the nose, with mouth almost or completely closed. It can be combined with other styles such as kargyraa, sygyt, khoomei with nasal character.

Kangzyp is a special kind of overtone singing for someone who is depressed or sad. The word kangzyp is probably derived from the verb kangzyyr which means „to wail“ (like a dog) or figuratively „to annoy“.

Xörekteer (xörek means breast). It refers to singing with the breast of the melody before or in between actual overtone singing style. It is sung with words. If it is sung in the lower register, it is called xörekteer . Gennadi Tumat has sung it. Lebedinskij ,in 1948, wrote : „It is unnatural for a person to be able sing two

notes at the same time. The timbre is alreasy unnatural, not to mention the principal notes and the harmonics, or overtones, and what is downright unnatural is the length of time the breath is sustained „. Aksenov, the first Russian researcher, wrote an important article on Tuvin Folk music in 1964 (an English version was published in Asian Music Journal – New York, USA, in 1973).

Since the years of Perestroika and with the disparition of the USSR at the end of the ’80s, Tuva has rebuilt the traditional music and Tibetan Buddhism. The „cultural rebirth“ has started since. Competitions, Khöömei Song Concerts were organized in 1992 and 1995 in Kyzyl, capital of Republic of Tuva. By chance I was invited in Tuva in 1995 and was nominated as President of the 2nd International Symposium and Festival of Throat-Singers from 19 to 21June 1995.

The Tuvan singers generally use overtones from 6th to 13th. Renowned singers can reach overtone 18. During the Russian domination, throat singing was not encouraged by the Soviet authorities, but it survived. In the ancient time, overtone

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singers specialized in a single style or two related styles. Nowadays, it is frequent to see singers perform several styles arranged in short segments.If an overtone singer cannot master the five basic styles (khoomei, sygyt, borbannadyr, ezengileer, kargyraa ), he is not considered a good singer. Young singers like combining throat singing with rock, pop, punk and disco music. National Khoomei competititons have been taking place for severel years, in which often more than thirty to forty singers take part. Young talent is discovered like the 11year old Schaktar Schulban has taught himself throat singing by listening to Khoomei singers on radio and Television since he was five. He can sing kargyraa style with 70Hz as fundamental pitch and changes to sygyt style (H1=240Hz) during the same song and raises his overtones to H12= 2880Hz (it is very difficult for an adult throat singer to reach that overtone pitch). Onda Mongun-Ool (17 years old) is a virtuoso of sygyt style, and Bujan Dondak (20 years old) is a specialist of kargyraa style.

How Did I Come to the Overtone Singing

In 1970, at the Department of Ethnomusicology (Musee de l’Homme), Prof. Roberte Hamayon let me listen to her recordings made in Mongolia in 1967 and 1969. I was surprised by the extraordinary and unique nature of this vocal technique.

For several months, I carried out bibliographical research into articles concerned with this style of singing with the aim of obtaining information on the practice of overtone singing, but received little satisfaction. Explanations of a merely theoretical and sometimes ambiguous nature did nothing so much as to create and increase the confusion with which my research was surrounded. In spite of my complete ignorance of the training methods for overtone singing practised by the Mongolians, the Tuvins and other Siberian peoples, I was not in the least discouraged by the negative results at the beginning of my studies after even several months of effort. I worked entirely alone groping my way through the dark for two whole years, listening frequently to the recordings made by Roberte Hamayon stored at the Sound Archives of the Department of Ethnomusicology of the Musee de l’Homme.

My efforts were however to no avail. Despite my knowledge of Jew’s Harp technique, the initial work was both difficult and discouraging. I also tried to whistle while producing a low sound as a drone. However, checking on a sonagraph showing that this was not similar to the Mongolian Xöömij technique. At the end of 1972, I got to the state that I was still a long way from my goal.

Then, one day in November 1973, in order to calm my nerves in the appalling traffic congestion of Paris, I happened to make my vocal folds vibrate in the pharynx with my mouth half open and while reciting the alphabet. When I arrived at the letter L , and the tip of my tongue was about to touch the top of the palate, I suddenly heard a pure harmonic tone, clear and powerful. I repeated the operation several times and each time, I obtained the same result; I then tried to modify the position of the tongue in relation to the roof of the mouth while maintaining the low fundamental. A series of partials resonated in disorder in my ears. At the beginning, I got the harmonics of a perfect chord. Slowly, after a week of intensive training, by changing the fundamental tone upwards and downwards, I discovered by myself the mystery of the overtone singing style which appeared to be near to that practised by the Mongolians and the Tuvins.

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About my Overtone Training Method

After two months of „research“ and numberless experiments of all kinds, I succeeded in creating a short overtone melody. Here is my „recipe“ to help anyone to get this first step of overtone singing.

  1. Intensify the vocal production with the throat voice;
  2. Pronounce the 2 vowels I and U linked together and repeat it several times in one breath;
  1. Make a nasal sound and tip of the tongue in a down position;
  2. In this way, it is possible to obtain both the drone and the upper harmonic line in descending and ascending order.

This is the first technique what I call „technique of one mouth cavity“. This one is easy to do and anyone can produce the effect of 2 voices in one throat after one minute of practice.

The second „recipe“ will help you to produce clear overtones in the Mongolian and Tuvin styles. I call it „technique of two mouth cavities“

  1. Emit a throat sound of the vowel E` as long as you can;
  2. Pronounce the letter L. Maintain the position with the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the palate. In this position, the mouth is divided into 2 cavities, one at the back and one at the front;
  1. Say „LAANG“ for the first exercice, and say „LONG „ for the second excercice.

When you succeed in making the harmonics come out of the mouth, you keep the tip of the tongue to the palate while you sing , and at the same time you modify the mouth cavity by saying from A to O and from O to A several times in one breath;

  1. Make a nasal sound;
  2. In this way, you can produce clearly thé drone and a series of harmonics in the Mongolian style.

For the beginners, the harmonics of the perfect chord (C, E, G,C) are easy to obtain. However, a considerable amount of hard work is necessary especially to obtain a pentatonic anhemitonic scale. Each person has his favourite note or pitch which enables him to produce a wide range of partials. This favourite fundamental varies according to the tonal quality of the singer’s voice.

New Experiments about Overtone Singing

Other experiments which I have been carrying out indicate that it is possible to obtain two simultaneous sounds in three different ways:

  1. In the first method, the tongue is either flat or slightly curved without actually at any stage touching the roof of the mouth, and only the mouth and the lips move.

Through such varieties of the mouth cavity, this time divided into a single cavity, it is possible to hear the partials but faintly and the highest harmonics cannot reach beyond 1200Hz.

  1. In the second method, the basic technique described above is used. However, instead of keeping the mouth half open, it is kept almost shut with the lips pulled back and very tight. To make the partials audible, the position of the lips si varied at the same time as that of the tongue. The partials are very clear and distinctive, butthe technique is rather exhausting. The highest harmonics arrive at the zone of 2600Hz.

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  1. In the third method, thé tongue si down, and the teeth bite the tongue while singing the vowels U and I with the contraction of muscles at the abdomen and the throat. The hightest harmonics can be heard at thed zone of 4200Hz

Other new experiments I have tried to show that I can maintain the same selective harmonic level which is used as a drone while changing the pitch of fundamentals (e.g. C, F, G, C). I have succeeded in creating the fundamental line and the harmonic line in the opposite direction. In other words, I arrive to sing the fundamental line in ascending order, and at the same time, I create the harmonic line in descending order. This harmonic effect is quite unusual and exceptional.

In 1989, Dr. Hugo Zemp and I made a film called „THE SONG OF HARMONICS“ showing X-ray and spectrographical pictures in real time ans synchronous sound about the overtone singing practised in different countries. This film produced by the CNRS – Audiovisual and thé French Society for Ethnomusicology, obtained 2 prizes (Grand Prize and Best Music Prize) at the International Festival of Visual Anthropological Film in Estonia in October 1990, a prize (Special Prize for Research) at the International Festival of Scientific Film in Palaiseau (France) in November 1990, and a Grand Prize of the 2nd International Festival of Scientific Film in Montreal (Canada) in 1991.

In Western contemporary music, groups of singers have also succeeded in emitting two voices at the same time, and vocal pieces have been created in the context of avant garde music and of electro-acoustical music. David Hykes with his Harmonic Choir, created in New York in 1975, use the overtones to link with the cosmic universe in his compositions. Demetrio Stratos (1945-1979) used the overtones to create the relationship between voice and subconscious. In my compositions for improvized music, I recommend the investigation of overtones to enrich the world of sound. Other overtone singers like Michael Vetter, Christian Bollmann, Michael Reimann, Wolfgang Saus, Miroslav Grosser from Germany, Roberto Laneri from Italy, Rollin Rachele, Mark Van Tongeren from the Netherlands, Josephine Truman from Australia, Les Voix Diphoniques , Thomas Clements, Iegor Reznikoff, Tamia from France have also used the overtones in their works.

Overtone singing is also practised by a number of ethnic groups (Oirat, Khakass, Gorno-Altai, Bashkir, Tuvin, Kalmuk) of the republics of Russia bordering on Mongolia.

In Rajasthan (India), in Taiwan among the Bunun ethnic group, in Tibet among the monks belonging to the Gyuto and Gyume monasteries, in South Africa among the Xhosa population, the practice of overtone singing style is known throughout recordings. The Dani tribe in Aryan Jaya (Indonesian part of New Guinea) also practise the overtone singing .

I hope that after this short introduction to the overtone world, you will have an idea concerning the existence of the overtones in different areas in the world, the possibility of obtaining the know how of singing overtones.

Tran Quang Hai

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Tran Quang Hai, (2002). A la decouverte du chant diphonique. Moyens d’Investigation et Pedagogie de la Voix chantee: 117-132, Symetrie (ed), Lyon, France

Vargyas, L. (1968). Performing Styles in Mongolian Chant. Journal of the International Folk Music Council : 70-72, Kingston.

Vlachov, E. (1985). Recherches Vocales contemporaines: chant diphonique. Maîtrise à l’Université de Paris VIII-Saint Denis, supervised by Daniel Charles, 90 pages, Paris.

Walcott, R. (1974). The Chöömij of Mongolia – A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing. Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 2 (1): 55-59, UCLA, Los Angeles.

Zarlino, G. (1558). Institutioni harmoniche, Venise. (cf. Tisato, G.).

Zemp, H & Tran Quang Hai, (1991). Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique (cf. Tran Quang Hai & Zemp, Hugo).

Discography only in CD

TUVA

  1. Epics and Overtone Singing. Central Asia, Siberia: Touva, Chor, Kalmouk, Tadjik, vol.1 , Paris (France) Maison des Cultures du Monde W 260067 (1996).
  2. Shu-De. Voices from the Distant Steppe , London (United Kingdom)Realworld CDRW 41 (1994).

3.TUVA/ Tuvinian Singers and Musicians ,Frankfurt: World Network 55.838 (1993).

  1. Huun -Huur-Tu /Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva , New Jersey (USA): Shanadie 64050 (1993).
  2. TUVA- Echoes from the Spirit World, Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2013 CD (1992).

6 Tuva. Voices from the Land of Eagles , Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2005 CD (1991).

7.Ozum / Sprouts / Young Voices of Ancient Tuva, Amsterdam (Holland): Window to Europe SUM 90008 (1991).

  1. Tuva – Voices from the Center of Asia, Washington DC (USA): Smithsonian/Folkways CD SF 40017 (1990).

MONGOLIA

  1. White Moon / Tsagaan Sar/ Traditional and Popular Music from Mongolia , Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN2010CD (1992)

10.Mongolie / Musique vocale et instrumentale , Paris (France): INEDIT / Maison des Cultures du Monde W 260009 (1989)

11.Mongolie / Musique et chants de tradition populaire , Paris (France): GREM G7511 (1986).

  1. Mongolian Music, Hungaroton, HCD 18013-14, collection UNESCO, Budapest, Hongrie, 1990.
  2. Folk Music from Mongolia / Karakorum , Hamburgisches Museum für Völkerkunde, Hambourg, Allemagne, 1993.

14.Vocal & Instrumental of Mongolia , Topic, World Series TSCD909, Londres, Grande Bretagne, 1994.

15.Jargalant Altai/-Xöömii and other vocal and instrumental music from Mongolia , Pan Records PAN 2050CD, Ethnic Series, Leiden, Hollande, 1996

BASHKIRIA / ALTAI / TUVA

16.Uzlyau ; Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2019CD (1993)

  1. Voices of the World , Paris (France): Le Chant du Monde CMX 37410-12, set of 3CD, bilingual booklet (188p), collection CNRS-MUSEE DE L’HOMME (1996). Grand Prize of the Academy Charles Cros (1997), Diapason d’Or of the Year 1997.

 

TRAN QUANG HAI : POLYPHONY IN ONE THROAT

TRAN QUANG HAI
POLYPHONY IN ONE THROAT
Introduction
Research can be done in many ways: by means of obervation of native per-
formers after on or more visits to the country concerned, or by means of practising instruments and vocal training aimed at a better understanding of the musical structure employed by the population being studied. My own research does not belong to either of these two categories since I have never been to Monglia and I have never learned the KHOOMEI style (Overtone singing) from a Mongolian teacher.
What I am going to describe for you here is the result of my own experiments which will enable anyone to produce two simultaneous sounds similar to Mongolian and Tuvin overtone singing.
The Tuvan vocal phenomenon Khöömei (literally Throat) since the last ten years
has thrilled World music audiences around the world from the USA to Holland, from Canada to Germany, Sweden, from France, Spain to Japan, Australia.
In 1969,I started my overtone research with Mongolian xöömij style which was
very closed to Tuvan Sygyt style.Then, I wrote an article on my “discovery” of this split-tone singing style” on the acoustical point of view, in cooperation with Denis Guillou in a book published by Japan Foundation in 1980. Another important article with Hugo Zemp on my experimental research on overtones was published in Geneva in 1991. The film the Song of Harmonics, made by Hugo Zemp in 1989 with me as co-author was released in 1989 in Paris.
Only in 1977 I heard the Tuvan overtones for the first time from the LP edited by
Melodia GOCT 5289-68 “Pesni i Instrumentalnye Melodii Tuvy “ (Songs and Instrumental Melodies of Tuva) with the cover notes by G.Tchourov.
Throat Singing in Central Asia
The most well-known area for overtone singing is found in Central Asia, more
specifically Western Tuva and Northwestern Mongolia. A great number of singers
practice overtone singing, a tradition going back to the time of the Silk Road trade,
according to some references in Tuvan songs. There is a rich culture of overtone
singing, as demonstrated by many different styles, the great regional and even
personal differences and the number of singers. In Tuva five basic styles exist:
called sygyt, khoomei, kargyraa, borbannadyr, and ezengileer. Borbannadyr was called in some regions, but the latter indicated in orther regions the general term for overtonesinging. Nowadays, it still has this function, but khoomei can at the same time be the name for a separate style, apart from borbannadyr. In addition to these styles some sub styles exist, such as folk and middle sygyt, steppe and mountain kargyraa, and the “stil Oidupa”. The latter is a substyle of kargyraa named after the singer who invented it , and it is considered as the first city style. The parametres for this emic – or folk classification, seem to be the melody of the fundamental, the melody of the overtones and the sound colour or over all sound.
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The Mongols did not have a traditional, general classification of their styles of
overtone singing. The late folklore specialis Badraa and the singer Tserendavaa
attempted to make such a classification of Mongolian xoomij. Their results seem to be based on two criteria: the places of origin and the palce of resonance in the body when singing xoomij. They came up with six different styles: uruulyn (labial) xoomij, tagnain (palatal) xoomij, xamryn (nasal) xoomij, bagalzuuryn (glottal or throat)xoomij, tseejiin xondiin or xevliin (chest cavity or stomach) xoomij and xarxiraa. The latter style is somewhat controversial, since different singers have different opinions about what constitutes it, and whether or not it is xoomii.
In addition to Tuvan and Mongolian styles Khakassian “xaj” and Gorno-Altaian
“kaj” overtone singing, usually accompanying epic songs, should be mentioned.
while Tuvan and to a lesser extent Mongolian musicians travel around the world performing their xoomej, little is known about other Central Asian styles.
A special case is the “uzliau” or “tamak kurai” of Bashkirs, who live in the
european part of Russia, some few thousand kilometers from Tuva. It is the name for their overtonesinging, with melodies similar to those of ordinary folksongs. The Baskirs are a Turkic people, who moved from Central Asia or Saiano Altai in the first millennium. Wainshtein advanced the opinion that they could have taken with them this peculiar singing style when moving westward from Central Asia. If this is so, he writes, then xoomej existed before their migration, i.e. in the second harl of the first millennium.

Definition

The manner in which the Mongolian and Tuvin word is transcribed is by no
means not uniform: HO-MI, HÖ-MI (Vargyas, 1968), KHOMEI, KHÖÖMII (Bosson,
1964:11), CHÖÖMEJ (Aksenov, 1973:12), CHÖÖMIJ (Vietze 1969:15-16), XÖÖMIJ
(Hamayon 1973; Tran Quang Hai, 1980:162). French researchers have used other
terms to describe this peculiar vocal technique such as CHANT DIPHONIQUE or
BIPHONIQUE (Leipp, 1971); Tran Quang Hai, 1974; Gilles Leothaud, 1989), VOIX
GUIMBARDE, VOIX DEDOUBLEE (Helffer, 1973; Hamayon, 1973), and CHANT
DIPHONIQUE SOLO (Marcel-Dubois, 1979). Several terms exist in English such as
SPLIT-TONE SINGING, THROAT SINGING, OVERTONE SINGING, and HARMONIC
SINGING. In German, it is called ZWEISTIMMIGEN SOLOGESANG. In Italian, it is
called CANTO DIFONICO ou CANTO DIPLOFONICO.
For convenience, I have employed the term „OVERTONE SINGING“ to describe a style of singing performed by a single person producing simultaneously a
continuous drone and another sound at a higher pitch issueing from a series of
partials or harmonics resembling the sound of the flute.
In Mongolia and Tuva, thee word KHOOMEI means pharynx, throat, and KHOO-
MEILAKH is the technique of producing vocal harmonics. This most unusual technique, which takes the human voices to its limits, entails the production of two sounds simultaneously: a drone or fundamental that is rich in harmonics and reminiscent of the jew’s harp (the reason why this technique is also known as „jew’s harp voice“). This technique is strenuous for the performer according to Mongolian singers. The performer must tauten his muscles and swell his cheeks. Different
276
sounds are obtained by varying the air pressure across the vocal folds, the volume of the mouth cavity, and tongue placement. In this way, variable pitch harmonics are produced to form the melody. The fundamental is produced in the back of the throat, passing through the mouth, and exciting throught the slightly parted lips and to a lesser extent through the nose.

Five Styles of Overtones in Tuva

It is necessary to have a clear idea about the five basic vocal styles of Tuvan
overtone singing before analyzing the different items recorded in these 2 compact discs reviewed in this paper.
Khoomei is a vocal style which enables the singer to produce two sometimes
three simultaneous voices: one fundamental with low sound considered as a drone, and the other(s) with overtones giving one or two formantic melody (ies). In acoustics, harmonics are sounds the frequencies of which are integral multiples. If the singer sings the fundamental pitch of 200Hz (written H1=200Hz), harmonics 2 (written H2) will be 400Hz, H3=600Hz, etc…In this paper, whenever I mention H2, H3, that means overtone 2, overtone 3.
Khoomei is the common term for overtone singing, the origin of all styles. It
means literally „throat, pharynx“. It is considered as the oldest style by many Tuvan singers. It sounds like the sygyt style with high pitch fundamental, but less tension, softer overtones in the mouth. The use of rhythmic ornamentation accentuates the beat of the song. Nowadays khoomei is often faster and louder. Grace notes become tremolos as in borbannadyr style (after Mark Van Tongeren).

Sygyt

(also written Sigit ) is a high overtone singing sounding like a flute, a whistle, mostly combined with text. The term sygyt means „whistle“. Songs in sygyt style start without overtones. At the end of a line, the melody ends with a sustained fundamental on which the singer surimposes a second melody with overtones (generally H9,H10 and H12, sometimes with H8,H9,H10,H12,H13). The best singers in Sygyt are Mongush Mergen, Tumat Kara-ool, Chuldum-ool Andrej.

Borbannadyr is sung from a fundamental in bass or baritone range. It is char-
acterized by a pulsating asymmetrical rhythm and is not normally sung with text. The term is derived from the verb borbanna (to roll over). The singer employs the tremolo of overtones, and can create the triphonic effect with the fundamental , the first overtone level in fifth parallel (harmonic 3 : one octave + a fifth higher), and the second overtone level which gives the melody. This style is sung in a higher register than the one used in kargyraa with more nasal resonance. Mikhail Dopchun, Tumat Kara-ool, Anatolii Kuular are the best exponents of this style.
Ezengileer is produced by rapid vibrations of the lips, and is sung over a low
fundamental. It creates soft shimmering overtone melodies.Both the high (nasal)
and low (throat) sounds are important. The alternation of the two different sounds seem to define the style. It is characterized by a pulsating galloping asymmetrical rhythm which suggests riding on horseback. Ezengi means strirrup the metal parts of a bridle. Songs in ezengileer style were usually sung when riding on horseback. To-day the ezengileer style is rarely performed and is considered rather difficult. Mongush Mergen and Ondar Marzhymal are the best singers of this style.
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Kargyraa is a very low overtone, singing with long breath and open vowels (u, o, ö, a ) used in songs in which texts are sung. The term kargyraa is a homonym of the onomatopoetic verb kargyraa which means „to expectorate“. The pitch of the fundamental varies from 55 Hz to 65 Hz.
Apart from the five main styles, we can find other sub-categories: Opei-khoomei is a lullaby khoomei, similar to the rhythm of rocking a baby to sleep. It is sometimes called tönmes khoomei (never ending khoomei).
Khovu-kargyraa is a steppe kargyraa practised when riding a horse on the
steppe with the wind blowing at the right angle into the mouth with lips curled. The wind amplifies overtones (this style can be heard in the compact disc Tuva – Voices from the Center of Asia – Smithsonian Folkways CD SF 40017, track 1).
Dag-kargyraa is a mountain kargyraa, practised in the mountains, producing an
echo and singing with it. Tempo and timbre have a different rhythm than khovu-kargyraa.
Chelbig-kargyraa is a fan kargyraa, sung while continuously moving a fan in
front of the mouth. The air circulation produced by the fan genereates different kargyraa effects.
Sygytting borbannadyr is sygyt singing in borbannadyr style, also known as
the Gennadi Tumat style because he has developed it.
Chilandyk is a combination of sygyt and kargyraa alternating between high and
low registers. It is named after the chilandyk (cricket) which produces the same sound.
Dumchuktaar (from the nose) means khoomei singing through the nose, with
mouth almost or completely closed. It can be combined with other styles such as
kargyraa, sygyt, khoomei with nasal character.
Kangzyp is a special kind of overtone singing for someone who is depressed or
sad. The word kangzyp is probably derived from the verb kangzyyr which means „to wail“ (like a dog) or figuratively „to annoy“.
Xörekteer (xörek means breast). It refers to singing with the breast of the
melody before or in between actual overtone singing style. It is sung with words. If it is sung in the lower register, it is called xörekteer . Gennadi Tumat has sung it. Lebedinskij ,in 1948, wrote : „It is unnatural for a person to be able sing two
notes at the same time. The timbre is alreasy unnatural, not to mention the principal notes and the harmonics, or overtones, and what is downright unnatural is the length of time the breath is sustained „. Aksenov, the first Russian researcher, wrote an important article on Tuvin Folk music in 1964 (an English version was published in Asian Music Journal – New York, USA, in 1973).
Since the years of Perestroika and with the disparition of the USSR at the end
of the ’80s, Tuva has rebuilt the traditional music and Tibetan Buddhism. The „cultural rebirth“ has started since. Competitions, Khöömei Song Concerts were organized in 1992 and 1995 in Kyzyl, capital of Republic of Tuva. By chance I was invited in Tuva in 1995 and was nominated as President of the 2nd International Symposium and Festival of Throat-Singers from 19 to 21June 1995.
The Tuvan singers generally use overtones from 6th to 13th. Renowned sing-
ers can reach overtone 18. During the Russian domination, throat singing was not encouraged by the Soviet authorities, but it survived. In the ancient time, overtone
Polyphony in One Throat
278
singers specialized in a single style or two related styles. Nowadays, it is frequent to see singers perform several styles arranged in short segments.If an overtone singer cannot master the five basic styles (khoomei, sygyt, borbannadyr, ezengileer, kargyraa ), he is not considered a good singer. Young singers like combining throat singing with rock, pop, punk and disco music. National Khoomei competititons have been taking place for severel years, in which often more than thirty to forty singers take part. Young talent is discovered like the 11year old Schaktar Schulban has
taught himself throat singing by listening to Khoomei singers on radio and Television since he was five. He can sing kargyraa style with 70Hz as fundamental pitch and changes to sygyt style (H1=240Hz) during the same song and raises his overtones to H12= 2880Hz (it is very difficult for an adult throat singer to reach that overtone pitch). Onda Mongun-Ool (17 years old) is a virtuoso of sygyt style, and Bujan
Dondak (20 years old) is a specialist of kargyraa style.
How Did I Come to the Overtone Singing
In 1970, at the Department of Ethnomusicology (Musee de l’Homme), Prof.
Roberte Hamayon let me listen to her recordings made in Mongolia in 1967 and
1969. I was surprised by the extraordinary and unique nature of this vocal technique.
For several months, I carried out bibliographical research into articles con-
cerned with this style of singing with the aim of obtaining information on the practice of overtone singing, but received little satisfaction. Explanations of a merely theoretical and sometimes ambiguous nature did nothing so much as to create and increase the confusion with which my research was surrounded. In spite of my complete ignorance of the training methods for overtone singing practised by the Mongolians, the Tuvins and other Siberian peoples, I was not in the least discouraged by the negative results at the beginning of my studies after even several months of effort. I worked entirely alone groping my way through the dark for two whole years, listening frequently to the recordings made by Roberte Hamayon stored at the Sound Archives of the Department of Ethnomusicology of the Musee de l’Homme.
My efforts were however to no avail. Despite my knowledge of Jew’s Harp technique, the initial work was both difficult and discouraging. I also tried to whistle while producing a low sound as a drone. However, checking on a sonagraph showing that this was not similar to the Mongolian Xöömij technique. At the end of 1972, I got to the state that I was still a long way from my goal.
Then, one day in November 1973, in order to calm my nerves in the appalling
traffic congestion of Paris, I happened to make my vocal folds vibrate in the pharynx with my mouth half open and while reciting the alphabet. When I arrived at the letter L , and the tip of my tongue was about to touch the top of the palate, I suddenly heard a pure harmonic tone, clear and powerful. I repeated the operation several times and each time, I obtained the same result; I then tried to modify the position of the tongue in relation to the roof of the mouth while maintaining the low fundamental. A series of partials resonated in disorder in my ears. At the beginning, I got the harmonics of a perfect chord. Slowly, after a week of intensive training, by changing the fundamental tone upwards and downwards, I discovered by myself the mystery
of the overtone singing style which appeared to be near to that practised by the
Mongolians and the Tuvins.
279
About my Overtone Training Method
After two months of „research“ and numberless experiments of all kinds, I
succeeded in creating a short overtone melody. Here is my „recipe“ to help anyone to get this first step of overtone singing.
1. Intensify the vocal production with the throat voice;
2. Pronounce the 2 vowels I and U linked together and repeat it several times in
one breath;
3. Make a nasal sound and tip of the tongue in a down position;
4. In this way, it is possible to obtain both the drone and the upper harmonic
line in descending and ascending order.
This is the first technique what I call „technique of one mouth cavity“. This one
is easy to do and anyone can produce the effect of 2 voices in one throat after one minute of practice.
The second „recipe“ will help you to produce clear overtones in the Mongolian
and Tuvin styles. I call it „technique of two mouth cavities“
1. Emit a throat sound of the vowel E` as long as you can;
2. Pronounce the letter L. Maintain the position with the tip of the tongue
touching the roof of the palate. In this position, the mouth is divided into 2 cavities,
one at the back and one at the front;
3. Say „LAANG“ for the first exercice, and say „LONG „ for the second excercice.
When you succeed in making the harmonics come out of the mouth, you keep the tip of the tongue to the palate while you sing , and at the same time you modify the mouth cavity by saying from A to O and from O to A several times in one breath;
4. Make a nasal sound;
5. In this way, you can produce clearly thé drone and a series of harmonics in
the Mongolian style.
For the beginners, the harmonics of the perfect chord (C, E, G,C) are easy to
obtain. However, a considerable amount of hard work is necessary especially to
obtain a pentatonic anhemitonic scale. Each person has his favourite note or pitch which enables him to produce a wide range of partials. This favourite fundamental varies according to the tonal quality of the singer’s voice.
New Experiments about Overtone Singing
Other experiments which I have been carrying out indicate that it is possible to
obtain two simultaneous sounds in three different ways:
1. In the first method, the tongue is either flat or slightly curved without actually
at any stage touching the roof of the mouth, and only the mouth and the lips move.
Through such varieties of the mouth cavity, this time divided into a single cavity, it is possible to hear the partials but faintly and the highest harmonics cannot reach beyond 1200Hz.
2. In the second method, the basic technique described above is used. However,
instead of keeping the mouth half open, it is kept almost shut with the lips pulled back and very tight. To make the partials audible, the position of the lips si varied at the same time as that of the tongue. The partials are very clear and distinctive, butthe technique is rather exhausting. The highest harmonics arrive at the zone of 2600Hz.
280
3. In the third method, thé tongue si down, and the teeth bite the tongue while
singing the vowels U and I with the contraction of muscles at the abdomen and the throat. The hightest harmonics can be heard at thed zone of 4200Hz
Other new experiments I have tried to show that I can maintain the same
selective harmonic level which is used as a drone while changing the pitch of fundamentals (e.g. C, F, G, C). I have succeeded in creating the fundamental line and the harmonic line in the opposite direction. In other words, I arrive to sing the fundamental line in ascending order, and at the same time, I create the harmonic line in descending order. This harmonic effect is quite unusual and exceptional.
In 1989, Dr. Hugo Zemp and I made a film called „THE SONG OF HARMON-
ICS“ showing X-ray and spectrographical pictures in real time ans synchronous
sound about the overtone singing practised in different countries. This film produced by the CNRS – Audiovisual and thé French Society for Ethnomusicology, obtained 2 prizes (Grand Prize and Best Music Prize) at the International Festival of Visual Anthropological Film in Estonia in October 1990, a prize (Special Prize for Research) at the International Festival of Scientific Film in Palaiseau (France) in November 1990, and a Grand Prize of the 2nd International Festival of Scientific Film in Montreal (Canada) in 1991.
In Western contemporary music, groups of singers have also succeeded in
emitting two voices at the same time, and vocal pieces have been created in the
context of avant garde music and of electro-acoustical music. David Hykes with his Harmonic Choir, created in New York in 1975, use the overtones to link with the cosmic universe in his compositions. Demetrio Stratos (1945-1979) used the overtones to create the relationship between voice and subconscious. In my compositions for improvized music, I recommend the investigation of overtones to enrich the world of sound. Other overtone singers like Michael Vetter, Christian Bollmann, Michael Reimann, Wolfgang Saus, Miroslav Grosser from Germany, Roberto Laneri from Italy, Rollin Rachele, Mark Van Tongeren from the Netherlands, Josephine Truman from Australia, Les Voix Diphoniques , Thomas Clements, Iegor Reznikoff, Tamia from France have also used the overtones in their works.
Overtone singing is also practised by a number of ethnic groups (Oirat, Khakass,
Gorno-Altai, Bashkir, Tuvin, Kalmuk) of the republics of Russia bordering on Mongolia.
In Rajasthan (India), in Taiwan among the Bunun ethnic group, in Tibet among the monks belonging to the Gyuto and Gyume monasteries, in South Africa among the Xhosa population, the practice of overtone singing style is known throughout recordings. The Dani tribe in Aryan Jaya (Indonesian part of New Guinea) also practise the overtone singing .
I hope that after this short introduction to the overtone world, you will have an
idea concerning the existence of the overtones in different areas in the world, the possibility of obtaining the know how of singing overtones.
Tran Quang Hai
281
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Tisato, G. (1989). Il canto degli armonici. Nuove tecnologie et documentazione etnomusicologica , Cultura Musicali n° 15 & 16, Italy
Tongeren, M.Van (1994). Xöömij in Tuva: New Developments, New Dimensions. M.A Dissertation, supervised by Dr. Ernst Heins, Ethnomusicologisch Centrum „Jaap Kunst“, Universiteit van Amsterdam,september 1994, The Netherlands .
Tongeren, M.Van (2002). Overtone Singing / Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West. 271pages, 1 CD, FUSICA (ed), Amsterdam, the Netherlands .
Tran Quang Hai & Guillou, D. (1980). Original Research and AcousticalAnalysis in Connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing. Musical V
oices of Asia : 162-173, The Japan Foundation (éd),Heibonsha Ltd, Tokyo.
Tran Quang Hai & Zemp,Hugo. (1991). Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique (Experimental researches on the overtone singing). Cahiers de Musiques traditionnelles : VOIX vol.4: 27-68, Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie /AIMP, Genève.
Tran Quang Hai, (1975). Technique de la voix chantée mongole: xöömij. Bulletin du CEMO (14 & 15): 32-36, Paris, France
Tran Quang Hai, (1990). Les Musiques vocales. L’Esprit des Voix, C.Alès (éd), La Pensée Sauvage: 43-52, Grenoble, France .
Tran Quang Hai, (1991). New Experimental About the Overtone Singing Style (Nouvelles Expérimentations sur le chant diphonique). Nouvelles Voies de la Voix, 1ère partie, Bulletin d’audiophonologie 7(5&6): 607-618, Besançon, France.
Tran Quang Hai, (1995). Le chant diphonique: description, historique, styles, aspect acoustique et spectral. EM, Annuario degli Archivi di Etnomusicologia dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, 2:123-150, Roma.
Tran Quang Hai, (1995). Survey of overtone singing style. EVTA (European Voice Teachers Association, Dokumentation 1994 (congress report): 49-62, Detmold, Germany
Tran Quang Hai, (1997). Recherches introspectives sur le chant diphonique et leurs applications’.Penser la Voix, La Licorne (ed.) :195-210, Poitiers, France .
Tran Quang Hai, (1998). Survey of overtone singing style. Die Ausdruckswelt der Stimme: 77-83, 1-Stuttgarter Stimmtage/Horst Gunderman, Hüthig (ed), Stuttgart, Germany.
Tran Quang Hai, (1999). Overtones used in Tibetan Buddhist Chanting and in Tuvin Shamanism.Ritual and Music: 129-136, Lithuanian Academy of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology (ed),Vilnius, Lituania
Tran Quang Hai, (2000). Some Experimental and Instrospective Researches on Xoomij Overtone Singing. Proceedings WESTPRAC VII (october 2000): 593-598, University of Kumamoto, Japan .
Tran Quang Hai, (2001). Chant diphonique. Science et Conscience, 2: 42-44, Luxembourg.
Tran Quang Hai, (2001). Voix d’autres cultures. Cinq Sens dans un corps, 284: 36-37, Paris, France
283
Tran Quang Hai, (2002). A la decouverte du chant diphonique. Moyens d’Investigation et Pedagogie de la Voix chantee: 117-132, Symetrie (ed), Lyon, France
Vargyas, L. (1968). Performing Styles in Mongolian Chant. Journal of the International Folk Music Council : 70-72, Kingston.
Vlachov, E. (1985). Recherches Vocales contemporaines: chant diphonique. Maîtrise à l’Université de Paris VIII-Saint Denis, supervised by Daniel Charles, 90 pages, Paris.
Walcott, R. (1974). The Chöömij of Mongolia – A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing. Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 2 (1): 55-59, UCLA, Los Angeles.
Zarlino, G. (1558). Institutioni harmoniche, Venise. (cf. Tisato, G.).
Zemp, H & Tran Quang Hai, (1991). Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique (cf. Tran Quang Hai & Zemp, Hugo).
Discography only in CD
TUVA
1. Epics and Overtone Singing. Central Asia, Siberia: Touva, Chor, Kalmouk, Tadjik, vol.1 , Paris (France) Maison des Cultures du Monde W 260067 (1996).
2. Shu-De. Voices from the Distant Steppe , London (United Kingdom)Realworld CDRW 41 (1994).
3.TUVA/ Tuvinian Singers and Musicians ,Frankfurt: World Network 55.838 (1993).
4. Huun -Huur-Tu /Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva , New Jersey (USA): Shanadie 64050 (1993).
5. TUVA- Echoes from the Spirit World, Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2013 CD (1992).
6 Tuva. Voices from the Land of Eagles , Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2005 CD (1991).
7.Ozum / Sprouts / Young Voices of Ancient Tuva, Amsterdam (Holland): Window to Europe SUM 90008 (1991).
8. Tuva – Voices from the Center of Asia, Washington DC (USA): Smithsonian/Folkways CD SF 40017 (1990).
MONGOLIA
9. White Moon / Tsagaan Sar/ Traditional and Popular Music from Mongolia , Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN2010CD (1992)
10.Mongolie / Musique vocale et instrumentale , Paris (France): INEDIT / Maison des Cultures du Monde W 260009 (1989)
11.Mongolie / Musique et chants de tradition populaire , Paris (France): GREM G7511 (1986).
12. Mongolian Music, Hungaroton, HCD 18013-14, collection UNESCO, Budapest, Hongrie, 1990.
13. Folk Music from Mongolia / Karakorum , Hamburgisches Museum für Völkerkunde, Hambourg, Allemagne, 1993.
14.Vocal & Instrumental of Mongolia , Topic, World Series TSCD909, Londres, Grande Bretagne, 1994.
15.Jargalant Altai/-Xöömii and other vocal and instrumental music from Mongolia , Pan Records PAN 2050CD, Ethnic Series, Leiden, Hollande, 1996
BASHKIRIA / ALTAI / TUVA
16.Uzlyau ; Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2019CD (1993)
17. Voices of the World , Paris (France): Le Chant du Monde CMX 37410-12, set of 3CD, bilingual booklet (188p), collection CNRS-MUSEE DE L’HOMME (1996). Grand Prize of the Academy Charles Cros (1997), Diapason d’Or of the Year 1997.
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WIKIPEDIA: OVERTONE SINGING

Overtone singing

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Overtone singing – also known as overtone chanting, harmonic singing, or throat singing – is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances (or formants) created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out of the lips to produce a melody.

The harmonics (fundamental and overtones) of a sound wave made by the human voice can be selectively amplified by changing the shape of the resonant cavities of the mouth, larynx, and pharynx.[1] This resonant tuning allows singers to create apparently more than one pitch at the same time (the fundamental and a selected overtone), while actually generating only a single fundamental frequency with their vocal folds.

Each note is like a rainbow of sound. When you shoot a light beam through a prism, you get a rainbow. You think of a rainbow of sounds when you sing one note. If you can use your throat as a prism, you can expose the rainbow – through positioning the throat in a certain physical way, which will reveal the harmonic series note by note.[2]

Asia

Mongolia and Buryatia

It is thought that the art of overtone singing originated in southwestern Mongolia in today’s Khovd Province and Govi Altai region. Nowadays, overtone singing is found throughout the country and Mongolia is often considered the most active center of overtone singing in the world.[3] The most commonly practiced style, Khöömii (written in Cyrillic as Хөөмий), can be divided up into the following categories:

  • uruulyn / labial khöömii
  • tagnain / palatal khöömii
  • khamryn / nasal khöömii
  • bagalzuuryn, khooloin / glottal, throat khöömii
  • tseejiin khondiin, khevliin / chest cavity, stomach khöömii
  • turlegt or khosmoljin khöömii / khöömii combined with long song

Mongolians also use many other singing styles such as “karkhiraa” (literally “growling”) and “isgeree”.

Many of these styles are also practiced in neighboring regions such as Tuva and Altai.

Tuva

Tuvan overtone singing is practiced by the Tuva people of southern Siberia, Russia. The history of Tuvan overtone singing reaches far back in local history. There is a wide range of vocalizations, including Sygyt, Kargyraa (which also uses a second sound source), Khoomei, Chylandyk, Dumchuktaar, and Ezengileer. Most of these styles are closely related to the styles and variations in neighboring Mongolia.

Altai and Khakassia

Tuva’s neighbouring Russian regions, the Altai Republic to the west and Khakassia to the northwest, have developed forms of throat singing called “kai”, or “khai”. In Altai, this is used mostly for epic poetry performance, to the accompaniment of a topshur. Altai narrators (“kai-chi“) perform in kargyraa, khöömei, and sygyt styles, which are similar to Tuvan. They also have their own style, a very high harmonics, emerging from kargyraa. Variations of kai are called karkyra, sybysky, homei, and sygyt. The first well-known kai-chi was Kalkin.

Chukchi Peninsula

The Chukchi people of the Chukchi Peninsula in the extreme northeast of Russia also practice a form of throat singing.[4]

Tibet

Tibetan Buddhist chanting is a subgenre of throat singing, mainly practiced by monks of Tibet, including Qinghai (Khokhonor) province in the Tibetan plateau area, Tibetan monks of Nepal, Bhutan, India, and various locations in the Himalayan region. Most often the chants hold to the lower pitches possible in throat singing. Various ceremonies and prayers call for throat singing in Tibetan Buddhism, often with more than one monk chanting at a time. There are different Tibetan throat singing styles, such as Gyuke (Tibetan: རྒྱུད་སྐད་, Wylie: rgyud skad) – this style uses the lowest pitch of voice; Dzoke (Tibetan: མཛོ་སྐད་, Wylie: mdzo skad), and Gyer (Tibetan: གྱེར་, Wylie: gyer).

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

The oral poetry of Kazakhstan and the Uzbek region of Karakalpakstan sometimes enters the realm of throat singing.[citation needed]

Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan

Balochi Nur Sur is one of the ancient forms of overtone singing and is still popular in parts of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan – especially in the Sulaiman Mountains.[citation needed]

Japan

The Ainu of Hokkaidō, Japan once practiced a type of throat singing called rekuhkara, which is now extinct. The last singer of rekuhkara died in 1976, but there are some recordings left.[4][5] At sumo tournaments, the announcer, called Yobidashi, announces each wrestler’s name using overtone throat singing.[citation needed]

Europe

Sardinia

On the island of Sardinia (Italy), especially in the subregion of Barbagia, one of the two different styles of polyphonic singing is marked by the use of a throaty voice. This kind of song is called a tenore. The other style, known as cuncordu, does not use throat singing. A tenore is practiced by groups of four male singers, each of whom has a distinct role; the ‘oche or boche (pronounced /oke/ or /boke/, “voice”) is the solo voice, while the mesu ‘oche or mesu boche (“half voice”), contra (“against”), and bassu (“bass”) – listed in descending pitch order – form a chorus (another meaning of tenore). Boche and mesu boche sing in a regular voice, whereas contra and bassu sing with a technique affecting the larynx. In 2005, Unesco classed the cantu a tenore as an intangible world heritage.[6] Among the most well known groups who perform a tenore are Tenores di Bitti, Tenores de Orosei, Tenores di Oniferi, and Tenores di Neoneli.

Northern Europe

The Sami people of the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia have a singing genre called yoik. While overtone techniques are not a defining feature of yoik, individuals sometimes utilize overtones in the production of yoik.

Bashkortostan

The Bashkirs of Bashkortostan, Russia have a style of overtone singing called özläü (sometimes spelled uzlyau; Bashkort Өзләү), which has nearly died out. In addition, Bashkorts also sing uzlyau while playing the kurai, a national instrument. This technique of vocalizing into a flute can also be found in folk music as far west as the Balkans and Hungary.

North America

Inuit

The resurgence of a once-dying Inuit tradition called katajjaq is currently under way in Canada. Inuit throat singing was a form of entertainment among Inuit women while the men were away on hunting trips. It was an activity that was primarily done by Inuit women, though men also did it. In the Inuit language Inuktitut, throat singing is called katajjaq, pirkusirtuk, or nipaquhiit, depending on the Canadian Arctic region. It was regarded more as a type of vocal or breathing game in the Inuit culture rather than a form of music. Inuit throat singing is generally done by two individuals but can involve four or more people together as well. In Inuit throat singing, two women would face each other either standing or crouching down while holding each other’s arms. One would lead with short deep rhythmic sounds while the other would respond. The leader would repeat sounds with short gaps in between. The follower would fill in these gaps with her own rhythmic sounds. Sometimes both women would be doing a dance-like movement such as rocking from left to right while throat singing. The practice is compared more to a game or competition than to a musical style. In the game, Inuit women sit or stand face-to-face and create rhythmic patterns.[7]

Africa

South Africa

Some Thembu Xhosa women of South Africa have a low, rhythmic style of throat-singing, similar to the Tuvan Kargyraa style, that is called umngqokolo. It is often accompanied by call-and-response vocals and complicated poly-rhythms.[8][9][10]

Non-traditional styles

Canada, United States, and Europe

The 1920s Texan singer of cowboy songs, Arthur Miles, independently created a style of overtone singing, similar to sygyt, as a supplement to the normal yodelling of country western music. Blind Willie Johnson, also of Texas, is not a true overtone singer according to National Geographic, but his ability to shift from guttural grunting noises to a soft lullaby is suggestive of the tonal timbres of overtone singing.[11]

Starting in the 1960s, some musicians in the West either have collaborated with traditional throat singers or ventured into the realm of throat singing and overtone singing, or both. Some made original musical contributions and helped this art rediscover its transcultural universality. As harmonics are universal to all physical sounds, the notion of authenticity is best understood in terms of musical quality. Musicians of note in this genre include Collegium Vocale Köln (who first began using this technique in 1968),Tran Quang Hai,  Michael Vetter, David Hykes,[12] Jill Purce, Jim Cole, Ry Cooder, Paul Pena (mixing the traditional Tuvan style with that of American Blues), Steve Sklar, and Kiva (specializing in jazz/ world beat genres and composing for overtone choirs). Others include composer Baird Hersey and his group Prana with Krishna Das (overtone singing and Hindu mantra), as well as Canadian songwriter Nathan Rogers, who has become an adept throat singer and teaches Tuvan throat singing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[citation needed]

Paul Pena was featured in the documentary Genghis Blues, which tells the story of his pilgrimage to Tuva to compete in their annual throat singing competition. The film won the documentary award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2000.

Tuvan singer Sainkho Namtchylak has collaborated with free jazz musicians such as Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg. Lester Bowie and Ornette Coleman have worked with the Tenores di Bitti, and Eleanor Hovda has written a piece using the Xhosa style of singing. DJs and performers of electronic music like The KLF have also merged their music with throat singing, overtone singing, or with the theory of harmonics behind it.

A capella singer Avi Kaplan also exhibited overtone singing during his group’s (Pentatonix) performances. He merged throat singing together with a capella dubstep.

The Overtone Choir Spektrum from Prague, Czech Republic, is unique among overtone choirs, particularly because it connects traditional choir singing with overtone techniques. It is the only one of its kind in the Czech Republic, and one of only a few in the world.[2] [3]

Several contemporary classical composers have incorporated overtone singing into their works. Karlheinz Stockhausen was one of the first, with Stimmung in 1968. “Past Life Melodies” for SATB chorus by Australian composer Sarah Hopkins (b. 1958) also calls for this technique. Tran Quang Hai used the overtone singing in his composition Vê Nguon (with the collaboration of Nguyen van Tuong ) in 1975 (world creation in Paris) .In Water Passion after St. Matthew by Tan Dun, the soprano and bass soloists sing in a variety of techniques including overtone singing of the Mongolian style.

See also

Notes

 

 

  1. Bellamy and MacLean 2005, 515.

References

  • Bandinu, Omar (2006). “Il canto a tenore: dai nuraghi all’Unesco“, Siti 2, no.3 (July–September): 16–21.
  • Bellamy, Isabel, and Donald MacLean (2005). Radiant Healing: The Many Paths to Personal Harmony and Planetary Wholeness. Buddina, Queensland (Australia): Joshua Books. ISBN 0-9756878-5-9
  • Haouli, Janete El (2006). Demetrio Stratos: en busca de la voz-música. México, D. F.: Radio Educación – Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes.
  • Levin, Theodore C., and Michael E. Edgerton (1999). “The Throat Singers of Tuva“. Scientific American 281, no. 3 (September): 80–87.
  • Levin, Theodore, and Valentina Süzükei (2006). Where Rivers and Mountains Sing. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34715-7.
  • Pariser, David, and Enid Zimmerman (2004). “Learning in the Visual Arts: Characteristics of Gifted and Talented Individuals,” in Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education, Elliot W. Eisner and Michael D. Day (editors). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-8058-4972-1.
  • Saus, Wolfgang (2004). Oberton Singen. Schönau im Odenwald: Traumzeit-Verlag. ISBN 3-933825-36-9 (German).
  • Sklar, Steve (2005). “Types of throat singing” “[4]
  • Titze, Ingo R. (1994). Principles of Voice Production. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-717893-3 Reprinted Iowa City: National Center for Voice and Speech, 2000. (NCVS.org) ISBN 978-0-87414-122-1 .
  • Titze, Ingo R. (2008). “The Human Instrument”. Scientific American 298, no. 1 (July):94–101. PM 18225701
  • Tongeren, Mark C. van (2002). Overtone Singing: Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West. Amsterdam: Fusica. ISBN 90-807163-2-4 (pbk), ISBN 90-807163-1-6 (cloth).
  • Tran Quang Hai & Guillou, D. (1980). Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in Connection with the Xoomij Style of Biphonic Singing.

    Musical Voices of Asia: 162-173, The Japan Foundation (ed) Heibonsha Ltd, Tokyo
    Tran Quang Hai & Zemp,Hugo. (1991). Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique (Experimental researches on the overtone singing).Cahiers de Musiques traditionnelles : VOIX vol.4: 27-68,
    Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie /AIMP, Genève

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtone_singing

This page was last edited on 17 November 2018, at 03:42 (UTC).