Chen-Gia Tsai : Perception of Overtone Singing

Perception of Overtone Singing : Chen-Gia Tsai

Pitch strength

Voices of overtone-singing differ from normal voices in having a sharp formant Fk (k denotes Kh??mei), which elicits the melody pitch fk = nf0. For normal voices, the bandwidths of formants are always so large that the formants merely contribute to the perception of timbre. For overtone-singing voices, the sharp formant Fk can contribute to the perception of pitch.

A pitch model based on autocorrelation analysis predicts that the strength of fk increases as the bandwidth of Fk decreases. Fig. 1 compares the spectra and autocorrelation functions of three synthesized single-formant vowels with the same fundamental frequency f0 = 150 Hz and formant frequency 9f0. In the autocorrelation functions the height of the peak at 1/9f0, which represents the pitch strength of 9f0, increases as the the formant bandwidth decreases. Fig. 1 suggests that the pitch of fk is audible once the strongest harmonic is larger than the adjacent harmonics by 10 dB.

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Figure 1: Spectra (left) and autocorrelation functions (right) of three single-formant vowels. Stream segregation

Next to the bandwidth of Fk, the musical context also plays a role in the perception of fk. During a performance of overtone-singing, the low pitch of f0 is always held constant. When fk moves up and down, the pitch sensation of f0 may be suppressed by the preceding f0 and listeners become indifferent to it. On the contrary, if f0 and fk change simultaneously, listeners tend to hear the pitch contour of f0, while the stream of fk may be more difficult to trace.

The multi-pitch effect in overtone-singing highlights a limitation of auditory scene analysis, by which the components radiated by the same object should be grouped and perceived as a single entity. Stream segregation occurs in the quasi-periodic voices of overtone-singing through the segregation/grouping mechanism based on pitch. This may explain that overtone-singing always sounds extraordinary when we first hear it.

Perception of rapid fluctuations

Tuvans employ a range of vocalizations to imitate natural sounds. Such singing voices (e.g., Ezengileer and Borbannadir) are characterized by rapid spectral fluctuations, evoking the sensation of rhythm, timbre vibrato or trill.

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Mongolian Khöömii Singing Papers, Singers and Recordings

Mongolian Khöömii Singing Papers, Singers and Recordings

There have been many explanations of khöömii that I have come across over the years. I will attempt to point to the main contributors and sources. My own studies brought me to Mongolia in 1993/4/7 and 2000/5/6 and I have interviewed attended and set up workshops with Gereltsogt (London 1993) and Tserendavaa (Europe 2002) that gave me further insight. This page is still under construction and will be updated as I find time to put more information on. If you would like to send me any information regarding Mongolian khöömii and if any Mongolian khöömii singers would like their own page on this site then please email me at

Carol Pegg’s articles on Khöömii
Khöömii nomination extract for UNSECO Intangible Cultural Heritage 2010
Scientific American Article September 1999
The Chöömij of Mongolia A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing by Ronald Walcott 1974
Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing
Tran Quang Hai and Denis Guillou, Paris 1980
A Two Voiced Song With No Words by Lauri Harvilahti circa 1981
Tuvin Folk Music by A. N. Aksenov, Tuvinskaia Narodnaia Muzyka (Moscow, 1964)
Analysis of Acoustical Features of Biphonic Singing Voices Male and Female Xöömij and Male Steppe Kargiraa
By Takeda, Shoichi and Muraoka, Teruo
Why Do We Perceive Two Tones Simultaneously In Xoomij Mongolian Traditional Singing? By MasashiYamada
Synthesis of the laryngeal source of throat singing using a 2×2-mass model
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Hiroshi Imagawa, Seiji Niimi, Naotoshi Osaka
Physical Modelling of the vocal tract of a Sygyt singer by Chen-Gia Tsai
Perception of Overtone Singing by Chen-Gia Tsai
Kargyraa and meditation by Chen-Gia Tsai
Growl Voice in Ethnic and Pop Styles
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Leonardo Fuks, Hiroshi Imagawa, Niro Tayama 2004
False vocal fold surface waves during Sygyt singing: A hypothesis
Chen-Gia Tsai, Yio-Wha Shau, and Tzu-Yu Hsiao
False Vocal Fold Surface Waves During Sygyt Singing: a theoretical study by Chen-Gia Tsai
The Effect of the Hypopharyngeal and Supra-Glottic Shapes on The Singing Voice
Hiroshi Imagawa, Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Niro Tayama, Seiji Niimi, 2003
The Laryngeal Flow model for Pressed-Type Singing Voices
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Hiroshi Imagawa, Seiji Niimi, Naotoshi Osaka 2006
Observation of Laryngeal Movements for Throat Singing. Vibrations of two pairs of folds in the human larynx
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Tomoko Konishi, Emi Zuiki Murano, Hiroshi Imagawa, Masanobu Kumada, Kazumasa Kondo, and Seiji Niimi
December 2002
Altai Khangai Ensemble info on Khöömii from the net
Zulsar on Khöömii from the Net

Page one of some Mongolian CD’s Featuring khöömii with track listings and liner notes

Page two of some Mongolian CD’s Featuring khöömii with track listings and liner notes

Page three of Some Mongolian CD’s found on the net

An Incomplete List of recorded Mongolian khöömii singers
A to F G to R S to Z

Magic of Tone and the Art of Music by the late Dane Rhudyar
This is a very interesting extract about the Harmonic series from the now out of print book

Some Khöömii, Khoomei, Overtone Singing Links and Related Sites

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INGE R. TITZE : From Aerosmith to Pavarotti — How Humans Sing

INGE R. TITZE : From Aerosmith to Pavarotti — How Humans Sing

From Aerosmith to Pavarotti — How Humans Sing
How Does The Singer’s Voice Produce Those Amazing Sounds?

By Ingo R. Titze

inge titze

The Human Instrument
How Instruments Make Music

Although the human vocal system is small, it manages to create sounds as varied and beautiful as those produced by a variety of musical instruments. The question is: How can singers produce all those remarkable sounds?
All instruments, including our singing voices, have a sound source, a resonator that reinforces (amplifies) the basic sound and a radiator that transmits the sound to listeners. In people, the source is vibrating vocal folds (vocal cords) of the larynx or voice box; the resonator is the sound-boosting airway above the larynx; and the radiator is the opening of the mouth.
The human voice can create an impressive array of sounds because it relies on non-linear feedback by which a small input can result in a disproportionately large output. One of the voice’s more effective nonlinear mechanisms is inertive reactance, whereby singers create special conditions in their vocal tract to amplify sounds generated by the vocal folds.
To better understand the complex phenomena that produce the incredible sounds acclaimed vocalists demonstrate in the following sound clips and elsewhere, take a look at my article—The Human Instrument—in the January issue of Scientific American.
SOUND CLIPS Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler, lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith, is celebrated for his ability to scream tunefully. Here, he produces several interesting vocal effects. Tyler first uses some inharmonic (noise-like) sounds to match the timbre of his voice to percussive instruments. He also demonstrates a “flip” into falsetto register, but later employs a bright vowel on the word “same” to continue his belt-like voice (as in “belt” it out) into a high pitch.

Georgia Brown
Georgia Brown is a Brazilian pop singer who is noted for her wide vocal range (eight octaves) and is thus classified as a full dramatic coloratura soprano. In this example, she is likely using inertive reactance in her vocal tract to reinforce a very high-pitched whistle voice that she creates with her vocal folds. No vowels are heard because the pitch sits above the first two vocal-tract resonances that define (perceptually) what a vowel is.

Rollin Rachele
Rollin Rachele is one of the world’s foremost overtone singers, a technique in which a person vocalizes two notes simultaneously. Overtone singing and related techniques are most widely recognized in the Tuvan, Mongolian and Tibetan cultures. Rachele never uses the fundamental frequency to change pitch. Rather, he maintains the fundamental frequency as a constant drone, then applies varying vocal tract shapes to resonate a single harmonic of this drone at any one time. By skipping from harmonic to harmonic he can play a tune with these high frequencies, also known as overtones.

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Joan Sutherland
Dame Joan Sutherland, the renowned Australian operatic soprano, knew instinctively that some vowels cannot be used when singing certain pitches. In this case, she uses a less open mouth shape in her middle pitch range than she does in her high pitch range. One vowel, for instance, sounds more like “oh” in the middle and “ah” at the top. Sutherland alternates between an inverted megaphone (horn-like) shape and a megaphone shape in these vowels to reinforce the sonic energy produced at the vocal folds.

Ethel Merman
On stage, Broadway musical star Ethel Merman belted out songs with precise enunciation and pitch so audiences could hear her even without amplification. Here, she uses bright vowels with high first-resonance frequency to make optimal use of inertive reactance. Pay particular attention to the vowels she uses in “everything,” “roses,” “for” and “me.” The vowels all suggest that she employs the horn-like megaphone vocal-tract shape. But unlike Joan Sutherland, Merman uses the megaphone shape in the middle of her pitch range to reinforce the second harmonic. Sutherland, in contrast, makes use of the megaphone shape only on very high notes to reinforce the first harmonic. Neither female vocalist sings true speech-like vowels.

Luciano Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti, the recently deceased Italian operatic tenor, is famed for the brilliance and beauty of his tone. In this example, he uses a vocal production in his high notes that is similar to that which Ethel Merman uses in her mid- to high-pitch range. The male high voice has a strong second harmonic as does the female belt voice. But Pavarotti widens his pharynx (the airway above the larynx) more, producing an additional ring in the voice, while downplaying the more typical twanging sound. As far as timbre is concerned, ring sounds match better with bowed string and woodwind instruments, whereas twanging sounds match better with brass and percussion instruments.

Audio file manifest ETHEL MERMAN – Female belt voice
Clip 1: Minutes 1:35 to 1:51
APA style ref: Styne, J., Sondheim, S. (1959). Everything’s Coming Up Roses [Recorded by E. Merman, S. Black, London Festival Orchestra & Chorus]. On Merman Sings Merman [CD]. London, England: Decca (1972, reissued 2004)
Clip 2: Minutes 2:25 to 2:47
APA style ref: Styne, J., Sondheim, S. (1959). Everything’s Coming Up Roses [Recorded by E. Merman, S. Black, London Festival Orchestra & Chorus]. On Merman Sings Merman [CD]. London, England: Decca (1972, reissued 2004)

Clip 3: Minutes 1:50 to 2:22
APA style ref: Porter, C. (1934). I Get a Kick Out of You [Recorded by E. Merman, S. Black, London Festival Orchestra & Chorus]. On Merman Sings Merman [CD]. London, England: Decca (1972, reissued 2004)
JOAN SUTHERLAND – Female operatic voice
Clip 1: Minutes 5:30 to 5:50
APA style ref: Bellini, V. (1831). Casta diva [Recorded by J. Sutherland, R. Bonynge, London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus]. On Joan Sutherland: The Greatest Hits [CD]. London, England: Decca (1998)
Clip 2: Minutes 4:03 to 4:24
APA style ref: Gounod, C. (1859, Rev. 1869). O Dieu! Que de bijoux! …Ah! je ris de me voir si belle (Jewel song) [Recorded by J. Sutherland, F. Molinari-Pradelli, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden]. On Joan Sutherland: The Greatest Hits [CD]. London, England: Decca (1998)
STEVEN TYLER – Male rock voice
Clip 1: Minutes 3:24 to 3:45
APA style ref: Aerosmith (1973). Dream On. Aerosmith [CD]. New York: Columbia Records
Clip 2: Minutes 0:56 to 1:22
APA style ref: Aerosmith (1989). Janie’s Got a Gun. Pump [CD]. New York: Geffen Records
LUCIANO PAVAROTTI – Male operatic voice
Clip 1: Minutes 1:45 to 2:06
APA style ref: Verdi, G. (1851). La donna e mobile [Recorded by L. Pavarotti, A. Toscanini, Symphonic Orchestra of Emilia Romagna]. On Luciano Pavarotti in concert [CD]. New York: CBS Records
Clip 2: Minutes 1:20 to 1:35
APA style ref: Verdi, G. (1851). Questa o quella [Recorded by L. Pavarotti, A. Toscanini, Symphonic Orchestra of Emilia Romagna]. On Luciano Pavarotti in concert [CD]. New York: CBS Records
ROLLIN RACHELLE – (Male) Overtone singing (improperly referred to as “throat singing”)
Clip 1: 20 seconds long
APA style ref: Rachelle, R. (1995). Track 18. Overtone Singing Study Guide [Book/CD]. Amersterdam, Netherlands: Cryptic Voices Productions
GEORGIA BROWN – (Female) Whistle voice (not a person whistling!)
Clip 1: Seconds 0:08 to 0:21
Ref: Recording of Georgia Brown: sound clip (link to last accessed 12/05/07.
Clip 2: Minutes 0:54 to 1:00
Ref: Recording of Georgia Brown: sound clip (link to last accessed 12/05/07.

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Tran Quang Hai : Metodo per Imparare il Canto Armonico di Stile KHOOMEI

Metodo per Imparare il Canto Armonico di Stile KHOOMEI
Tran Quang Hai (Francia)
Negli ultimi 40 anni si sono prodotte un numero considerevole di ricerche riguardo questo peculiare fenomeno vocale, in particolare sulle modalità con le quali esso è praticato in Mongolia e a Tuva.
In mongolo e tuvano la parola KHOOMEI significa faringe, gola e KHOOMEILAKH è la tecnica di produrre armonici vocali. Questa tecnica piuttosto insolita, che porta la voce umana ai suoi limiti, comporta la produzione simultanea di due suoni: un suono grave o fondamentale che è ricco di armonici e la reminiscenza dello Jew’s harp[1] (motivo per cui questa tecnica è anche chiamata “ Jew’s harp voice”). Secondo i cantanti della Mongolia questa tecnica è molto faticosa. L’esecutore deve tendere i muscoli e gonfiare le guance. Variando la pressione dell’aria attraverso le corde vocali, il volume del cavo orale e la posizione della lingua, vengono ottenuti suoni diversi. In questo modo, armonici di diverse frequenze vengono prodotti formando melodie. La fondamentale viene prodotta nel retro della gola, passando attraverso il cavo orale e attraverso l’eccitazione delle labbra leggermente divise e in misura minore attraverso il naso.
La ricerca può essere eseguita in molti modi: dai sistemi di osservazione degli esecutori nativi dopo una o più visite nei paesi che interessano, o attraverso una pratica strumentale e un addestramento vocale che mirano ad una migliore comprensione della struttura musicale assunta dalla popolazione studiata.
La mia ricerca non appartiene a una di queste due categorie in quanto non sono stato in Mongolia e non ho imparato lo stile KHOOMEI (canto armonico) da un insegnante Mongolo.
Quello che ora vado descrivendo è il risultato dei miei propri esperimenti che abiliteranno chiunque a produrre due note simultaneamente in maniera simile allo stile Mongolo e Tuvano di canto armonico.
La maniera con la quale viene tradotta la parola Mongola o Tuvana non è uniforme: 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).
Ricercatori francesi hanno altri termini per descrivere questa peculiare tecnica vocale come per esempio CHANT DIPHONIQUE o BIPHONIQUE (Leipp 1971), Tran Quang Hai 1974, Gilles Leothaud 1989, VOIX GUIMBARDE, VOIX DEDOUBLEE (Helffer 1973, Hamayon 1973), e CHANT DIPHONIQUE SOLO (Marcel-Dubois 1979).
Per convenienza, io ho impiegato il termine “OVERTONE SINGING[2]” per descrivere uno stile di canto eseguito da una singola persona che produce contemporaneamente una fondamentale che continua e un altro suono più acuto tra quelli della serie delle parziali o armoniche, che ricordano il suono del flauto .
Come sono giunto al “Canto Armonico” (“overtone singing”)
Nel 1970, al Department of Ethnomusicology (Musee de l’Homme), il Prof. Roberte Hamayon mi fece ascoltare le sue registrazioni fatte in Mongolia nel 1967 e nel 1969. Fui sorpreso dalla natura straordinaria e unica di questa tecnica vocale.
Per molti mesi compii ricerche bibliografiche negli articoli dove era trattato questo stile di canto nel tentativo di ottenere informazioni sulla pratica del Canto Armonico, ma ricevetti piccole soddisfazioni.
Spiegazioni meramente teoretiche e alcune volte di natura ambigua non fecero nulla di meglio che creare e incrementare la confusione col il che la mia ricerca fu abbandonata. A dispetto della mia completa ignoranza sul metodo impiegato per imparare il Canto Armonico praticato dai Mongoli, dai Tuvani e da altre popolazioni della Siberia, non mi scoraggiai minimamente per i risultati negativi ottenuti all’inizio dei miei studi dopo mesi di sforzo. Io lavorai interamente solo brancolando a mio modo nel buio per due lunghi anni, ascoltando frequentemente dalle registrazioni effettuate da Roberte Hamayon depositate nel Sound Archives del Department of Ethnomusicology del Musee de l’Homme. I miei sforzi non portavano risultati. Nonostante la conoscenza della tecnica dello scacciapensieri, il lavoro all’inizio fu difficile e scoraggiante.
Provai anche a fischiare mentre emettevo un suono grave con la voce come fondamentale. Comunque all’analisi spettrografica si vedeva che non era simile alla tecnica Xöömij dei Mongoli. Alla fine del 1972 mi resi conto che ero ancora molto lontano dalla mia meta.
Poi, un giorno, nel novembre del 1973, mentre cercavo di calmare i miei nervi nella terrificante congestione del traffico di Parigi, accadde che feci vibrare le mie corde vocali nella faringe con la bocca mezzo aperta recitando a memoria le lettere dell’alfabeto. Quando arrivai alla lettera “L”, e la punta della lingua stava quasi per toccare la cima del palato, sentii improvvisamente un suono armonico chiaro, puro e potente. Ripetei molte volte l’operazione ottenendo lo stesso risultato; tentai poi di cambiare la posizione della lingua sul palato mantenendo il suono di base. Una serie di palatali risuonò come un disturbo nelle mie orecchie. All’inizio trovai gli armonici dell’accordo perfetto. Lentamente, dopo una settimana di addestramento intensivo, slittando verso l’acuto o il grave con la fondamentale scoprii da me stesso il mistero del canto armonico, il cui stile appariva vicino a quello praticato dai Mongoli e dai Tuvani.
Dopo due mesi di “ricerca” e dopo numerosi esperimenti di vario genere, riuscii a creare una breve melodia di armonici. Questa è la mia “ricetta” per aiutare chiunque a fare questo primo passo per cantare gli armonici.
1. Intensificare la produzione vocale con una voce di gola
2. Pronunciare le lettere “I” e “U” collegandole insieme e ripetendo molte volte in un fiato.
3. Si faccia un suono nasale con la punta della lingua in posizione bassa.
4. In questo modo è possibile mettere a fuoco la linea degli armonici superiori sia in ordine ascendente che discendente.
Questa è la prima tecnica, quella che io chiamo “tecnica a una cavità”. Ciò è piuttosto facile da fare e chiunque può ottenere due suoni simultanei nel giro di un minuto di pratica.
La seconda “ricetta” aiuterà a produrre gli armonici chiari alla maniera dello stile Mongolo e Tuvano. Io chiamo questa “tecnica a due cavità”.
1. Si emetta il suono vocalico “E” più lungo possibile.
2. Si pronunci la lettera “L”. Mantenere la posizione con la punta della lingua che tocca il palato. In questa posizione la bocca è divisa in due cavità, una davanti e una dietro.
3. Si pronunci prima “LAANG” per diverse volte (primo esercizio) e poi “LOONG” per altrettante (secondo esercizio). Quando gli armonici sono udibili si canti tenendo la lingua contro il palato e contemporaneamente cambiando la forma della bocca come per pronunciare le vocali da “A” a “O” e successivamente da “O” a “A” eseguendolo molte volte in un fiato.
4. Si faccia un suono nasale.
5. In questa maniera si può produrre chiaramente la serie di armonici in stile Mongolo.
Per i principianti gli armonici dell’accordo perfetto (Do, Mi, Sol, Do) sono facili da ottenere.
Comunque, un allenamento particolarmente duro è necessario per ottenere scale pentatoniche. Ogni persona ha la sua altezza favorita che l’abilita a produrre una maggiore gamma di parziali. Questa fondamentale favorita varia secondo le qualita della voce del singolo cantante.
Altri esperimenti dai quali ho appreso che è possibile ottenere due suoni simultaneamente in tre diversi modi:
1. nel primo modo la lingua è abbassata o leggermente curva, senza mai toccare in alcun modo il palato, e solo le labbra muovono il cavo orale. Con questa modalità del cavo orale, questa volta diviso in un’unica cavità, è possibile udire le parziali ma deboli e gli armonici più acuti non superano i 1200Hz.
2. La tecnica di base del secondo metodo è descritta sopra. Comunque, invece di tenere la bocca mezzo aperta è tenuta quasi chiusa con le labbra tirate indietro e molto strette. Perché le parziali siano molto chiare, la posizione delle labbra deve variare allo stesso tempo della lingua. Quando le parziali sono molto chiare e distinte allora la tecnica è esaurita. Gli armonici acuti possono arrivare alla zona dei 2600 Hz.
3. Nel terzo metodo la lingua è abbassata, e i denti stringono la lingua mentre si cantano le vocali “U” e “I”, con la contrazione dell’addome e dei muscoli della gola. Gli armonici più acuti possono giungere a 4200Hz.
Altri nuovi esperimenti che ho iniziato a mostrare è che io posso mantenere l’armonico allo stesso livello di frequenza usato come “nota tenuta” e cambiare la linea delle fondamentali (per esempio Do, Fa, Sol, Do). Sono anche riuscito a creare una linea di fondamentali e una di armonici che muovono contemporaneamente in direzioni opposte. In altre parole io produco una linea fondamentale ascendente e, allo stesso tempo, una linea discendente di armonici. L’effetto armonico è piuttosto inusuale ed eccezionale.
Nel 1989 io e il dottor Hugo Zemp abbiamo realizzato un film intitolato “THE SONG OF HARMONICS” che mostra una ripresa ai raggi X e una spettrografica, in tempo reale e con il suono sincronizzato, di brani di canto dei diversi paesi. Questo film prodotto dal CNRS –Audiovisivi e dalla French Society for Ethnomusicology, ottenne due premi (Grand Prize and Best Music Prize) al International Festival of Visual Anthropological Film in Estonia Ottobre 1990, un premio (Special Prize for Research) al International Festival of Scientific Film in Palaiseau (France) nel Novembre 1990, e il Grand Prize del International Festival of Scientific Film in Montreal (Canada) nel1991.
Nella musica contemporanea occidentale gruppi di cantanti sono riusciti ad emettere due note contemporaneamente e sono stati creati brani di musica d’avanguardia e nell’ambito della musica elettoacustica. David Hykes con il suo Harmonic Choir, fondato a New York nel 1975, usa il canto armonico per collegarsi con l’universo cosmico nelle sue composizioni. Demetrio Stratos (1945-1979) ha usato il canto armonico per creare una relazione tra la voce e il subconscio. Nelle mie composizioni – improvvisazioni io raccomando sempre di investigare gli armonici per arricchire il mondo dei suoni. Altri esecutori di canto armonico sono i tedeschi Michael Vetter, Christian Bollmann, Michael Reimann, l’italiano Roberto Laneri, l’olandese Rollin Rachele, l’australiano Josephine Truman, i francesi Les Voix Diphoniques , Thomas Clements, Iegor Reznikoff, Tamia, tutti costoro hanno utilizzato il canto armonico nei loro lavori.
Il canto armonico è praticato anche da numerosi gruppi (Oirat, Khakass, Gorno-Altai, Bashkir, Tuvin, Kalmuk) etnici al confine tra la Repubblica Russa e la Mongolia. In Rajasthan (India), in Taiwan presso il gruppo etnico Bunun, in Tibet presso i monaci dei monasteri Gyuto e Gyume, in Sud Africa presso la popolazione degli Xhosa, la pratica del canto armonico è nota e ovunque registrata.
Io spero che dopo questa breve introduzione al mondo degli armonici, si possa avere un’idea riguardo l’esistenza del canto armonico in differenti aree del mondo e la possibilità di sapere come ottenere armonici vocali.
AKSENOV, A.N. 1973: “Tuvin Folk Music”, Journal of the Society for Asian Music 4(2):7-18, New York.
HAMAYON, R. 1980: “Mongol Music”, New Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians 12: 482-485, Stanley Sadie (éd), MacMillan Publishers,Londres.
LANERI, R. 1983: “Vocal Techniques of Overtone Production”,NPCA Quarterly Journal 12(2-3): 26-30.
LEIPP, E. 1971: “Considération acoustique sur le chant diphonique”, Bulletin du Groupe d’Acoustique Musicale 58: 1-10, Paris..
LEOTHAUD, G. 1989: “Considérations acoustiques et musicales sur le chant diphonique”, Le chant diphonique, dossier n° 1: 17-43, Institut de la Voix, Limoges.
TRAN QUANG HAI & GUILOU, D. 1980: “Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in Connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing”, Musical Voices of Asia : 162-173, The Japan Foundation (éd), Heibonsha Ltd, Tokyo.
TRAN QUANG HAI & ZEMP,Hugo. 1991: “Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique”, 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.
TRAN QUANG HAI, 1983: “Note à propos du chant diphonique mongol”, Catalogue de l’exposition Mongolie-Mongolie, Musée de l’Homme (éd), Paris.
TRAN QUANG HAI, 1989: “Réalisation du chant diphonique”, dossier n°1 Le Chant diphonique : 15-16, Institut de la Voix, Limoges.
TRAN QUANG HAI, 1990: “Les Musiques vocales”, L’Esprit des Voix, C.Alès (éd), La Pensée Sauvage: 43-52, Grenoble.
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’adiophonologie 7(5&6): 607-618, Besançon.
TRAN QUANG HAI, 1995: ” Le chant diphonique: de……ion, historique, styles, aspect acoustique et spectral”, EM, ANnuario degli Archivi di Etnomusicologia dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, 2:123-150, Rome.
TRAN QUANG HAI, 1995: “Survey of overtone singing style”, EVTA (European Voice Teachers Association, Dokumentation 1994 (actes du congrès): 49-62, Detmold
[1] Nome inglese dello scacciapensieri o maranzano.
[2] In Italiano utilizzeremo “Canto Armonico”.

Website: Tran Quang Hai’s World of Overtone Singing

TRAN QUANG HAI has created this website on the World of Overtone Singing coverning traditional overtone singing by Tuvin, Mongolian and Siberian singers , with the selection of new types of overtone singing performed by Western singers around the World .

Malte KOB: Analysis and modelling of overtone singing in the sygyt style


Overtone singing, also called biphonic singing, xöömij or chant diphonique in french; is a special singing style that exhibits two or more separate sounds – one “drone” sound of relatively low pitch and one or more high pitch melody sounds. The perceived pitches of the upper tones are multiples of the drone sound, i.e. taken from its overtone scale. Compared to voiced sounds of western style singers, the relative amplitude of the melody pitches is quite high, and the formant bandwidth of overtone sounds is small. This paper tries to answer the question of how these formant properties are achieved. Experimental investigations and numerical calculations prove the existence of two closely neighboured formants for the production of the melody sound in the sygyt style.




Overtone singing
Impedance measurement
Voice modelling

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  • Saturation mechanism in clarinet-like instruments, the effect of the localised non-linear losses

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    Applied Acoustics, Volume 65, Issue 12, December 2004, pp. 1155-1180
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    Applied Acoustics, Volume 65, Issue 12, December 2004, pp. 1181-1196


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Gerrit Bloothooft, Eldrid Bringmann, Marieke van Cappellen, Jolanda B. van Luipen, and Koen P. Thomassen : Acoustics and perception of overtone singing

Published Online: 04 June 1998
Accepted: June 1992
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 92, 1827 (1992);

Overtone singing, a technique of Asian origin, is a special type of voice production resulting in a very pronounced, high and separate tone that can be heard over a more or less constant drone. An acoustic analysis is presented of the phenomenon and the results are described in terms of the classical theory of speech production. The overtone sound may be interpreted as the result of an interaction of closely spaced formants. For the lower overtones, these may be the first and second formant, separated from the lower harmonics by a nasal pole‐zero pair, as the result of a nasalized articulation shifting from /c/ to /a/, or, as an alternative, the second formant alone, separated from the first formant by the nasal pole‐zero pair, again as the result of a nasalized articulation around /c/. For overtones with a frequency higher than 800 Hz, the overtone sound can be explained as a combination of the second and third formant as the result of a careful, retroflex, and rounded articulation from /c/, via schwa /E/ to /y/ and /i/ for the highest overtones. The results indicate a firm and relatively long closure of the glottis during overtone phonation. The corresponding short open duration of the glottis introduces a glottal formant that may enhance the amplitude of the intended overtone. Perception experiments showed that listeners categorized the overtone sounds differently from normally sung vowels, which possibly has its basis in an independent perception of the small bandwidth of the resonance underlying the overtone. Their verbal judgments were in agreement with the presented phonetic‐acoustic explanation.

Carole PEGG: Mongolian conceptualizations of overtone singing (xöömii)

CrossRef citations to date

Original Articles

Mongolian conceptualizations of overtone singing (xöömii)

Pages 31-54 | Published online: 31 May 2008

Based on field work in western Mongolia during 1989 and 1990, this paper relates Mongolian xöömii or overtone singing to its social context and to the cognitive world of the performers. It looks at secular performance contexts, theories of origin, legendary/historical development, recent transformation into an art form, traditional training methods and transmission, Mongolian classification of xöömii, and its relationship with nature and shamanism. A brief overview is given of previous non‐Mongolian perspectives, which have either concentrated on acoustical and physiological analysis of the sounds themselves or have made claims that overtone singing is a “magical voice technique” causing spiritual and physical healing. The latter is contrasted with the Mongolian belief that, although consumption of the sounds may be beneficial, the production of xöömii is potentially harmful to the body.

Ronald Walcott: The Chöömij of Mongolia A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing.

The Chöömij of Mongolia A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing.

  • Source: Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology . 1974, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p54-60. 7p.
  • Author(s): Walcott, Ronald
  • Abstract: This report is a preliminary study of the Mongolian style of singing known as chöömij. It begins by assembling the physical vocabulary of this singing style, and compares its mechanism with that of the Jew’s harp. It proceeds to a consideration of the ictus in isolation in order to show a progression toward a “normal” sustained chöömij sound. The normal chöömij is described in terms of its formants and their relation to possible physiological counterparts. Finally, it is inferred that, if correctly interpreted, the melographic data might be successfully linked with concepts and data from other disciplines, thereby significantly widening the implications these may have in explaining musical phenomena.
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WIKIPEDIA : List of overtone musicians

List of overtone musicians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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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.


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


See also




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