© Claire Huteau, 2017


Overtone khöömii singing, throat singing, guitar, dombra lute

Born in 1981, year of cock in Décines-Charpieu, and resides in Rennes, Johanni Curtet is a musician, overtone singer and ethnomusicologist. He learnt classical guitar with Jean-Loup Gautret (La Flèche Music School) and Hervé Merlin (Conservatoire of Rennes) while training himself in the chamber music with the guitar quartet Merienda. Following this, he turned into the musical practices of orality, influencing his play from Asia and Africa.

For 10 years, Johanni immersed himself in studying musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Rennes 2, and specialized in the khöömii (Mongolian overtone singing). Since 2004, he has won several scholarships such as Aegis, International Foundation Nadia & Lili Boulanger, Cultural Aires International Doctoral College in Brittany, American Center for Mongolian Studies and Assistance for Fieldwork of the French Society for Ethnomusicology that allowed him to conduct his research in Mongolia and learn the Mongolian language and culture.

First initiated by Tran Quang Hai, he learnt khöömii from Tserendavaa Dashdorj in the mountainous steppes of the Altai and then Odsuren Baatar at the University of Culture and Arts in Ulaanbaatar.

Artistic director of Routes Nomads Association, Johanni organizes and produces the concert tours of Mongolian overtone singing, and accompanies his master Tserendavaa and his son Tsogtgerel on stage at many festivals.
The African influence in his music comes from his long stay in Cameroon. By participating as a trainer and organizer of the first two editions of Voice of Sahel Festival in Garoua, Cameroon and N’Djamena, Chad (Trans-Saharan Azalaï program initiated by CulturesFrance), Johanni shared music stage with Camel Zekri, Yacouba Moumouni, Alpha Barry, Mounira Mitchala, and also many local musicians from Cameroon (South Team, Douala, bards of North Cameroon) and Chad.
This crossroad of culture he experienced is synthesized in the compositions of Meïkhâneh, a trio in which he plays and continues training himself. Johanni’s play has a major influence of Thierry Robin, with whom he attended two master classes organized by DROM in 2013 and 2014.

Johanni teaches khöömii at the cultural and educational institutions as University of Rennes 2, Théâtre de la Ville, Kreiz Breizh Akademi (DROM), The Philharmonie de Paris and Centre for the Heritage of Instrument-Making; for festivals as Les Orientales or Les Suds à Arles; and for various associations and groups of amateur overtone singers (Tortue Écarlate) or runs individual courses in Rennes.
In the study of khöömii, Johanni focuses on the origin, history, spectacularization, heritagization and transmission of this vocal technique in Mongolia. His researches are accessible through his PhD dissertation entitled The transmission of höömij, an art of vocal timber: the ethnomusicology and history of Mongolian overtone singing (2013, University of Rennes 2), and several academic articles he wrote.

In 2009, at the request of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, he participated in the elaboration of the khöömii nomination for its inscription on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2014, he taught Mongolian language grammar, Mongolian culture and civilization at INALCO, the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris.


Festivals Les Escales, Les Orientales, Le Rêve de l’Aborigène, Classica-Evora-Portugal, Musée des Arts Asiatiques de Nice, Palais des Congrès et de la Culture du Mans…


Chants Diphoniques de l’Altaï Mongol : 1 CD, 1 DVD / Ed. 2008, Buda Musique (distribution Universal)
La maison de L’ivresse, Meïkhâneh, Autoproduction / Ed. 2012, Cas Particuliers, Rennes
La Silencieuse, Meïkhâneh, 1 CD / Ed. 2017, Buda Musique



Chant diphonique khommei.

Chant diphonique khommei.

Ajoutée le 6 juil. 2018

Une brève présentation du chant khommei et de ce qu’on travaillera pendant l’atelier & les cours, collectifs ou particuliers. Una breve presentación del canto khoomei y de lo que se trabaja durante el taller & las clases, colectivas o individuales. A quick presentation about the khommei singing, and the work done during the workshop & group or individual lessons. N’hésitez pas à commenter avec vos questions ou à vous connecter sur FB – Mana Yoga France, Insta – Mana Yoga France ou sur http://www.manayoga.fr 🙂 à bientôt.

Chant harmonique (ou diphonique) – Initiation par Iannis Psallidakos

Chant harmonique (ou diphonique) – Initiation par Iannis Psallidakos

Ajoutée le 22 août 2019

Iannis Psallidakos, professeur de technique vocale, vous propose une découverte du chant harmonique (ou diphonique). Séances individuelles en présentiel ou à distance: https://www.osersavoix.fr/chant-dipho… Pour plus d’infos, contactez moi: https://www.osersavoix.fr/contact/

Chant harmonique (ou diphonique) – Introduction & présentation par Iannis Psallidakos

Chant harmonique (ou diphonique) – Introduction & présentation par Iannis Psallidakos

Ajoutée le 31 août 2019

Iannis Psallidakos, professeur de technique vocale, vous présente le chant harmonique (ou diphonique). Séances individuelles en présentiel ou à distance: https://www.osersavoix.fr/chant-dipho… Pour plus d’infos, contactez moi: https://www.osersavoix.fr/contact/

TRAN QUANG HAI & DENIS GUILLOU: Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing, FRANCE

TRAN QUANG HAI & DENIS GUILLOU: Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing, FRANCE

Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing

tran quang hai

Trân Quang Hai


Denis Guillou (2019)

Tran Quang Hai , Centre National de la Recherche Scientitique, Paris 1980

Denis GUILLOU, Conservatoire. National des Arts et Métiers, Paris


The present article is limited in its scope to our own original research and to acoustical analysis of biphonic singing, this is preceded by a summary of the various terms proposed by different researchers. The first half the article concerning xöömij technique was written by Tran Quang Hai. Guillou has written the second half concerning acoustical analysis.


Until the present time it has not been possible to confirm that the centre, of biphonic singing within Turco‑Mongol culture is in fact Mongolia. Biphonic singing is also employed by neighbouring peoples such as the Tuvins (Touvins), Oirats, Khakass, Gorno‑Altais and Baschkirs; it is called kai by the Altais, uzliau by the Baschkirs, and the Tuvins possess four different styles called, sygyt, borbannadyr, ezengileer and kargyraa. A considerable amount of research is at present being carried out throughout the world into this vocal phenomenon, particularly as it is practised in Mongolia.


Research can be carried out in various ways: by means of observation of native performers after one or more visits to the country concerned, or by means of practical instrumental or vocal studies 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 Mongolia and I have never learned the xöömij style of biphonic singing from a Mongolian teacher. What 1 shall describe in this article is the result of my own experience which will enable anybody to produce two simultaneous sounds similar to Mongolian biphonic singing.


Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in connection-1

M. Castellengo and N. Henrich Bernardoniba: Interplay between harmonics and formants in singing : when vowels become music

Interplay between harmonics and formants in singing : when vowelsbecome music

M. Castellengo and N. Henrich Bernardoniba
LAM/d’Alembert, 11 rue de Lourmel, 75015 Paris, FrancebGIPSA-lab, 11 rue des Math ́ematiques, 38402 Grenoble, France

Nathalie Henrich-Bernardoni

In human speech, the production of vowels consists in strengthening some specific areas of the harmonic spectrum, known as formants, by adjusting vocal-tract acoustical resonances with articulators such as tongue, lips, velum, jaw, and larynx. In singing, a compromise is often sought between the frequency of harmonics and resonance frequencies, sometimes at the expense of vowel perception. In some vocal cultures, this link between harmonic frequency and resonance frequency is skilfully adjusted. A melody is generated independently of the tonal melody related to vocal-fold vibrations.
This is the case of harmonic singing, overtone singing or Xhoomij, practiced in Central Asia, but also of singing by Xhosa women in South Africa. In this paper, the adjustmentsbetween harmonics and formants are explored on a wide range of commercial singing recordings and experimental recordings in laboratory. Three main strategies are described from both acoustical and musical point of view. In a first case, the spectral melody is produced by a play on the first formant (F1). The first harmonic frequency is often kept constant and at low values due to period doubling induced by a ventricular vibration. In a second case, the spectral melody is produced by a play on the second formant (F2), with a higher frequency of the first harmonic. Complex spectral melody can also be developed by a vocal game on the first two formants. In particular, we will illustrate and discuss the cases where the two first formants evolve while remaining in an octave ratio (F2 = 2F1).1Introduction When producing vowels in speech and singing, the fluid-structure interaction between air expelled from the lungs and moving walls induces vocal-folds vibration. This vibration generates a harmonic acoustic source, which propagates through the vocal tract (laryngeal and pharyngeal cavities, mouth and nasal cavities). The vocal-tract area function from glottis to lips is controlled by the speech articulators (tongue, lips, jaw, velum, larynx), which contributes to the adjustment of vocal-tract resonances (Ri). The resonances shape the harmonic voiced sound spectrum, in boosting acoustical energy in frequency bands designated in acoustics by the term formants (Fi). The frequency ratio between the first two formants F1 and F2 is perceptually coded into vowels.C7C6C5C4C3Hz10020030040050080010002000150025003000ii200 HzF2()56789101265 Hz567891012F1Figure 1: Mean values of formant frequencies F1 (blue) andF2 (red) on a musical scale. On left panel, the vowels have been grouped for which the two formants vary conjointly.Several singing techniques illustrate harmonic-resonance adjustments. Possible interactions depending on sung pitch are shown in Figure 1, which presents the mean values of the two first formant frequencies for a male speaking voice. The vowel location on the diagram is only indicative. It depends on individual peculiarities and the chosen language. Besides, values are given for male speech, as the songs studied here are mainly produced by male singers. The first formant F1 ranges from 300 Hz (/i/) to 800 Hz (/a/), which corresponds on a musical scale to E4-G5. It covers the high range in male voices, the medium and high range in female voices. In western classical singing, a tuning between the vocal-folds vibratory frequency (f0 = H1) and vocal-tract first-resonance frequency (R1) is sometimes mandatory to allow a loud and comfortable voice production, such as in the case of soprano high range [1, 2, 3] or, more generally when the sung pitch gets close to R1 [3]. To find a good balance between resonance adjustments and clarity of vowels constitutes a great part of the classical singer’s training. Such singers have to be able to sing a text on a wide range of pitches. In traditional Croatian folk singing [4], in Bulgarian women’s singing [5] or in Broadway Musicals [6], a systematic tuning is observed between the second harmonic (H2=2f0) and R1 for those vowels which do not have a too low first-resonance frequency. This practice gives power and clarity to the voice. It is produced by means of vowels /o/ /ɔ/ /ɛ/ /a/ in a limited pitch range: 220 to 320 Hz for male singers, 350-500 Hz for female singers (see Figure 2).Figure 2: Illustration on a musical scale of vowels and pitches for which a tuning R1:2f0 is possible. The blue notes present the musical pitches.The second formant F2 ranges from 600 Hz for vowel /u/ to 2400 Hz for vowel /i/ within the musical range E5-E7 ( seeFigure 1). Glottal fundamental frequency may come close to resonance frequency only for low-F2 vowels such as /u/ and /o/. In most cases, F2 lies well above f0, and it globally contributes to the voice quality. F2:f0 tunings have been observed in the soprano high range [2]. But most F2:Hi (i>1) tunings observed in the literature are reported for techniques of harmonic singing, which we shall now address. The literature will first be briefly reviewed. The tuning strategies will then be discussed on the basis of a wide range of commercial recordings. These observations will be supplemented by a case study of a Mongolian singer by means of simultaneous acoustical recordings and ultrasound observations of tongue motion. 2Harmonic singing : the state of the art A spectral melody and low-pitch tone – In the singing techniques mentioned above, a melody is produced by varying the vocal-folds vibratory frequency and the resonances are tuned depending on vowel and sound quality. Roles are reversed in harmonic singing.


DiscographyCD “Inédit Mongolie” – Auvidis, W 260009 (1989), tracks: 4 (X1); 5 (X2; X7);

6 (X3).CD “Voices from the center of Asia” – Smithsonian Folkways, SF 400017 (1990), tracks: 1 (K5);

4 (X5); 9 (K11); 14 (K10; X6);

18 (K4). CD “Les voix du monde”, CNRS-Harmonia mundi, CMX 374 1010.12 (1996),

CD-II-37 (K3). CD “The Heart of Dharma”, Ellipsis Arts (1996), track 2 (K3).

Dave Dargie demonstration tape, track A-1 (F).

Alash Ensemble – Singers : Bady Dorzhu-Ondar (K6; K7; K8);

Kongar-ool Ondar (X4).

Bayarbaatar Davaasuren, (2013), Gipsa-Lab (K9).

Data from H. Smith (1967), lama from the Gyutu Monastery near Dalhousie, recorded in 1964 (K2).

BIBLIOGRAPHY References[1]E. Joliveau, J. Smith and J. Wolfe, “Vocal tract resonances in singing: The soprano voice”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116 (4), 2434-2439 (2004)[2]M. Garnier, N. Henrich, J. Smith, J. Wolfe, « Vocal tract adjustments in the high soprano range, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 127 (6), 3771-3780 (2010)[3]N. Henrich, J. Smith, and J. Wolfe, “Vocal tract resonances in singing: Strategies used by sopranos, altos, tenors, and baritones”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 129 (2), 1024-1035 (2011)[4]P. Boersma and G. Kovavic, “ Spectral characteristics of three syles of Croatian folk singing”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 119 (3), 1805-1816 (2006)[5]N. Henrich, M. Kiek, J. Smith, and J. Wolfe, “Resonance strategies in Bulgarian women’s singing”, Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology 32, 171-177 (2007)[6]T. Bourne, M. Garnier, “Physiological and acoustic characteristics of the female music theater voice”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am.131 (2), 1586-1594 (2012)[7]M. Garcia jr, “Mémoire sur la voix humaine; réimpression augmentée de quelques observations nouvelles sur les sons simultanés”, p.24, Paris: Duverger (1840)[8]H. Smith, K.N. Stevens and R.S. Tomlinson, “On an unusual mode of chanting by certain Tibetan lamas”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am.41 (5), 1262-1264 (1967) [9]G. Bloothooft, E. Bringmann, M. Van Cappellen, J.B. Van Luippen, et al. “Acoustics and perception of overtone singing” J. Acoust. Soc. Am.92 (4), 1827-1836 (1992)[10]F. Klingholz, “Overtone singing: productive mechanisms and acoustic data”, J. of Voice 7 (2), 118-122 (1993)[11]H. K. Schutte, D.G. Miller and J.G. Sveč, “Measurement of formant frequencies and bandwith in singing”, J. of Voice 9 (3), 290-296 (1995)[12]L. Dmitriev, B. Chernov and V. Maslow, “Functioning of the Voice Mechanism in Double Voice Touvinian Singing”, Folia Phoniatrica 36, 193-197 (1983)[13]L. Fuks, B. Hammmarberg and J. Sundberg, “A self-sustained vocal-ventricular phonation mode: acoustical, aerodynamic and glottographic evidences”, TMH-QPSR3, 49-59 (1998) [14]J. G. Sveč, H. K. Schutte and D. G. Miller, “A subharmonic vibratory pattern in normal vocal folds”, J. of Speech and Hearing Research39, 135-143 (1996)[15]L. Bailly, N. Henrich and X. Perlorson, “Vocal fold and ventricular vocal fold vibration in period-doubling phonation: physiological description and aerodynamic modeling”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 127 (5), 3212-3222 (2010)[16]A.N. Askenov, “Tuvin folk music”, Asian Music4 (2), 7- 18 (1973)[17]D. Dargie, “Xhosa music: its techniques and instruments, with a collection of songs”, Cape Town: David Philip[18]H. Zemp and T. Q. Hai, “Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique”, Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie4, 27-68 (1991)[19]T. C. Levin and M. E. Edgerton, “The Throat Singers of Tuva”, Scientific American 218 (3), 70-77(1999) and related video files (X-rays) [20]J. Curtet, “La transmission du höömij, un art du timbre vocal : ethnomusicology et histoire du chant diphonique mongol”, Thèse de doctorat, Université de Rennes 2. [21]M. Kob, “Analysis and modeling of overtone singing in the sygyt style”, Applied acoustics65 (12), 1249-1259 (2004)[22]C. Tsai, Y. Shau and T. Hsiao, “False vocal fold surface waves during Sygyt singing: A hypothesis”, Proc. ICVBP, (2004)[23]S. Adachi and M. Yamada, “An acoustical study of sound production in biphonic singing, Xöömij”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 105 (5), 2920-2932 (1999)[24]K.-I. Sakakibara, H. Imagawa, T. Konishi, K. Kondo et al, “Vocal fold and false vocal fold vibrations in throat singing and synthesis of Khöömei”, Proc. ICMC,(2001)[25]P. Lindestad, M. Södersten, B. Merker and S. Granqvist, “Voice source characteristcs in Mongolian “throat singing” studied with high-speed imaging technique, acoustic spectra, and inverse filtering”, J. of voice15 (1), 78-85 (2001)[26]P. Cosi and G. Tisato, “On the magic of overtone singing”,Voce, Parlato. Studi in onore di Franco Ferrero, 83-100 (2003)[27]T. Hueber, G. Chollet, B. Denby, M. Stone, “Acquisition of ultrasound, video and acoustic speech data for a silent-speech interface application”, Proc. of ISSP, 365-369 (2008)[28]H. Zemp and T.Q. Hai, “Le chant des harmoniques”, film 16 mm, Paris: Musée de l’Homme and CNRS-AV http://videotheque.cnrs.fr/doc=606


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