285,694 views•Jan 28, 2008 91485ShareSavePythonaquarius 186 subscribers Rollin Rachele (www.overtonesinging.com) is one of the world’s leading authorities on the vocal art of overtone singing (also known as harmonic singing). He is an accomplished musician, performing artist, teacher and innovator. He has contributed his scientific knowledge to academic establishments such as the American Laryngological Voice Research and Education Foundation and The Voice Foundation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. His media appearances are numerous, including several television appearances, radio interviews and feature articles in publications such as the Evening Standard and Men’s Health magazine. In this music video arrangement, Rollin Rachele is accompanied by Celtic artist Kate McKenzie and Classical Indian vocalist Ustad Mohammed Sayeed Khan. The video was filmed in Bath, England and the soundtrack was recorded and engineered at the Notre Dame Church in Leicester Square in London. Performed by: Rollin Rachele, Kate McKenzie, Ustad Mohammed Sayeed Khan Soundtrack Engineered by: Pete Townsend Video Directed and Edited by: Andrew Guidone, Valery Lyman, Shetal Shah Director of Photography: Andrew Guidone Choreography: Valery Lyman, Shetal Shah Music copyright 2000-2012 Cryptic Voices Productions Video production copyright 2000-2012 Python/Aquarius Productions and Cryptic Voices Productions Director website: http://www.pythonaquarius.com Rollin website: http://www.overtonesinging.com, http://www.abundantsun.com
AuthorTopic: Tuvan Throat SingingFlyingCow Member Member # 2150
posted July 27, 2009 10:14 PM For those of you on the east coast of the US, a group of Tuvan throat singers called Alash are currently touring.
I saw them this past weekend in Lowell, MA – and they’re awesome. A friend of mine I had studied abroad with back in ’98 is their manager and interpreter, and if not for him I’d likely never have had heard of this group, let alone had the experience of seeing them in person.
For those of you (like I was) who aren’t familiar with Tuvan throat singing, it’s a method of singing in which several tones and overtones are produced by a single human voice.
For a sample of what this sounds like (and some of the physics behind it), the group’s website is www.AlashEnsemble.com (lots of samples – be sure to check out the ones in the “learn about Tuvan throat singing section) – and they still have tour dates throughout the east coast until mid-August. They said they’re taking some time off after that, but are likely to return next year.
If you have the chance, it’s well worth checking out. Here is an article written about them, including an interview with my friend Sean. Posts: 3960 | Registered: Jul 2001 | IP: Logged | Eaquae Legit Member Member # 3063
posted July 28, 2009 12:15 AM One of my housemates – a music composition PhD student – wrote a throatsinging piece. To do that, he had to be able to sing it.
I tell you, there is NOTHING on this earth like being woken at 2am by the sound of the devil and his hordes climbing your stairs. (Once we got used to it, it was no big deal, but it was a bit startling at first.) Posts: 2849 | Registered: Feb 2002 | IP: Logged | Corwin Member Member # 5705
posted July 28, 2009 08:30 AM I heard a trio of throat singers once. I think they were Mongolian. It was really, really cool. Quite unlike anything else I’d ever experienced. Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004 | IP: Logged | Lisa Member Member # 8384
posted July 28, 2009 09:23 AM I can whistle and hum at the same time. It sounds weird, sort of like a UFO. Some of what they do sounds very much like that. The hum stays on one tone and the whistle can vary. Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005 | IP: Logged | Lyrhawn Member Member # 7039
posted July 28, 2009 09:27 AM Can’t everyone do that? Well, everyone who can whistle anyway. Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004 | IP: Logged | BlackBlade Member Member # 8376
posted July 28, 2009 10:59 AM quote:Originally posted by Lyrhawn: Can’t everyone do that? Well, everyone who can whistle anyway. I know Jim Carrey does it in Dumb and Dumber,
“Tractor beam, whooom, sucked me right in.”
Everyone who can whistle can certainly do it, but you’ve got to actually figure it out. Posts: 14316 | Registered: Jul 2005 | IP: Logged | Dogbreath Member Member # 11879
posted July 28, 2009 12:46 PM quote:Originally posted by Lyrhawn: Can’t everyone do that? Well, everyone who can whistle anyway. I just figured it out, but it took me about 5 minutes of trying. Posts: 2222 | Registered: Dec 2008 | IP: Logged | BlackBlade Member Member # 8376
posted July 28, 2009 12:47 PM quote:Originally posted by Dogbreath: quote:Originally posted by Lyrhawn: Can’t everyone do that? Well, everyone who can whistle anyway. I just figured it out, but it took me about 5 minutes of trying. Welcome to the ranks. Posts: 14316 | Registered: Jul 2005 | IP: Logged | FlyingCow Member Member # 2150
posted July 28, 2009 01:32 PM Tuvan throat singing is quite a bit different than that. There’s no actual whistling involved, as all the higher pitches come from overtones in the throat itself.
There are lots of samples on the website, both in audio and video format. I got the opportunity to hang out with a couple of the members of the group after the show, and seeing it in person is really cool.
There was a guy with a guitar who was playing spanish songs, but his strings kept breaking. When he got down to three, he stopped – but one of the Tuvan singers (Ayan-ool) took it and retuned it to what would be a three-string Tuvan instrument’s pitches. He and Nachyn then began singing at the table. It was awesome. Posts: 3960 | Registered: Jul 2001 | IP: Logged | Xann. Member Member # 11482
posted July 28, 2009 03:36 PM quote:Originally posted by Lisa: I can whistle and hum at the same time. It sounds weird, sort of like a UFO. Some of what they do sounds very much like that. The hum stays on one tone and the whistle can vary. I read this, now it has been fifteen minutes and I am an expert hum-whistler. My UFO noises will soon be the envy of everyone around. Posts: 549 | Registered: Feb 2008 | IP: Logged | Samprimary Member Member # 8561
posted July 28, 2009 04:37 PM I remember the first throat-singing we got. It was 60 Horses in My Herd Posts: 15417 | Registered: Aug 2005 | IP: Logged | Orincoro Member Member # 8854
posted July 28, 2009 05:01 PM Just a caution to anyone who actually decides to attempt this- misguided efforts can present a great deal of danger to the vocal chords. Even professional throat singers can cause exquisite damage to their chords- mainly causing lesions and nodes on the chords. Posts: 9912 | Registered: Nov 2005 | IP: Logged | Glenn Arnold Member Member # 3192
posted July 28, 2009 07:52 PM That’s ridiculous. Throat singing is no more dangerous to your vocal chords than regular singing. The overtones are generated in the cavities of the nose and mouth.
BTW, anyone who can say the letters “e” and “r” is throat singing. The difference between the two letters is that by lifting the tongue away from the teeth, a different set of overtones is generated. If you sing a tone, and switch between these two letters, you should hear the overtones switch.
posted July 28, 2009 09:14 PM quote:Originally posted by Xann.: quote:Originally posted by Lisa: I can whistle and hum at the same time. It sounds weird, sort of like a UFO. Some of what they do sounds very much like that. The hum stays on one tone and the whistle can vary. I read this, now it has been fifteen minutes and I am an expert hum-whistler. My UFO noises will soon be the envy of everyone around. When I was 11, I went to overnight camp for the first time. One night, a while after lights out, I woke up and saw a light bobbing up and down outside the window. And I heard this unearthly noise. By this time, my bunkmates were up as well.
Turned out it was a counselor moving a coleman lantern up and down and doing the hum-whistle thing (which there ought to be a name for). I made him show me how he did it. It’s a fun party trick. Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005 | IP: Logged | Elizabeth Member Member # 5218
posted July 28, 2009 10:32 PM This group was at GrassRoots in Ithaca, and I was not a fan, though it was interesting, for sure. Posts: 10890 | Registered: May 2003 | IP: Logged | ketchupqueen Member Member # 6877
posted July 29, 2009 12:34 AM I saw some when I was about 9. It triggered one of the worst headaches I’ve ever experienced. My dad thought I was being close-minded and ungrateful or something until I almost blacked out from the pain and he realized I was crying because it actually hurt.
posted July 29, 2009 06:01 AM I’m apparently overtone impared. I listened to Daam Dozu and really didn’t notice anything. Bashtak Joke was obvious enough for me to hear it in places, but I thought it sounded like someone was using a mechanical larynx to sing.
The songs are very pretty, but my ear is apparently not well enough developed to fully appreciate them. Posts: 2283 | Registered: Dec 2003 | IP: Logged | Orincoro Member Member # 8854
posted July 29, 2009 06:44 AM quote:Originally posted by Glenn Arnold: That’s ridiculous. Throat singing is no more dangerous to your vocal chords than regular singing. The overtones are generated in the cavities of the nose and mouth. I was at least taught that it presented a danger do to straining of the vocal chords, by novices- I’m not saying real throat singing is deleterious, although I have been told by experts on the subject that it can be.
The overtones, by the way, can be generated in the nasal cavities and mouth as well as by the larynx and pharynx (there are many different ways of generating tones, and we do something of the equivalent in everyday speech, and particularly yelling), which can form nodes and calluses when stressed. Particularly, people who attempt to force their vocal chords to generate a fundamental below the natural register of their voices can cause paralysis of their vocal chords, done too often, this can lead to lasting damage. Some singers even suffer neurological damage similar to that of strings players who suffer from tendinitis- the parts of the brain necessary for invoking and storing muscle memory can be damaged over repetive and stressful movements. I’m not making this up- you can’t make a declaration that this isn’t dangerous. It may be dangerous, for some people, if done in a certain way. But then of course, normal singing can also cause damage to these parts of the throat when it is done incorrectly. I’m just cautioning people that this is something they should research for themselves before attempting, does that bother you? Posts: 9912 | Registered: Nov 2005 | IP: Logged | Glenn Arnold Member Member # 3192
posted July 29, 2009 05:10 PM quote:I’m just cautioning people that this is something they should research for themselves before attempting, does that bother you? Would it bother you if you posted that singing “Row Row Row Your Boat” as a round was a lot of fun and I responded that anyone who attempts this can do “exquisite damage to their vocal chords?” It really is the same thing.
BTW, from FlyingCow’s original link quote:Tuvan throat singers can produce two or three, sometimes even four pitches simultaneously. The effect has been compared to that of a bagpipe. The singer starts with a low drone. Then, by subtle manipulations of his vocal tract and keen listening, he breaks up the sound, amplifying one or more overtones enough so that they can be heard as additional pitches while the drone continues at a lower volume. Despite what the term might suggest, throat singing does not strain the singer’s throat.Posts: 3735 | Registered: Mar 2002 | IP: Logged | Orincoro Member Member # 8854
posted July 29, 2009 05:25 PM Glenn, you’re not getting me on this. I said that it *can* cause damage, and I specifically said that it can cause damage to people who do it incorrectly, because they don’t know how to do it. I have been told this by a vocal expert, who is also an ethno-musicologist. It is really not the same damned thing. You don’t know everything in the universe, and you shouldn’t be shocked and appalled that someone else has heard different advice than you have. Please back off and allow people to disagree with you. Goddamn, I don’t even care about this, I was just relaying something I had been warned about as a singer myself. Your reaction is totally out of line. Posts: 9912 | Registered: Nov 2005 | IP: Logged | Glenn Arnold Member Member # 3192
posted July 29, 2009 09:07 PM quote:You don’t know everything in the universe, and you shouldn’t be shocked and appalled that someone else has heard different advice than you have.No. But I know how to throat sing. Do you? If I tried to create harmonics while screaming, or singing outside of my range or something, then I would expect vocal damage. But the throat singing part would be irrelevant.
Did your ethno-musicologist friend know how to throat sing? It has almost nothing to do with the vocal chords, and mostly has to do with training your own ears to recognize when the harmonics are dividing. Once you can hear it the rest is just opening your throat or palette or moving your tongue to create the proper resonance. There simply isn’t any part of it that would put strain on your vocal chords.
And of course, I’ll point out once again that a renowned group of Tuvan throat singers, people who undoubtedly know a hell of a lot more about it than your ethno-musicologist, bothered to put in their website that it does not strain the singer’s throat. Posts: 3735 | Registered: Mar 2002 | IP: Logged | Glenn Arnold Member Member # 3192
posted July 29, 2009 09:43 PM quote:I’m apparently overtone impared. I listened to Daam Dozu and really didn’t notice anything.I listened to it too, to see what you were missing. The answer is: not much. There are very few vocal overtones being used, and they are easily confused with the instruments being played.
Click on the link “learn about Tuvan Throat singing,” and listen to the specific examples without accompaniment. Remember that each recording is exactly one voice, and no other sounds. Posts: 3735 | Registered: Mar 2002 | IP: Logged | steven Member Member # 8099
posted July 29, 2009 11:40 PM quote:Originally posted by Glenn Arnold: Throat singing is no more dangerous to your vocal chords than regular singing. The overtones are generated in the cavities of the nose and mouth.
BTW, anyone who can say the letters “e” and “r” is throat singing. The difference between the two letters is that by lifting the tongue away from the teeth, a different set of overtones is generated. If you sing a tone, and switch between these two letters, you should hear the overtones switch.
Dude, that’s awesome! I was just sitting here, playing around with your directions, and I figured out how to do it! I’ve been wanting to learn for years, but I thought it was really hard to learn. This is cool. Are there any online tutorials that you suggest for getting better at it?
I’m going to be doing this all the time now, in the car, etc. LOL Posts: 3285 | Registered: May 2005 | IP: Logged | AvidReader Member Member # 6007
posted July 30, 2009 05:35 AM quote:Originally posted by Glenn Arnold: quote:I’m apparently overtone impared. I listened to Daam Dozu and really didn’t notice anything.I listened to it too, to see what you were missing. The answer is: not much. There are very few vocal overtones being used, and they are easily confused with the instruments being played.
Click on the link “learn about Tuvan Throat singing,” and listen to the specific examples without accompaniment. Remember that each recording is exactly one voice, and no other sounds. Wow. On their own, those are pretty interesting. I can’t imagine a sound as subtle as the borbangnadyr (the water one) or the ezenggileer (the horse trot one) not getting lost in the rest of the music. Though, I suppose once you know what you’re listening for, it’s easier to pick it out. Posts: 2283 | Registered: Dec 2003 | IP: Logged | Orincoro Member Member # 8854
posted July 30, 2009 05:59 AM quote:Originally posted by Glenn Arnold: quote:You don’t know everything in the universe, and you shouldn’t be shocked and appalled that someone else has heard different advice than you have.No. But I know how to throat sing. Do you? If I tried to create harmonics while screaming, or singing outside of my range or something, then I would expect vocal damage. But the throat singing part would be irrelevant.[/b]. Glenn, I’m not going to argue the facts with you. You’re being a dick. Posts: 9912 | Registered: Nov 2005 | IP: Logged | FlyingCow Member Member # 2150
posted July 30, 2009 07:24 AM Orincoro, from my own conversations with Sean, Ayan-ool, and Nachyn, there seems to be nothing involved with throat singing that is in any way more straining to the vocal chords than other types of singing.
The Tuvans said that everyone they know at home throat sings, and do so from when they are small children. To them it’s just how singing is done – and to tell them it’s perhaps injurious would be like telling someone from the US that singing in the shower could hurt them.
I can understand it being a risk for someone who has no idea what they’re doing to try something that they *think* is throat singing, but really isn’t. There are ways to damage your vocal chords by straining them overmuch, true, but none of these things are necessary to throat sing.
Is there a chance that the source that gave you that information may have been misinformed?
The video on the front page of their site has some pretty good examples (between 2:35 and 3:26 into it). With microphones, the voices definitely carry over the instrumentation when they are throat singing. It’s very neat.
The first time I saw it, I was looking for the flute on stage, and there wasn’t one. Though I have to say the “murgu” flute that they play is really cool – it almost sounds like wolf song. Posts: 3960 | Registered: Jul 2001 | IP: Logged | Orincoro Member Member # 8854
posted July 30, 2009 08:15 AM quote:Originally posted by FlyingCow: Is there a chance that the source that gave you that information may have been misinformed? Of course, I just don’t like my character being assaulted because I dared to suggest that I had heard something different from what someone else believed. I’m more insulted about that than about the idea that I heard wrong. I hear misinformation all the time- that doesn’t bother me. Posts: 9912 | Registered: Nov 2005 | IP: Logged | Papa Janitor Member Member # 7795
posted July 30, 2009 10:09 AM Please refrain from the personal attacks and vulgar language. Posts: 441 | Registered: Apr 2005 | IP: Logged | Glenn Arnold Member Member # 3192
posted July 30, 2009 06:10 PM quote:Dude, that’s awesome! I was just sitting here, playing around with your directions, and I figured out how to do it! I’ve been wanting to learn for years, but I thought it was really hard to learn. This is cool. Are there any online tutorials that you suggest for getting better at it?
I’m going to be doing this all the time now, in the car, etc. LOL Ok, here’s something that’s going to happen, if it hasn’t already. You’re going to say to your girlfriend, buddy, parent, etc. “Hey listen to this!” and they will stare blankly at you as you go “EEEE ARRRRRR EEEEEEE ARRRRR” because you can hear the overtones in your head, but you can’t project them outside yet. They might think that when you are all warmed up you’ll hold your arms out like wings and run around the room making banking turns.
But actually you do need the feedback, so go ahead and ask them to listen anyway. Or make recordings on your computer and play them back to see if you can hear it. Practicing in the car is pretty good, because the sound reflects off the window pretty well.
The only lessons I ever received in this was second hand from my brother and mother and my wife, who had seen a demonstration where the guy told them to sing the word “Greer” on one pitch. I don’t know if they even tried it, but I did. Then it was them that I asked to listen to me, and they thought I was making it up. Then a year later I showed them again, and they were amazed.
But up to this point they aren’t so much music as sound effects. I’ve been listening to the samples from this website in order to give it a more musical structure. I can do a simplified version of Sygyt and Xoomei, and I think I might get Ezenggileer with some practice, but I don’t know if I can get the rapid trilling of Borbangnadyr. It’s kind of like trying to sing George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” when you can’t stutter the “b” fast enough. My mouth parts just don’t have the speed to do it.
I’m not sure what I’m listening to in the Kagyraa sample. It doesn’t sound like the harmonic is below the fundamental to me. Posts: 3735 | Registered: Mar 2002 | IP: Logged | ricree101 Member Member # 7749
posted July 31, 2009 08:48 PM Incidentally, I just recently watched a Feynman video that talked about his interest in Tuva, and his attempts to travel there. Posts: 2391 | Registered: Apr 2005 | IP: Logged | Uprooted Member Member # 8353
posted August 03, 2009 02:53 PM quote:Originally posted by Glenn Arnold: Ok, here’s something that’s going to happen, if it hasn’t already. You’re going to say to your girlfriend, buddy, parent, etc. “Hey listen to this!” and they will stare blankly at you as you go “EEEE ARRRRRR EEEEEEE ARRRRR” because you can hear the overtones in your head, but you can’t project them outside yet. I laughed when I read this because I was just about to post that I tried it and all I heard inside my head was the EEE ARRRR EEE ARRRR – what overtones? Oh well. No “hey listen to this!” for me! I’ll go check out the site now and see if listening to the samples on there enlightens me any better. Posts: 3149 | Registered: Jul 2005 | IP: Logged | Glenn Arnold Member Member # 3192
posted August 03, 2009 05:43 PM I’m assuming Uprooted and Steven aren’t the same person. Steven said he heard the overtones, so that’s who I was responding to.
Uprooted: the key is to sing a single tone, rather than switching from E to R in the way that we speak. When we speak, we actually change pitch twice when we say the word “rear.” The “E” is at a slightly higher pitch. Think of the guards in wizard of Oz, singing “O-E-O” the pitch goes up in the middle. The thing is that the pitch change disguises the harmonic split, and we just think of it as a different phoneme, rather than noticing that our voice is producing multiple tones.
If you listen to the Xoomei sound sample from the link above, you’ll hear that he sings a single note, and then changes the harmonics around that note. So if you sing a note like that, and change from the E sound back to the R sound, you should hear the harmonics start to separate. It may take a little while before you notice it, but it will happen. Pay attention to the tip of your tongue while you change the sounds, that should help your awareness also. Remember that it’s more about listening than making it happen. It’s happening already. Posts: 3735 | Registered: Mar 2002 | IP: Logged | steven Member Member # 8099
posted August 03, 2009 08:04 PM I can now control the pitch of the higher tone now, a little. I have a range of about a perfect 5th with the higher tone right now, it seems.
I actually told myself I’d not break this out on somebody until I got really good at it…but I got bored yesterday and yes, I did subject a lovely lady friend to my so-far pitiful singing. LOL
It’s a full 56 minute concert, with english explanation/song set up by my friend Sean. Very Cool! Posts: 3960 | Registered: Jul 2001 | IP: Logged | FlyingCow Member Member # 2150
posted August 09, 2009 08:25 AM Went to see Alash again as part of a library fundraising benefit in Lancaster, PA last night. Great show to a packed room of about 40o-450 people. Standing ovation led to an encore, which was very cool as it wasn’t a song I’d heard from them before.
Only a few more performances left for anyone who wants to catch them live before they go back home to Tuva.
Tonight – Philadelphia, PA (last free show) Tomorrow – Havre de Grace, MD Friday, 8/14 – Burlington, VT Saturday, 8/15 – Brooklyn, NY Sunday, 8/16 – Wappingers Falls, NY
posted August 09, 2009 10:42 AM Whoa! Wappingers Falls is right near me. I can’t think of any venues though. I’ll have to check the website. Posts: 3735 | Registered: Mar 2002 | IP: Logged | ricree101 Member Member # 7749
posted August 16, 2009 03:24 PM Coincidentally, I just came across the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. One entry on the list was to have the best submission to the WBEZ annoying music show.
Turns out, the winning submission was a rendition of “Sounds of the Yak” by a Tuvan throat singer.
American throatsinger and bluesman Paul Pena had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (and was subsequently rediagnosed with pancreatitis – see www.paulpena.com for some more detail).
In 1995 Paul travelled to Kyzyl to participate in the Khoomei symposium and placed first in the kargyraa category. This journey was the focus of the documentary “Genghis Blues”. Paul is well known to Friends of Tuva as “Cher Shimjer” (Earthquake), one half of the band Genghis Blues (with Kongar-ol Ondar), and he is also known in the blues world and in the rock world.
Paul had been living with a pancreatic illness for several years. Originally thought to be cancer, it now looks more like pancreatitis. The generous contributions of people like you made it possible for Paul to receive round the clock care in his apartment in San Francisco.
Official Web Sites
The official Genghis Blues website has updated news on events, screenings, awards, and more.
The official Paul Pena website is up and has the latest news on Paul.
Once Upon a Time, by Paul Pena, is the tale of his journey through the world of throat singing.
Articles and Reviews
Here’s a list of references to reviews about the movie, articles about Paul Pena and Roko Belic and Adrian Belic, and related items online. It’s really great to see a few Friends of Tuva chase after a dream and actually realize it.
Paul’s good friend and long time helper Seth Augustus has released his own CD of Tuvan-influenced music. Seth has studied under Paul and we refer you to his CD as a small thanks for his efforts in helping Paul over the years.
Polyphonic overtone singing – How to use it in a song!
945 views•Nov 11, 2019 520ShareSaveEmm Bronte 1.36K subscribers Hey Polyphonic singers 😀 I hope you are well! In this video I do a short performance of Fink’s cover of All Cried Out. I’m not a singer by any means but I just wanted to demonstrate how you can start to incorporate the overtones into established songs other then just practicing vowel sounds 😀 Instagram: @emmbronte @rustic.raw Website: http://www.emmanderson.com
Polyphonic Overtone singing practice! Follow along 🙂 with tips!
991 views•Nov 12, 2018 370ShareSaveEmm Bronte 1.36K subscribers Hello polyphonic overtone singers 🙂 In this video I share my polyphonic singing practice and invite you to do the same. I’d love some feed back any tips that you have to offer! I share vowel sounds, guitar and my practice. I hope you enjoy! Please post your advice and tips down below 🙂 Much love! website: http://www.emmanderson.com instagram: @emmbronte @rustic.raw
Exploring the physics, metaphysics, philosophy, and cultural significance of overtone singing and throat singing, I offer wisdom old and new on the theories and methods of this fascinating vocal art that anyone can learn to do.
We live a sad life when we do for the results instead of for the doing itself. Having been teaching students the fundamentals of overtone singing for ten years now, I can conclude confidently that one cannot do this. One can only be this. To do overtone singing well, one must be for the doing alone.
However, this does not mean we ignore the quality of the results; rather, we can attain enhanced results by desiring the present-time experience of the process itself. If that seems confusing, do know that it’s supposed to be confusing, as the act is nothing the mind can reason through. To clarify, or to confuse in just another way, we can all think of an instance in life when we cared so much about something that we couldn’t do it. Finally, when we gave up, perhaps assuming inevitable failure, the task was more doable. Surrendering our excessive caring for an attachment to the outcome helps us do it even better. I call the ideal performance of overtone singing “actionless action,” but you’ll find other terms to describe this seemingly mysterious, paradoxical process that can apply to the performance of anything. In Taoism this actionless action is known as wu wei, and in Hindu philosophy you can find it referred to as nishkama karma. To grossly summarize these profound teachings, and others like them but not mentioned here, desire for the outcome inhibits the quality of performance and the consequent attainment of the outcome. For example, singing with the desire to make the overtones louder and more prominent interferes with the the act of singing the overtones. The most common correction I make to a student’s singing is to stop their constant starting and stopping. A student begins to sustain a tone and after only a few seconds, his or her thinking judges the sound as undesirable before the tone has a chance to sustain itself. Then, s/he begins again, once thinking editorially about the tone before it can sustain, and then cuts it off. First, this is a waste of endurance, as the act of setting the vocal cords into vibration costs more energy than the act of sustaining the vibration; in other words, you wear your voice out faster by making repeated attacks with the vocal folds. More importantly, by stopping too soon, you try to rush past the process to get to the result. The process is the sustaining of the tone, and the desired result is the tone and overtones exactly as you want them to sound. You will get the result you want, your pleasure, if you find an inner hold by concentrating on the tone itself and all the physiological sensations that occur when toning. Listening without thinking tethers awareness to the act. By listening, I do not mean with the ears alone. Listening is also an attitude of receptive attention, and so we can “listen” to the physical sensations in the body. When we listen we suspend the activity of the internal senses, our thoughts, and something deeper begins to pay attention; next, something deeper inside us begins to sing. By temporarily suspending your judgement and listening to your body produce a tone, you get much closer to producing the desired result of enhanced overtones. However, you must continue to sustain the tone no matter how crappy you think the tone sounds. Do not stop. Sing through the undesirable sound coming out of you. You must pay these dues of process to experience the result. Though it seems hard to believe, you can begin to enjoy even the most displeasing of your sounds. Appreciate this process of “sounding through the crap”. Fail again and again and love it. This takes guts. This method of doing regardless of result has other applications in life. You can practice actionless action in anything. Do it, and prove you are not one of the gutless masses in search of only the pleasure. Learning to overtone sing, however, seems to be an exemplary method for getting the knack of this kind of doing for a few reasons. First, overtone singing occupies the speech organs and consequently reduces the mind’s inner speaking. Second, sustaining long vocal tones requires enhanced awareness of the physiology of respiration, a focal point which further reduces mental activity. Third, singing overtones is itself a paradoxical activity as we attempt to isolate and amplify the overtones that in fact are already present in any continuous vocal tone. Considering that, perhaps overtone singing is an efficient defense against the continual attack of your thinking. But to make it work, you must pay the dues of attention. You must love the process so much that even if your reap no reward whatsoever, you’d continue to do it anyway. Finally, I still offer lessons and consultations through SKYPE and GOOGLE HANGOUTS and I do guarantee results during the the first lesson. However, the more valued guarantee is in how I teach you to love the process.
To receive more information about lessons, please send an email to alexglenfield(at)hotmail(dot)com
For ten years I’ve been teaching a method for learning to overtone sing. Every student I’ve known wants to improve the isolation and amplification of parts of the harmonic series; in other words, make the overtones louder. Increased prominence of the overtones in one’s voice is easy to achieve, and you might be producing loud harmonics already, but your ear is not yet able to detect them; more specifically, your awareness of your ear’s signals is not yet heightened enough to perceive the inherent overtones in sound. That concentration and some time.
Teach the ear to hear the harmonics by sustaining very long tones with your natural singing voice while, as slowly as possible, and with the minutest of oral movements, stretch out some vowels sounds. Then as you continue to sustain a steady tone while stretching vowels sounds, relax and just listen. Don’t yet try to hear any harmonics in the sound yet. Instead, just place all your focus on your hearing of the sound, and all the while feeling the vibrations of the sound in your body. Direct all the senses, and even the inner senses of the imagination, toward sounding and sensing. When you begin to hear a kind of melody, a changing of flute-like sine tones, over or within your droning, you’re beginning to hear your own overtones.
The ear leads the voice. Listening, in the most all-embracing sense, yields to almost all of the most desirable improvements.
So, one improves and reaches the desired level of ability. Then one asks, “What can I do with this?”
The human nervous system is programmed to seek out improvements. Perhaps this condition of continual betterment is the deep impulse to evolve , but it is also the source of much misery, as even when one has something great, one wonders of having something even greater. In leaving the great for the greater, and finding there is no greater, one returns to the great, but sometimes to find it gone.
In contrast, we might perceive the great thing as great in itself, and we declare to be totally satisfied, but then we ask, “What use is it?” or “What can I do with that?”
Like meditation, singing overtones is an end in itself, and needs no purpose to evince its value. In way, it is totally useless, as is meditation, but therein lies its highest use!
The moment we desire some end from the process of singing, we have lost the purpose. Desire for something more than the act itself diminishes the quality of of the act.
However, I have made some use of overtone singing in creating eleven mystical love songs in a collection of songs known as “The Me Machine.”
For many more years that I have taught, I have struggled conceptually with what to do with overtone singing, to whom it belongs, whether I should be teaching it at all, and how best to share it with others.
Forced into live performance on occasion for need of money, I had to come up with something to do to keep the show going. Overtone singing alone can’t always fill an hour-long set. So, when not overtone singing, I would sing or recite lyrics of my own smart-ass design, or play trumpet, and generate looping drones of any of those sound sources to support the lead melody. After a few performances, I found I had a body of “songs,” which audiences found amusing.
These songs are studio creations that employ much layering of overtone singing. These vocal layers provide accompaniment to the principal singing of lyrics that either switches to mini-solos of obvious overtone singing styles. When the overtone singing is not obvious, the singing is still performed with a subtle enhancement of the overtones. Nevertheless, all the sounds on this album were created with an enhanced awareness of harmonic overtones, and my awareness of of the overtones might be apparent to the listener.
The lyrics are mystically romantic. The text also contains little lists of philosophical aphorisms that I need to remember.
So, I have used overtone singing to produce an end, a product, an album of songs. The songs are blatantly popular, yet still weird enough to keep it all from falling into the pit of illuminati pop. And I can’t say I like them all, and I can’t even believe they are from me. But I didn’t do them for me. I made these songs for those that love me, and I took care to be sure that the music would have maximum universality for the diversity of my loved ones, and how thankful I am for the diversity of all the strange angels in my life.
They only indicator of success I desire is for them, and that one, to love this music.
Finally, I hope my use of overtone singing honors the beauty of solo singing while including it in the style of the popular song. Meanwhile, I shall set to work on the next improvement, the next whim of my desire, which I will soon share with you, with the beloved, and with the One.
Some of you, the good people who are kind enough to talk to me, have asked for more of this home performance stuff, and something like an online tutorial. I tried to create both in one.
Both in one. Always in search of the next innovative hybrid, we humans are always combining two things to make a third. Sometimes, one thing is divided into two, and then the new resulting parts are used to create a third.
The creative act itself is dependent on the simultaneous occurrence of two seemingly opposite “realities” to create a new one that often brings with it a flash of insight, and sometimes humor. This third thing, this byproduct of opposing incompatibilities, is the spark of humorous insight. The creation equation.
This video is another thing I’ve made to give me a chance to laugh at myself, and I hope it brings a little dual reality convergence into your mind and heart, and whatever goo lies between them.
To sum up and bring it all together (before letting it blow apart again), overtone singing IS a perfect example of the creation equation. We have what APPEARS to be one note PRODUCING more than one note: melody within drone; movement within stasis; music within sound.
More deep thoughts, said dumbly here, as it must be. They ask me: “Does overtone singing have a healing effect?” Almost anything can be used to heal, and this is evinced by the promulgation of publications declaring the revitalizing potential of everything from asparagus juice to mashed up bee brains to the pheromones collected in the stringy belt of dad’s terrycloth bathrobe. But it depends, really, what one means by “healing”. On one hand, healing suggests the improvement of life quality; on the other hand, that very unpopular hand, but the hand I most prefer to play, healing can be the transcendence of the need to be healed at all. Through SKYPE or in person I encourage students to discover for themselves what effect the practice may have, as any declaration I make about the results of overtone singing becomes a suggestion and, under the right conditions of consciousness, a student may implant the suggestion and distort his or her reality to make the suggestion appear true. I can theorize, however, that singing overtones is a means to bypass meaning, thus stilling the movement of thought to let other parts of the self arise to express and clear the system of its blockages. This theory, however, assumes that the movement of feeling is beneficial to a state of mind-body health. What is thinking? Though some of us think in pictures, bodily sensations, emotions, or even smells, most of our thinking is in words. Words, vocal sound symbols, point to meanings. These symbolic word sounds can exist outside the body in waves upon the air molecules, and inside the body in the audial imagination, which is that place where you can imagine a sound. Thinking is the movement of words in the audial imagination: When you think, you talk to yourself, and almost everybody does it. How many of your waking hours are dominated by word thinking? How much do you talk—presumably internally—to yourself? When communicating with your fellow creatures, how much do you rely upon your—presumably external—words? These words are mostly an act of the conscious mind. Through most of the day, our breath, vocal apparatus, and audial imagination serve the intellect in word thought. The mind-body system’s health is partly dependent on the free flowing of feeling. Down deeper—or perhaps up higher, I don’t know which—our emotions struggle to ride the breath across the vibrating vocal folds. Most of the time, however, they are blocked by intellect. Our voice (internal and external) serves our intellect. Feelings want to go out and play, but intellect is clogging the exit. Overtone singing is a non-signifying vocal act: it means absolutely nothing, yet the isolation of overtones does use the raw materials of signifying speech; specifically and among others, the vowel sounds. While singing with awareness on the sound of sound itself, rather than its symbolic meaning, the individual bypasses the conscious mind temporarily to clear the way for something else. I dislike naming the something else, as I dislike naming anything, but the feeling state one experiences in this clarity is distinctly profound: sometimes highly emotional; sometimes highly blissful; sometimes transcending all that is feeling and knowing. But above words it takes you. So what “healing” effects can result from singing above meaning? Best to test for yourself, but keep an open mind and heart about what healing can be. I feel, however, that I’m closer to reality when singing and entering into the unnamable state of mind. Free of the judgments of passing thoughts in the audial imagination, I cease my distortion of reality, and come closer to what is; to what is without my intellectual filtering. Deep thoughts, dumbly. To enter into the indescribable way,Hear the mind’s mental chatterNot as meaningful words,But as beautiful music. Stare with the ear andTo hear the always music everywhere,And in all sound,External and internal. The brain says “yes”;The heart says “maybe”;The time of your lifeNeeds a winding.
INSIDE THE SOUND: A Villanelle Take notice of the silence in the sound The sound of sound is in the music there Be still the mind where judgments are abound The ear is known to sense the world profound To subdivide the ugly from the fair Take notice of the silence in the sound This is a place with music all around The bliss of wind in trees without a care Be still the mind where judgments are abound Undo the violence seeing will surround Unlike the eye, the ear can never stare Take notice of the silence in the sound Do know that we are partials of the ground Divine that births the world through silent prayer Be still the mind where judgments are abound These musical intentions will astound To find the subtle masterpiece is rare Take notice of the silence in the sound Be still the mind where judgments are abound
PANTOUM FOR THE LINE OF DOLLS She took her place among the line of dolls Beset with fear her skin turned sickly pale And all who saw her turned before the fall Unto the sounding of the bugle’s wail Beset with fear her skin turned sickly pale Her shapeless legs held firm around the wind Unto the sounding of the bugle’s wail A trail of dirty tears down to her chin Her shapeless legs held firm around the wind That sweetness of her face a dying dream A trail of dirty tears down to her chin The dolls beside her hacked a golden scream That sweetness of her face a dying dream The sky around them shuddered with the thought The dolls beside her hacked a golden scream The One they called to save them then, was not The sky around them shuddered with the thought For hope was always drifting in the air The One they called to save them then, was not Their universe ached on without a care For hope was always drifting in the air They fell as one, went lifeless to the ground Their universe ached on without a care To the silent, sliver moon’s impassive frown For the evil of the man that sent her home And for all who saw her, turned before the fall For the man who wanted her to him alone She took her place among the line of dolls Posted by Alexander Glenfield at 8:39 AM 4 comments: Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest
He found himself in a landscape that was on one hand the loneliest and most isolated, and on the other, the most profoundly inclusive environment, he had ever known. The South Siberian Steppe. The land was the frozen motion of the planet’s most subtle tremors blanketed with treeless grasslands extending to the edges of the sky in all directions. The sky so vast the land seemed hardly real beneath it, and how easily the vastness of emptiness, with the slightest descent, could swallow the ground that held him. Though the land was barren, with the tallest vegetation being the waving grasses gone to seed, the wind sounded a continuous and strangely human-sounding “aahhh”. Perhaps the ethereal vowel sound on the wind was a result of the air’s passing over the hole of his ear, but it must have blown through or around something to produce almost clarion resonance. In that moment, no effort he needed for contentment. No need to pose himself before others so as not to harm or be harmed. And the everyday judgment he habitually passed and received was away on the wind. He returned the sound, gently as though letting breath surrender into sound, and from that effortlessly sounding intonation of “aahhh” he heard the music of sound, the inherent harmonics of a vibrating body. With the little ego self away, the big self into sound. Before this moment in nature, the putting of the self into sound was merely theory, not direct experience. It was a theory his Hindustani Music Teacher had imparted to him. Guruji declared, “During the Brahmacharya stage of development, you must discover the self by holding each note for a very long time, and maybe for even hours a day if your dedication is complete. So long the swara must be held that there is nothing left of you and only the swara remains.” In the Hindustani system of classical raga singing, the term swara had once meant more than “note” or “pitch”, as it has come to mean in the modern age. The ancient meaning, however, is there to be found in the word itself. By simply taking an etymological view of the prefix and suffix, one can know that the Sanskrit swa meant “of self” and ra meant “bestow.” Then to sing a single note, the swara, is to bestow the self in sound, and one found the self in the sound by uttering it and listening to the vast harmonic content of a single, sustained vocal tone. However, the singularity of this tone is illusory. To sustain any one single note vocally is impossible, as the oral cavity, by default, forms the raw buzzing of the vocal folds into vowels. Though the speech centers of the brain are programmed to perceive vowel sounds as parts of signifying words, the vowel sounds are horizontal combinations of overtones (“chords” if you will, but more specifically, “formant regions”). Differing combinations of overtones distinguish one phonetic vowel from another. Our speech is replete with the music of vocal sound. He was also bestowed with the knowledge that in the classical Hindustani singing tradition the vowel “ah” is preferred for singing, as this is the vowel sound of the heart, an expression of supreme adoration. And is it merely coincidence that many of these vowels sounds, when used as raw expressions, heard alone and unaccompanied by contrasting consonants, have culturally specific meanings associated with them? For example, take “ah” as an expression of adoration in the Hindustani system. To a westerner, does it not have a similar meaning? What is your emotionally driven vowel response to the following stimuli and scenarios? 1) An adorable kitten with a red bow in its fur approaches you; it purrs, meows, and rubs against your leg. AH
2) Unprepared for your seminar presentation about wool slacks of the Elizabethan theatre, you improvise, thus faking it, and you use this commonly heard “mantra” of ponderous uncertainty heard all too often in public presentations and everyday conversation. UM 3) To your shock, the kitten from before is, in truth, a rare breed of dwarfed tomcat and it is in heat. It sprays your leg with its putrid pheromones. EEW
4) On your lunch break, you spill an entire plate of Spaghettio’s on your temperamental boss’s white, silk blouse just five minutes before her meeting with the board of directors.
5) Angrily tearing up yet another piece of junk-mail from your cable provider, you feel the firm cardboard slice open the sensitive flesh between your fingers, which for whatever reason, was wet with lemon juice. OW
6) Having pondered at length on the reason for your rapidly shrinking gums, in a “Eureka” moment, you suddenly know that your toothpaste has been taken and replaced with a tube of Preparation H. AH HA
How have these expressions found their way into the lexicon of human communication? Perhaps they are there for the same reason we moan when in pain or pleasure, or scream in terror or excitement, or laugh in response to either humor or impending mental meltdown: emotional response is biologically linked with the breath and any breathing that excites the vocal folds into vibration will consequently produce a vowel sound. There is something universal in the body, its feelings, and its means of expressing them. Interesting to ponder, but like most idle contemplations, they serve to fascinate far more than they serve to offer any answers or evidence.
So he sings alone and there is no one to hear. There was no one there, not even him, and perhaps that is why there was no need to be known, for there was no one to know. He felt such relief in losing the little self, craving the recognition it needs to sustain it. Nature is a place without names. Giving names to the phenomena of nature is to give it identity, and the bestowal of identity is the imposition of limitation. And with these names, to us the beings who give meaning to almost everything, the animate and inanimate myriad things of nature were reduced to their little selves. He lost his little self on the wind in sound. “None of these forces shall sway me,” he declares to the past and future. The declaration dislodged the self-destructive tendency of his subconscious mind, and dissolved the deeply imbedded impetus to obscure the big self. Perceiving the apparent singularity of the tone as illusory was the first step in the separation from the world of little things, ego things. Dissolve the self, bestow the self, and listen.
Alexander Glenfield I’ve been called “a silly little man” by some very serious giants. I’ve been called “a lazy mystic” by some very ambitious academics. I’ve also been called “the most unknown person in the world” by some very close undead relatives. Like always, I’ll let you decide who I am. View my complete profile
SKYPE LESSONS NOW AVAILABLE
To service the world’s rising demand for skilled overtone singers, I offer lessons via Skype.
Before proceeding with a formal lesson, I first offer a connection quality test and a free consultation.
Please email to learn more!
My overtone singing styles will either raise your spirits, or just annoy the doubt right out of you.
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How To Sing Overtones Throat Singing with Alex Glenfield Ph.D.
29,358 views•Jan 6, 2019 1.6K20ShareSaveAlex Glenfield 11K subscribers Here is an extended tutorial on how to begin a singing, overtone singing, and throat singing practice. I remain available for consultations and lessons via SKYPE. Please send an email of inquiry to alexglenfield (at) hotmail.com
26,331 views•Jul 26, 2014 48711ShareSaveAlex Glenfield 11K subscribers https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the…https://play.spotify.com/artist/4WUdp… Here follows a response to the good people who talk to me. They asked for another home performance video and something like a tutorial. Damn weird. I’ll let you tell me if this is ridiculous or not. But the world needs all the ridiculousness it can get; at least, the kind that doesn’t hurt anyone. This piece is part of an ongoing epic, and at the end I begin a kind of “tutorial” which I’ll continue to add to. If people want it, that is.