Daily Archives: November 15, 2021

MARK VAN TONGEREN : General information about overtone Singing

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general information about the book In Overtone Singing, ethnomusicologist and singer Mark van Tongeren provides a fascinating insight into the timeless and universal aspects of sound and vibration. Grounded in a decade-long study of Asian music, he draws upon various fieldwork experiences, interviews with eastern and western musicians, in addition to the work of numerous scholars. He presents a multidisciplinary vision on sound that runs from World and contemporary music to the science of acoustics and perception, to music philosophy and the spiritual dimensions of music. Written in a non-technical style, this book and accompanying audio CD is an indispensable guide to musicians and music lovers seeking a deeper understanding of the nature of sound. summary Overtone Singing contains four largely self-contained parts, respectively called Physics, East, West and Metaphysics, and a fifth part called Quintessence. Physics deals with the acoustic, physiological and psychological aspects of sound, the harmonic series, the (singing) voice, and their importance in overtone singing. It is divided in two parts: singing harmonics and listening to harmonics.

a stone man or kozhee, reminding of the first Turkic tribes that settled in presentday Tuva

East discusses traditional practices of overtone singing. First of all of throat singing in Tuva, South Siberia, which is where most of the fieldwork for this book was done. From here the music of various neighbouring peoples and cultures is discussed, such as Mongol throat singing and Tibetan chant. In all cases singing attention is given to many other aspects of these societies like, for example, animism and Buddhism.

The third part, West, sketches the history of overtone singing in the west, from the first steps made by composers and improvisers to the cross-cultural fusions of today. In the western world overtone singing is a relatively new phenomenon. Aesthetics, questions of beauty in the music itself, and musical invention are emphasised here, rather than the social or spiritual elements.

Metaphysics – Body, Mind and Beyond delves deeper into the philosophies and belief systems underlying harmonics, harmony and numerical ratios. Meditation, therapy, effects on body and mind, resonance and correspondances between wave lengths on various scales are some of the key words here. These issues take us back to the times of Plato and Pythagoras, and end up with new questions about the consciousness inspired by Eastern philosophy. The fifth and final part is called Quintessence – The Great Realm. It draws some parallels and conclusions based on the ideas assembled in the first four parts. It is also a more personal interpretation based on the research of the author as a singer and musicologist. Click here to read the book’s foreword, which was written by musician, composer, doctor in ethnomusicology, advisor and friend Trân Quang Hai, who works at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, France

facts about the book Title: Overtone Singing – Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West Format:

XXVI + 284 page book plus 73 minute/33 tracks audio CD

Dimensions: 230 x 150 x 20 mm

Editions:

paperback (ISBN 90-807163-2-4) hardcover (ISBN 90-807163-1-6)

With 31 photos, 4 maps and 46 illustrations (musical examples, line drawings, graphs), bibliography, discography, index, footnotes. A discography lists dozens of relevant CDs (including label and catalogue number) of modern and traditional overtone singing. The CD included in the book offers the most complete survey of traditional techniques of overtone singing from various regions of the world to date. Also featured are tracks with technical demonstrations by the author and excerpts of his 2001 CD Paraphony. Text design and lay-out: Sonja van Hamel Typesetting: Roel Siebrands Publisher: Fusica, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The book has a barcode.

Overtone Singing Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West Foreword by Trân Quang Hai Nowadays, overtones are familiar to many people, from laymen to scientific researchers and composers. This familiarity is no doubt the result of the recent introduction in the west of a new vocal technique called overtone singing. This technique enables a singer to produce two simultaneous voices: a continuous drone and a melody of overtones above it. Tran Quang Hai, his wife Bach Yen and Mark van Tongeren [photograph taken by the camera] The interest about that peculiar vocal style in the Western world began around the 1960s. Since this time there have been many specialised studies from scholars, as well as musical explorations by composers and singers. My fascination with overtone singing began in 1969. In that year the first sound documents of Mongolian throat singing were brought to Paris by anthropologist Roberte Hamayon. It pushed me towards the overtones research on the acoustical point of view first, and later towards the anatomy of the voice, questions about music therapy and the musical aspects of its performance and composition. The increasing interest of overtones in the West has further been notified in contemporary music, in New Age music, in healing with the voice, and others. In 1995 Mark van Tongeren and I met in Amsterdam before we began our trip to Tuva, where both of us participated in the 2nd World Festival of Throat Voice in Kyzyl. At that time he had just finised his dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. It was the first extensive study of Tuvan music by someone outside the Russian Federation, carried out just after Tuva had become accessible for foreign visitors. It dealt with the history and modern practise of Tuvan khoomei or guttural overtone singing. As a singer, a collector of field recordings and a musicologist, the excellent research of Mark Van Tongeren brought new dimensions and developments of Tuvan throat singing to light. Then he impressed me with his throat singing at the festival in Kyzyl of which I was chosen as President of the Jury. In 2001, Mark Van Tongeren released his CD on overtones with his original performances. At the same year, he sent me the manuscript of his book on overtone singing. In this well-documented book you can find, for the very first time, everything concerning overtone singing in the West, from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s contemporary music to Jill Purce’ healing voice; from electro-acoustic to World and other Fusioned musics; from renowned western performers such as Michael Vetter and David Hykes to great masters of overtone singing from Tuva, Mongolia and other parts of the world; from the Pythagorean harmonic system to

Om chanting and New Age mantras. Overtone singing does justice to this multitude of cultural traditions and to the countless personalities that have contributed to the development of this way of singing. It has interesting and useful things to teach to everyone who is intrigued by the mysteries of sound and music. I am happy to recommend it to all lovers of overtone – and throat singing in the world. Trân Quang Hai Ethnomusicologist / Composer National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France

contents of the book Foreword by Tran Quang Hai: VI Contents of the CD XII Introduction XIV Acknowledgements XVI Prelude: Meeting with a Tuvan Shepherd XXI PART ONE: PHYSICS CHAPTER I -SINGING HARMONICS 3 The sonic warehouse 3 Vowels, timbre and harmonics 4 Speaking in chords 6 The harmonic series 8 The voice 11 Mouth shape and resonance 14 The mouth as a f1lter 16 Elementary techniques 18 Throat singing 23 High definition television: deep modes of chanting 26 Swollen veins 29 The female voice 30 Musical architecture 31 CHAPTER 2- LISTENING TO HARMONICS 35 Harmonics at the opera (Part One) 37 Paraphony 38 The cycle of creation and perception 40 Unusual acoustic phenomena 42 Space and sound 45 PART TWO: EAST CHAPTER 3- TUVAN THROAT SINGING 51 Three children and a bull 54 Throat singing in everyday life 56 Two Outstanding musicians-composers 58 Styles and techniques 63 A teacher and expert 66 Education: now and then 69 At the periphery of music 72 The world of spirits and sound 73 A whole gamut of wheezes 77 Throat singing in ritual contexts 79 In previous centuries 82 Live at the Bolshoi 85 Khunashtaar-ool: khoomei redefined 87 Cultural authorities and musical hierarchies 88 From Vladivostok to Havana 90 Tuvan city blues 96 The Tuva Ensemble 100 Tuva in turmoil 103 A musicallineage continued 105 Huun-Huur- Tu: Back to the roots 107 Killing him softly: women and khoomei 110 Tradition in motion 112 A concert by full moon 113 CHAPTER 4 -OVERTONE SINGING IN OTHER TRADITIONAL MUSIC 119 Mongolia 119 Epic singing 126 The Altai republic and the revival of epics 129 Echoes from the past 130 Going to Kyzyl 132 Song for the river Katun 134 Khakassia: the spirits return 136 Receiving a gift from the spirits 139 Kalmykia: epics and ideology 140 Bashkortostan: an independent case 143 Tibet: sound and symbol 145 An eye-witness

account 147 Sutras, mudras and mantras 148 A tool for the mind: the harmonic as symbol 152 A different reality 153 Sardinia: the virtual voice 154 South Africa: the human voice as a type of musical bow 157 Idiosyncrasies 159 PART THREE: WEST CHAPTER 5 -A HlSTORY OF OVERTONE SINGING IN THE WEST 165 The Tortoise, his dreams and journeys 166 Tuning up to the cosmos: Stockhausen’s Stimmung 167 Trial and error: A Vietnamese in Paris 170 The 1970s: extending vocal technique l72 Michael Vetter: Zen and sound 176 David Hykes: solar winds & rainbow voices 179 The snowball effect 184 Globalisation and cross-fertilisation 186 Noah: Harmonics at the opera (Part Two) 188 Out of Tuva 191 Rollin Rachele: Harmonic divergence 193 Toby Twining: requiem for a millennium 194 Return to the source: plainchant 197 The stepchild of European music 198 PART FOUR: METAPHYSICS CHAPTER 6 -BODY, MIND AND BEYOND 203 An unusual experience 204 Meditation 206 Christian chants and buddhist mantras 209 Harmonics in healing and therapy 211 Make your bones sing 216 The law of octaves 218 The greek legacy 220 Silent harmonics 224 music makes the world go round 225 the dance of the molecules 226 the Pythagorean attitude 227 sound as pivot 228 PART FIVE: QUINTESSENCE CHAPTER 7- THE GREAT REALM 235 EAST VERSUS WEST The universal harmonic 237 The non-universal harmonic 238 The spiritual dimension 239 PHYSICS VERSUS METAPHYSICS Some thoughts about nature 243 Music and ideas about nature 245 Renewing the ancient marriage between music and physics 246 THE QUINTESSENCE OF SCIENCE, SOUND AND SELF Paradigm change 248 A paradox for the senses 250 The fifth element 252 The Great Realm 253 Coda 256 Notes 258 Bibliography 262 Index 268 More information 271 contents of the Overtone Singing CD 1 Tuva Kara-ool Tumat (with balalaika) -khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, borbannadir (3:48) 2 Mongolia Altai Hangai – Tavan kasag (Five Kazakhs) -song with khoomii (2:22) 3 Altai Tanyspai Shinzhin -Fragment of epic sung with kai technique (4:10) 4 Khakasia Slava Kuchenov -Fragment of epic sung with khai (2:48) 5 Bashkortostan Robert Zagritdinov -uzlyau guttural technique (1:19) 6 South Africa Nowaylethi Mbizweni and Nofirst Lungisa- duet with ‘ordinary’ umngqokol (1:40) 7 Tuva Kaigal-ool Khovalyg -Kargyraa (1:28) 8 Mongolia Ganzorig Nergui -khoomii (3:28) 9 Tuva Andrei Opei (with chanzy) -Bazhy Betik (khoomei, sygyt) (3:52) 10 Tuva Andryan Opei -Khoomei kak basla men (sygyt) (1:21)

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Tuva Tuva Tuva Tuva Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Tuva Tuva Kalmukia Tuva Altai Altai

Andrei Chuldum-ool- Artii Saayir (sygyt) (3:02) Mergen Mongush -chilangyt (1:19) Aldyn-ool Sevek -ezenggileer (1:01) Aldyn-ool Sevek -khat kargyraa (0:56) Tongeren Five elementary techniques ( 1:09 ) Tongeren The vowel triad (1:08) Tongeren Fundamental drone (0:16 ) Tongeren Parallel motion (0:14 ) Tongeren Harmonic drone (0:23) Tongeren Contrary motion (0:16 ) Artysh Mongush – chilandyk (0:35) Sildis, Mikhail and Chash-ool – khoomei and sygyt (2:37) Tsagan Zam – fragment of Janggar (3:16) Mongün-ool Dambashtai – kargyraa (1:43) Arzhan Kezerekov -Imitation of the Shoor, with sygyrtyp (3:28) Raisa Modorova -Blessing song (algysh) with kai technique (3:09) South Africa Nowayilethi Mbizweni -iRobhane sung with umngqokolo ngomqangi technique (1:00) Tuva / the Biosintes and Mark van Tongeren -improvisation at the bank of Netherlands the Yenisei (5:09) Mark van Tongeren excerpt Paraphony (2:39) Mark van Tongeren excerpt City Chess (2:46) Tuva Opal Shuluu -Playing the khomus (Jew’s harp) (1:51) Tuva Kaigal-ool Khovalyg – playing the igil fiddle – Uzun khoyug (3:24) Electricity wires in Aryg Bazhy (2:28)

prelude: meeting with a Tuvan shepherd. Summer in Siberia is not cold at all. On the contrary, in June and July it can be hot, and even oppressive. The exhausting heat makes you long for the rivers. Rivers that do not stop carrying tons of ice cold water from the mountains. In 1993 I spent my first summer in Tuva, the republic at the southern border of central Siberia. Days after my arrival I had an opportunity to drive straight to the border of Mongolia with a group of Americans, who might go down in history as the first and last bicycle tourists to cross the (nowclosed) Russian-Mongolian border wíth their bikes. During some eight hours of steady driving a magnificent landscape of green meadows, hills and forests passed before my eyes. Besides the white spots of nomad tents scattered on the steppes and an occasional settlement, police – or tank station, there was little that betrayed the presence of man. Upon return in Tuva’s capital Kyzyl I got to know all about modern Tuva. I impatiently waited a long month to go back to the countryside and meet the nomads themselves. Soon thereafter several expeditions followed. Now is my third trip and we are inspecting an ancient Tuvan közhee or ‘stone man:’ a majestic figure that stands on a seemingly random spot in the wide open steppe of West Tuva. With his small nose, his steady eyes and his odd hairdo he had been staring in the same direction for centuries. Once there were many of these mysterious men, who can still be found throughout Central Asia. Most of the stone men in Tuva have been taken to museums, which were founded during the Soviet era. It was hoped that, along with the

stone men, the ancient spiritual beliefs of the Tuvan herdsmen would end up in the museum as a thing of the past. But according to some Tuvans, these once-brave fighters haven’t lost their powers. They say that one of the man-sized statues disappeared from the museum the night after it had been transported there. And that it had returned to its original dwelling in the grasslands… We move on to some rocks at which the közhee has been looking all these past ages. We meet with a local herdsman who knows where to find more relics of past ages. We walk on sundried-earth past some log cabins and a scrap-heap, and climb up and down the side of a rock. We reach a narrow plateau, some fifteen feet above the earth, from where we can overlook the grassland. The clouds that flow by cast moving shades in the landscape and create innumerable hues of dark and light colours. The Tuvan draws our attention to a flat, reddish-brown surface amidst the irregular patterns of the rock’s wall. Veiled as the wall is by its own shadow, I cannot see anything worthwhile at first. But then I notice a few characters and some vague, hardly discernible drawings of animals. The written characters all look different. Some are vertically written, like the Tibetan and Mongolian script, others even look like Sanskrit to me. The man who lives close to these rock inscriptions cannot tell much about it: he doesn’t know what is depicted and written down, not even whether the characters are Tibetan, Mongolian or something else. Apparently they date from an epoch of which the local people have no memory and I have no clue when it could be either. My questions pile up as the man starts to tell about a grave of an old lama nearby. The lama had been buried with some precious properties, but only few old men know the exact place. Fearing the overzealous labour of archaeologists, ethnographers, art-historians and their likes, they are silent about the exact location of the grave. While my guide is talking my attention is suddenly distracted by a hardly discernible sensation. An extremely soft, but persevering, high tone penetrates my ears. As I concentrate and ask my guide to be silent for a moment, my conviction grows that I found something typically Tuvan, something certainly mysterious, yet much more familiar to me than what I had just seen. I hear the typical sounds of Tuvan herdsmen. They resemble whistling, yet I know that the man I hear from afar is not whistling. The melody is so high and the tones so pure, that it cannot be sung as precisely and subtly by a normal man’s voice, not even by a woman’s voice. But the colour of the sound and the distance between the tones of the melody tell me that it is a voice I hear, and not a flute. As I look around to spot the man whose sounds caress my ears, I conclude that he is not singing as singers usually do. He is singing two notes at the same time, and what I hear are only the higher tones, the flageolets of his voice. He is so far away that the steppe doesn’t transmit the lower drone sound – all we hear is an ethereal melody of flute-like sounds. These are the miraculous sounds I came for, and one of the best-kept secrets of these Central Asian nomads. After squinting the steppes that lie beneath us, we finally locate the singing herdsman, sitting on the shoulders, almost on the neck of a horse, with his feet leisurely dangling at one side of its front legs. He is surrounded by dozens of sheep, grazing quietly in the steppe. A dog seems to do all the work for its boss. Its frequent barking keeps the herd together and drowns out the shepherd’s high tones from time to time. We listen attentively for a while to the throat singer, whom we’ll call by the most popular of Tuvan names: Mergen. Mergen is perhaps a mile away in the direction of the Stone Man. He hasn’t got much work to do, and besides some electricity poles we look at a scene which might as well have taken place a hundred, or perhaps more than a thousand years ago. Just like his forefathers this herdsman is passing his time with singing. Singing to his sheep and his horse, to the steppes and the hills and to a small brook. Maybe he even sings to the electricity wires and poles that range over his country. At close distance one can sometimes hear their buzzing sounds, which faintly resemble the sinus-like oscillations of the otherworldly song of the shepherd’s. After some time the thin, fragile sound switches to something that must be a deep and gruff roar in the ears of his horse. As he turns his face toward the sheep, different colours of sound, like clouds, are coming in our direction. As he turns away the soundsnatches die out: they are like the wind itself. Through the constant flow of this massive sound I hear a faint melody, starting on a low pitch and rising slowly, reaching a

final top note and then moving down again. After perhaps two deep breaths another melody comes and goes along with a string of stretched vowels. There is a timeless, eternal quality in the sounds. They could be echoes of bygone ages, but equally well provide the sonic background in a documentary on the latest accomplishments in space travel. Mergen’s comfortable position on the horse’s shoulders is said to be an invention of the Tuvans of the East (or Todzhans), dating from a time when mankind started to tame and domesticate animals. Sitting like this the shepherd can sing for hours on end, taking a break and moving to a fresh pasture every once in a while. With the dignified eyes of his frozen, stone forefather resting upon him, he knows that he need not hurry to graze his sheep. But as I don’t have as much time as he does, I decide to call him, in order to have a little chat. Because we are so far away for him, it takes awhile before Mergen finds our tiny figures, standing in the middle of the rocks. But then he turns his horse around, and moves it slowly towards a ford in the creek that is flowing between him and us. After some ten minutes he reaches the bottom of the rock we are standing on. The interpreter exchanges some questions and answers with the shepherd, and tells him who I am. Mergen does not speak Russian -like I do- and I speak only a few Tuvan words, so I wait patiently for the initial courtesy to finish. It appears that the herdsman lives not far from the Stone Man. I can see he is a bit uncomfortable with the unexpected guests. Tuvans that live in the countryside are shy with foreigners, who were rarely allowed to enter Tuva until two years before this summer. The interpreter tells the shepherd where I come from and that the purpose of my visit is to study Tuvan music. Then I ask the unavoidable question: could he sing for us one more time, so we can better hear and see what he is doing? Mergen seems reluctant but agrees with some hesitation. He takes his time to breathe and rasp his throat. Then finally he starts to sing, still sitting on his trusty steed. As he inhales, his breast becomes bigger, and with the first sounds his face reddens a little. He creates a forceful pressure on his throat which makes some of the veins around his eyes and neck swell. Again we hear the high, piercing notes. But this time they seem to be rougher than when we heard them from a distance. He rasps again, and tries to sing some more, but to no avail. With the eyes of the strangers fixed on him from the rock, singing appears to be a lot more difficult. Save his herd of sheep Mergen may have never in his entire life had a public, however small, before him. Maybe he has only sung for himself during his long, lonely hours with his cattle. He gives it another try, this time with the low roaring sounds. But even though it was difficult to hear from so far away, it was obvious that he produced the harmonic whistles much more naturally when he still thought he was alone on the steppe. And so we ask no further and let Mergen return to his flock, where the ethereal sounds of his voice can merge with the wind and please the endless steppes of Tuva. Fragment from Overtone Singing © 2002 – 2003 Mark van Tongeren

general information about the book In Overtone Singing, ethnomusicologist and singer Mark van Tongeren provides a fascinating insight into the timeless and universal aspects of sound and vibration. Grounded in a decade-long study of Asian music, he draws upon various fieldwork experiences, interviews with eastern and western musicians, in addition to the work of numerous scholars. He presents a multidisciplinary vision on sound that runs from World and contemporary music to the science of acoustics and perception, to music philosophy and the spiritual dimensions of music. Written in a non-technical style, this book and accompanying audio CD is an indispensable guide to musicians and music lovers seeking a deeper understanding of the nature of sound. summary Overtone Singing contains four largely self-contained parts, respectively called Physics, East, West and Metaphysics, and a fifth part called Quintessence. Physics deals with the acoustic, physiological and psychological aspects of sound, the harmonic series, the (singing) voice, and their importance in overtone singing. It is divided in two parts: singing harmonics and listening to harmonics.

a stone man or kozhee, reminding of the first Turkic tribes that settled in presentday Tuva

East discusses traditional practices of overtone singing. First of all of throat singing in Tuva, South Siberia, which is where most of the fieldwork for this book was done. From here the music of various neighbouring peoples and cultures is discussed, such as Mongol throat singing and Tibetan chant. In all cases singing attention is given to many other aspects of these societies like, for example, animism and Buddhism.

The third part, West, sketches the history of overtone singing in the west, from the first steps made by composers and improvisers to the cross-cultural fusions of today. In the western world overtone singing is a relatively new phenomenon. Aesthetics, questions of beauty in the music itself, and musical invention are emphasised here, rather than the social or spiritual elements.

Metaphysics – Body, Mind and Beyond delves deeper into the philosophies and belief systems underlying harmonics, harmony and numerical ratios. Meditation, therapy, effects on body and mind, resonance and correspondances between wave lengths on various scales are some of the key words here. These issues take us back to the times of Plato and Pythagoras, and end up with new questions about the consciousness inspired by Eastern philosophy. The fifth and final part is called Quintessence – The Great Realm. It draws some parallels and conclusions based on the ideas assembled in the first four parts. It is also a more personal interpretation based on the research of the author as a singer and musicologist. Click here to read the book’s foreword, which was written by musician, composer, doctor in ethnomusicology, advisor and friend Trân Quang Hai, who works at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, France

facts about the book Title: Overtone Singing – Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West Format:

XXVI + 284 page book plus 73 minute/33 tracks audio CD

Dimensions: 230 x 150 x 20 mm

Editions:

paperback (ISBN 90-807163-2-4) hardcover (ISBN 90-807163-1-6)

With 31 photos, 4 maps and 46 illustrations (musical examples, line drawings, graphs), bibliography, discography, index, footnotes. A discography lists dozens of relevant CDs (including label and catalogue number) of modern and traditional overtone singing. The CD included in the book offers the most complete survey of traditional techniques of overtone singing from various regions of the world to date. Also featured are tracks with technical demonstrations by the author and excerpts of his 2001 CD Paraphony. Text design and lay-out: Sonja van Hamel Typesetting: Roel Siebrands Publisher: Fusica, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The book has a barcode.

Overtone Singing Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West Foreword by Trân Quang Hai Nowadays, overtones are familiar to many people, from laymen to scientific researchers and composers. This familiarity is no doubt the result of the recent introduction in the west of a new vocal technique called overtone singing. This technique enables a singer to produce two simultaneous voices: a continuous drone and a melody of overtones above it. Tran Quang Hai, his wife Bach Yen and Mark van Tongeren [photograph taken by the camera] The interest about that peculiar vocal style in the Western world began around the 1960s. Since this time there have been many specialised studies from scholars, as well as musical explorations by composers and singers. My fascination with overtone singing began in 1969. In that year the first sound documents of Mongolian throat singing were brought to Paris by anthropologist Roberte Hamayon. It pushed me towards the overtones research on the acoustical point of view first, and later towards the anatomy of the voice, questions about music therapy and the musical aspects of its performance and composition. The increasing interest of overtones in the West has further been notified in contemporary music, in New Age music, in healing with the voice, and others. In 1995 Mark van Tongeren and I met in Amsterdam before we began our trip to Tuva, where both of us participated in the 2nd World Festival of Throat Voice in Kyzyl. At that time he had just finised his dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. It was the first extensive study of Tuvan music by someone outside the Russian Federation, carried out just after Tuva had become accessible for foreign visitors. It dealt with the history and modern practise of Tuvan khoomei or guttural overtone singing. As a singer, a collector of field recordings and a musicologist, the excellent research of Mark Van Tongeren brought new dimensions and developments of Tuvan throat singing to light. Then he impressed me with his throat singing at the festival in Kyzyl of which I was chosen as President of the Jury. In 2001, Mark Van Tongeren released his CD on overtones with his original performances. At the same year, he sent me the manuscript of his book on overtone singing. In this well-documented book you can find, for the very first time, everything concerning overtone singing in the West, from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s contemporary music to Jill Purce’ healing voice; from electro-acoustic to World and other Fusioned musics; from renowned western performers such as Michael Vetter and David Hykes to great masters of overtone singing from Tuva, Mongolia and other parts of the world; from the Pythagorean harmonic system to

Om chanting and New Age mantras. Overtone singing does justice to this multitude of cultural traditions and to the countless personalities that have contributed to the development of this way of singing. It has interesting and useful things to teach to everyone who is intrigued by the mysteries of sound and music. I am happy to recommend it to all lovers of overtone – and throat singing in the world. Trân Quang Hai Ethnomusicologist / Composer National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France

contents of the book Foreword by Tran Quang Hai: VI Contents of the CD XII Introduction XIV Acknowledgements XVI Prelude: Meeting with a Tuvan Shepherd XXI PART ONE: PHYSICS CHAPTER I -SINGING HARMONICS 3 The sonic warehouse 3 Vowels, timbre and harmonics 4 Speaking in chords 6 The harmonic series 8 The voice 11 Mouth shape and resonance 14 The mouth as a f1lter 16 Elementary techniques 18 Throat singing 23 High definition television: deep modes of chanting 26 Swollen veins 29 The female voice 30 Musical architecture 31 CHAPTER 2- LISTENING TO HARMONICS 35 Harmonics at the opera (Part One) 37 Paraphony 38 The cycle of creation and perception 40 Unusual acoustic phenomena 42 Space and sound 45 PART TWO: EAST CHAPTER 3- TUVAN THROAT SINGING 51 Three children and a bull 54 Throat singing in everyday life 56 Two Outstanding musicians-composers 58 Styles and techniques 63 A teacher and expert 66 Education: now and then 69 At the periphery of music 72 The world of spirits and sound 73 A whole gamut of wheezes 77 Throat singing in ritual contexts 79 In previous centuries 82 Live at the Bolshoi 85 Khunashtaar-ool: khoomei redefined 87 Cultural authorities and musical hierarchies 88 From Vladivostok to Havana 90 Tuvan city blues 96 The Tuva Ensemble 100 Tuva in turmoil 103 A musicallineage continued 105 Huun-Huur- Tu: Back to the roots 107 Killing him softly: women and khoomei 110 Tradition in motion 112 A concert by full moon 113 CHAPTER 4 -OVERTONE SINGING IN OTHER TRADITIONAL MUSIC 119 Mongolia 119 Epic singing 126 The Altai republic and the revival of epics 129 Echoes from the past 130 Going to Kyzyl 132 Song for the river Katun 134 Khakassia: the spirits return 136 Receiving a gift from the spirits 139 Kalmykia: epics and ideology 140 Bashkortostan: an independent case 143 Tibet: sound and symbol 145 An eye-witness

account 147 Sutras, mudras and mantras 148 A tool for the mind: the harmonic as symbol 152 A different reality 153 Sardinia: the virtual voice 154 South Africa: the human voice as a type of musical bow 157 Idiosyncrasies 159 PART THREE: WEST CHAPTER 5 -A HlSTORY OF OVERTONE SINGING IN THE WEST 165 The Tortoise, his dreams and journeys 166 Tuning up to the cosmos: Stockhausen’s Stimmung 167 Trial and error: A Vietnamese in Paris 170 The 1970s: extending vocal technique l72 Michael Vetter: Zen and sound 176 David Hykes: solar winds & rainbow voices 179 The snowball effect 184 Globalisation and cross-fertilisation 186 Noah: Harmonics at the opera (Part Two) 188 Out of Tuva 191 Rollin Rachele: Harmonic divergence 193 Toby Twining: requiem for a millennium 194 Return to the source: plainchant 197 The stepchild of European music 198 PART FOUR: METAPHYSICS CHAPTER 6 -BODY, MIND AND BEYOND 203 An unusual experience 204 Meditation 206 Christian chants and buddhist mantras 209 Harmonics in healing and therapy 211 Make your bones sing 216 The law of octaves 218 The greek legacy 220 Silent harmonics 224 music makes the world go round 225 the dance of the molecules 226 the Pythagorean attitude 227 sound as pivot 228 PART FIVE: QUINTESSENCE CHAPTER 7- THE GREAT REALM 235 EAST VERSUS WEST The universal harmonic 237 The non-universal harmonic 238 The spiritual dimension 239 PHYSICS VERSUS METAPHYSICS Some thoughts about nature 243 Music and ideas about nature 245 Renewing the ancient marriage between music and physics 246 THE QUINTESSENCE OF SCIENCE, SOUND AND SELF Paradigm change 248 A paradox for the senses 250 The fifth element 252 The Great Realm 253 Coda 256 Notes 258 Bibliography 262 Index 268 More information 271 contents of the Overtone Singing CD 1 Tuva Kara-ool Tumat (with balalaika) -khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, borbannadir (3:48) 2 Mongolia Altai Hangai – Tavan kasag (Five Kazakhs) -song with khoomii (2:22) 3 Altai Tanyspai Shinzhin -Fragment of epic sung with kai technique (4:10) 4 Khakasia Slava Kuchenov -Fragment of epic sung with khai (2:48) 5 Bashkortostan Robert Zagritdinov -uzlyau guttural technique (1:19) 6 South Africa Nowaylethi Mbizweni and Nofirst Lungisa- duet with ‘ordinary’ umngqokol (1:40) 7 Tuva Kaigal-ool Khovalyg -Kargyraa (1:28) 8 Mongolia Ganzorig Nergui -khoomii (3:28) 9 Tuva Andrei Opei (with chanzy) -Bazhy Betik (khoomei, sygyt) (3:52) 10 Tuva Andryan Opei -Khoomei kak basla men (sygyt) (1:21)

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Tuva Tuva Tuva Tuva Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Tuva Tuva Kalmukia Tuva Altai Altai

Andrei Chuldum-ool- Artii Saayir (sygyt) (3:02) Mergen Mongush -chilangyt (1:19) Aldyn-ool Sevek -ezenggileer (1:01) Aldyn-ool Sevek -khat kargyraa (0:56) Tongeren Five elementary techniques ( 1:09 ) Tongeren The vowel triad (1:08) Tongeren Fundamental drone (0:16 ) Tongeren Parallel motion (0:14 ) Tongeren Harmonic drone (0:23) Tongeren Contrary motion (0:16 ) Artysh Mongush – chilandyk (0:35) Sildis, Mikhail and Chash-ool – khoomei and sygyt (2:37) Tsagan Zam – fragment of Janggar (3:16) Mongün-ool Dambashtai – kargyraa (1:43) Arzhan Kezerekov -Imitation of the Shoor, with sygyrtyp (3:28) Raisa Modorova -Blessing song (algysh) with kai technique (3:09) South Africa Nowayilethi Mbizweni -iRobhane sung with umngqokolo ngomqangi technique (1:00) Tuva / the Biosintes and Mark van Tongeren -improvisation at the bank of Netherlands the Yenisei (5:09) Mark van Tongeren excerpt Paraphony (2:39) Mark van Tongeren excerpt City Chess (2:46) Tuva Opal Shuluu -Playing the khomus (Jew’s harp) (1:51) Tuva Kaigal-ool Khovalyg – playing the igil fiddle – Uzun khoyug (3:24) Electricity wires in Aryg Bazhy (2:28)

prelude: meeting with a Tuvan shepherd. Summer in Siberia is not cold at all. On the contrary, in June and July it can be hot, and even oppressive. The exhausting heat makes you long for the rivers. Rivers that do not stop carrying tons of ice cold water from the mountains. In 1993 I spent my first summer in Tuva, the republic at the southern border of central Siberia. Days after my arrival I had an opportunity to drive straight to the border of Mongolia with a group of Americans, who might go down in history as the first and last bicycle tourists to cross the (nowclosed) Russian-Mongolian border wíth their bikes. During some eight hours of steady driving a magnificent landscape of green meadows, hills and forests passed before my eyes. Besides the white spots of nomad tents scattered on the steppes and an occasional settlement, police – or tank station, there was little that betrayed the presence of man. Upon return in Tuva’s capital Kyzyl I got to know all about modern Tuva. I impatiently waited a long month to go back to the countryside and meet the nomads themselves. Soon thereafter several expeditions followed. Now is my third trip and we are inspecting an ancient Tuvan közhee or ‘stone man:’ a majestic figure that stands on a seemingly random spot in the wide open steppe of West Tuva. With his small nose, his steady eyes and his odd hairdo he had been staring in the same direction for centuries. Once there were many of these mysterious men, who can still be found throughout Central Asia. Most of the stone men in Tuva have been taken to museums, which were founded during the Soviet era. It was hoped that, along with the

stone men, the ancient spiritual beliefs of the Tuvan herdsmen would end up in the museum as a thing of the past. But according to some Tuvans, these once-brave fighters haven’t lost their powers. They say that one of the man-sized statues disappeared from the museum the night after it had been transported there. And that it had returned to its original dwelling in the grasslands… We move on to some rocks at which the közhee has been looking all these past ages. We meet with a local herdsman who knows where to find more relics of past ages. We walk on sundried-earth past some log cabins and a scrap-heap, and climb up and down the side of a rock. We reach a narrow plateau, some fifteen feet above the earth, from where we can overlook the grassland. The clouds that flow by cast moving shades in the landscape and create innumerable hues of dark and light colours. The Tuvan draws our attention to a flat, reddish-brown surface amidst the irregular patterns of the rock’s wall. Veiled as the wall is by its own shadow, I cannot see anything worthwhile at first. But then I notice a few characters and some vague, hardly discernible drawings of animals. The written characters all look different. Some are vertically written, like the Tibetan and Mongolian script, others even look like Sanskrit to me. The man who lives close to these rock inscriptions cannot tell much about it: he doesn’t know what is depicted and written down, not even whether the characters are Tibetan, Mongolian or something else. Apparently they date from an epoch of which the local people have no memory and I have no clue when it could be either. My questions pile up as the man starts to tell about a grave of an old lama nearby. The lama had been buried with some precious properties, but only few old men know the exact place. Fearing the overzealous labour of archaeologists, ethnographers, art-historians and their likes, they are silent about the exact location of the grave. While my guide is talking my attention is suddenly distracted by a hardly discernible sensation. An extremely soft, but persevering, high tone penetrates my ears. As I concentrate and ask my guide to be silent for a moment, my conviction grows that I found something typically Tuvan, something certainly mysterious, yet much more familiar to me than what I had just seen. I hear the typical sounds of Tuvan herdsmen. They resemble whistling, yet I know that the man I hear from afar is not whistling. The melody is so high and the tones so pure, that it cannot be sung as precisely and subtly by a normal man’s voice, not even by a woman’s voice. But the colour of the sound and the distance between the tones of the melody tell me that it is a voice I hear, and not a flute. As I look around to spot the man whose sounds caress my ears, I conclude that he is not singing as singers usually do. He is singing two notes at the same time, and what I hear are only the higher tones, the flageolets of his voice. He is so far away that the steppe doesn’t transmit the lower drone sound – all we hear is an ethereal melody of flute-like sounds. These are the miraculous sounds I came for, and one of the best-kept secrets of these Central Asian nomads. After squinting the steppes that lie beneath us, we finally locate the singing herdsman, sitting on the shoulders, almost on the neck of a horse, with his feet leisurely dangling at one side of its front legs. He is surrounded by dozens of sheep, grazing quietly in the steppe. A dog seems to do all the work for its boss. Its frequent barking keeps the herd together and drowns out the shepherd’s high tones from time to time. We listen attentively for a while to the throat singer, whom we’ll call by the most popular of Tuvan names: Mergen. Mergen is perhaps a mile away in the direction of the Stone Man. He hasn’t got much work to do, and besides some electricity poles we look at a scene which might as well have taken place a hundred, or perhaps more than a thousand years ago. Just like his forefathers this herdsman is passing his time with singing. Singing to his sheep and his horse, to the steppes and the hills and to a small brook. Maybe he even sings to the electricity wires and poles that range over his country. At close distance one can sometimes hear their buzzing sounds, which faintly resemble the sinus-like oscillations of the otherworldly song of the shepherd’s. After some time the thin, fragile sound switches to something that must be a deep and gruff roar in the ears of his horse. As he turns his face toward the sheep, different colours of sound, like clouds, are coming in our direction. As he turns away the soundsnatches die out: they are like the wind itself. Through the constant flow of this massive sound I hear a faint melody, starting on a low pitch and rising slowly, reaching a

final top note and then moving down again. After perhaps two deep breaths another melody comes and goes along with a string of stretched vowels. There is a timeless, eternal quality in the sounds. They could be echoes of bygone ages, but equally well provide the sonic background in a documentary on the latest accomplishments in space travel. Mergen’s comfortable position on the horse’s shoulders is said to be an invention of the Tuvans of the East (or Todzhans), dating from a time when mankind started to tame and domesticate animals. Sitting like this the shepherd can sing for hours on end, taking a break and moving to a fresh pasture every once in a while. With the dignified eyes of his frozen, stone forefather resting upon him, he knows that he need not hurry to graze his sheep. But as I don’t have as much time as he does, I decide to call him, in order to have a little chat. Because we are so far away for him, it takes awhile before Mergen finds our tiny figures, standing in the middle of the rocks. But then he turns his horse around, and moves it slowly towards a ford in the creek that is flowing between him and us. After some ten minutes he reaches the bottom of the rock we are standing on. The interpreter exchanges some questions and answers with the shepherd, and tells him who I am. Mergen does not speak Russian -like I do- and I speak only a few Tuvan words, so I wait patiently for the initial courtesy to finish. It appears that the herdsman lives not far from the Stone Man. I can see he is a bit uncomfortable with the unexpected guests. Tuvans that live in the countryside are shy with foreigners, who were rarely allowed to enter Tuva until two years before this summer. The interpreter tells the shepherd where I come from and that the purpose of my visit is to study Tuvan music. Then I ask the unavoidable question: could he sing for us one more time, so we can better hear and see what he is doing? Mergen seems reluctant but agrees with some hesitation. He takes his time to breathe and rasp his throat. Then finally he starts to sing, still sitting on his trusty steed. As he inhales, his breast becomes bigger, and with the first sounds his face reddens a little. He creates a forceful pressure on his throat which makes some of the veins around his eyes and neck swell. Again we hear the high, piercing notes. But this time they seem to be rougher than when we heard them from a distance. He rasps again, and tries to sing some more, but to no avail. With the eyes of the strangers fixed on him from the rock, singing appears to be a lot more difficult. Save his herd of sheep Mergen may have never in his entire life had a public, however small, before him. Maybe he has only sung for himself during his long, lonely hours with his cattle. He gives it another try, this time with the low roaring sounds. But even though it was difficult to hear from so far away, it was obvious that he produced the harmonic whistles much more naturally when he still thought he was alone on the steppe. And so we ask no further and let Mergen return to his flock, where the ethereal sounds of his voice can merge with the wind and please the endless steppes of Tuva. Fragment from Overtone Singing © 2002 – 2003 Mark van Tongeren

general information about the book In Overtone Singing, ethnomusicologist and singer Mark van Tongeren provides a fascinating insight into the timeless and universal aspects of sound and vibration. Grounded in a decade-long study of Asian music, he draws upon various fieldwork experiences, interviews with eastern and western musicians, in addition to the work of numerous scholars. He presents a multidisciplinary vision on sound that runs from World and contemporary music to the science of acoustics and perception, to music philosophy and the spiritual dimensions of music. Written in a non-technical style, this book and accompanying audio CD is an indispensable guide to musicians and music lovers seeking a deeper understanding of the nature of sound. summary Overtone Singing contains four largely self-contained parts, respectively called Physics, East, West and Metaphysics, and a fifth part called Quintessence. Physics deals with the acoustic, physiological and psychological aspects of sound, the harmonic series, the (singing) voice, and their importance in overtone singing. It is divided in two parts: singing harmonics and listening to harmonics.

a stone man or kozhee, reminding of the first Turkic tribes that settled in presentday Tuva

East discusses traditional practices of overtone singing. First of all of throat singing in Tuva, South Siberia, which is where most of the fieldwork for this book was done. From here the music of various neighbouring peoples and cultures is discussed, such as Mongol throat singing and Tibetan chant. In all cases singing attention is given to many other aspects of these societies like, for example, animism and Buddhism.

The third part, West, sketches the history of overtone singing in the west, from the first steps made by composers and improvisers to the cross-cultural fusions of today. In the western world overtone singing is a relatively new phenomenon. Aesthetics, questions of beauty in the music itself, and musical invention are emphasised here, rather than the social or spiritual elements.

Metaphysics – Body, Mind and Beyond delves deeper into the philosophies and belief systems underlying harmonics, harmony and numerical ratios. Meditation, therapy, effects on body and mind, resonance and correspondances between wave lengths on various scales are some of the key words here. These issues take us back to the times of Plato and Pythagoras, and end up with new questions about the consciousness inspired by Eastern philosophy. The fifth and final part is called Quintessence – The Great Realm. It draws some parallels and conclusions based on the ideas assembled in the first four parts. It is also a more personal interpretation based on the research of the author as a singer and musicologist. Click here to read the book’s foreword, which was written by musician, composer, doctor in ethnomusicology, advisor and friend Trân Quang Hai, who works at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, France

facts about the book Title: Overtone Singing – Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West Format:

XXVI + 284 page book plus 73 minute/33 tracks audio CD

Dimensions: 230 x 150 x 20 mm

Editions:

paperback (ISBN 90-807163-2-4) hardcover (ISBN 90-807163-1-6)

With 31 photos, 4 maps and 46 illustrations (musical examples, line drawings, graphs), bibliography, discography, index, footnotes. A discography lists dozens of relevant CDs (including label and catalogue number) of modern and traditional overtone singing. The CD included in the book offers the most complete survey of traditional techniques of overtone singing from various regions of the world to date. Also featured are tracks with technical demonstrations by the author and excerpts of his 2001 CD Paraphony. Text design and lay-out: Sonja van Hamel Typesetting: Roel Siebrands Publisher: Fusica, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The book has a barcode.

Overtone Singing Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West Foreword by Trân Quang Hai Nowadays, overtones are familiar to many people, from laymen to scientific researchers and composers. This familiarity is no doubt the result of the recent introduction in the west of a new vocal technique called overtone singing. This technique enables a singer to produce two simultaneous voices: a continuous drone and a melody of overtones above it. Tran Quang Hai, his wife Bach Yen and Mark van Tongeren [photograph taken by the camera] The interest about that peculiar vocal style in the Western world began around the 1960s. Since this time there have been many specialised studies from scholars, as well as musical explorations by composers and singers. My fascination with overtone singing began in 1969. In that year the first sound documents of Mongolian throat singing were brought to Paris by anthropologist Roberte Hamayon. It pushed me towards the overtones research on the acoustical point of view first, and later towards the anatomy of the voice, questions about music therapy and the musical aspects of its performance and composition. The increasing interest of overtones in the West has further been notified in contemporary music, in New Age music, in healing with the voice, and others. In 1995 Mark van Tongeren and I met in Amsterdam before we began our trip to Tuva, where both of us participated in the 2nd World Festival of Throat Voice in Kyzyl. At that time he had just finised his dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. It was the first extensive study of Tuvan music by someone outside the Russian Federation, carried out just after Tuva had become accessible for foreign visitors. It dealt with the history and modern practise of Tuvan khoomei or guttural overtone singing. As a singer, a collector of field recordings and a musicologist, the excellent research of Mark Van Tongeren brought new dimensions and developments of Tuvan throat singing to light. Then he impressed me with his throat singing at the festival in Kyzyl of which I was chosen as President of the Jury. In 2001, Mark Van Tongeren released his CD on overtones with his original performances. At the same year, he sent me the manuscript of his book on overtone singing. In this well-documented book you can find, for the very first time, everything concerning overtone singing in the West, from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s contemporary music to Jill Purce’ healing voice; from electro-acoustic to World and other Fusioned musics; from renowned western performers such as Michael Vetter and David Hykes to great masters of overtone singing from Tuva, Mongolia and other parts of the world; from the Pythagorean harmonic system to

Om chanting and New Age mantras. Overtone singing does justice to this multitude of cultural traditions and to the countless personalities that have contributed to the development of this way of singing. It has interesting and useful things to teach to everyone who is intrigued by the mysteries of sound and music. I am happy to recommend it to all lovers of overtone – and throat singing in the world. Trân Quang Hai Ethnomusicologist / Composer National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France

contents of the book Foreword by Tran Quang Hai: VI Contents of the CD XII Introduction XIV Acknowledgements XVI Prelude: Meeting with a Tuvan Shepherd XXI PART ONE: PHYSICS CHAPTER I -SINGING HARMONICS 3 The sonic warehouse 3 Vowels, timbre and harmonics 4 Speaking in chords 6 The harmonic series 8 The voice 11 Mouth shape and resonance 14 The mouth as a f1lter 16 Elementary techniques 18 Throat singing 23 High definition television: deep modes of chanting 26 Swollen veins 29 The female voice 30 Musical architecture 31 CHAPTER 2- LISTENING TO HARMONICS 35 Harmonics at the opera (Part One) 37 Paraphony 38 The cycle of creation and perception 40 Unusual acoustic phenomena 42 Space and sound 45 PART TWO: EAST CHAPTER 3- TUVAN THROAT SINGING 51 Three children and a bull 54 Throat singing in everyday life 56 Two Outstanding musicians-composers 58 Styles and techniques 63 A teacher and expert 66 Education: now and then 69 At the periphery of music 72 The world of spirits and sound 73 A whole gamut of wheezes 77 Throat singing in ritual contexts 79 In previous centuries 82 Live at the Bolshoi 85 Khunashtaar-ool: khoomei redefined 87 Cultural authorities and musical hierarchies 88 From Vladivostok to Havana 90 Tuvan city blues 96 The Tuva Ensemble 100 Tuva in turmoil 103 A musicallineage continued 105 Huun-Huur- Tu: Back to the roots 107 Killing him softly: women and khoomei 110 Tradition in motion 112 A concert by full moon 113 CHAPTER 4 -OVERTONE SINGING IN OTHER TRADITIONAL MUSIC 119 Mongolia 119 Epic singing 126 The Altai republic and the revival of epics 129 Echoes from the past 130 Going to Kyzyl 132 Song for the river Katun 134 Khakassia: the spirits return 136 Receiving a gift from the spirits 139 Kalmykia: epics and ideology 140 Bashkortostan: an independent case 143 Tibet: sound and symbol 145 An eye-witness

account 147 Sutras, mudras and mantras 148 A tool for the mind: the harmonic as symbol 152 A different reality 153 Sardinia: the virtual voice 154 South Africa: the human voice as a type of musical bow 157 Idiosyncrasies 159 PART THREE: WEST CHAPTER 5 -A HlSTORY OF OVERTONE SINGING IN THE WEST 165 The Tortoise, his dreams and journeys 166 Tuning up to the cosmos: Stockhausen’s Stimmung 167 Trial and error: A Vietnamese in Paris 170 The 1970s: extending vocal technique l72 Michael Vetter: Zen and sound 176 David Hykes: solar winds & rainbow voices 179 The snowball effect 184 Globalisation and cross-fertilisation 186 Noah: Harmonics at the opera (Part Two) 188 Out of Tuva 191 Rollin Rachele: Harmonic divergence 193 Toby Twining: requiem for a millennium 194 Return to the source: plainchant 197 The stepchild of European music 198 PART FOUR: METAPHYSICS CHAPTER 6 -BODY, MIND AND BEYOND 203 An unusual experience 204 Meditation 206 Christian chants and buddhist mantras 209 Harmonics in healing and therapy 211 Make your bones sing 216 The law of octaves 218 The greek legacy 220 Silent harmonics 224 music makes the world go round 225 the dance of the molecules 226 the Pythagorean attitude 227 sound as pivot 228 PART FIVE: QUINTESSENCE CHAPTER 7- THE GREAT REALM 235 EAST VERSUS WEST The universal harmonic 237 The non-universal harmonic 238 The spiritual dimension 239 PHYSICS VERSUS METAPHYSICS Some thoughts about nature 243 Music and ideas about nature 245 Renewing the ancient marriage between music and physics 246 THE QUINTESSENCE OF SCIENCE, SOUND AND SELF Paradigm change 248 A paradox for the senses 250 The fifth element 252 The Great Realm 253 Coda 256 Notes 258 Bibliography 262 Index 268 More information 271 contents of the Overtone Singing CD 1 Tuva Kara-ool Tumat (with balalaika) -khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, borbannadir (3:48) 2 Mongolia Altai Hangai – Tavan kasag (Five Kazakhs) -song with khoomii (2:22) 3 Altai Tanyspai Shinzhin -Fragment of epic sung with kai technique (4:10) 4 Khakasia Slava Kuchenov -Fragment of epic sung with khai (2:48) 5 Bashkortostan Robert Zagritdinov -uzlyau guttural technique (1:19) 6 South Africa Nowaylethi Mbizweni and Nofirst Lungisa- duet with ‘ordinary’ umngqokol (1:40) 7 Tuva Kaigal-ool Khovalyg -Kargyraa (1:28) 8 Mongolia Ganzorig Nergui -khoomii (3:28) 9 Tuva Andrei Opei (with chanzy) -Bazhy Betik (khoomei, sygyt) (3:52) 10 Tuva Andryan Opei -Khoomei kak basla men (sygyt) (1:21)

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Tuva Tuva Tuva Tuva Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Mark van Tuva Tuva Kalmukia Tuva Altai Altai

Andrei Chuldum-ool- Artii Saayir (sygyt) (3:02) Mergen Mongush -chilangyt (1:19) Aldyn-ool Sevek -ezenggileer (1:01) Aldyn-ool Sevek -khat kargyraa (0:56) Tongeren Five elementary techniques ( 1:09 ) Tongeren The vowel triad (1:08) Tongeren Fundamental drone (0:16 ) Tongeren Parallel motion (0:14 ) Tongeren Harmonic drone (0:23) Tongeren Contrary motion (0:16 ) Artysh Mongush – chilandyk (0:35) Sildis, Mikhail and Chash-ool – khoomei and sygyt (2:37) Tsagan Zam – fragment of Janggar (3:16) Mongün-ool Dambashtai – kargyraa (1:43) Arzhan Kezerekov -Imitation of the Shoor, with sygyrtyp (3:28) Raisa Modorova -Blessing song (algysh) with kai technique (3:09) South Africa Nowayilethi Mbizweni -iRobhane sung with umngqokolo ngomqangi technique (1:00) Tuva / the Biosintes and Mark van Tongeren -improvisation at the bank of Netherlands the Yenisei (5:09) Mark van Tongeren excerpt Paraphony (2:39) Mark van Tongeren excerpt City Chess (2:46) Tuva Opal Shuluu -Playing the khomus (Jew’s harp) (1:51) Tuva Kaigal-ool Khovalyg – playing the igil fiddle – Uzun khoyug (3:24) Electricity wires in Aryg Bazhy (2:28)

prelude: meeting with a Tuvan shepherd. Summer in Siberia is not cold at all. On the contrary, in June and July it can be hot, and even oppressive. The exhausting heat makes you long for the rivers. Rivers that do not stop carrying tons of ice cold water from the mountains. In 1993 I spent my first summer in Tuva, the republic at the southern border of central Siberia. Days after my arrival I had an opportunity to drive straight to the border of Mongolia with a group of Americans, who might go down in history as the first and last bicycle tourists to cross the (nowclosed) Russian-Mongolian border wíth their bikes. During some eight hours of steady driving a magnificent landscape of green meadows, hills and forests passed before my eyes. Besides the white spots of nomad tents scattered on the steppes and an occasional settlement, police – or tank station, there was little that betrayed the presence of man. Upon return in Tuva’s capital Kyzyl I got to know all about modern Tuva. I impatiently waited a long month to go back to the countryside and meet the nomads themselves. Soon thereafter several expeditions followed. Now is my third trip and we are inspecting an ancient Tuvan közhee or ‘stone man:’ a majestic figure that stands on a seemingly random spot in the wide open steppe of West Tuva. With his small nose, his steady eyes and his odd hairdo he had been staring in the same direction for centuries. Once there were many of these mysterious men, who can still be found throughout Central Asia. Most of the stone men in Tuva have been taken to museums, which were founded during the Soviet era. It was hoped that, along with the

stone men, the ancient spiritual beliefs of the Tuvan herdsmen would end up in the museum as a thing of the past. But according to some Tuvans, these once-brave fighters haven’t lost their powers. They say that one of the man-sized statues disappeared from the museum the night after it had been transported there. And that it had returned to its original dwelling in the grasslands… We move on to some rocks at which the közhee has been looking all these past ages. We meet with a local herdsman who knows where to find more relics of past ages. We walk on sundried-earth past some log cabins and a scrap-heap, and climb up and down the side of a rock. We reach a narrow plateau, some fifteen feet above the earth, from where we can overlook the grassland. The clouds that flow by cast moving shades in the landscape and create innumerable hues of dark and light colours. The Tuvan draws our attention to a flat, reddish-brown surface amidst the irregular patterns of the rock’s wall. Veiled as the wall is by its own shadow, I cannot see anything worthwhile at first. But then I notice a few characters and some vague, hardly discernible drawings of animals. The written characters all look different. Some are vertically written, like the Tibetan and Mongolian script, others even look like Sanskrit to me. The man who lives close to these rock inscriptions cannot tell much about it: he doesn’t know what is depicted and written down, not even whether the characters are Tibetan, Mongolian or something else. Apparently they date from an epoch of which the local people have no memory and I have no clue when it could be either. My questions pile up as the man starts to tell about a grave of an old lama nearby. The lama had been buried with some precious properties, but only few old men know the exact place. Fearing the overzealous labour of archaeologists, ethnographers, art-historians and their likes, they are silent about the exact location of the grave. While my guide is talking my attention is suddenly distracted by a hardly discernible sensation. An extremely soft, but persevering, high tone penetrates my ears. As I concentrate and ask my guide to be silent for a moment, my conviction grows that I found something typically Tuvan, something certainly mysterious, yet much more familiar to me than what I had just seen. I hear the typical sounds of Tuvan herdsmen. They resemble whistling, yet I know that the man I hear from afar is not whistling. The melody is so high and the tones so pure, that it cannot be sung as precisely and subtly by a normal man’s voice, not even by a woman’s voice. But the colour of the sound and the distance between the tones of the melody tell me that it is a voice I hear, and not a flute. As I look around to spot the man whose sounds caress my ears, I conclude that he is not singing as singers usually do. He is singing two notes at the same time, and what I hear are only the higher tones, the flageolets of his voice. He is so far away that the steppe doesn’t transmit the lower drone sound – all we hear is an ethereal melody of flute-like sounds. These are the miraculous sounds I came for, and one of the best-kept secrets of these Central Asian nomads. After squinting the steppes that lie beneath us, we finally locate the singing herdsman, sitting on the shoulders, almost on the neck of a horse, with his feet leisurely dangling at one side of its front legs. He is surrounded by dozens of sheep, grazing quietly in the steppe. A dog seems to do all the work for its boss. Its frequent barking keeps the herd together and drowns out the shepherd’s high tones from time to time. We listen attentively for a while to the throat singer, whom we’ll call by the most popular of Tuvan names: Mergen. Mergen is perhaps a mile away in the direction of the Stone Man. He hasn’t got much work to do, and besides some electricity poles we look at a scene which might as well have taken place a hundred, or perhaps more than a thousand years ago. Just like his forefathers this herdsman is passing his time with singing. Singing to his sheep and his horse, to the steppes and the hills and to a small brook. Maybe he even sings to the electricity wires and poles that range over his country. At close distance one can sometimes hear their buzzing sounds, which faintly resemble the sinus-like oscillations of the otherworldly song of the shepherd’s. After some time the thin, fragile sound switches to something that must be a deep and gruff roar in the ears of his horse. As he turns his face toward the sheep, different colours of sound, like clouds, are coming in our direction. As he turns away the soundsnatches die out: they are like the wind itself. Through the constant flow of this massive sound I hear a faint melody, starting on a low pitch and rising slowly, reaching a

final top note and then moving down again. After perhaps two deep breaths another melody comes and goes along with a string of stretched vowels. There is a timeless, eternal quality in the sounds. They could be echoes of bygone ages, but equally well provide the sonic background in a documentary on the latest accomplishments in space travel. Mergen’s comfortable position on the horse’s shoulders is said to be an invention of the Tuvans of the East (or Todzhans), dating from a time when mankind started to tame and domesticate animals. Sitting like this the shepherd can sing for hours on end, taking a break and moving to a fresh pasture every once in a while. With the dignified eyes of his frozen, stone forefather resting upon him, he knows that he need not hurry to graze his sheep. But as I don’t have as much time as he does, I decide to call him, in order to have a little chat. Because we are so far away for him, it takes awhile before Mergen finds our tiny figures, standing in the middle of the rocks. But then he turns his horse around, and moves it slowly towards a ford in the creek that is flowing between him and us. After some ten minutes he reaches the bottom of the rock we are standing on. The interpreter exchanges some questions and answers with the shepherd, and tells him who I am. Mergen does not speak Russian -like I do- and I speak only a few Tuvan words, so I wait patiently for the initial courtesy to finish. It appears that the herdsman lives not far from the Stone Man. I can see he is a bit uncomfortable with the unexpected guests. Tuvans that live in the countryside are shy with foreigners, who were rarely allowed to enter Tuva until two years before this summer. The interpreter tells the shepherd where I come from and that the purpose of my visit is to study Tuvan music. Then I ask the unavoidable question: could he sing for us one more time, so we can better hear and see what he is doing? Mergen seems reluctant but agrees with some hesitation. He takes his time to breathe and rasp his throat. Then finally he starts to sing, still sitting on his trusty steed. As he inhales, his breast becomes bigger, and with the first sounds his face reddens a little. He creates a forceful pressure on his throat which makes some of the veins around his eyes and neck swell. Again we hear the high, piercing notes. But this time they seem to be rougher than when we heard them from a distance. He rasps again, and tries to sing some more, but to no avail. With the eyes of the strangers fixed on him from the rock, singing appears to be a lot more difficult. Save his herd of sheep Mergen may have never in his entire life had a public, however small, before him. Maybe he has only sung for himself during his long, lonely hours with his cattle. He gives it another try, this time with the low roaring sounds. But even though it was difficult to hear from so far away, it was obvious that he produced the harmonic whistles much more naturally when he still thought he was alone on the steppe. And so we ask no further and let Mergen return to his flock, where the ethereal sounds of his voice can merge with the wind and please the endless steppes of Tuva. Fragment from Overtone Singing © 2002 – 2003

Mark van Tongeren

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