WOLFGANG SAUS : Overtone singing and throat singing styles in the world

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Overtone singing and throat singing styles in the world

WOLFGANG SAUS

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Overtone singing as a stylistic term encompasses all vocal techniques in which overtones are specifically emphasized and play an independent musical role.

The most famous style beside the Western overtone singing is the Central Asian throat singing from Tuva and Mongolia. But there are other spectacular forms of overtone and throat singing in other parts of the world, e. g. in Africa, Oceania and even in Europe, which I would like to draw your attention to here.

Inhalt

Of course there is no singing without harmonics, because every singing tone contains harmonics. I classify it as overtone singing when the musician’s intention is to provide overtones with their own musical role.

It is important to me to define this from the perspective of the singer, because not everyone perceives the overtones without practice. Transitions from speech to targeted overtones can be fluid (hearing test). According to a study by the University of Heidelberg people hear the overtones very differently, so that even trained musicians do not always immediately recognize the overtones in the voice. Overtone listening is trainable.

Classification by Cultures

Classification by Sound Character

Overtone melodies are the most noticeable, but not the only form of overtone singing. Overtones can be used musically without creating melodies: for tone effects, intonation, resonance and as a basis for scales. Examples are Tibetan monk songs, Barbershop or the Sardinian canto a tenore. The weaker the overtones are compared to the overall sound, the more difficult it is to assign them to overtone singing.

Overtone Melodies

Overtone Sound Scapes

Widespread Misconceptions

For the sake of completeness, I would like to mention singing styles that are erroneously referred to as overtone singing. These are singing techniques called throat singing. Throat singing is used in music ethnological terms, especially in older literature, for throaty, rough songs and singing with narrowing of the larynx and has nothing to do with overtone singing. Only since the 1990s throat singing (as a translation of the Tuvan word khöömej) has become synonymous with Central Asian overtone singing. You have to be careful what kind of throat singing is meant, especially when translating from English. When reading recent literature, one should pay attention to whether the author has carefully researched.

Literature & Sources

Schneider, Peter, Vanessa Sluming, Neil Roberts, Michael Scherg, Rainer Goebel, Hans J Specht, H Günter Dosch, Stefan Bleeck, Christoph Stippich, and André Rupp. “Structural and Functional Asymmetry of Lateral Heschl’s Gyrus Reflects Pitch Perception Preference.” Nat Neurosci 8, no. 9 (2005): 1241–47. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1530. 2 replies

  1. Simone says: There’s an issue, for Sardinia there is just another video of “A Filetta” singing from Corsica. Could you please fix it? Reply
  2. Franz Klug says: Hoy Wolfgang,ich bin absolut begeistert über deine schöne Seite!
    Seit einiger Zeit stöbere ich immer wieder mal und entdecke immer noch was neues :-)Ich singe so seit ca 25 Jahren Obertöne und bin immer auf der suche nach Anregungen.
    Hier gibt es sie reichlich für mich, dankeschööön.Der “Cosmicbow” hat mich total inspiriert, hab mir gerade auch mal einen gebaut, super Sache.
    Das ist im Moment mein Lieblingsinstrument.Friendly wishes from Palatinatforrest
    Franz Reply

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Overtone singing and throat singing styles in the world

123456789101112131415161718192021222324

Overtone singing as a stylistic term encompasses all vocal techniques in which overtones are specifically emphasized and play an independent musical role.

The most famous style beside the Western overtone singing is the Central Asian throat singing from Tuva and Mongolia. But there are other spectacular forms of overtone and throat singing in other parts of the world, e. g. in Africa, Oceania and even in Europe, which I would like to draw your attention to here.

Inhalt

Of course there is no singing without harmonics, because every singing tone contains harmonics. I classify it as overtone singing when the musician’s intention is to provide overtones with their own musical role.

It is important to me to define this from the perspective of the singer, because not everyone perceives the overtones without practice. Transitions from speech to targeted overtones can be fluid (hearing test). According to a study by the University of Heidelberg people hear the overtones very differently, so that even trained musicians do not always immediately recognize the overtones in the voice. Overtone listening is trainable.

Classification by Cultures

Classification by Sound Character

Overtone melodies are the most noticeable, but not the only form of overtone singing. Overtones can be used musically without creating melodies: for tone effects, intonation, resonance and as a basis for scales. Examples are Tibetan monk songs, Barbershop or the Sardinian canto a tenore. The weaker the overtones are compared to the overall sound, the more difficult it is to assign them to overtone singing.

Overtone Melodies

Overtone Sound Scapes

Widespread Misconceptions

For the sake of completeness, I would like to mention singing styles that are erroneously referred to as overtone singing. These are singing techniques called throat singing. Throat singing is used in music ethnological terms, especially in older literature, for throaty, rough songs and singing with narrowing of the larynx and has nothing to do with overtone singing. Only since the 1990s throat singing (as a translation of the Tuvan word khöömej) has become synonymous with Central Asian overtone singing. You have to be careful what kind of throat singing is meant, especially when translating from English. When reading recent literature, one should pay attention to whether the author has carefully researched.

Literature & Sources

Schneider, Peter, Vanessa Sluming, Neil Roberts, Michael Scherg, Rainer Goebel, Hans J Specht, H Günter Dosch, Stefan Bleeck, Christoph Stippich, and André Rupp. “Structural and Functional Asymmetry of Lateral Heschl’s Gyrus Reflects Pitch Perception Preference.” Nat Neurosci 8, no. 9 (2005): 1241–47. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1530. 2 replies

  1. Simone says: There’s an issue, for Sardinia there is just another video of “A Filetta” singing from Corsica. Could you please fix it? Reply
  2. Franz Klug says: Hoy Wolfgang,ich bin absolut begeistert über deine schöne Seite!
    Seit einiger Zeit stöbere ich immer wieder mal und entdecke immer noch was neues :-)Ich singe so seit ca 25 Jahren Obertöne und bin immer auf der suche nach Anregungen.
    Hier gibt es sie reichlich für mich, dankeschööön.Der “Cosmicbow” hat mich total inspiriert, hab mir gerade auch mal einen gebaut, super Sache.
    Das ist im Moment mein Lieblingsinstrument.Friendly wishes from Palatinatforrest
    Franz Reply

Leave a Reply

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Name *

Email *

Website

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

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