You first have to learn to hear overtones. With this program you can do that. Whoever learns it will change his entire listening experience. This is because completely new insights into the essence of sounds and realities are opened up.

Radio Feature by: Tanja Gronde. Broadcast from 09.05.2020 on BR Bayern 2 and BR Heimat.

More about the broadcast [BR Bayern2 and BR Heimat].

Minghao Xu’s 2009 film brings us close to the mystery of overtones, which seems to become the stranger the deeper you look into it. The film illuminates the phenomenon from the perspective of some of the greatest experts in the field of overtone singing, with some exciting and well-researched scientific and philosophical backgrounds. This documentary film portrays seven international musicians and tells the story of the director’s personal fascination with ‘overtone singing’ and the fractal geometry of sound. An amazing journey into a mysterious world of sound.

With

  • David Hykes
  • Wolfgang Saus
  • Christian Bollmann
  • Danny Wetzels
  • Hosoo & Transmongolia
  • Jill Purce
  • Mark van Tongeren

Director and producer: Minghao Xu
2009 Traumzeit publishing house, David Lindner

You can buy the DVD of the film with some extras in German/English here.

Minghao Xu about his film (quote from facebook):

My first production – a documentary about overtone singing – was published in 2010. Now after 10 years I am making it available for free on YouTube.

A big Thank You to Danny Wetzels who introduced me to overtone singing, who was and is a musical inspiration and a friend to me throughout the years.

Big Thank You to Wolfgang Saus who has a deep understanding of the human voice, who is brilliant in teaching how to hear and sing overtones and who supported me massively in creating this documentary.

Thank You to David Hykes who touched me as a singer as much as an inspirational being.

Thank You to Christian Bollmann, Hosoo Dangaa Khosbayar, Jill Purce and Mark van Tongeren – without your presence, knowledge, voice and contribution this project couldn’t have manifested. And Thank You to David Lindner for your help to publish this project through the Traumzeit Verlag.

 

“Silent Night, Holy Night”, the world’s most famous Christmas song, was sung for the first time on 24.12.1818, exactly 200 years ago. On Christmas Eve 1818 the Arnsdorf village school teacher and organist Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863) and the auxiliary priest Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) performed the Christmas carol for the first time in the Schifferkirche St. Nikola in Oberndorf near Salzburg, Austria. (Wikipedia)

For this version for overtone singing, the brilliant pianist Michael Reimann has improvised a piano movement on the electric piano. The notes for overtone singing are suitable for beginners. At one point, however, a small psychoacoustic trick is used, because one of the melody notes is not actually included in the overtone series. Who can find it?

Michael Reimann: https://www.michaelreimann.de/
Video: Ljubljana Christmas Market filmed from the castle.


At the moment you can download the German version of the BBC documentation, e.g. with Mediathekview, from the ZDF Mediathek: 4th Episode, Wonders of Anatomy – Medical Record X – Borderline Cases of Science.
Note: Video and link currently only work from Germany.


Surgeon Gabriel Weston has spent many years studying the functioning of the human body. In the series «Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook» she presents people from all over the world with the most unusual bodies and abilities.

One of them is the unique body control required for overtone singing (from 10:40 min.). In November 2016, a film team from BBC Science Production, Emma Hatherley (production, direction) and Alexis Smith (camera), produced a film at the Institute of Music Medicine at the University Hospital of Freiburg with Prof. Bernhard Richter and Wolfgang Saus.

Live images from the magnetic resonance tomograph show the complex motion sequences in the mouth and throat that are involved in overtone singing. Interviews explain the scientific background of the phenomenon.

Pictures of the Making-of

Links

→BBC Website

“Ode to Joy”, overtone singing by Wolfgang Saus inside an MRI.

This spectacular dynamic MRI video shows how the tongue moves during overtone singing. The melody of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is created by double resonances which are shaped by the tongue in the mouth and throat. Overtone singing is based on the combination of the second and third resonance frequencies of the vocal tract on a single frequency to increase the volume of a single overtone from the vocal sound.

The second resonance frequency is controlled by the base of the tongue along with the epiglottis. The third resonance frequency is regulated by the space under the tongue, which is larger than it appears in the video, because it also spreads to the side of the tongue frenulum, which covers the space in the image. Overtone singing requires constant fine tuning of the two resonance chambers.

It is not easy to sing in the very loud magnetic resonance tomograph and even record the sound. The noise level is so high that I had to wear hearing protection and couldn’t hear my own overtones. I had to sing by feeling. That the right melody came out is spectacular in itself. It shows that it is possible to develop a body feeling for the exact pitch of the resonances that also works without acoustic control through the ear.

The team in Freiburg has developed highly specialized equipment for recording and filtering. Of course the sound is not HiFi.

MRT footage with kind permission and a big thank you to:
University Hospital Freiburg
Clinic for Radiology – Medical Physics & Institute for Music Medicine
https://fim.mh-freiburg.de/
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Richter
Prof. Dr. Dr. Jürgen Hennig
Prof. Dr. Matthias Echternach
(c) 2015

“Ihr Kinderlein, kommet” im Satz für polyphonen Obertongesang in einer Neufassung mit Keyboard-Begleitung von Michael Reimann.
Als ich 1984 meine polyphonen Obertongesangsstil entwickelte war”Ihr Kinderlein, kommet” eines der ersten Lieder, die ich mit wechselnden Grundtönen sang.

Ich singe hier eine einfach zu lernende Fassung mit nur drei Grundtönen, die Du am schnellsten durch Mitsingen lernst. Die Noten dazu kannst Du Dir hier kostenlos herunterladen:

Text:

1. Ihr Kinderlein, kommet, o kommet doch all’!
Zur Krippe her kommet in Betlehems Stall
und seht, was in dieser hochheiligen Nacht
der Vater im Himmel für Freude uns macht.

2. O seht in der Krippe, im nächtlichen Stall,
seht hier bei des Lichtleins hellglänzendem Strahl,
den lieblichen Knaben, das himmlische Kind,
viel schöner und holder, als Engelein sind.

3. Da liegt es – das Kindlein – auf Heu und auf Stroh;
Maria und Josef betrachten es froh;
die redlichen Hirten knie’n betend davor,
hoch oben schwebt jubelnd der Engelein Chor.

4. Manch Hirtenkind trägt wohl mit freudigem Sinn
Milch, Butter und Honig nach Betlehem hin;
ein Körblein voll Früchte, das purpurrot glänzt,
ein schneeweißes Lämmchen mit Blumen bekränzt.

5. O betet: Du liebes, Du göttliches Kind
was leidest Du alles für unsere Sünd’!
Ach hier in der Krippe schon Armut und Not,
am Kreuze dort gar noch den bitteren Tod.

6. O beugt wie die Hirten anbetend die Knie,
erhebet die Hände und danket wie sie!
Stimmt freudig, ihr Kinder, wer wollt sich nicht freu’n,
stimmt freudig zum Jubel der Engel mit ein!

7. Was geben wir Kinder, was schenken wir Dir,
du Bestes und Liebstes der Kinder, dafür?
Nichts willst Du von Schätzen und Freuden der Welt –
ein Herz nur voll Unschuld allein Dir gefällt.

8. So nimm unsre Herzen zum Opfer denn hin;
wir geben sie gerne mit fröhlichem Sinn –
und mache sie heilig und selig wie Dein’s,
und mach sie auf ewig mit Deinem nur Eins.

Melodie:  Johann Abraham Peter Schulz 1794. Text: Christoph von Schmid 1798. Video: Falling snow by Matt SCC BY 3.0, Artikelbild: pixabay CC0.

Here is my overtone variation about the canon of Johann Pachelbel, in which I sing bass and soprano at the same time. It is an exercise for polyphonic overtone singing, which I once wrote for my students in the mid 1990s.

I have developed a series of preparatory exercises for my Masterclass students to build up the polyphonic singing skills step by step. It takes a whole weekend and a few weeks of practice. But if you want to try it out with the canon right away: Download the sheet music for free here.

It is a multitasking exercise that requires concentration. I sing two melodies contrapuntally. I lead the bass melody (ostinato) with my left hand and sing it first without overtone technique. Then I start the melody in the overtones and follow it with my right hand.

The left hand is linked to the right brain, where the perception of overtones is located. But it follows the basic melody, which is processed in the left brain. The right hand is controlled by the left hemisphere, but follows the overtones that are processed on the right side (see “How overtones work in the brain” and “Test: Are you an overtone or a fundamental listener?“).

In my experience, this crossover of hand control and auditory perception has an accelerating effect on learning and intonation gets better. If you occasionally swap hands, i. e. overtones on the left and fundamental tones on the right, this intensifies the training effect. But generally I recommend to practice the first version.

At the beginning you always have the problem that either the overtones don’t sound good or the keynote is completely out of tune. This is probably due to the fact that the brain can initially concentrate either on the clarity of the overtones or on the intonation of the fundamental tones. This multitasking is very similar to playing the piano, where the left hand plays the bass and the right hand the high part.

Try out which hand follows the overtones more easily and leave it in the comments. And whether you’re right or left-handed. I’d like to know if left-handed people are different.

Die Musik zum Film “La Grande Bellezza” (Die große Schönheit, 2013) von Paolo Sorrentino bedient sich u. a. der Obertongesang-Interpretation von Pérotins “Beata viscera” des estnischen a cappella Ensembles Vox Clamantis. Beata viscera ist auf der CD Filia Sion enthalten.

Beata viscera ist ein Werk des französischen Komponisten Pérotin aus dem 12. Jh und gehört zur frühesten Mehrstimmigkeit in Europa.

Obertongesang verleiht der Komposition eine mystische Stimmung. Natürlich ist Obertongesang nicht Bestandteil der Originalkomposition von Perotin, sondern wurde von Vox Clamantis hinzugefügt. Mir gefällt diese Modifikation sehr, besonders deshalb, weil die Obertöne kontrolliert und musikalisch integriert werden. Sie bilden eine eigenständige Melodie und sind vermutlich nicht, wie weit verbreitet, Zufallsprodukte, sondern ganz gezielt gesungen. Obwohl manchmal die Dur-Terz der Obertonreihe mit der Moll-Terz der dorischen Melodie in Konflikt steht. Ich bringe meinen Masterclass-Studenten bei, diese Konflikte gezielt zu umgehen, es sei denn, sie wären ausdrücklich erwünscht.

Beata viscera hatte übrigens früher schon einmal das Hilliard Ensemble zu einer Neuinterpretation mit dem Saxophonisten Jan Garbarek angeregt (auf der CD Officium).

Bildnachweis: Beata Viscera von Perotin (Wolfenbüttel Digital Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Wie immer könnt Ihr die Noten als Print- und editierbare MuseScore-Version kostenlos herunterladen:

Zurzeit (März 2014) unterrichte ich in Schweden und genieße den nordischen Frühling. Zum Anlass zweier Konzerte am kommenden Wochenende in Lund und in Kopenhagen habe ich einen Satz des schönen schwedischen Volksliedes “Ack, Värmeland, du sköna” für Obertongesang geschrieben, der dort zur Uraufführung kommt. Zusammen mit Anna-Maria Hefele singen wir eine Version für zwei Stimmen und Nyckelharpa.

Try entering “overtone singing” in other languages into a search engine. I have compiled over 50 translations. You will find videos and other treasures you would never have been able to find otherwise.

New creative developments of overtone singing are often not easy to find if you only search with the usual terms: Throat singing, overtone singing, khoomii, etc. According to Google, “throat singing” is the most searched term in this context, but treasures from France or Russia may be lost.

Do you know another translation? Then please put it in the comment below.

Bashkir  ba:
Өзләү, Özläü, Uzlyau

Basque  eu:
Kantu armoniko

Chakassic  tut:
Khai

Chinese  zh:
卡基拉

Danish  da:
Strubesang, Overtonesang

Dutch  nl:
Boventoonzang

German    de:
Obertongesang, Obertonsingen, Kehlgesang, Kehlkopfgesang

English  en:
Overtone singing, harmonic singing, harmonic chant, throat singing, diphonic singing, Tuvan singing

Estonian et:
Kõrilaul

Finnish  fi:
Kurkkulaulu, yläsävellaulua

French  fr:
Chant diphonique, Chant de gorge, Chant harmonique, Diphonie

Hebrew (Ivrit)  he:
שירת צלילים עיליים

Italian  it:
Canto armonico, Canto difonico, Diplofonie, Triplofonie

Japanese  ja:
喉歌

Lithuanian  lt:
Virštoninis dainavimas, Harmoninis dainavimas, Virštoninis giedojimas

Low saxon (Netherlands)  nds-nl:
Strötsingen

Luxembourgish  lb:
Baovetoeënzaank, Kaelzaank

Mongolian  mn:
Хөөмэй, Transkriptionen: (ISO9) Höömej, (Duden) Chöömei, Chöömej, (Engl.) khöömei, khöömey, (auch verbreitet) khoomej, khöömej

Norwegian  nn:
Strupesong, Strubesang, Overtonesang, Overtonesong

Polish  pl:
Śpiew alikwotowy

Portuguese  pt:
Canto difônico, Canto dos harmónicos

Russian  ru:
Горловое пение

Swedish  sv:
Strupsång, Övertonssång

Serbian  sr:
Аликвотно певање

Serbo-Croatian  sh:
Alikvotno pjevanje

Slovenian  sl:
Alikvotno petje

Spanish  es:
Canto difónico, Canto de armónicos, Canto de la garganta

Tatar  tt:
Бугаз җырлавы

Czech  cs:
Alikvotní zpěv, Hrdelní zpěv, Harmonický zpěv

Tuwinian  tyv:
Хөөмей

Ukrainian  uk:
Горловий спів

Vietnamese vi:
Hát Đồng Song Thanh (“singing with two simultaneous sounds”. Thanks to Tran Quang Hai)

Xhosa  xh:
Umngqokolo

http://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q691771?uselang=de
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyrillisches_Alphabet#Mongolisch

Picture credits: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/WorldMap-B_non-Frame.png
By www.demis.nl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons