Still, still, still – for Overtone Singing and Keys

Still, still, still is an Austrian Christmas carol from the Salzburg region. It first appeared in print in 1865 in a collection of carols with the following text, which is no longer common today:

1. Sleep, sleep, sleep, my precious baby sleep!
Maria sings a lullaby sweet
And lays her true heart at your feet.
Sleep, sleep, sleep, my precious baby sleep!

2. Great, great, great, the love is more than great.
God has left his throne on high,
To walk the street, to come us nigh.
Great, great, great, the love is more than great.

3. Rise, rise, rise, all Adam’s children rise.
O, kneel at the feet of Jesus now,
Our sins to atone he did vow.
Rise, rise, rise, all Adam’s children rise.

4. We, we, we, ee all implore Thee:
Open for us heaven’s gate
Let your kingdom be our fate.
We, we, we, – we all implore Thee.

5. Rest, rest, rest, allow the Child to rest.
Saint Joseph snuffs the candle out,
Angels are guarding all about.
Rest, rest, rest, allow the Child to rest.

(Translation wikipedia)

Performers:
Michael Reimann – Keys
https://michaelreimann.de/
Wolfgang Saus – Overtone Singing
https://www.oberton.org/
Video – josephphackney pixabay
https://pixabay.com/

What a sound! – Young Ensemble Dreden, Olaf Katzer, Jan Heinke

Such sounds cast a spell over me. Those who know me know how much contemporary choral music touches me. And as an overtone singer, I have been trying to bring overtone awareness to choirs for almost four decades. I am all the happier when composers who know something about overtone singing write choral music.

Jan Heinke is an absolutely exceptional musician. We have been friends for many years now, and Jan never fails to impress me with his deeply reflective worldview. His music is unique in the world, his playing on the steel cello he built, his ultra low bass and the virtuosity of his overtone singing. The Junge Ensemble Dresden under the direction of Olaf Katzer is one of the top chamber choirs in Germany and one of the select ones dedicated to contemporary classical music at the highest level.

You find the CD here: https://jungesensembledresden.de/cd

CD „Licht über Licht“
Performer: Junges Ensemble Dresden
Artistic direction: Olaf Katzer
Soloist overtone singing: Jan Heinke
Total playing time: 61:30

Jan Heinke: http://www.janheinke.de/, http://www.stahlquartett.de/

“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” – for Overtone Singing and Piano

Noten aus dem Speyerer Gesangbuch 1599 - Es ist ein Ros entsprungen“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” is a Christmas carol from the Speyerer Gesangbuch 1599. Here as a version for piano (Michael Reimann) and overtone singing (Wolfgang Saus).

The challenge for overtone singers here is especially the intonation conflict of the natural overtone thirds with the equal-tempered ones of the piano. In this version, I have partially adjusted the overtones to match the equal-tempered tuning, resulting in “out of tune” fundamental tones. The alternative of intonating the harmonics in relation “out of tune” is found by some to be cleaner overall. An interesting experiment. Piano and overtones never fit together exactly because, except for the octave, none of the piano intervals correspond to the natural harmonic order. I think it sounds delightful nonetheless.

Free sheet music here.

Performers:
Michael Reimann – keys
https://michaelreimann.de/
Wolfgang Saus – overtone singing.
https://www.oberton.org/
Video – caelan, pixabay
https://pixabay.com/

“A ship is coming laden” (“Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen”) – Overtone Singing

“A ship is coming laden” (“Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen”) is one of the oldest Advent hymns in German. It was written before 1450. The oldest record of the melody is found in the Andernacher Gesangsbuch, Cologne 1608.

A rhythmic rarity in old hymns is the change from a 6/4 to a 4/4 meter in the middle of the song. The Dorian part of the first part of the song ends on the minor third, while the second part turns to Lydian from the new root and returns to the Dorian finalis at the end.

Keys with minor thirds make fundamental changes unavoidable in overtone singing, because the natural overtone series is tuned to major.

If you would like to sing the song, you can download the free sheet music here.

The recording is a spontaneous improvisation by pianist Michael Reimann, who later orchestrated his piano part, and overtone singer Wolfgang Saus. Spontaneous improvisation with changing fundamental tones requires quite some experience.This can be acquired by re-singing the free collection of sheet music.

Performers:
Michael Reimann – keys
https://www.oberton.org
The video is from Thomas Ritter, Pixabay:
https://pixabay.com/videos/glass-sphere-spherical-moon-winter-7380/

David Harris – Neque Diliges

Neque Diliges

Composition by David Harris, 2021, for mixed 6-part choir with overtone singing.

Performed by Laude, David Harris – conductor, 2021.

Sheet music: https://www.seeadot.com/store#!/Neque-Diliges/

 

A Costly Final Chord

How Things Fall. He had little time to arrange his piece for Nordic Voices, says Koka Nikoladze, born in 1989 in Georgia, now living in Norway, composing and inventing instruments. How Things Fall and then spectrally spray, “How Things Fall,” 2021, performed by the Norwegian professional ensemble Nordic Voices, known for brilliantly handling overtone singing (from 1:44). Nikoladze keeps the final chord from us. He auctioned the final chord on ebay and realized $13,900. I love the Nordic self-irony, just right for lockdown times.

Wolfgang Saus at the Freiburg Stimmforum

Radio Feature: Between two tones – The art of overtone singing

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].

Bernat Vivancos – Obriu-me els llavis, Senyor

Obriu-me els llavis, Senyor

(2000, Oslo)

Recording: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava, 2011.
5 choirs (17 voices):
4 mixed choirs (at least 32 singers, preferably 64)
with divisi and a male voice choir.

Obriu-me els llavis, Senyor is one of those a cappella works that I present in almost all of my lectures as a reference for completely new possibilities in choral music. It begins with a cluster that achieves an immense effect through its pure intonation alone, before a shimmering chorus of overtones rises from a dense chord of precise vocals as if it were not from this world. It is one of my favourite passages from one of my favourite CDs: Blanc. This CD is one of my most listened to and is an absolute recommendation. Latvian Radio Choir, conducted by Sigvards Klava, is one of the best in the world.

The fascinating thing about the overtones of the Latvian Radio Choir is that they maintain the lightness of the voice and the intonation of the fundamental notes without any obvious change in timbre when they change overtone technique. This is my sound ideal. The overtones seem almost unreal, one can hardly believe that the entire sound is sung exclusively a cappella. This skill unfolds the true magic of overtone singing. This is the future of professional overtone singing: the imperceptible, softly flowing transition from the classical voice to the world of overtones and back again.

Bernat Vivancos’ music is like a city of angels: blissful sounds populated by saintly spirits hiding between the notes as birds in a tree.
Lasse Thoresen

If you want to buy the CD, I recommend downloading it from the publisher’s website. There you can download a higher quality than the usual CD. And under the tab ”Scores” you will find a very special extra: free download of the sheet music.

Interview with the composer:

 

Watch now for free: The film “Space – Sound – Voice” by Minghao Xu

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.