Test Your Rhythm Feeling

On ConcertHotels you will find a test that measures your precision of rhythm feeling. Take the test first. Then try singing overtones while you’re doing the test and write your results in the comment below if you like. I look forward to it.

Enlarged right auditory cortex, Wolfgang Saus.

Enlarged right auditory cortex, Wolfgang Saus.

Overtones are usually sung slowly and meditatively, rarely fast and rhythmically (there are exceptions). Overtone singers process sound more in the right hemisphere, drummers more in the left, says Dr. Schneider from Heidelberg University Hospital. Test here how your brain processes sounds.

Is that one of the reasons? An interesting question that has not yet been examined. I suspect that focusing on overtones, at least for the untrained, draws attention away from rhythm.

In my advanced courses, I experience that at first the intonation and sound quality of the keynote suffers when the focus goes entirely to the overtones. Conversely, concentrating on the keynote causes a poorer overtone quality or even complete loss of control of overtone singing. I can immediately recognize from the sound what a student is concentrating on.

If you want to sing polyphonic overtones, i. e. a fundamental melody and an independent overtone melody at the same time, then both tones must receive equal attention. I have developed special exercises for this purpose, which improve the clean control of both notes after a few hours. It would be interesting to examine whether these exercises have an effect on the feeling of rhythm. I will do the rhythm test in my courses as a before-and-after comparison. I’m curious to see what happens.

What are your experiences with rhythm and overtones?


Photo of a funny looking child that's gript by an ear

Test: Are you an overtone or fundamental listener?

Do now also the new hearing test by Wolfgang Saus!

The effect of overtones in the brain seems to be of great interest. That’s why I would like to introduce the corresponding hearing test here. Dr. Schneider, the head of the study, provides on his website a hearing test developed by him, with which I have been testing my Masterclass students for years in order to develop an individual and optimal learning strategy for everyone.

This short test plays a series of tone pairs in which you are asked to decide spontaneously whether the second sound feels higher or lower than the first. At the end you get an evaluation of the degree to which you are fundamental or overtone listener, i. e. whether your hearing processes the sound more in the left brain half (fundamental listener) or more in the right brain half (overtone listener). If you are interested in the background of the work of the Heidelberg researchers, you can download the specialist article here.

Auf manchen Computern scheint dieser alternative Link besser zu funktionieren:

Hinterlasse gerne Dein Ergebnis unten in den Kommentar. Ich bin gespannt, wie Obertonsänger abschneiden. Mein Ergebnis sage ich Euch, sobald die ersten Kommentare eingegangen sind. In einem weiteren Post zeige ich Euch dann, was hinter den Klängen des Tests steckt.

Sources & Links

Schneider, P, M Andermann, D Engelmann, R Schneider, and A Rupp. “Musik Im Kopf.” DMW - Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 131, no. 51/52 (2006): 2895–97.

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.
Schneider, Peter. “Neurologische Klinik: Musikalische Verarbeitung Und Der Auditorische Kortex - Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg.” Accessed February 26, 2009.[arc]=1&tx_ttnews[pL]=2678399&tx_ttnews[pS]=1122847200&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=710&tx_ttnews[backPid]=24&cHash=ad6e6b634155a324bbc03302f5c13a36.
Schneider, Peter. “Universität Heidelberg – Pressemitteilungen: Warum Der Eine Geige Und Der Andere Cello Spielt.” Accessed February 26, 2009.[arc]=1&tx_ttnews[pL]=2678399&tx_ttnews[pS]=1122847200&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=710&tx_ttnews[backPid]=24&cHash=ad6e6b634155a324bbc03302f5c13a36.

Overtone and fundamental listeners in the orchestra (c) Neurological University Hospital Heidelberg

How Your Brain Handles Overtones

Why One Plays Violin and the Other Cello

First published at Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg on 21.08.2005 (Repost with kind permission)

The ability to perceive fundamental and overtones is anchored in the brain / Scientists from Heidelberg publish a study of orchestral musicians in “Nature Neuroscience”

→ Here you can do the Heidelberg listening test yourself

The same sounds can be perceived very differently by different people. The cause resides in the brain. Because the sound of a tone depends on structures in the cerebrum: Those who hear more overtones and thus rather long-lasting, deep sounds have more neuronal cell substance in the hearing centre of the right cerebral cortex, the so-called Heschl’s gyrus (transverse temporal gyrus). Those who hear the root more strongly or prefer short, sharp tones show this characteristic in the left half of the brain.

These are the results of a study published on August 21, 2005 as an online publication of “Nature Neurosciences” and in the September print edition . Scientists from the Department of Biomagnetism at the Neurological University Hospital in Heidelberg, together with colleagues from the Universities of Liverpool, Southampton and Maastricht, examined a total of 420 people, the majority of whom were music students and orchestra musicians.

Musicality independent of hearing type / connection with rhythm recognition

Extensive listening tests were used to determine whether the test persons belonged to the group of “fundamental listeners” or “overtone listeners“. (For each natural tone, a multitude of higher tones are produced in addition to the fundamental tone, which determines the pitch. These overtones complement the frequency spectrum of a tone and give it its individual timbre.) In 87 subjects from both groups, additional brain structures were visualized in the magnetic resonance tomogram and their functions were measured with magnetoencephalography (MEG). MEG is a very sensitive method for measuring brain activity. It measures low magnetic fields generated by active nerve cells in the cerebral cortex.

Overtone and fundamental pitch listeners in the orchestra (c) Neurological University Hospital Heidelberg

Overtone and fundamental pitch listeners in the orchestra (c) Neurological University Hospital Heidelberg
The Heidelberg study has shown that the seating arrangement in a modern symphony orchestra follows the individual ability of sound perception, which is anchored in the left or right hemisphere of the brain. Fundamental listeners with high instruments (e.g. violin, flute, trumpet) are located to the left of the conductor and overtone listeners (e.g. viola, cello, double bass, bassoon, tuba) to the right. Image source: Neurological University Hospital Heidelberg

“These two types of hearing also exist among non-musical people,” explains Dr. Peter Schneider, physicist, church musician and MEG specialist in the Heidelberg research group. However, the processing of music is also linked to the ability to hear the fundamental or overtones.

“Overtone listeners can perceive long-lasting sounds and tones better,” says Schneider. This ability is located in the right hearing center. The fundamental listeners, on the other hand, stood out due to a more virtuoso playing technique and better processing of complex rhythms, which is linked to the faster processing in the left hearing centre.

Singers and cellists are “overtone listeners”.

Orchestral musicians have also selected their musical instrument according to their listening type, according to another study recently presented by Dr. Schneider at a specialist congress. Fundamental listeners prefer drums, guitar, piano or high melodic instruments, overtone listeners prefer deep melodic instruments such as cello, bassoon or tuba. Singers also belong to this group.

Musicality has nothing to do with the types of hearing, but it can also be found in the brain structures. In a publication in August 2002, again in “Nature Neuroscience”, Dr. Schneider and his colleagues from Heidelberg have already discovered that professional musicians have more than twice as much brain mass in the primary hearing centre as non-musical people. In addition, as MEG measurements have shown, their brains react more strongly to sounds.

For further information please contact:

Dr. Peter Schneider


Further information on the Internet:

Image source: Neurological University Hospital Heidelberg


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.


Vortrag: Ohrenkino – wie Obertöne unser Bewusstsein beeinflussen – 12.01.2020 in Freudental

Im PKC Freudental findet von September 2019 bis Januar 2020 ein fünf Wochenenden umfassender Kurs „Oberton Intensiv“ für Fortgeschrittene statt. Anschließend an das letzte Kurswochenende gibt es eine exklusive Einführung in den Obertongesang. Wolfgang Saus erläutert, was Obertöne eigentlich sind und wie man sie hören und hörbar machen kann.

Der Dozent (Foto: Luna Bürger) ist Diplom-Chemiker, Sänger und Lehrer für westlichen Oberton-Gesang. Seit 30 Jahren lehrt er, hat das Standardwerk „Oberton Singen“ herausgegeben und forscht aktuell an der Veränderung des Gehirns durch diese Gesangstechnik.

In der ZDF-Sendung „Hallo Deutschland“ vom 28. Oktober 2019 wurde das Obertonsingen und der im PKC stattfindende Kurs mit einer vierminütigen Reportage von Achim Winter vorgestellt.

Im Namen des Vereins laden wir Sie herzlich zu dieser besonderen Veranstaltung ein und bitten um Ihre schriftliche oder telefonische Anmeldung!

Terminänderung! Vortrag: Ohrenkino ist am 12.01.2020! (nicht am 15.12.19, sorry)

Hinweis: der Vortrag war hier irrtümlich für den 15.12.2019 angekündigt.

Der korrekte Termin ist Sonntag, 12.01.2020, 15h!

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