Tag Archive for: choir

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/

Why Does Choral Music Sound So Good?

I was very happy about this video from Barnaby Martin. It is a wonderful introduction to the basics of my → Choral Phonetics. In this video he shows why formants are so important for intonation.

Choral phonetics uses our hidden ability to perceive resonances in the vocal tract as pitches (→ hearing test). And it trains a special fine motoricity of the tongue to control these resonances and to adapt the timbre to chords. This know-how enables singers to tune resonances just as precisely as their vocal tones. This turns timbre into a musical instrument. Choir sounds, as they can be heard in the video, become controllable.

What otherwise requires many years of experience and voice training for choristers can be achieved much faster with the knowledge of choral phonetics. Choir singers and conductors usually learn the necessary vocal techniques in just a few days and can develop them into a retrievable skill set within half a year. This refines not only intonation and homogeneity in the ensemble, but also the carrying capacity and lightness of the voice.

Besides, Barnaby Martin has a great talent to explain complex musical phenomena in a simple and entertaining way. Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel “Listening In”, there are a lot of first-class videos about the effects of musical sounds.Among other things I recommend his video about the completely crazy intonation movements that Jacob Collier uses in his choir pieces. Guys, choral phonetics is slowly becoming mainstream :)!

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:


European Overtone Choir

28.02.19 – 22h – DLF Kultur Radio Broadcast about the Europa Obertonchor

The Deutschlandfunk Kultur broadcasts on Thursday, 28 February 2019 from 22h to 22h30 a radio feature about the European Overton Choir. The EOC is an experimental project choir that once a year from Easter Monday invites interested singers for a week to experiment with the potential and new sound possibilities of overtones in choral music. Works will be sung by notes as well as improvisations developed with new methods.

DLF Kultur, Thursday 28. Feb 2019, 22:00 h

European Overton Choir, next project week 22.-28. April 2019

CD From Sea to Sea - Aaron Jansen

Uvavnuk Dreams / The Great Sea – Aaron Jensen (2012)

A composition by Aaron Jensen, Canada 2012, for mixed choir a cappella and overtone soloist.

SSAATTB + overtone singer soloist (khoomej style) 6’00″

Text by Uvavnuk – translation: Jane Hirshfield

Commissioned by The Toronto Arts Council

Premiere: 12.05.2013 — The Elmer Iseler Singers, conductor Lydia Adams

Guest overtone singer: Scott Peterson

More about the composition on Aaron Jensen’s website.

Cosmos – Sunrise – A Cappella from Latvia

The Latvian a cappella group Cosmos (2002 – 2009,2015…) is characterized by extraordinary sounds and own arrangements, including overtone singing, as here in “Sunrise” (Saullēkts). Their shows are also remarkable. More on their YouTube-channel.

Young girls from Slovenia blast all choir dimensions – new vocal theatre

Carmina Slovenica – TOXIC PSALMS / Ultimate collective experience

Carmina Slovenica is an exceptional girl choir from Slovenia, or, as they themselves call their performances: Vocal Theater. With overwhelming choreographic charisma the teenagers present here an incredible diversity of vocal techniques and choral traditions from Estonian ancient spells in setting of Veljo Tormis up to overtone singing from Sarah Hopkins. Toxic Psalms of Karmina Šilec was premiered in 2013 in Berlin. Absolutely thrilling.

In addition to the above-featured performance TOXIC PSALMS Carmina Slovenica sing and dance / play extremely different programs, including overtone singing. Presumably, the ensemble is better known for its spectacular performance of Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus (no overtone singing):

Carmina Slovenica - Adiemus (part 1)

Wolfgang Saus’ first overtone project 1986 – Bootessteg by Günther Beckers

In October 2014 the composer surprisingly sent me the link to this video. “Der Bootssteg” by Günther Beckers was my very first production with overtone singing in 1986. I hadn’t heard of it since then and, to be honest, I had even forgotten that I had already made music with overtones back then.

In 1983 I was on stage with Roberto Laneri for the project “Nada Brahma – Die Welt ist Klang” by Joachim Ernst Berendt. For the first time in my life I heard overtone singing and was deeply moved so that I immediately realized that overtones would change my life. I taught myself how to sing overtones with many experiments, without the slightest idea of how it worked, only from the memory of the sound, without the possibility to listen to recordings. And I couldn’t find out Roberto Laneri’s phone number. It’s amazing how contemporary the work still sounds today, then an experimental innovation.

→More about the composition

In the recording: Marie-Dagny Wennberg from Sweden – alto, Wolfgang Saus – baritone overtone singing, members of the Collegium Byzantinum Aix la Chapelle, studio mix by Miki Meuser, acoustic rooms of the Institute for High-Frequency Engineering at Aachen University. Digital artificial head recording (also new at that time).

1986 was a year of extraordinary music projects for me. After an intensive with a professional ensemble in a master class of the Swedish exceptional choir leader and later successor of Eric Ericsons, Anders Eby, it became even clearer to me that the secret of professional choral sound lies in the overtones.

I had just received a solo contract at the Municipal Theatre Aachen for the premiere of the opera “Chimäre” by the Munich composer Hans-Jürgen von Bose and rehearsed the difficult score including polyphonic tape recordings. At that time I loved avant-garde and experimental music and was able to easily sight read scores, so that I rehearsed new music with much joy.

Anna - Ein Neuer Mensch, Günther Beckers 1984At the same time, Günther Beckers, painter and composer, approached me with his composition “Der Bootssteg – Hallkammer und schalltoter Raum” (“The jetty – reverberation chamber and anechoic chamber”). It was my part for overtone singing. It was played as a media production on the occasion of an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In 1984 I had already worked with Günther Beckers and performed “Anna – ein neuer Mensch” (video), a co-production of Günther Beckers with Miki Meuser (no overtone singing yet). I found the project so exciting, because it fit exactly to my question about the sound secret of choral music.

Back then I had no idea if you could make purposeful music with overtones at all. My overtone technique was still uncertain. There were no teachers or I knew nobody except Laneri. In 1986 I had not yet heard of Michael Vetter or David Hykes. That was a challenge, because I studied chemistry at the same time and sang in six choirs and had rehearsals every day. Young and unstoppable when it came to sound. Except “young” not much has changed ;).

I am happy that this rarity has now emerged.



Overtones in Canon | Mundwerk

The Munich a cappella group Mundwerk sings Brother Jaques not only with voices in canon, but also with overtones. My student and master class graduate Oliver Zunker (now no longer with the group) sings together with his colleague Jens Ickert the canon exclusively with overtones. Oliver himself is an excellent overtone teacher, as you can hear. I think the whole choral arrangement is superb!

All tones of the melody are already contained in a single keynote (harmonic 6 to 13, cf. composing with overtones). So you can sing them on one fundamental note.

Here you can download the sheet music for free →

Sources & Links




Tag Archive for: choir

Cover picture Natural Tone and Overtone Symposium Toggenburg

Natural Tone & Overtone Symposium – (CH) Toggenburg 02.-06.06.2022

⇒Symposium website

From 2-6 June 2022, the repeatedly postponed first Naturton & Oberton Symposium will take place in Obertoggenburg, Switzerland.

Natural Tone & Overtone Symposium

The sound cosmos of natural tones and overtones and their microtonal vibrations are of fascinating beauty and archaic power. Whether in traditional natural yodelling or in the complexity of new contemporary music: musicians as well as composers from all disciplines repeatedly reflect on the magical world of overtones, enter into the natural laws of sound and its mysteries and draw new insights and inspiration for their works.

Toggenburg, with its natural yodelling, Talerschwingen and the bell-ringing of the alpine herdsmen, is one of the last still authentically lived natural sound centres of our Alpine countries: an ideal place for a symposium around this phenomenon, embedded in a breathtaking landscape and staged by the Klangfestival Toggenburg in Alt. St. Johann.


The guest country of the first edition is Norway with the vocal ensemble Nordic Voices and Ingor Ántte Áilu Gaup from the realm of the Sami. The symposium will embark on a practical search for the current work of musicians with natural sounds, overtones and microtones from our cultural sphere.

Specialists as well as amateurs interested in music should benefit equally. The symposium is therefore open to all who are curious and offers courses, exciting insights, concerts, meetings and, of course, as a highlight, the concert day “Summit of Natural Tones”.

The symposium will also feature an international networking meeting and the founding of the first Overtone Academy in Europe.

⇒Official Symposium-Website

The Toggenburg Sound Festival from 3-5 June 2022 will be held in conjunction with the symposium.

Titelbild Symposium Naturton und Oberton Toggenburg

[Absage wegen Corona-Maßnahmen] Symposium Naturton & Oberton – (CH) Toggenburg 11.-15.05.2021


Übersicht als PDF-Datei | Vorträge | Workshops & Meisterkurse

Vom 11.-15. Mai 2021 findet im Obertoggenburg das erste Naturton & Oberton Symposium statt.

Aus allen Sparten besinnen sich die Menschen immer wieder auf die magische Welt der Obertöne und kehren ein in die Naturgesetze des Klanges. Daraus schöpfen sie neue Erkenntnisse und Inspiration für ihre Werke. Am Symposium widmen sich Musikerinnen und Musiker, Musikinteressierte und Neugierige während fünf Tagen dem Klangkosmos der Natur- und Obertöne.

Meisterkurs Oberton Chorprojekt


Marcello Wick & Wolfgang Saus bieten im Rahmen des Symposiums einen gemeinsamen Meisterkurs für Chorsänger mit und ohne Obertonerfahrung an.

Für das neue Projekt im Rahmen des Symposiums können fortgeschrittene Obertonsänger, aber auch interessierte Chorsänger ohne Obertongesangserfahrung im Rahmen der Meisterklasse und auch am «Gipfel der Naturtöne» mitwirken. Im Weiteren sind auch Folgekonzerte im In- und Ausland geplant. Es besteht auch die Möglichkeit nach der Meisterklasse dem Chor beizutreten.

Inhaltlich stehen zwei Uraufführungen von Fortunat Frölich im Zentrum sowie weitere interessante Obertonkompositionen aus dem Repertoire des Chor Partial, welche in Zusammenarbeit mit Wolfgang Saus erarbeitet werden.

Ihre Wirkung auf unser Bewusstsein / Die geistige Dimension der Obertöne

Wolfgang Saus

Samstag, 15. Mai 2021, 17.45 – 18.30 Uhr


Obertöne sind überall in der Musik, in Klängen, in jedem Ton und sogar Geräuschen von Maschinen enthalten, doch wir nehmen sie nicht wirklich wahr. Warum eigentlich nicht? Immerhin sind die Obertöne die Grundlage aller Musik und aller gesprochenen Sprachen dieser Welt. Und warum hören wir sie z. B. beim Obertongesang plötzlich? Und – hören wir sie denn tatsächlich? Obertöne bergen faszinierende Geheimnisse, deren Entschlüsselung in den letzten Jahren für Erstaunen gesorgt hat. Der Vortrag gibt den Teilnehmern Gelegenheit, an sich selbst zu erfahren, wie Obertöne die Wahrnehmung nachhaltig beeinflussen können. Die Hörer erfahren, was die Obertöne im Gehirn anstellen, was das mit Heilwirkung und Esoterik zu tun hat und wie man mit Obertönen womöglich eine völlig neue Dimension von psychoaktiver Vokalmusik erzeugen kann. Der Vortrag verspricht viele unerwartete Klangbeispiele und Interaktionen.

→Weiter zum Klangfestival Toggenburg 2021

Chorphonetik – Intonation mit Vokalen veredeln. Verband Chorleitung Nordwestschweiz – 30.01.2020 in Basel

VChN-Weiterbildungstag 2020 – CHORPHONETIK-WORKSHOP MIT WOLFGANG SAUS (Deutschland)

→Zur Website des VChN

Donnerstag, 30. Januar 2020 – 09:00 bis 17:00 Uhr

Klaus Linder-Saal, Hochschule für Musik Basel

Teilnahmegebühren: 80/40 CHF – für VChN-Mitglieder kostenlos!

Chorphonetik ist eine Stimm- und Gehörbildung, die es ermöglicht, Intonation und Homogenität im Chor mit der Klangfarbe der Vokale zu steuern.

Sänger/-innen können lernen, ihre Formanten so auf Teiltöne auszurichten, dass sie sowohl in den musikalischen Kontext passen als auch innerhalb einer Stimmgruppe übereinstimmen. Formanten erzeugen einen (unbewusst wahrgenommenen) Tonhöheneindruck, der die Intonation und Homogenität beeinflusst. Gesangspädagogische Methoden des Obertongesangs bilden die Grundlage für die Schulung der Wahrnehmung dieser Tonhöheninformation und für die Kontrolle der Formanten durch die Form des Vokaltrakts.

Nähere Informationen und Anmeldung hier: PDF-Datei

09:00 bis 12:00
– Einführung einer neuen Hörweise: Töne statt Vokale – Übung
– Einführungsvortrag „Wie Vokale die Chorintonation steuern“, mit Klanganalyse, ca. 30 Min – Übungen zur Kontrolle der 2. Vokalresonanz (2. Formant)
– Übungen zur Bedeutung von Resonanzen
– Anwendungsübungen für 2. Resonanz im Chor, reine Intervalle
Mittagspause (Mittagessen in der Cafeteria für 23 Franken, siehe Anmeldung)
13:30 bis 16:30
– Übungen zur Kontrolle der 3. Vokaltraktresonanz (Obertongesang)
– Übungen zur Resonanzempathie und Resonanzsynchronisierung
– Übung: Warum manchmal unterschiedliche Vokalfärbungen homogener klingen – Anwendungsübungen Resonanzempathie in der Improvisation
– Analyse von Resonanzen in Chorsätzen, Resonanzmatrix
– Anwendung auf Messiaen „O sacrum convivium“
16:30 bis 17:00
Offene Frage- und Feedbackrunde mit Saus

Chorphonetik – Intonation veredeln mit Vokalen, Chor Provokal [nicht öffentlich]

Chorphonetik ist eine zukunftsweisende neue Methode, die Intonation und Homogenität im Chor zu veredeln. Wochenend- oder Tagescoaching auf Anfrage.


Ruf mich an, wenn Du mehr über ein Coaching für Deinen Chor oder eine Fortbildung zu Chorphonetik wissen möchtest:
Tel. +49 163 6237866 (mobil, auch SMS)
E-Mail: chorphonetik@oberton.org

Chorphonetik – Intonation veredeln mit Vokalen, Chorlorado [nicht öffentlich]

Chorphonetik ist eine zukunftsweisende neue Methode, die Intonation und Homogenität im Chor zu veredeln. Wochenend- oder Tagescoaching auf Anfrage.


Ruf mich an, wenn Du mehr über ein Coaching für Deinen Chor oder eine Fortbildung zu Chorphonetik wissen möchtest:
Tel. +49 163 6237866 (mobil, auch SMS)
E-Mail: chorphonetik@oberton.org

[nicht öffentlich] Chorphonetik Coaching mit dem Münsterchor Basel

Chorphonetik ist eine zukunftsweisende neue Methode, die Intonation und Homogenität im Chor zu veredeln. Wochenend- oder Tagescoaching auf Anfrage.


Ruf mich an, wenn Du mehr über ein Coaching für Deinen Chor oder eine Fortbildung zu Chorphonetik wissen möchtest:
Tel. +49 163 6237866 (mobil, auch SMS)
E-Mail: chorphonetik@oberton.org