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Stuart Hinds, the master of polyphonic overtone singing, has recorded a beautiful interpretation of Johannes Brahms’ Lullaby and Goodnight. You can download a simpler version of it here in sheet music and practice it yourself.

Stuart Hinds is undoubtedly the master of polyphonic overtone singing. He sets standards for this young vocal technique with his compositions. With Goin’ home, a melody from the second movement of the Ninth Symphony of by Czech composer Anonín Dvořák, Hinds here presents one of his easier pieces, that nevertheless will be a challenge for most overtone singers.

In addition to the version for solo baritone overtone singer and keyboad Hinds wrote a choral version, dedicated to the Prague ensemble Sprektrum, that sings the overtone part with even serveral choral singers. With such compositions hopefully many singers are encouraged to explore the fascinating possibilities of the polyphonic overtone singing.

Stuart Hinds wrote this solo piece for our common dear friend, Honza (Jan) Šima, who unexpectedly passed away at a young age in the last year. Although the piece is very emotional, it is not intended as an expression of mourning. It will rather give room for memories and contemplation.

Jan was an enthusiastic and very good polyphonic overtone singer. He was a member of the European Overtonechoir and the Overtone Choir Spektrum, where we first met back in 2003.

“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.

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