Overtone Singing - Non-Traditional Styles


America and Europe–


The 1920s Texan singer of cowboy songs, Arthur Miles, independently created a style of overtone singing as a substitute for the normal yodeling of country western music. Starting in the 1960s, some musicians in the West either have collaborated with traditional throat singers or ventured into the realm of throat singing and overtone singing, or both. Some made original musical contributions and helped this art rediscover its transcultural universality.

As harmonics are universal to all physical sounds, the notion of authenticity is best understood in terms of musical quality. Musicians of note in this genre include Collegium Vocale Köln (who first began using this technique in 1968), Michael Vetter, David Hykes (who created the term "harmonic singing" in 1975), Jim Cole, Ry Cooder, Paul Pena (mixing the traditional Tuvan style with that of American Blues), Demetrio Stratos, and Steve Sklar.

Tuvan singer Sainkho Namtchylak has collaborated with free jazz musicians such as Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg. Lester Bowie and Ornette Coleman worked with the Tenores di Bitti, and Eleanor Hovda has written a piece using the Xhosa style of singing.

DJs and performers of electronic music have also merged their music with throatsinging, overtone singing, or with the theory of harmonics behind it. In
Ireland Anúna have revived a technique of overtone chanting mentioned in the 8th century manuscript Cath Almaine, the technique uses one held drone with a shifting three or four note overtone series. Contemporary classical composers are incorporating overtone singing into their works.

Karlheinz Stockhausen was one of the first, with Stimmung in 1968. "Past Life Melodies" for SATB chorus by Australian composer Sarah Hopkins (b. 1958) also calls for this technique. In Water Passion after St. Matthew by Tan Dun, the soprano and bass soloists sing in a variety of techniques including overtone singing of the Mongolian style.

Rajasthan - Ethnomusicologist John Levy recorded a Rajasthani singer utilizing overtones in imitation of either a Jew's harp or a double-flute. There is no tradition of this style of singing there.

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