Thursday, 8 January 2009

Khoomei (Tuvan Throat Singing) DIY

The partials (fundamental and overtones) of a sound wave made by the human voice can be selectively amplified by changing the shape of the resonant cavities of the mouth, larynx and pharynx. This resonant tuning allows the singer to create apparently more than one pitch at the same time (the fundamental and a selected overtone), while in effect still generating a single fundamental frequency with his/her vocal folds.

Khoomei, basic - begin by producing a long, steady note with an open, relaxed mouth and throat. by altering lip and tongue positions to say vowels, ``oooo... ohhh.... ayyy.... ahhh..... eeee....'', you will hear different overtones in ascending pitch. Cupping a hand to your ear may help you to identify these initially. Maintain one tone as you tighten your throat and stomach muscles slightly. If you choke, try a lower fundamental. If you begin coughing, go into this tightening over a period of time to avoid damage to your voice. Hard coughing is punishing to vocal cords.

You should now be making ``electronic'' sounding vowels. If any of these are extended with subtle changes to the tongue, lips, or jaw (changing one element at a time as in any controlled experiment), separate overtones will gain definition. The sounds you create are feedback leading to finer mouth control.

It may be difficult to sort out the overtones created by each position. Discover them as you work out a scale above one steady fundamental. Eventually simple melodies will emerge within a limited range. As you consciously create melody, avoid the temptation to alter the fundamental. This is basic khoomei...

Search for: Khoomei, Tuva, Throat singing or Overtone singing.

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