Polyphonic Overtone Singing – The Art Of Singing Multiple Notes At The Same Time

Read about an exciting singing technique called polyphonic overtone singing, used by singers to create harmony on the fly while singing.

What is polyphonic overtone singing?

The polyphonic overtone singing was not much popular in western music until they heard German singer experimenting with multiple overtones. The demonstration video went viral on YouTube with 4 million views in no time.

To understand what is polyphonic overtone singing, let us break and analyze each word in the phrase.

What is polyphonic?

Polyphonic is a term used to describe producing multiple sounds at the same time using instrument or voice.

Poly = multiple or many
Phonic = related to speech sounds

Here’s a demonstration of polyphonic singing by singer Anna-Maria Hefele.

Isn’t the performance breathtaking?

While the term “polyphonic” refers to multiple sounds, it does not explain the relation between them.

What are overtones?

Overtones establish the relation between the multiple notes.

An overtone is a musical tone which is a part of the harmonic series above the fundamental note.

Read about the elements of the sound and frequency in one of my previous blog post.

What is overtone singing?

Overtone singing is a technique used by singers to produce sounds with multiple frequencies from the throat. However, the sounds heard are in perfect harmony due to the presence of overtones.

Overtone singing is also known as overtone chanting, harmonic singing.

Experts say that overtone singer has capabilities of using his throat like a prism which can segregate the VIBGYOR colors from a ray of white light.

Is overtone singing same as the throat singing?

Throat singing is a variant of the overtone singing. It may take several forms such as Tuvan or Inuit throat singing based on the cultural influence.

Throat singing is more like listening to a vocal performance under dubstep effect. It also involves producing musical harmonies with deep throat voice.

Listen to the Tuvan throat singing demonstration from a Mongolian artist.

Inuit throat singing is an art form popular in Inuit. The Inuits are the members of an indigenous people of northern Canada and parts of Greenland and Alaska

The performers are usually the traditional women of Inuit and perform only in a duet to outlast each other in a competitive environment.

Here’s an example of Inuit throat singing by Kathy Keknek and Janet Aglukkaq.

The only thing that came to mind first after watching this performance was dubstep music.

Yes, a dubstep music by a beat box performer.

After watching these videos, we can conclude that polyphonic overtone singing is just a technique to generate multiple sounds. It can be used in various singing art forms to entertain people.

Beatboxing is yet another art form in which performers are known to produce multiple sounds at the same time.

Thanks for reading my 31st article in the series 100-day music blogging challenge. stay tuned for more such informative articles.

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Published by Bharat

Hi, I'm Bharat. An artist, blogger, musician and digital marketing professional dedicated to sharing musing and stories about music, art and mindful resonance! Follow me @bharatpc