a common space for harmonic overtones
I've been experimenting with harmonizing with myself in Sygyt. I tried it with Artii Sayir (sound sample attached) but it didn't work as well as I thought it would. There might be other songs that would work better for it, can you think of any?
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I have to say, I have been looking forward to hearing from you, Peter. Thanks for sharing this truly interesting piece of sound.
I don't know what you were expecting, however I believe it worked quite well. Perhaps the sound quality isn't quite as good as you'd hoped, but the tonality is definitely there. In fact, at the very beginning I thought you were using a chorus effect on the MIC line. It's sure weird. Right up my alley.
If I may say so, your drone is very steady and wavers very little from take to take (or channel to channel), the harmonics are clear and crisp and the melody is nicely defined. Drones are sounding amplified and somewhat less constricted than I am used to from you, but that may very well be the overdubbing. I think it "fills in" the missing partials in the fundamental and makes the overall sound louder. It appears that you layered several takes and attempted to apply emphasis to the main melody take by attenuating the other layers a little when mixing, or you pronounced the Sygyt less in the supporting tracks. I'm on the fence on this.
At the very end, you stop on a sound that's almost a plosive sound, I assume it's heavily amplified by superimposing it several times. This exercise illustrates why there exists the career of recording engineer - because recording and mixing is diffifult and can get very technical. I experimented with layered overdubs way back in the 80's. I learned that after superimposing about 3 or 4 layers, the tape hiss or background noise would get very amplified and overwhelming, so I had to keep the layer count low. I also learned that Dolby noise reduction or similar filters (dialing the 14kHz band down on the EQ) did help, but they also "took the edge off" the speech layers so that the finished product sounded dull and hollow, kind of like it comes from the room next door, or as if you listened through a pillow. Today, I understand why the very high end in speech recordings is important for understandability. It's not so important for song or instrument recordings in music, IMO. So noise reduction is something very tricky to achieve, especially when layering practically identical recordings, such as this.
In normal singing, I can't harmonize worth a hoot. Well, I can somewhat sing the "second voice" in a song, but it would have to be very clear to me how that melody goes. Barbershop is out for me, and I can certainly not do any Beach Boys style harmonies or the ones those great 50's singing groups like the Platters and the Supremes could do. I have sung alongside my friend Billy who sings better and has a prettier voice than he would himself admit, but only on two or three songs such as "Higher" by Creed (where the harmony stands out against Stapp's voice clearly) and "Fiddler's Green" by the Tragically Hip (where there really isn't a harmony on the CD, but the chords almost beg for a second voice).
Since learning to overtone, I have sung along to many radio broadcasts and CDs at home and in the car. Often, the Sygyt harmonics match rather well, but the drone, if audible, just doesn't fit with the song's progression, but that's no big deal to me. Other times, I am totally off key and the overtones don't fit the song. Yet other times, the chords are too complex to sing a "simple" Sygyt but one would have to switch fundamentals to accommodate the chord changes and/or melody. It's great practice.
Any songs that have bagpipes are rather well suited for overtone singing, because if the pipes fit into the song, so will your Sygyt. I'm not educated in bagpipes, but I think, musically they work on the same principle as your voice... steady drone and an overtone melody. "It's a long way to the top" by AC/DC has pipes and it's relatively easy to sing the pipe part in Sygyt. This got me thinking... Irish or Scottish music often has a steady drone and features ostinate melody "riffs" sometimes in two or more voices (hello harmonies), so I listened to some and tried to emulate the tunes in Sygyt.
"Auld lang Syne", "Amazing Grace" and "Taps" are good Western melodies to sing in Sygyt. I sometimes do "Turkey in the Straw" and "Ode to Joy" for fun. There are also a variety of Celtic sounding melodies such as the "Shire" themes from Lord of the Rings written by Howard Shore that often have a steady drone (usually strings) and have a great "feel" to them even when there isn't a whole orchestra playing them. A lot of the tunes I hum, tone and sing are not known to me by name.
I have previously recorded myself singing "Sanctuary" by Dennis McCarthy, which is a haunting tune used as the theme for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It occurred to me one day that it has only a single bass note pulsing throughout the piece (hello fundamental) although the string section plays a fairly standard chord progression. And lo! I could sing the entire piece (score and secondary melody, it doesn't seem to actually have a bridge per se) in two breaths with the same drone. I've often wondered what would happen if I deconstructed the piece more and sung more than two parts of it and then mixed them together. A pipe dream for now, as I don't have time to record recently, let alone spend hours reverse engineering a song someone else once wrote for TV...
I'd love to hear you sing "Sanctuary". All the pieces in the music are compatible with the main drone's harmonic series, so they could be layered at will, even sung in rounds...
Wow, you always write such detailed replies.
If you're curious about how I did the mix, it's pretty simple: I just recorded the melody twice and the harmony twice, so there's four tracks mixed together. I didn't use any effects on it, although I think my microphone has some sort of automatic noise-cancellation thing going on that probably affects it.
I downloaded a MIDI file of the deep space 9 theme (I think that's what you're talking about) and opened it up in a program that converted it into sheet music, and if I have time sometime I'll see if I can arrange it in a way that's easily throat-singable. The french horn part seems fairly straightforward, but parts of the trumpet part looks like it might not completely fit on the overtone series. I might be able to get around it by moving the fundamental pitch some.
I want to try doing a multitrack doing a Tuvan song like eki attar, but I don't have or know how to play any instruments that would really go with it, and it just sounds incomplete a capella.
I thought attachements weren't possible anymore?
Anyway, I like your sample, I'm just not a hundred percent sure what you mean by harmonizing. Do you mean sing along to a recorded track of yourself? Like a one-man-a-capella-group?
Oh, how I envy you who can sing overtones/khoomei... Or sing in general...
Alzin, envy can be a powerful ally to help you self-motivate to practice more just to pull even with those who can do something you can not yet do as well. Keep practicing. When last I heard your voice, you didn't suck.
And yes, that's precisely what he means. Singing the second voice to himself.
The Tuvan band Alash sings songs that feature Western elements, such as singing melody in harmony and even rock progressions and e-guitar. Traditionally, Tuvan music was performed solo, with or without instruments, not in groups. Alash and Huun Huur Tu stray from this tradition somewhat as they sing two or more vocals together as an ensemble (incidentally, ensemble means together in French). I have, however, not heard Alash harmonize on a common drone. In some tracks, two singers would sing a Xorekteer melody (just constricted, not overtones) at different pitches, barbershop-style, while two more voices sing counterpoint, often in Kargyraa or Sygyt. Very appealing. HHT will often sing "straight" harmonies, meaning one voice will be normal vocal, another Xorekteer and another one octave (or two) lower in Kargyraa, but all the same melody and words. Other examples are where one voice sings lyric and another does Ezengileer while yet another sings harmony in Sygyt. The whole thing is usually tied together by the sweet sound of Igil.
Like I mentioned before, I can't harmonize well, but that might be a focus issue that also causes me to lose track of my own drone and "drift" up and down while making overtones. I simply can't hear myself sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't matter, like when I sing along to the radio and can only hear the harmonics. Then, the music gets quiet and I hear that although the overtones fit the music, the drone is not in the correct key or doesn't match the chords.
I find that in mainstream music (like radio hits) the chords follow a common pattern (not a secret, there is a method for constructing songs), and often, the three main chords in the progression all contain a common note, like Dm (D-F-A), Am (A-C-E), Fmaj (F-A-C). I suppose, one could sing an overtone melody based on a drone using this common note, then it would fit well, but I often just sing along intuitively and ignore whether the fundamental fits the chords. Steve Sklar once said that singing along to popular music helps improving your "chops", musically speaking, and I must agree wholeheartedly here. The more I sing along, the steadier my acapella becomes and the more versatile my range becomes. I strive toward the goal of being able to change overtones and fundamentals "independently" some day, like Stuart Hinds can so adeptly. I get a little closer every day.
And while I am not the most strict follower of the precise techniques used in Tuvan singing, I can do them fairly well. That is not to say that I consider myself exclusively a singer in the Tuvan styles. I do sing a variety of "noises" that range from almost un-constriced voice to so tight that I strain myself. I can't seem to get the Mongolian sounding styles right, but I can do Western, Tuvan and Eurasian (like Uzlyau and such) overtone styles now.
I find that "stretching" my vocal tract by singing standard, projected rock vocals helps to warm up to achieve a relaxed sounding Khoomei, and the better I "hit" the notes in normal singing, the easier it is to remain steady when singing overtones.
I did another experiment with harmonizing, this time with xorekteer. It's a four-part minor chord progression.
I would have tried it with kargyraa, but my kargyraa range is too small, so I might be limited to just doing three-part harmonies in kargyraa.
Practising isn't easy for me lately, it's not only the short amount of time I have alone, but I also got diagnosed with a functional dysphonia... I'll start a voice-therapy soon, so I'll soon be back on track, at least I hope so.
I'm not god enough in music theory to discuss harmonies, actually, I have really little knowledge of that stuff. I'm just playing around, doing whatever sounds good to me...
I've done some more experimenting with harmonies and multitracking throat singing, here's my latest. It's very weird, I'm sure you'll like it
This sounds really really cool! I'd love to hear many more experiments in that direction! Upload everything you have. ;-)
I'm at work and don't have speakers here (actually, my sound card is fried on my work computer, so headphones wouldn't work either), so I haven't heard it yet... But in any event, I second Alzin's motion to share ALL your recordings, Peter. You inspire me.