Talk:Overtone singing

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Needs examples[edit]

Needs embedded music examples. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:34, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Harmonic Singing (overtones) vs. Throat Singing[edit]

Allow me to express my sincere doubts about the statement "Throat singing, also known in the western world as overtone singing, harmonic singing, or harmonic chant". In most of the rest of the world people seem to know the distinction between throat (german: de:kehlkopfgesang and overtone singing de:Obertongesang, although they can be nicely combined. I recently uploaded examples on commons that demonstrate my point:

  1. Media:oton.ogg Obertongesang.
  2. Media:uton.ogg Unterton-/Kehlkopfgesang.
  3. Media:uoton.ogg Kehlkopfgesang mit Obertönen.

If someone made an effort to disambiguate this article, i would suggest entering those sound examples into it. -- Kku 09:01, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This is still not clear. See also Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Humanities#Overtone singing vs throat singing. — Sebastian 03:56, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
There's a sort of logic fallacy in this article. It seems to claim that because A: Inuit throat singing is throat singing, and B: overtone singing is throat singing, then C: Inuit throat singing must be put under overtone singing. The whole premise of the article is wrong, it should be throat singing, with overtone and Inuit throat singing as different types of throat singing, they have it all in reverse. (talk) 13:07, 15 December 2019 (UTC)

Needs review[edit]

~ This entire article needs a review by a knowledgeable person. Although there is some clarification at the top of the page the term "throat singing" is later used to denote examples of harmonic singing. The terminology of these singing styles has long been interchanged by those who do not know or care about the difference and I hope we can add clarity to this page rather than continue to use the terms interchangeably. The examples of artists at the bottom of the page are also lumped together and no comment is offered of what particular style(s) they sing.

[definitions of Harmonic vs Throat removed for brevity. ~ HarmonicSpoke]

I also suspect the example of Italian "Cantu a tenores" performed by four male singers does not belong here at all. If it is the style I have heard recently it is neither throat- nor harmonic-singing. The style mearly (perhaps that is too dismissive) makes use of the interactions of the four voices to amplify particular harmonics (using constuctive interference - here it is the additive effects of multiple tones sharing the same harmonic) whithout an individual doing this job. If I am correct, this interesting example of the use of harmonics in other music could be referenced but moved to a more suitable location dealing with sound production and accoustics.

DC/Vancouver,BC HarmonicSpoke 07:11, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Which parts in the article are you referring to that use the two terms interchangeably? I agree it should be fixed. BTW, your description of throat-singing describes kargyraa only. "Harsh voice" here is a linguistic term. I'm not real familiar with the Sardinian singing, but I had read somewhere that one of the four male singer's part involves something akin to khoomei. It isn't s simple barbershop quartet. We should probably find a source to cite on that. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 07:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
For what regards the Sardinian singing there are two styles which must be kept distinct: one is the "Cuncordu", that I think is the one HarmonicSpoke probably was referring to; in this one there is no throat singing and the four male voices work together in order to produce additional harmonics - but I am not quite sure whether it is a physical effect or it depends on the response of human auditory system; the other one is the "a tenore" kind in which two of the four voices are guttural. I do not know enough to say whether these voices are produced with a technique equal or similar to the one used for khoomei, but I could point out some links for someone that is more knowledgeable than me to listen to; one is the one that I put in the article as well, another one, that contains also some more detailed explanation, is Pireddag 01:25, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm Italian, I'm a singer (jazz and contemporary), I've heard Tenores de Bitti, and they have nothing in common with throat singing (of which the Inuit, by the way, are best representatives. Tuva singing is overtone singing, and the two are VERY DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES. I lack the sources to change the article, but definitely there must be some clarification made. --David Be (talk) 19:02, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

You are right - my definition is far too restrictive. I have gone so far as to remove it in shame ... and to spare future readers incorrect information. I do think the Kargyrra style of using the ventricular folds to create a tone an octave lower is heard in Tibetan Chant and other styles but, as I have so clearly demonstrated, I lack true knowledge. As far as using the terms interchangeabley I am also overreacting a bit and once again lack the definite knowledge needed to jump in and edit. First I was unhappy with the definition of throat singing as "[referring to] several traditional Central Asian styles of overtone singing" as I believe that not all throat singing isolates harmonics. In "Global Styles" it says "Arthur Miles, independently created a style of throat singing as a substitute for the normal yodeling ..." but, from the recordings I have heard, it is harmonic singing. The whole "Global Styles" section, by way of the second sentence, implies throat singing is used by all artists listed. It is here and in "Current Artist ~ Other" that some clarification would be appreciated. HarmonicSpoke 05:56, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Good catches. I took some initial steps to clean up Global Styles. The reason probably for the confusion stems from the history of this article. It used to be two different stub-like articles. One was "Overtone Chanting" and the other was "Throat singing" but they both contained basically the same information. For merging them I basically threw all information together and didn't bother much to go back and review. There is still a lot of work that can be done to improve it. The term "throatsinging" is commonly accepted as referring to a type of overtone singing, but I know what you are talking about. My personal definition for overtone singing has the harmonics being utilized to contruct melody. I don't think that definition can jive with a native's definition since for example melody is usually secondary to timbre in Tuvan styles. I think though that overtones are still heard and reinforced in other styles of throatsinging that don't have an emphasis on utilizing the harmonics for anything other than timbre. I guess it is time to go find some references. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 04:49, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Sardinia (was: Article improvement)[edit]

The article has become rather like an advertisement and I'm working on cleaning it up. Anyone have any suggestions? --Stacey Doljack Borsody 20:45, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm actually answering you here for following up on the discussion of December 2006 on throat singing in Sardinia; I have posted my comment below the discussion but I was afraid noone has see it so I add this note below a fresh comment. I am especially motivated by the curiosity of figuring out where is the position of the Sardinian singing relative to the various style of Tuva singing, and I was hoping that someone could clarify that directly in the article. Apart this, it maybe could be just enough to remove the too much detailed references on where throat singing appear (exactly what Latebird said) Pireddag 02:06, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't know enough about the Sardinian singing to comment. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 20:23, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Latebird, I would like to know why you removed my edits, considering them to be spam. They were not spam. They were links to the website of an artist who does genuine overtone singing. The sound samples page I linked to had examples of overtone singing for free download. If you consider these links to be spam, then I would be interested in hearing why a link to David Hykes's artist page is not considered spam. Thank you and blessings. Lupin1022 00:52, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Latebird. The whole section needs cleaning up. It has become a link farm similar to when the article had the huge list of artists (which I moved to a separate article). --Stacey Doljack Borsody 00:59, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for your quick reply, Sborsody. I understand your point and would not have posted a link to my colleague's web site had I not seen that similar links to other artists' websites already existed. In fact, ten of them remain. Why was mine singled out?
I can't speak for Latebird's actions, but honestly it is simply that no one (like me) has gotten around to cleaning that section up. I suggest if your colleague is using throatsinging or overtone singing that you check out the List of overtone musicians and add him/her there. You can put the website link probably as a reference. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 02:45, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Split of article recommended.[edit]

I feel that overtone singing in general (that is, just making overtones while singing) should be differentiated from throat singing, as it s very possible to make overtones without actually using Khoomei or Kargyraa voice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:01, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

The article tries to differentiate this. You need to keep in mind that throatsinging is a type of overtone technique. I don't think there is enough information on either subject to have two separate articles. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 21:56, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Keep this as one article, with an explanation of each particular technique. It's not so large a subject as to warrant multiple articles on each variant, and a summary article connecting tham all--Jerome Kohl 01:41, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Diagram is true for Klarinet, but not for Overtonesinging[edit]

The diagram "Physical representation of first (O1) and second (O2) overtones" showes the partials of a pipe which is closed on one side, or a Klarinet, they have onely half as many overtones (every second) as the whole serie which apears when you sing overtones. But most people will not know what to do with the Diagram anyway, thats why no one complained yet. (sorry for my English, I'm german) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vidzel (talkcontribs) 00:09, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

There wasn't any other good free graphic on Wikipedia and the page looked uninteresting without one. --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 06:47, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
I'll replace it with a picture of Inuit throat singers - at least that's not misleading! — Sebastian 03:51, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

If I'm reading WP:EL right, external links to artist websites should be done in the article on the artist. How about though the links to 'how-to' sites or audio samples? --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 18:40, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

How-to links are clearly unencyclopedic. With examples, it probably depends on whether the examples help to understand throat singing, or if they just demonstrate "this is how it sounds" (typically followed by "this is how you can buy our CDs"). Btw: There are also some at best marginally related links in the see-also section. And as long as List of overtone musicians is there, we probably don't need links to individual artist's articles even there. --Latebird (talk) 06:16, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

"Factual" Descriptions[edit]

The last line for "Kargyraa" reads "This style can also be described as the howling winds of winter or the plaintive cries of a mother camel after losing her calf." I believe this is worded poorly and makes it seem like fact rather than opinion. Theoretically I _could_ describe it any way I like as, say, "THe melodious sound of swarming chipmunks.", but that's hardly notable. If a great many Tuvan Throat Singers or fans of them _do_ describe it as such, then I propose this be changed to something along the lines of: "Sometimes describes as...", "Some describe it as....", etc. Or even just "Also describes as..." like the style right above it.

The last line of "Khoomei" is even worse. The other one at least had that "can" in there to make it something other than pure BS. "Singing in this style gives the impression of wind swirling among rocks." Does it really? How do we know? I'm assuming that was taken word-for-word from some sort of travel pamphlet or otherwise biased material promoting Tuvan Throat Singing. But seriously, there is a whole world of difference between, say, "Many claim singing in this style gives the impression of a..." and the flat, wannabe-factual "Singing in this style gives the impression of a blah blah blah...".

I know someones gonna jump in here saying its just semantics and we all understand the point being made, but as an encyclopedia shouldn't we try to be more encyclopedic? I'm not changing it myself because I'm not really sure what to change it to without it being a lame repeat of that last "advertising" line of the surrounding styles. I'd be all for deleteing those lines completely, but it is interesting to know what they compare the sound to... even if they compare it to something else which I haven't the slightest clue as to how it sounds. (talk) 18:53, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you. I wish I knew where those descriptions come from. --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 19:34, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
I went ahead and added citation needed thingies to the article. Unless we have a source for these silly descriptions I think we should at least tone them down a bit. I mean, seriously, the "plaintive cries of a mother camel after losing her calf"? I couldn't make that crap up if I wanted to. That, and, the Khoomei one still states as a fact that singing in the style gives a certain impression. I would have changed it to mimic the "can also be described" b/s in the other ones, but felt it would be too repetitive. Something should be done though. (talk) 15:14, 23 January 2009 (UTC)


I have a hard time believing that Overtone singing in Tuva is more important than in all the rest of Asia. I'd expect that at least all over Central Asia (especially Mongolia and Inner Mongolia) it has at least the same importance, if not more because of the relative sizes of territory and population. It seems like there are just the most vocal advocates pushing Tuvan overtone singing here. This makes the section on Asia highly biased and unencyclopedic. --Latebird (talk) 08:51, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't see it as deliberate bias at all. I think it is simply a case of Tuvan singing being better known (to the contributors to to this article) than the others. The solution is for you to expand the sections on the other countries/regions. Roger (talk) 09:50, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
I didn't assume it was deliberate, but that doesn't make it any less unbalanced. You're probably right that Tuvan musicians had more press coverage in the west than the others. If I had the (re)sources to fix it myself, then I would have done that a long time ago. For now, the tag is the only thing I can contribute, hoping for more knowledgeable people to chip in. --Latebird (talk) 17:42, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
According to most sources I've seen, Tuva is described as the culture with the most prolific and highly developed thoatsinging tradition. I think the imbalance is just a reflection of this fact. In fact, when I reorganized this article on geographic lines, I had a hard time finding any references on throatsinging outside of Central Asia. Nathan McKnight -- Aelffin (talk) 16:58, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Also, there's a source out there that talks about Mongolians relearning throatsinging from the Tuvans or because of the Tuvans. --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 18:01, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Throat singing is an absolutely ingrained part of Mongol culture, from traditional singers down to hip-hop and heavy metal bands. Unfortunately I don't have much data on its history there, but it's quite hard to imagine that it might have been lost at one time and needed to be reintroduced from abroad again. --Latebird (talk) 19:54, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
"Tserendavaa had explained how a few singers from the west of Mongolia brought throat-singing to Ulaanbaatar... Throat-singing in Mongolia has become reterritorialized in Ulaanbaatar to such an extent that, during our month of field research in the west of the country in summer 2000, my colleagues and I documented far fewer hoomii singers than we were able to document in several days in the capital city.... Ethnomusicologist Carole Pegg chronicled this transformation of throat-singing from a regional tradition in decline to a much-celebrated form of national art and cultural heritage..." From "Where Rivers and Mountains Sing" Levin and Suzukei. --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 20:18, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
"In prerevolutionary Mongolia, the performance of hoomii is reported by Mongols as not valued." Read starting at pg 64 in [1]. --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 20:27, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm... Levin and Süzükei also report that there is a scientific dispute about the origin of throat singing between Mongolia and Tuva, and that in both places, its elevation from a minority art to national culture is rather recent (p69). It also makes a few interesting observations about the western perception and distribution of Tuvan music (p?-43). I can't currently access the other relevant pages, so I'll have to check back later for the rest. --Latebird (talk) 21:18, 11 January 2009 (UTC)


Also in chile the MAPUDUNGUN Culture throat sings. Its name here is WÚLÚLL or somethin like that. You should add south america. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:59, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Pig Squeal?[edit]

Shouldn't it be moved to the "Non-traditional styles" section if it even belongs here at all? RKFS (talk) 17:48, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Manipulating overtones[edit]

My replacement of “harmonic resonances” with “overtones” has been reverted with the description “formants are harmonic resonances, independent of sung or played fundamentals; they are not overtones”. I agree that the sentence, as I had it, was misleading in that it might be misread to mean that the overtones of the fundamental change their frequency, which would indeed be wrong.

However, calling formants “harmonic” resonances is even more misleading. “Harmonic” in this context can only be understood to be with reference to the fundamental. While it is true that the resulting frequency distribution still consists of harmonic resonances of the fundamental, the formants themselves are generally not an integer multiple of the fundamental. I will therefore remove the word “harmonic]” again.

I also would like to reintroduce the term “overtone”, because I feel we need a link to that article somewhere in the lead section. Problem is, I am not sure if that term is even meant in the same sense, or if the correspondence is only coincidental. Originally, I assumed the former, because one can say that overtone singing employs the overtones by changing their relative volumes. But that’s less elegant than using the term “formant”. Does anyone have an idea how to describe this in the lead? — Sebastian 03:27, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

I thought "harmonic resonances" sounded clear as mud. Why not just use the word "formants"? --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 03:30, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
Additionally, it should say "overtone" somewhere there and not formants. The singing style is primarily characterized by creating a melody using overtones. I think two different ideas must have gotten mushed into one sentence on accident. The first idea is a description of what overtone singing is and the second is a description of how overtones are resonated in order to stand out and become the melody (ala formants). --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 03:36, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
I think "resonance" is better known than "overtone", so I don't mind using it once. In your second paragraph, do you refer to the sentence "Generally, the term is applied to any singing style which ..."? I must say, that sentence is very unclear, and the "incorrectly ..." part is just somebody's personal opinion, as it does not provide any reason why it _is_ incorrect. For now, I'll flag that section as {{Dubious}}. See also Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Humanities#Overtone singing vs throat singing. — Sebastian 04:16, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
The point is that the overtones of a sung tone or succession of different sung tones are filtered by the formants. The latter may be changed over a fixed sung fundamental (by changing vowel placement of the lips, throat, and tongue), which is the most commonly heard technique. More sophisticated techniques involve changing both the fundamental pitch and the vowel filtering simultaneously. The word "harmonic" was misleading, since it is often used synonymously with "overtone" and "partial".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:09, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
Exactly, but it is a description of how the overtones are amplified and not an encompassing definition of "overtone singing". Why? Because overtones are a natural byproduct of any physically produced sound and overtones are used in other singing styles too (look up opera styles) so the question becomes, well, what the heck are we doing with overtones in "overtone singing"? A brief sentence on this is perhaps acceptable in the lead, but the topic really belongs more in the "Acoustics and Theory" section. --Stacey Doljack Borsody (talk) 07:05, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree. The question is, is it necessary to mention filtering in this article? I'd say this is by definition part of formant already. So, how do we get the mention of "overtone" in there? If it weren't part of the name of this article, I'd say it would be better to leave it out. In a way, I'd say "overtone singing" is a misnomer, since it should be better called "formant singing". Is that just my OR, or is there anything to back up a similar explanation in the lead? — Sebastian 05:32, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
Good point. I wouldn't say that "overtone singing" is a misnomer, since the filtration of the vowels is being applied to the overtones of the note (or notes) being sung. Is there a graceful way of modifying the present language to say this?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:11, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't want to get too far off on the tangent I started by calling it a misnomer, because it's moot - we can't change the name. But just to clarify what I meant: The "overtone" view would be equivalent to seeing overtone singing similar to a handbell choir: Each overtone is only waiting to be made louder and softer. (Another analogy to that would be amplitude modulation). I can't imagine any overtone singer really perceives their singing this way; I rather think they see individual melodies, "played" by the formants they create. (That would be analog to frequency modulation). I think that's also what Dicklyon said at 06:16 below. — Sebastian 07:52, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

The point is that the formants are manipulated to selectively emphasize some overtones (via filtering). I can't find great sources that help say it better, but I have linked one semi-decent book source that I found. Dicklyon (talk) 06:16, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

Sarah Hopkins[edit]

An IP editor had removed the link to Sarah Hopkins, presumably because that article already describes a different person. So I reinstated the link, but changed it to Sarah Hopkins (composer). We don't have an article on the composer, and I'm not sure how important "Past Life Melodies" is; so maybe that sentence should be removed altogether. But there are some 3000 Google hits to '"Sarah Hopkins" composer', which is at least a notch better than negligible. — Sebastian 19:44, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Throat singing in Saami Joiks[edit]

Some Saami Joiks are (and have always traditionally been) performed using throat singing (overtone singing). An example is a song collected by Somby. For some reason, my edits that clarified the existence of ancient throat singing Joiks were all deleted from these articles, so I give up. This note is just a statement, in case someone else wants to try adding this interesting topic to WP. David Spector (user/talk) 00:17, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Added a new overtone singing examples[edit]

Hello! I also sing sometimes overtone singing. Those examples, which are first are very poor. I have keeped It on this article and I've add another examples of throat singing recorded by me. Thank You! Cassa342 (talk) 01:52, 19 October 2016 (UTC)

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