Extended vocal technique
Vocalists are capable of producing a variety of extended technique sounds. These alternative singing techniques have been used extensively in the 20th century, especially in art song and opera. Particularly famous examples of extended vocal technique can be found in the music of Luciano Berio, John Cage, George Crumb, Peter Maxwell Davies, Hans Werner Henze, György Ligeti, Demetrio Stratos, Meredith Monk, Giacinto Scelsi, Arnold Schoenberg, Salvatore Sciarrino, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Avi Kaplan, and Trevor Wishart.
- 1 Timbral techniques
- 2 Non-vocal sounds
- 3 Artificial timbral changes
- 4 Notable performers using extended vocal techniques
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Spoken text is frequently employed. The term “parlando” is a similar direction which is somewhat out of date.
Sprechgesang is a combination singing and speaking. It is usually heavily associated with Arnold Schoenberg (particularly his Pierrot Lunaire which uses sprechgesang for its entire duration) and the Second Viennese School. Schoenberg notated sprechgesang by placing a small cross through the stem of a note which indicates approximate pitch. In more modern music “sprechgesang” is frequently simply written over a passage of music.
A vocal technique allowing the singer to sing notes higher than their modal vocal range.
A vocal tremolo is performed by rapidly pulsing the air expelled from the singer’s lungs while singing a pitch. These pulses usually occur from 4-8 times per second.
A vocal trill is performed by adding singing vibrato while performing a vocal tremolo.
Vocal sounds or even words can be produced while a singer is inhaling. This can create a strained or even humorous effect.
By manipulating the vocal cavity, overtones may be produced. Although traditionally used in the traditional music of Mongolia, Tuva, and Tibet, overtones have also been used in the contemporary compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen (Stimmung), as well as in the work of David Hykes.
By carefully controlling the configurations of the vocal cords, a singer may obtain "undertones" which may produce period doubling, tripling or a higher degree of multiplication; this may give rise to tones that fairly coincide with those of an inverse harmonic series. Although the octave below is the most frequently used undertone, a twelfth below and other lower undertones are also possible. This technique has been used most notably by Joan La Barbara..However, undertones may be generated by processes that include more than the vocal folds. For instance, the ventricular folds (also called the "false vocal folds") may be recruited, probably by solely aerodynamic forces, and made to vibrate with the vocal folds, generating undertones, like those found, for instance, in Tibetan low-pitched chant .
By overstressing or by assimetrically contracting the laryngeal muscles, a multiphonic or chord may be produced. This technique features in the 1968 composition Versuch über Schweine by the German composer Hans Werner Henze. In voice pathology, there are various descriptions of somewhat similar effects, such as those found in patients with diplophonia, a condition that produces a "double voice", i.e., two or even more simultaneous pitches.
A long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound resembling a howl with a trilling quality. It is produced by emitting a high pitched loud voice accompanied with a rapid back and forth movement of the tongue and the uvula. Ululation is practiced in certain styles of singing, as well as in communal ritual events, used to express strong emotion.
Singing with a soft emotional timbre.
Besides producing sounds with the mouth, singers can be required to clap or snap their fingers. This is usually notated by writing the appropriate word over a note. These gestures are sometimes written on a separate one line staff as well.
Artificial timbral changes
Inhalation of gases
Inhaled helium is occasionally used to drastically change the timbre of the voice. When inhaled, helium changes the resonant properties of the human vocal track resulting in a very high squeaky voice. In Salvatore Martirano’s composition L’s GA the singer is required to inhale from a helium mask.
Conversely, an unnaturally low voice may be achieved by asking the singer to inhale sulfur hexafluoride. This technique is less popular than helium inhalation, in part because of the inherent risk of the gas displacing oxygen in the lungs.
Artificial vocal enhancement
Amplification, possibly with electronic distortion of the voice, is frequently used in contemporary composition. Through the use of various electronic distortion techniques, vocal enhancement possibilities are nearly unlimited. A good example of this technique can be found in much of the music written and performed by Laurie Anderson.
Singing into the piano
There are a number of pieces which require a singer to lean over a (sometimes amplified) piano and sing directly into the strings. If the strings are not dampened, the effect is to start audible sympathetic vibrations in the piano. By far the most famous piece to use this technique is Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb.
Notable performers using extended vocal techniques
- George Corpsegrinder Fischer
- Laurie Anderson
- Gelsey Bell
- Cathy Berberian
- Iva Bittová
- Thomas Buckner
- Jill Burton
- Jan DeGaetani
- Paul Dutton
- Diamanda Galas
- Roy Hart
- Nicholas Isherwood
- Fatima Miranda
- Imogen Heap
- Shelley Hirsch
- David Hykes
- Sofia Jernberg
- Joan La Barbara
- Phil Minton
- Meredith Monk
- David Moss
- Sainkho Namtchylak
- Yoko Ono
- Carol Plantamura
- Alice Shields
- Demetrio Stratos
- Michael Vetter
- Jennifer Walshe
- Trevor Wishart
- Alfred Wolfsohn
- Savina Yannatou
- Pamela Z
- Vahram Sargsyan
- Ralf Peters
- "Sulfur Hexaflouride". Hazardous Substances Data Bank. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- Blatter, Alfred (1980). Instrumentation/Orchestration. New York: Schirmer Books.
- Read, Gardner (1969). Music Notation. 2nd ed. Boston: Crescendo Publishing Co.
- Edgerton, Michael Edward (2005). The 21st-Century Voice: Contemporary and Traditional Extra-Normal Voice. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.- ISBN 978-0-8108-5354-6
- Fuks, Leonardo ; Hammarberg, Britta; Sundberg, John (1998): "A self-sustained vocal-ventricular phonation mode: acoustical, aerodynamic and glottographic evidences", KTH TMH-QPSR 3/1998, 49-59, Stockholm