Would you like to train your voice for Overtone Singing?

If you are reading this article it’s probably because you’ve found a video or recording of Overtone Singing and this has awaken your curiosity. From the outside, it might seem something out of reach, some sort of gift that only few people posses. But the reality is different. Like other styles of singing, Overtone Singing is also achievable with the proper vocal training.

Have all the Overtone singers received vocal training?

Yes, all the people who execute this kind of singing, in some way or another, either by their tradition or curiosity, by having lessons or just on their own, all of them had to learn to control their voice so they ending up creating that kind of overtone sounds.

How are the sounds created in the Overtone Singing?

The vocal technique at the source level (vocal cords vibrating) is not so much different. What really makes the difference is the way in which the filters (formant or resonators) are combined with each other to enhance the harmonics in the sound and therefore appears like it´s more than one note sounding at a time. But let´s talk about that one…

The sound in the human voice.

The human voice is a composed sound that is created by the vibration of the vocal cords and then amplified in the hollow spaces found in the larynx, pharynx and mouth. Our voice consists of several layers of frequencies (bass, mid and treble) that make for every single note we sing. These frequencies generally not as evident one by one to our ears, but they´re responsible for the color, timbre and resonance of our voice. This type harmonic singing, is achievable by the ability to split and boost the different frequencies (or harmonics ) out of the same sound source (the vocal cords vibrating). This can be done by using different resonators that we have control over: the throat (larynx and pharynx) and mouth (jaw, lips, tongue and soft palate).

Diagram of the voice resonators

Image of the spaces of resonance.

The good news is…You can start learning today!

Found a teacher of this type of singing and book a lesson (recommended) or you can also watch online tutorials. Although it´s a discipline that requires practice and vocal training, as other styles of singing, we can start experimenting with the basic elements that I mentioned previously: Source sound and vocal resonators.

Here it is a simple but very useful exercise:

  1. Breathe deeply, (as if you were to blow out a birthday candle) and then “hum” with the lips closed (of course) but not too tight, as long as you can possible go. Try to relax your face while you do it. You´d probably feel the sound vibrating on your lips, mouth and/or face.
  2. Repeat the previous step. But this time you’re going to transition from the hum to an “oo” sound. You might experience the feel of the vibration(sound) changing color and size.
  3. Repeat the previous step again, (remember to be very relaxed and breathe deeply). This time, after transitioning from the “hum” to the “oo”, you’re going to change again to an “ee” sound. But you have to make sure the “ee” goes through the lips shaping an “oo” sound. For this, you have to smile when singing the “ee” and keep your lips forward, as if you were going to give a «big fat kiss» (your other half will appreciate this kind of training. Trust me).

If you did it well, you’ve probably noticed how the different frequencies or harmonics that got activated(boosted) with the different sound positions. Now you can start playing around and experimenting with this simple tools.

As I mentioned before, if you want to be an outstanding Overtone singer, you should search for a teacher or vocal training with a professional in this type of singing. Not only you will minimize the risk of hurting your voice but you will advance much faster and you will develop much further too.

Here is a link to professional singer and diva Anna-Maria Hefele, demonstrating the amazing control one could have over the voice when Overtone singing:

I will post more articles like this one each week. You can ask questions you want me to write about. Send me an e-mail to: info@miguelmanzovocalstudio.com And if you liked this post, please share it !