Overtone Singing

Overtone Singing Book Pre-Sale started

 

After three years of editing (text), drawing, scanning (illustrations), mastering (audio) and revising under the guidance of very capable editors, Overtone Singing – Hidden Dimensions of the Human Voice is now getting ready for printing and distributing. It was nearly 20 years ago when I first met the new publisher, David Rothenberg, in his upstate New York village, after attending the Small Publisher’s Fair in New York City. We became friends, met here and there every once in a while and kept up a correspondence about many issues, such as the music of birds and other creatures, which is his special theme. Some years ago he launched his own press and so we came to talk about my book Overtone Singing, which needed a thorough update and revision.

Get the 2022 version of Overtone Singing on indiegogo.com

Many things have been changed compared to the original book, so much so that I think this is the definitive version. Why? Because the contents became more and more integrated, my views more balanced, I dared to speak out criticisms more clearly, I updated myself about aspects that I thought were poorly represented (such as the healing and therapeutic aspects of overtones). Not to mention the development of the field itself in these 20 years: female overtone singers are once again well-established instead of marginal, the khöömei ‘traditions’ have developed in many directions and become modern in many ways, and they have popped up in new places where we did not really expect them (such as China, to mention one controversial case I discuss).

 

I also had the great fortune to do research about the ‘multi-part’ (that is, choral) traditions of overtone singing (Tibet, South Africa, Sardinia) and to make recordings there. I am quite proud about the accompanying audio guide, which is now called The Anthology of Overtone Singing and will be available in many places soon. I have been to nearly every place with an overtone singing tradition and keep on investigating these fascinating traditions in person, wherever I can. I think my new Physics chapter sets a good standard for what is possible technically, with updated drawings by own hand. The lessons learnt from several projects for which I have created new works for overtone singers have been really important for that: the Paraphony Laboratory and the Parafonia group, the Superstringtrio, and now IUooUI in Taiwan. In another way this book finally got the form I had always wanted it to be. Despite the help of several capable readers and editors in previous versions, there were still quite some mistakes in terms of English usage. Thanks to a thorough review process, there is no more engrish now!

 

 

What we are hoping for now, is to get enough backers for the crowdfunding campaign. OK, let me explain, for those who get confused. Crowdfunding is when you buy and pay for something that does not yet exist, but which you hope and wish will go into production: a book or music project, or a new model electric toothbrush – it can be anything, really. A backer is internet lingo for a supporter, which is simply a client who buys something, or someone who pays more to support a project and receives something extra on top. So without further ado, please check out the campaign for the Overtone Singing book on indiegogo.com, and order a book by clicking on the link below.

Get the 2022 version of Overtone Singing on indiegogo.com

 

You will be among the first to receive the book and I will be eternally grateful to you! If you have any questions or problems with Indiegogo, you can always write to me directly.

You will find all the details about the book on this page.

 

 

 

 

Pictured from top to bottom: Sainkho Namtchylak with guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi; singers from Castelsardo, Sardinia; Musicians from Nqoko, South Africa; Khöömei Day in Tuva, 2018;Andreï Öpei and Valeriy Mongush from Tuva; the author with Trân Quang Hai, renowned overtone singing researcher, onstage in Kyzyl, Tuva, 1995.

Introducing: IUooUI

A new group called IUooUI is going to give its first series of full performances. Most of us know each other for many years now and share a deep passion for overtone singing, throat singing and improvising with voices and instruments, as well as work on the body-mind relationship. We decided to take it a step further and create surprising performances based on all those amazing sessions we had during workshops throughout the years. We all have dreams and desires to bring the music in our heads alive, for others to hear. This is a challenge. We leave the intimate comfort zone of a workshop space. We are ready to confront an audience of curious listeners in unusual settings, and to envelop them with our resonances, overtones, mantras, syllables, shrieks, assisted by drums, Jew’s Harps, shruti boxes and more.

 

 

 

The name UIooUI stands for the mantra-and sutra-like phrases that we often use, inspired by the okyo of Michael Vetter (1943-2013). Michael transformed these traditional Japanese sutras to expand his own musical language, and this has become part of my own language now. IuooUI also stands for:

 

Of course, the syllables i-u-o-o-u-i  make a small overtone piece in themselves.

The name was proposed by our in-house poet, Amang, whose Chinese name is , which is the last part of IUooUI when it is pronounced as a three-character Mandarin syllabe, yiwoyu.

Our in-house designer JiJi Liu created the logo for us.

 

The name TWEAKS refers to the process of tweaking, adjusting, making things better by smaller or sometimes bigger changes. It is my hope that next week we can really tweak all the musical elements so that they keep on growing, changing and move towards a more refined shape. This week, at least, some of us were still busy tweaking, like JiJi and Sky, who came up with this after the dress rehearsal:

 

 

It has been inspiring to see how busy all members got in recent months to prepare for this first complete performance. They have been working diligently on their sounds and pieces, of which more than half is composed by themselves in smaller units. They took care of sound and light, finding equipment and personnel to handle it, costumes …

 

Earlier this year we have done some smaller performance, to warm up, and as teasers for our bigger program.

 

DATES and TIMES

Sunday August 21 – 19:30

Wednesday August 24 – 19:30

Friday August 26 – 15:00 and 19:30

Sunday August 28 – 19:30

The performances will be held at VENUE, on its 5F space, No. 10, Lane 107, Linsen North Road. This is a bustling area and if you have the time, you can have diner before at a nice Japanese restaurant, Umeko, right next door to VENUE  (no. 8)!

Limited 20% discounted tickets available, please write to: iuooui.taiwan@gmail.com
to secure your seat. Tickets: https://www.opentix.life/event/1536284030369976325

Our Facebook and IG:

www.facebook.com/iuooui.taiwan

https://www.instagram.com/_iuooui/

 

 

IUooUI : 全新泛音詠唱團體的誕生
8月底,我們有些很令人興奮的活動即將發生。首先,我們的全新泛音詠唱團體IUooUI即將正式演出。我們的團員彼此認識很多年了,也都非常熱愛泛唱、喉唱、人聲與樂器的即興。我們決定要向前邁進一步,然後把我們每次一起唱歌所發展出的創作變成一個演出。我們都懷抱著,想要讓別人聽到我們心裡所聽見的聲音的夢想。這是一個挑戰。離開了工作坊的舒適圈,我們現在已經準備好面對一群觀眾,希望能夠用我們的共鳴、泛音、梵咒、音節、發聲,伴隨著鼓聲、口簧琴、印度風琴等等。我們很希望能夠在2022臺北藝穗節《泛⾳九釀》的五場演出中與你相見。
8月【漪渦⿂】 就要正式公演了~
我們即將參與 2022臺北藝穗節,一共演出5場~
1:【8/21 19:30】 (日) 晚
2:【8/24 19:30】 (三) 晚
3:【8/26 15:00】 (五) 午
4:【8/26 19:30】 (五) 晚
5:【8/28 19:30】 (日) 晚

演出資訊: https://www.opentix.life/event/1536284030369976325

還有少量8折票,請私訊臉出粉絲頁,幫你於前台留票:

 

World Premiere of Yang Song’s In Einem Moment 须臾

This weekend a new work by Chinese-German composer Yang Song in which my voice and Jew’s harp are featured, will have its world premiere: In Einem Moment – 须臾. The piece features orchestra and tape, as it is often still called, meaning pre-recorded audio played back during the live performance. Yang Song studied electro-acoustic composition and created an 8-channel version with spatial and some digital effects superimposed on the voice and instrument recordings. Among the recordings are not just pieces of throat singing (khöömii or khöömei), but also vocalisations inspired by a special genre of folk song I have practiced in a free style for many years: Mongolian long song or urtyn duu.

 

The timing of the invitation, some four months ago, was auspicious, because I had just began to delve deeper into the Mongolian long song genre with the intention to include it in my live repertoire. So a month or so earlier I picked up a book plus CD I had bought in Mongolia but never properly studied: Alain Desjaques’s Dix-Huit Chants Mongols Dzahtchin et Ourianhai. (If this sounds familiar to some readers, I wrote more about that in this recent blogpost.)*

While I was working on that material, Yang Song got in touch with me through a common friend, Frank Kouwenhoven, of CHIME in Leiden. Song grew up in Inner-Mongolia, part of the PRC, from partial Mongolian parentage, but in a Chinese-language environment. In the program notes to her piece, she admits that she is familiar with traditional Mongol music and yet not really used to them. “In my family Mongolian blood flows; I was used to be surrounded by Mongolian music in various formats, even though I did not understand the lyrics.”

The question was if I could provide a number of different techniques of throat singing / overtone singing, Mongolian long song, and Jew’s harp, to use as the ground material for her electronic composition and the orchestral piece. I wanted to oblige, as her music immediately appealed to me and our first conversation made clear we had many things in common aesthetically. At the same time I was a bit confused: Why Me? Wouldn’t it be easier and more logical to ask a musician from Inner-Mongolia to provide the basic tracks for her piece? Even though I am a Dutchman living in Taiwan, and she is a Chinese Mongol in Germany, we had a similar proximity, or rather: distance to the music that inspired her. Noticing that this was apparently what she wanted (someone with a certain distance to the living source of Mongol traditional music) I put the question aside and started to work.

I sent her my updated and expanded Anthology of Overtone Singing: a selection of my field recordings from traditional of overtone singing plus several of my own pieces and demonstrations (and which will be published soon as the 2022 version of my book Overtone Singing is in its final stages of publication). She sent me back samples of it and of recordings she found on the web. We agreed to work on 7 short pieces of about 30 to 90 seconds. Although initially it seemed she wanted to let me improvise, over time her ideas became more fixed. She wanted to let the orchestra sing or recite some of the long song syllables, so she ended up needing fixed lyrics. I then wrote lyrics inspired by Mongolian phonemes (I only speak a few words of Mongolian and do not want to make a fool of myself pretending I can sings ongs in fluently Mongolian). She also set out the rhythmical structure, fundamental notes and durations for my parts, all of which I recorded in a studio.

 

 

 

I am curious about the result but will not be able to hear it in its full 8-channel form with live orchestra. If you are near Saarbrücken, please go and listen for me – at least Frank Kouwenhoven will be there to give his account of how it sounded! Since this is a radio concert, I think it will be live on the radio too this Friday.

May 20, 2022, 19:00

Benjamin Britten
Variationen über ein Thema von Frank Bridge für Streicher op. 10

Yang Song
„In einem Moment – 须臾“

Uraufführung / World Premiere

Benjamin Britten
Violinkonzert d-Moll op. 15

 

German Radio Philharmonic. Conductor: Martyn Brabbins.

Website Link: Saarländischen Rundfunk Saal, Saarbrücken/Germany, 20th May 2022

 

Live broadcast:

Sendetermin | 20 Uhr zeitversetzt auf SR 2 KulturRadio

Künstlergespräch | 18.15 Uhr

 

Program booklet (in German)

https://www.yang-song-composer.com/

 

* Alain Desjaques’ book title is a reference to an earlier collection of songs and poems assembled by a Mongolian princess, Dix-huit chants et poèmes mongols, published 1937.

 

Founding the Taiwan Overtone Singing Association

On 12/12/2021 we started the founding of the TOSA, or Taiwan Overtone Singing Association. It was an old dream of mine to have a more solid vehicle for my work and that of others in the field of overtone singing. But lacking reading and writing skills in Chinese I was unable to give that wish a concrete form. But then my close collaborators Sunny Chen and Jackal Mei began to question me about this and make suggestions about how to let this community grow and organise some bigger events. By now there are quite some people who have studied overtone singing with me or with other local practitioners, or with foreign teachers (often from Inner Mongolia or Tuva). There are several skilled performers and others who are improving their skills rapidly. I tend to be a bit of a loner in my work in overtone singing, but I think the time has come to really help others flower if they wish to become good overtone singers. And to show more people the beauty of this technique in all its forms, whether artistic or therapeutic, traditional or modern.

 

TOSA members performing on January 1 at Mei Garden Restaurant, Taipei

 

In the end it was Sunny Chen who has done endless amounts of paperwork to have the first small meeting of founders last December. My heartfelt thanks to her and all those who signed up as founders. The next step is to go public, and this will happen right after Chinese New Year, on February 19. On that day our chairman Sky Tseng will tell more about bigger and smaller events we are going to host every year; about a practising group to brush up your overtone singing and chanting; about concerts we will jointly attend or important books and pieces or CDs we will discuss. Professor Chung Minder, or taimu as he is known to many, will look back to twenty years of overtone singing in Taiwan, and perhaps look forward too. My old friends, and long-time overtone singing lovers (and love-couple in the first place) Wei-Lin and Qi-Chung will do a presentation, and so do I: this serves as the upbeat to a full concert we are preparing for later this year.

To make all of this happen, we need to reach a minimum of 45 members by January 28 (and not by February 19, as we thought before). We hope you will consider to sign up this month and give our association a flying start. A little extra support at this point is much needed since only a small inner circle of people knows about this initiative. Once we get started in February we can reach out to more people.

 

TOSA founding meeting no. 1, 12/12/2021

 

2021 12 12 日,我們著手成立 TOSA,即台灣泛音詠唱協會Taiwan Overtone Singing Association)。協會將 2 19 日舉辦場盛大活動,在一個美麗的新空間舉辦音樂會和講座作為協會對外公開的開端。我在此邀請你一同加入,成為協會成員。我長久以來都夢想能在泛領域為自己和其他藝術家創建更實際的平台。但由於中文讀寫能力有限,我遲遲無法實現這個願望。直到身邊的合作夥伴 Sunny Chen Jackal Mei 開始詢問我相關的想法,並提出發展組織及舉辦大型活動的建議,我的心願才開始逐步實踐目前為止已經有不少人學可能是跟我學習,也可能是跟台灣國外的老師學習(通常來自內蒙古或圖瓦)近年來,位技術純熟的表演者和泛音愛好者,他們的技巧與日俱進。我在泛唱方面的工作往往是獨立進行但我認為是時候幫助更多有志專精泛音詠唱的人發光發熱了!同時我也想與更多人分享泛唱各種形式的美,涵蓋藝術、療癒、傳統現代等各個層面

 

更多關於 2 月活動和 TOSA 計劃的訊息都可以在這裡找到。請註冊並成為會員!根據規定,我們需要在 2 月 19 日之前招募足夠的會員,所以如果可以,請現在(或在 1 月底前)點選連結,協助我們推動計劃。非常感謝你!

最後是 Sunny 做了大量文書工作,在去年 12 月召開了第一次小型的發起人會議。我衷心感謝 Sunny 和所有登記的發起人。協會的下一步是對外公開,時間將是農曆年後的 2 月 19 日。那一天,理事長 Sky Tseng 將詳細介紹協會大小年度活動、一起精進泛唱技巧的練唱小組、成員共同參與的音樂會、還有我們列入討論項目的重要書籍、作品和專輯。鍾明德教授(也就是大家熟知的大木老師)則會回顧台灣 20 年的泛音詠唱史。另外一個重頭戲是泛唱圈的佳偶啟仲和維琳的泛音雙重唱,他們是我的老朋友,也是資深的泛音愛好者。我自己也會有一段泛音獨唱,這兩段演出將為今年籌備中的正式音樂會開啟序幕。

 

為了實現這一切,我們需要在 1 月底前招募至少 45 員(不是之前以為的 2 19 日)。所以我們希望大家能在這個月註冊,讓協會有一個好的開始這方面我們非常需要一些額外的支持,因為目前只有少部分人知道這個計畫。一旦在 2 正式對外公開,我們就更多人

 

【台灣泛音詠唱協會 成立大會】將於農曆年後,在台北舉辦!

時間: 2022219日,14:00-16:00

地點: 好好說話工作坊,

         台北市中山區明水路575B1

https://goo.gl/maps/tjjuF6zGF9vqGYmV8

~~~~~~~~~~~

精彩分享包括:

1. 鍾明德教授分享〈泛音在台灣的歷史〉 

     (鍾明德教授為《OM:泛音詠唱作為藝乘》作者)

2. Mark van Tongeren 泛音獨唱 

3. 天使之音啟仲維琳 泛音雙重唱
 
 
活動搶先看資訊歡迎追蹤協會臉書
【台灣泛音詠唱協會】

~~~~~~~~~~~~

如欲參與2/19活動,加入協會聲音探索的大家庭,
請填:【會員申請書】

 

Summer-Autumn Program

Concerts IUooUI @ Taipei Fringe Festival – finished

Check out this full  blogpost about IUooUI.

 

WORLD JAW HARP MUSIC FESTIVAL TAIWAN

The other special event is the very first Taiwan Jew’s Harp Festival, ambitiously called the International Jaw Harp Festival Taiwan. Ever since I came to Taiwan in 2003, I was amazed about the Jew’s harp culture. But I also noticed the painful absence of Taiwanese Jew’s harps at many of the international events and discussions. There is a new wind blowing now, and Taiwan is going to make itself heard, first of all locally, with ever more Jew’s Harp enthusiasts, but also internationally. Plans have been launched (and destroyed by the pandemic) for groundbreaking regional events around the Jew’s Harp with other South-Asian countries. I can sense that in the future this is going to expand seriously, because South/East Asia is a vibrant place for Jew’s harps, no less varied than Northern Asia, which is the center of the international Jew’s Harp world. I am excited to be the opening act for the festival and join the masters on the second night. But the real deal is seeing old and new masters from the indigenous groups, Taiwanese musicians and lots of Jew’s harp enthusiasts in the audience. It will be two days in the fresh open air, near the center of Puli town, a great outing for music lovers.
Reserve your spots and sign up for special workshops and events early.
世界口簧琴音樂節
 
今年是台灣第一次舉辦世界口簧琴音樂節。自從我2003年來到台灣後,我一直著迷於台灣口簧琴文化的多元性。我也對台灣口簧琴在國際會議/藝術節上並沒有取得很大的地位而痛心。不過現在有陣新風潮吹起了,台灣的口簧琴死忠粉絲要讓台灣聽見口簧琴的聲音,也要讓國際聽到他的的聲音。今天因為疫情的關係,國際參與還不是很踴躍。但我相信未來,有很多人會為了參加世界口簧琴音樂節而飛來台灣。畢竟,東亞跟南亞的口簧琴文化都是很盛行的,這些地區的口簧文化多元性不輸北亞 (也就是國際口簧琴討論的重鎮)。我很幸運的擔任這次音樂節的開場嘉賓,也會在第二晚的時候跟大師們一起出場。這個音樂節的高潮將有原住民的大師 (年輕跟年長的) 為我們展演原汁原味的口簧琴文化、台灣音樂家、還有台下熱愛口簧琴的觀眾。活動為期兩天在埔里的天地之間。
我在建立我的檔案庫時,也找到2006年阿姆斯特丹國際口簧琴節的一個演後派對影片,裡面有很多歐洲跟亞洲的表演者,聚集在我阿姆斯特丹當時的公寓裡。
資訊: 世界口簧琴音樂節 World Jaw Harp Music Festival Taiwan | Facebook

 

Overtone Singing book Indiegogo campaign

It is ON now!
The fruit of many many years of work is ready to go to press.
All we need now is some backers to pay the dues and start getting this book into people’s hands, in about 2-3 months time!

GO HERE to (go to) INDIEGOGO.

 

Workshop Ocean of Voices

By popular demand, the workshop to sing your heart is back, in the same place in Central Taiwan where we have plenty of space to sing to and with and from the mountains, and a unique chance to go to the Bunun from XinYi and sing with them!

In three days we dive deep into the Ocean of Sound, Mark’s equivalent for the repository for musical sounds and spoken words humanity has produced across time and space. We uncover unknown traditions from around the globe, listen to examples and try out our own versions. You also learn how to create a traditional song (A lullaby? An invocation? A cheerful greeting song?) by yourself, or together, on the go. You already love to sing and already know your voice has so many shades. But only some of these shades find expression in everyday life, and now we expand this creative, sonic potential.

Join us for a celebration of the power of the human voice and of creative imagination lurking underneath the surface. Surely your ancestors knew folk songs, religious hymns, ceremonial chants: let them come back to the surface again, in a new guise. As the highlight of our exploration, the Bunun from XinYi are so kind to welcome us during their weekly singing session. You will have a chance to sing with them, up-close, and in this way you learn how they create their polyphonic songs and can try to join in with them. A first-hand immersion in one of the many living traditions of this beautiful island and a unique chance very few people have ever had!

 

DATES AND TIMES
Saturday October 22 (10 AM) – Monday October 24 (2 PM).

Check out the full blogpost for more details soon and our previous experiences with the Bunun here.

 

Voice Yoga Winter Solstice Retreat

22-25 December, Dulan
The popular Voice Yoga workshop, based on classes now going on for almost 10 years, in condensed, 4- day format.
This December’s special Winter Solstice retreat is now confirmed in our favorite spot in Dulan. Stay tuned for the details!
Read more here.

 

 

Late 2019 Hong Kong workshops cancelled

Due to all the uncertainties in Hong Kong, the Soundtherapy Hong Kong team decided it is not a good time to run my regular Hong Kong workshop Outer Voice – Inner Voice. So we cancel the workshop. Here is the original post with announcement and some photos from the workshops 2014-2018.

If you want to learn overtone singing with me but do not need a Chinese translation, then the workshops in Hong Kong may be something for you. Most workshops in Taiwan are with translation, which means we lose some time for interpretation. This November workshop in Hong Kong is the next opportunity to do an English-only workshop, other opportunities in Winter and Spring 2020 will be announced here soon.

(Link to Chinese version)

 

First workshop location in Hong Kong, 2014

I have had such fantastic experiences during the Hong Kong workshops over the past six years and would like to look back through some photos. The first workshop I did was during the Umbrella Revolution in 2014 – though the umbrellas you see in the first photo were not related to the protest. The previous visit (late 2018) was just days after a violent typhoon struck Hong Kong, locking people in their homes with the wind bashing on their windows and rains creeping in through the windowposts. On the beach (last photo) we found the remains of shops that were completely destroyed. In between you will find mostly happier moments shared with students and Jennifer and Jasmine. And at the bottom my ‘Courage!’ statement for the many friends in Hong Kong.

 

With Jasmine Hui of Soundtherapy Hong Kong at the workshop location, a comix and animation center.

 

The fantastic Soundtherapy Hong Kong team and me have revamped the annual Outer Voice ~ Inner Voice workshop to make it a bit more accessible and diverse. At the same time old students will find some new themes to progress further in their exploration of overtone singing and the endless possibilities of the colours of the human voice.

 

The general idea is for starters to come to Part One ~ Outer Voice (day one) and from there to continue with Part Two ~ Inner Voice (day two and three). Old students can directly come to Part Two ~ Inner Voice, if they wish. Within these two blocks there are still six  themes to chose from – or you can do them all.

 

PART I ~ OUTER VOICE

THE RESONATING BODY

DAY 1. SOUND IS MOVEMENT

Session 1. Breath, Prana & Movement

Breath is one process in the totality of prana / life force, and the one that drives our vocal sound too. We slowly build up our vocal practise from the breath and from movements. From relaxation we start a journey to learn new ways of sounding and moving. Familiar, everyday patterns become tools for transformation. Plenty of group chanting and toning, too.

Session 2.        Sounds and music to lose and find yourself

We continue our exploration by shaking up things a bit more. Going wild and extreme one moment, contemplating sound and self another. Focus and un-focus. By doing less than we normally do, we notice more. We return to a primary knowledge that sits at the centre of the body-mind-division: sonic phenomenology. Musical games/meditations/dances. Serious fun. Anything is possible, and nothing too!

 

Projecting vowels into the body

 

PART II. INNER VOICE

INTO THE HEART OF SOUND

 

DAY 2. THE HARMONIC UNIVERSE

Session 3. Cosmic Listening

After some energising Voice Yoga we dive into the subtler realms of vowels, resonance and overtones. You take your first steps in The Art of Listening 2.0. Break through your habitual patterns of sounding and hearing. Expand your awareness of voice physiology. Cosmic listening to overtone singing with the sruti box and hear your own harmonics. Getting back to the more vigorous shake-ups of the day before whenever needed.

Session 4. Your Voice, Your Resonance, Your life

Overtone singing is not easy and pursuing mere technique in itself can be a burden. Armed with new understandings and experiences of the hidden dimensions of the human voice, we ask ourselves where we want to go with it. How do you resonate? What makes your voice unique? Love it or hate it? Every voice and every path is different. Pushing our vocal limits, we collectively embrace failure. And return to soothing vibrant sonic meditations.

 

Holland Street

DAY 3. CREATIVE IMAGINATION as a SOURCE OF LIFE

Session 5. Mantras, Chants and Sound poems

In an age of media technologies we have silenced ourselves and forgotten our ancestors’ songs. Mantras are among the most ancient sound tools around and we can still learn from them. The repetitive vibrations of chants also awake slumbering resonances in our body-mind. Add to that 21st century Sound Poems flavored with overtones and we have a complete palette of tools to revive the lost sonic core of our selves.

Session 6. Paraphony

Paraphony means: there is no such thing as objective sounds. Sound is shaped by your ears, your awareness, your mood … always in flux. In our last session, we throw ourselves into the creative process of making music by and for ourselves and each other. The more we live by our creative impulses—be they noisy and chaotic or contemplative and balanced—the deeper we get to know ourselves and the world around is. Resonating together, we attune ourselves to ever subtler sounds of tones, overtones and elusive acoustic realms. Grasping these phenomena, we manifest our own voice, bring it out in its own unique glory.

 

PART I ~ Session 1 and 2:

Date: 22 Nov 2019 (Fri). Time: 10am – 1pm + 2:30pm – 5:30pm

PART II ~ Session 3 /4 and 5/6: 23-24 Nov 2019 (Sat – Sun), Time: 10am – 5:30pm
To register Session 3-6 (Part II), you’re required to register for either Session 1 or 2 first. Past students can directly register for Part II without taking Session 1 or 2.

Venue (All Sessions): Sound Therapy Hong Kong

For registration go to the Soundtherapy Hong Kong website here and on Facebook.

 

Awaken your potential:

  • –     >    to listen better
  • –     >    to hear and sing the natural overtones in your voice
  • –     >    to understand your inner drives better
  • –     >    to diversify your voice

After this 3 days workshop, you will go home with a renewed sense of self through a fresh look and ‘a fresh ear’ at your voice. You will have a fuller understanding of its complex vibratory mechanisms, and get many new ideas how these operate at the point where body and mind are merged in a greater whole.  You learn techniques to better hear the world around you and inside you. These tools help you to gradually increase your musical/sound awareness, to know what needs to be healed and how to do that.

For whom?

No previous musical or vocal experience is required. Just bring a healthy dosage of curiosity and willingness to explore. The starting point is your own path as a speaker, as a communicator, as a person who enjoys music. Or simply as a human being. This workshop is beneficial for musicians and artists, for healers and therapists, and for anyone looking for more direction, meaning and depth in their lives.

 

 

Improvising theatre director Ho Ying Fung and Wu Wentsui brought me to this fantastic streetperformance in January 2018

Courage, Hong Kong!

It is my sincere wish that Hong Kong remains as much as possible as it is now:

  • a relatively free space within the larger Chinese boundaries
  • a place where Cantonese people with a democratic inclination determine the political, economic, cultural course of their unique region
  • a peaceful and culturally diverse hotspot where people from around the world live and work together without an over-active state apparatus encroaching upon their lives

My prayers go out to my Hong Kong friends and everyone else suffering from the human violence and psychological pressure. I pray too for the perpretators because it is, in my point of view, them who need to find peace of mind more than anyone else.

 

After the violent typhoon of September 2018

Catching up with Tran Quang Hai

The most prolific researcher in the field of overtone singing is a man with many faces. His name is Tran Quang Hai and you can call him (and all options are correct): Vietnamese or French; a professional musician or a professional musicologist; an instrumentalist or a singer; an improviser or a composer; a traditional, a popular or an experimental musician (all three will do); an expert in Vietnamese traditional musics and an astute chronicler of its year-to-year development in the past decades.* Tran Quang Hai has a new book out celebrating his 50 years of music research in many different areas. We recently met in Paris, where he shared some interesting facts about the Vietnamese Jew’s harp (dan moi) I did not know before. On the trip back to Amsterdam I read most of the articles in his book that I had not seen before, so more on that too. Before talking about our meeting, his book and the origin of the word dan moi (Jew’s harp), some historical background. Since Hai is Tran Quang Hai’s first name I will refer to him as Hai.

I learned of Hai’s work on overtone singing in the early 1990s. When I got to know him personally, I was astounded and (I will admit) a bit intimidated by his unbridled energy. He loves to share what he does, and he is in fact overflowing with enthusiasm: for overtone singing, for Vietnamese music, for playing the Jew’s harp and spoons, for ethnomusicology, for his constant travels as a performer and teacher. After my visits I was usually exhilirated (about all the new things I had learned or shared with him) and at the same time exhausted (feeling my life was a mess with no progress at all).

 

In fact, going to Paris has been almost synonymous with visiting Hai and his lovely wife Bach Yen (whose singing carreer goes way way back). And these visits became almost synonymous with absolutely great Vietnamese food. Bach Yen often spent hours and hours to buy fine ingredients like all kinds of fresh leaves, vegetables, seafood and meat and prepare them the Vietnamese way. We would have excellent diners, drank nice wine, as the couple made an annual ‘pilgrimage’ to different regions in France to stock up on boxes of quality wine to share with friends at home.

After moving to Taiwan, my encounters with Tran Quang Hai were scarce, and visits to both of them even more. In 2019, it has been around ten years since we last met in Paris. So I was delighted to see them again some weeks ago. Tran Quang Hai retired a decade ago from the ethnomusicology department at the Musée de L’Homme in Paris, but has remained an active performer and workshop leader for all these years. Bach Yen is a famous singer of popular songs and entertainment music, as well as a singer of many different genres of traditional music. Together they have given hundreds of concerts in Europe and elsewhere, and they continue to do so. Here is a photo of their appearance in Genoa, Italy, a week or so after I met them.

 

 

Late August, when I walked down the platform of Gare de Lyon, Hai and Bach Yen were waiting for me. Once again I was overwhelmed to be in their buzzing, energetic presence. The first thing they did, was to get out their cameras and make many photos together. Then we strolled to their car, and their warm hands and arms embraced my arms. I sometimes think of myself as someone who easily touches people, but this time I thought I am quite distant compared to them. It was really (excusez le mot) touching to stroll down the platform chatting and to be ‘wrapped’ by their tender hands and arms on both sides. Hai told me once about using his hands to heal people and showed me some methods. But it seems the couple just radiates warmth and energy naturally, even without using a special method.

For our Vietnamese food, this time we drove to a place called Pho Bida, pronounced Fo Beeyaa. Pho is the famous Vietnamese noodle soup, but what about Bida? It turns out to be derived from ‘billiard’, as the former location of this restaurant housed a popular billiard room as well. The place is not very spacious but we were early and could chose any seat. By the time we left lots of people waited outside. The food was great and loved by Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese alike: highly recommended! (Pho Bida Vietnam, 36 rue Nationale, 75013 Paris)

 

Tran Quang Hai’s New Book

When we sat down, Hai gave me his new book, a thick volume with many of his articles and listst of all his achievements, titles, appearances, etc. organized in a single volume. Some articles I have known for a long time. So I particularly enjoyed reading those things I did not know in detail.

First, an article about Vietnamese music and its historical background, very helpful for understanding the relationship to Chinese music and culture. It also covers many of the recent developments in Vietnamese music, making it in effect a kind of encyclopaedic entry into Vietnam and all its music. With this work Hai most clearly follows in the footsteps of his late father Tran Van Khe, also a well-known musician and musicologist.

 

“Tran Quang Hai. 50 Years of Research in Vietnamese Traditional Music and Overtone Singing.”

Second, an article that accompanied a double CD issued in France in 1997, dedicated to the absolutely fascinating world of mountain tribe musics in Vietnam. There is a dazzling array of types of instruments and ways of playing, and these liner notes give a good overview of this field.

 

 

 

If you are interested in overtone singing and still love printed matter, as I do myself, then this is a good way to get your (physical) hands on several key articles on this technique by Dr. Tran Quang Hai and understand the background of his research. (Note for academic readers: for research purposes it is better to consult online pdfs of the articles in their original format). Available here.

 

 

Tran Quang Hai and the Dan Moi

During our lunch I also learned where the common name of the Vietnamese brass Jew’s harp comes from. It is usually referred to as dan moi, which is a Vietnamese word (compare for example dan tranh/đàn tranh, the plucked zither, or the unique one-string zither dan bau/đàn bầu). However, the thin, finely crafted Jew’s harp, probably smaller than any other type of Jew’s harp, originates from the mountain tribes who live close to Yunnan in South China. The Hmong’s native language and culture has little to do with that of the dominant Viet or Kinh ethnic group, who are historically tied to China. When travelling in the mountains in North Vietnam (around Sapa), I encountered the Hmong people who play this instrument and managed to get one made locally by their craftsmen. They referred to it as gya, phonetically speaking, though in writing it is referred to as djam. A personal note from Tran Quang Hai shortly after publishing this post: the Hmong name of the Jew’s harp is ncas (pronounced ncha).

 

The djam I bought in Sapa from girls who played the instrument along the mountain road. (photo by the author).

 

So I asked Hai how the name dan moi came about. He explained: there is no Jew’s harp in the music of the ethnic Vietnamese. So when he learned about the traditions of the mountain people around 50 years ago, he had to make up a new name himself in order to accommodate the minorities’ instrument in the system and language of Vietnam. To use ‘dan’ (meaning ‘instrument’) was an obvious beginning point. Hai decided to add ‘moi’ for lips, to designate it is played between the lips. Most brass or metal Jew’s harps are held against the teeth, with the lamella vibrating between the teeth; the dan moi is held between the lips and vibrates there. In this sense it is more like a type of wooden or bamboo Jew’s harp, particularly the ones vibrated by a string attached to one side.

 

A Hmong girl playing the djam for me in 2003 (photo by the author).

The dan moi went on to become a very popular instrument around the world once non-Vietnamese musicians discovered them, at the turn of the millenium. Many people asked me for it when I brought them back in 2003. I remember giving one to Tuvan throat singer Sainkho around 2004. She immediately fell for its bright sound and expressive qualities, and asked for more several times after (and so did other people). At the same time, a German company saw the potential of this cheap instrument to reach a huge audience and set up (web)shop, calling it www.danmoi.com. It has a become a one-stop shop to buy all kinds of Jew’s harps. So dan moi, Hai’s new name for the djham, a minority instrument, and for Jew’s harps in general, now has become sort of a symbol of 21st century global Jew’s harp culture. And it seems to be growing year by year: here in Taiwan I have seen many new Jew’s harp enthusiasts taking the stages recently, often sporting a collection of world Jew’s harps, including, of course, the dan moi.

Here is a video where you see the movement of the dan moi lamella in slow motion, played by Hai’s student Dang Khai Nguyen.

Learn more about Tran Quang Hai

Hai is still actively teaching, find out where his next workshops are by going to his blog:

https://tranquanghaisworldthroatsinging.com

(the blog itself amounts to a ‘wikipedia’ of sorts for throat/overtone singing, where you will find a huge amount o copies of scientific and popular articles, videos, and indeed copies of wikipedia entries, as well as some original posts about Hai’s workshops and travels).

Go here to find more entries in English and in Vietnamese:

https://tranquanghai1944.com

https://tranvankhe-tranquanghai.com

 

And for more news from Fusica and Mark van Tongeren subscribe to these blogposts here.

 

Finally, back to some Asian flavour, but East-Asian instead of the South-East Asian of Hai’s origins. Here is a hilarious video from the time Hai was flown into Japan to demonstrate overtone/throat singing in a hypertheatrical popular entertainment program.


TRAN QUANG HAI on JAPANESE TELEVISION, part 2, December 26, 2012

 

 

* OK, for this one I have no way to tell if it is true, but Hai does mention in his new book (page  32) that he wrote “more than 500 articles in Vietnamese for 30 Vietnamese magazines in America, Europe, Asia and Australia.”

 

 

Can I sing sygyt for one minute without taking a breath?

Today I tried out something I do a few times a year: take a deep breath and see how long I can sing. Well, this time I just tried to sing for one minute, not as long as possible. The best technique to use for this is either khöömei or sygyt as it automatically constricts the throat and inhibits the airflow.

It is trivial, I know, but it is a good exercise for the lungs, diaphragm and the entire respiratory system. The other challenge is to make some musical sense. The throat singing is far from perfect (some of the overtones should not be there) but I decided to share it anyway as an example of some of the things I practise.