Tibetan chanting

Attending conference on Overtone Singing in Sardinia

End of next week I return to Europe again to attend a conference entitled “Music practices, identity and tradition: overtone and polyphonic singing in Sardinia and Central Asia.” It is organised by Sabrina Salis of the University of Sassari, Sardinia. Speakers and performers include Gian Nicola Spanu from the University of Sassari, Populos Tenore Nugoresu, Keith Howard from SOAS, London and myself. I’ll give a workshop and talk. Here is the abstract of my talk:

Discourses of authenticity surrounding traditional overtone singing practices.
The technique of singing overtones has been capturing the attention of a steadily growing number of listeners over the past decades. For audiences and practicing musicians alike, it brings to the forefront facts of the musical nature of an auditory reality that is inhabited by humans all over the world. For audiences new to the ability of the human voice to produce several pitches at the same time, the phenomenon itself leads to a breakthrough of habitual patterns of auditory perception and cognition; it may become a catalyst for deeper, personal transformations on levels beyond musical and auditory realms. For certain musicians from Sardinia, Tibet and the Altai-region, who are part of older traditions, the phenomenon itself is obviously not new. What is new, is the scientifically informed discourse that develops around their music, and also the associations that audiences make between their own traditional music on the one hand, and different traditions and (ancient) philosophical ideas about music on the other. Scientific discourse and ancient music philosophies are thus informed by previously unknown, older musical traditions, and vice versa.

Traditions, like those kept alive by Tibetan choirs, North-Asian throat singers and Sardinian polyphonic groups, sometimes lend authority, authenticity and credibility to singing harmonics for musicians outside these traditions. But what does this authority-claim mean for those inside and outside the traditions? Who are claiming what and on what bases? For example, how do non-traditional overtone singers use or abuse various traditions? Is it right to claim that traditions have a higher authority over certain musical techniques, in this case, overtone singing? Can this authority be extended to musical or acoustic phenomena as such? Several case studies from the literature and fieldwork will show the complexity of this issue, with different stances taken by musicians (and a scholar) inside and outside traditions. The overall picture emerging from such comparisons expands on the idea of my PhD Thresholds of the audible: about the polyphony of the body (2013). It shows that music, in theory and in practice, is a tool for drawing boundaries that inevitably keep fluctuating.

Workshop overtone/throat singing in Taipei

When: Sunday April 28 , 2013, 10 AM – 4:30 PM

Where: Can June Training Centre, Taipei

Chinese version of this post can be found here

Contents of the workshop
The workshop introduces a number of basic exercises that allows singers and non-singers to develop a different attitude towards making sound and listening to sound. At the beginning, a number of exercises prepares us for breaking new musical ground. They deal with four themes: breath, resonance, silence and the interconnectedness of sound, body & mind. Gradually we focus more on listening to and singing our own harmonics.

Focus for today
On this day we will pay extra attention to throat singing techniques, as practised in Tuva and Mongolia. Throat singing is a particular variant of overtone singing (but we might as well say the reverse: that modern types of overtone singing are particular varieties of the older throat singing techniques from Central –North Asia). Throat singing requires special attention to the use of pressure on the vocal chords, necessary to obtain that powerful, distinct sound quality that makes throat singing unique among the world’s vocal techniques. Mark’s method assures that no one gets hurt.

For whom?
Every one-day workshop of overtone singing by Mark van Tongeren is a sound journey. Participants from very different backgrounds are gently led to discoveries that suit their own needs. The starting point is your own path as a musician, a speaker, a communicator or simply as a human being. Everyone is invited to participate and share. No previous is required, but familiarity with Mark’s Voice of Dao lessons will give you an advantage.

About the teacher
Mark van Tongeren is a musician and holds a PhD in music. He has traveled to Tuva to study with throat singers since 1993, and has worked with musicians from all other traditions as well (Mongolia, Altai, Khakassiya, Tibet, Bashkortostan, Sardinia, South Africa, in addition to avant-garde pioneers like Michael Vetter). He makes obscure vocal techniques and insiders’ knowledge available and accessible through lively examples, structured exercises, and explanations that reveal a profound understanding of the field of harmonics and overtone singing as a whole.

3.12 Andrei Opei in yurt 75jepg

Tuvan throat singer and composer Andrei Öpei sings ina yurt. Teeli, 2000. Photo by Mark van Tongeren.

Registration and fees
Please register by sending an email to Una Kao: unakao@yahoo.com.tw (in Chinese or English) or to Mark van Tongeren: mark@fusica.nl (English only).

The fee for the one-day workshop is 3000 NT$, to be paid before the beginning of the workshop on the day itself. There is a discount if you bring a friend: then you pay NT$ 5000 instead of NT$ 3000. Those who have attended concerts, workshops or several weekly Voice of Dao sessions, may also be eligible for a discount. Please write us for the conditions or if you have any questions.

Chinese version of this post can be found here at Hansuna’s blog.