Jill Purce, 2005
Jill Purce (born 1947) is a British voice teacher, Family Constellations therapist, and author. In the 1970s, Purce developed a new way of working with the voice, introducing the teaching of group overtone chanting, producing a single note whilst amplifying vocal harmonics.She is a former fellow of King's College London, Biophysics Department. She produced over 30 books as general editor of the Thames and Hudson Art and Imagination series. Between 1971 and 1974, she worked in Germany with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Since the early 1970s, she has taught diverse forms of contemplative chant, especially overtone chanting. For over 15 years, she has been leading Family Constellations combined with chant.
Purce is the author of The Mystic Spiral: Journey of the Soul, a book about the spiral in sacred traditions, art and psychology. She has also written numerous articles.
Purce was born in Staffordshire, England. Educated at Headington School, Oxford, she graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the University of Reading (1970) and Master's degrees from the Chelsea College of Art, London (1970–71), and King's College London.
In a BBC documentary about her, More Ways than One: The Mystic Spiral, Purce described how, through contemplating the patterns in water, she noticed that when flow encounters resistance, first it rotates, then these rotary patterns become individual eddies which separate out as independent forms.This observation of the form-creating principle of flow, resistance, and rotation, became the basis of her research from 1968 until 1974, on the form of the spiral and the theme of the labyrinth in nature, science, art, psychology, and sacred traditions.
Purce was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at King's College London, Biophysics Department, to explore the spiral as a universal structure.Here, she initiated a dialogue between science and spirituality with Maurice Wilkins (Nobel laureate with Watson and Crick for the discovery of DNA), and lectured to the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science. Between 1974 and 1976, she lectured at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and Chelsea College of Art and Design and was a visiting lecturer at numerous universities and art schools, on art and sacred traditions; form and the spiral; and the tradition of music, sound, and the voice as a contemplative practice in diverse cultures.
Her work with the voice was a major impetus behind widespread research into the supposed healing effects of sound from the 1970s onwards.
Purce investigated the effect of sound on matter in the late 1960s, following the work of Hans Jenny, who used fine powders, liquids, and pastes, to show how formless matter takes on diverse forms and complex patterns through sound vibration. Purce also investigated the effect of sound vibrations on fine particles and on water, inspired by the early experiments of Ernst Chladni in 1785 and Margaret Watts Hughes between 1885 and 1904.
Between June 1971 and 1974, Purce lived in Kürten, Germany, and worked with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.Stockhausen had just introduced a simple form of overtone chanting using vowels to the West for the first time with the premiere of Stimmung in December 1968. During the autumn of 1971, Purce toured with Stockhausen and the performances of Stimmung throughout the eastern United States and Canada. She provided him with many ideas about sounds and their effects on matter, which he used to create Alphabet für Liège , a piece demonstrating those effects (1972). Purce took part in performances of Stockhausen's music at various music festivals (Liège, Rencontres Internationales d'Art Contemporain—La Rochelle, and Sainte-Baume—1972, 1973, 1974).
Researching the supposed beneficial properties of the voice since 1968 and having spent time with the Gyutö monks before going to Germany in 1971, Purce later continued her studies in the Himalayas with the chantmaster of the Gyutö Tibetan Monastery, Tenpa Gyaltsen, and with the Mongolian Khöömii master, Yavgaan, in order to explore the Tibetan and Mongolian methods of overtone chanting.
Purce's research, lectures, and workshops, have attempted to demonstrate how the human voice might be used to bring about positive psychological, emotional, and physical changes through acting as a link between body and mind, as described in Buddhist and other Eastern traditions.
Purce has also been invited by several hospitals and schools to explore how these voice techniques might be of positive help to women in childbirth; at the Maudsley Hospital in London, with people suffering from Alzheimer's; at the Royal Free Hospital, London, with people suffering from mental disabilities; at Hawthorn School, with children suffering from physical disabilities; and with people suffering from Chronic fatigue syndrome.
In June 1993, Purce gave a lecture and seminar for the English National Opera titled The Healing Power of Opera, as part of the Covent Garden Music Festival, London. She later led the audience in a chanting meditation before the first performance of Jonathan Harvey's opera Inquest of Love for ENO.
In 2003, she was invited to work with nuns and monks in a number of enclosed Christian monastic communities who sing Gregorian chant, particularly Burnham Abbey and Fairacres, Oxford, to teach overtone chanting and other methods to explore ways of reinvigorating and rediscovering the contemplative aspects of chant in Christian traditions.
In 1999, as part of the international conference on Family Constellations, and the work of family therapist Bert Hellinger in Wiesloch, Germany, Purce was invited to give an extended workshop to demonstrate her work to Hellinger's students and conference delegates. Influenced by her time in Japan in the early 1980s, where there is a strong tradition of honouring ancestors,Purce developed a process for doing this in her own work, using ceremony and chant to acknowledge excluded family members, both living and dead.
Jill Purce is married to author and former biochemistRupert Sheldrake. They have two sons, biologist Merlin Sheldrake and musician Cosmo Sheldrake.
A harmonic series is the sequence of frequencies, musical tones, or pure tones in which each frequency is an integer multiple of a fundamental.
The trumpet is a brass instrument commonly used in classical and jazz ensembles. The trumpet group ranges from the piccolo trumpet with the highest register in the brass family, to the bass trumpet, which is pitched one octave below the standard B♭ or C Trumpet.
An overtone is any frequency greater than the fundamental frequency of a sound. Using the model of Fourier analysis, the fundamental and the overtones together are called partials. Harmonics, or more precisely, harmonic partials, are partials whose frequencies are numerical integer multiples of the fundamental. These overlapping terms are variously used when discussing the acoustic behavior of musical instruments. The model of Fourier analysis provides for the inclusion of inharmonic partials, which are partials whose frequencies are not whole-number ratios of the fundamental.
Overtone singing – also known as overtone chanting, harmonic singing, or throat singing – is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances created in the vocal tract, in order to produce additional overtones above the fundamental note being sung.
David Hykes is a composer, singer, musician, author, and meditation teacher. He was one of the earliest modern western pioneers of overtone singing, and has developed since 1975 a comprehensive approach to contemplative music which he calls Harmonic Chant. After early research and trips studying Mongolian, Tibetan, and Middle Eastern singing forms, Hykes began a long series of collaborations with traditions and teachers of wisdom and sacred art, including the Dalai Lama and the Gyuto and Gyume monks.
Cymatics is a subset of modal vibrational phenomena. The term was coined by Hans Jenny (1904-1972), a Swiss follower of the philosophical school known as anthroposophy. Typically the surface of a plate, diaphragm, or membrane is vibrated, and regions of maximum and minimum displacement are made visible in a thin coating of particles, paste, or liquid. Different patterns emerge in the excitatory medium depending on the geometry of the plate and the driving frequency.
Stimmung, for six vocalists and six microphones, is a piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968 and commissioned by the City of Cologne for the Collegium Vocale Köln. Its average length is seventy-four minutes, and it bears the work number 24 in the composer's catalog.
Drone music, drone-based music, or simply drone, is a minimalist genre that emphasizes the use of sustained sounds, notes, or tone clusters – called drones. It is typically characterized by lengthy audio programs with relatively slight harmonic variations throughout each piece. La Monte Young, one of its 1960s originators, defined it in 2000 as "the sustained tone branch of minimalism".
In music, consonance and dissonance are categorizations of simultaneous or successive sounds. Within the Western tradition, consonance is typically associated with sweetness, pleasantness, and acceptability; dissonance is associated with harshness, unpleasantness, or unacceptability although this depends also on familiarity and musical expertise. The terms form a structural dichotomy in which they define each other by mutual exclusion: a consonance is what is not dissonant, and a dissonance is what is not consonant. However, a finer consideration shows that the distinction forms a gradation, from the most consonant to the most dissonant. As Hindemith stressed, "The two concepts have never been completely explained, and for a thousand years the definitions have varied". The term sonance has been proposed to encompass or refer indistinctly to the terms consonance and dissonance.
In music, the undertone series or subharmonic series is a sequence of notes that results from inverting the intervals of the overtone series. While overtones naturally occur with the physical production of music on instruments, undertones must be produced in unusual ways. While the overtone series is based upon arithmetic multiplication of frequencies, resulting in a harmonic series, the undertone series is based on arithmetic division.
Playing a string harmonic is a string instrument technique that uses the nodes of natural harmonics of a musical string to isolate overtones. Playing string harmonics produces high pitched tones, often compared in timbre to a whistle or flute. Overtones can be isolated "by lightly touching the string with the finger instead of pressing it down" against the fingerboard.
Tuvan or Mongolian throat singing, known as khoomei is one particular variant of overtone singing practiced by people in Tuva, Mongolia, and Siberia. In 2009, it was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.
Jonathan Goldman is an American author, musician and teacher in the fields of Harmonics and Sound Healing. He is based in Boulder, Colorado. His career spans over 30 years. In 2011, he was included by the Watkins Review as 74 on its list of "100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in the World".
Alphabet für Liège, for soloists and duos, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 36 in the composer's catalog of works. A performance of it lasts four hours.
Michael Vetter was a German composer, novelist, poet, performer, calligrapher, artist, and teacher.
Spiral, for a soloist with a shortwave receiver, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968. It is Number 27 in the catalogue of the composer's works.
Sternklang, is "park music for five groups" composed in 1971 by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and bears the work number 34 in his catalogue of compositions. The score is dedicated to Mary Bauermeister, and a performance of the work lasts from two-and-a-half to three hours.
Für kommende Zeiten is a collection of seventeen text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed between August 1968 and July 1970. It is a successor to the similar collection titled Aus den sieben Tagen, written in 1968. These compositions are characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is work number 33 in Stockhausen's catalog of works, and the collection is dedicated to the composer's son Markus.
Megan [Margaret] Watts Hughes was a Welsh singer, songwriter, scientist and philanthropist. Her name appears as Margaret, of which the Welsh name Megan is derived, in several publications. She was recognized by certain sources as the first to experiment with and observe the phenomenon of visualizing resonating sound using a device she invented called an "eidophone". The device or instrument naturally-produced geometric patterns from the resonation of her human voice. As a result, she referred to images as "Voice-Figures." Her work eventually resulted in a 1904 book titled The Eidophone; Voice Figures: Geometrical and Natural Forms Produced by Vibrations of the Human Voice, penned by Margaret Watts Hughes. She demonstrated the instrument for the Royal Society.
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures is a 2020 nonfiction book on mycology by English biologist Merlin Sheldrake. His first book, it was published by Random House on 12 May 2020.