Throat singing refers to several vocal practices found in different cultures around the world.The most distinctive feature of such vocal practices is to be associated to some type of guttural voice, that contrasts with the most common types of voices employed in singing, which are usually represented by chest (modal) and head (light, or falsetto) registers. Also, throat singing is often described as producing the sensation of more than one pitch at a time, i.e., the listener perceives two or more distinct musical notes, while the singer is producing a single vocalization.
Throat singing, therefore, consists of a wide range of singing techniques that originally belong to particular cultures and seem to share some sounding characteristics that make them especially noticeable by other cultures and users of mainstream singing styles.The term originates from the translation of the Tuvan/Mongolian word Xhöömei/Xhöömi, that literally means throat, guttural. Ethnic groups from Russia, Mongolia, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Italy, China and India, among others, accept and normally employ the term throat singing to describe their special way of producing voice and song.
The term throat singing is obviously not precise, because any singing technique involves the sound generation in the "throat", i.e., the voice produced at the level of the larynx, which includes the vocal folds and other structures.Therefore it would be, in principle, admissible to refer to classical operatic singing or pop singing as "throat singing" for instance. However, the term throat is not adopted by the official terminology of anatomy (Terminologia Anatomica) and is not technically associated with most of the singing techniques. Many authors, performers, coaches and listeners associate throat singing with overtone singing. Throat singing and overtone singing are certainly not synonyms, contrary to what is inaccurately indicated by many dictionaries (e.g. , in the definition by Britannica) but, in some cases, both aspects may be clearly present, such as in the khargyraa technique from Tuva, with a very deep, tense voice, and rich overtone enhancements and embellishments.
Furthermore, "singing with the throat" may be regarded as a demeaning expression to some singers, because it may imply that the singer is using a high level of effort, resulting in a rather forced or non-suitable voice. The word "throaty" is usually associated to a rough, raspy, breathy or hoarse voice. In spite of being a term frequently used in the literature starting in the 1960's, some contemporary scholars tend to avoid the use of throat singing as a general term.
There is a consistent and enthusiastic international reception for concerts and workshops given by musical groups belonging to the several cultures that incorporate throat singing . Besides the traditional ethnic performances, throat singing is also cultivated and explored by numerous musicians belonging to contemporary, rock, new-age, pop and independent movements.
Throat singing techniques may be classified under (1) an ethnomusicological approach: considering the various cultural aspects, the association to rituals, religious practices, storytelling, labor songs, vocal games, and other contexts; (2) a musical approach: considering their artistic use, the basic acoustical principles, and the physiological and mechanical procedures to learn, train and produce them.
The most commonly referred types of throat singing techniques, present in musicological and ethnomusicological texts, are generally associated with ancient cultures. Some of them, as the Khöömei from Mongolia, Tuva and China, and the Canto Tenore from Sardinia, are acknowledged by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In musically related terms, throat singing refers among others, to the following specific techniques:
In linguistics, creaky voice refers to a low, scratchy sound that occupies the vocal range below the common vocal register. It is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact. They normally vibrate irregularly at 20–50 pulses per second, about two octaves below the frequency of modal voicing, and the airflow through the glottis is very slow. Although creaky voice may occur with very low pitch, as at the end of a long intonation unit, it can also occur with a higher pitch. All contribute to make a speaker's voice sound creaky or raspy.
The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal tract, including talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, shouting, humming or yelling. The human voice frequency is specifically a part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary sound source.
Overtone singing – also known as overtone chanting, harmonic singing, polyphonic overtone singing, and diphonic singing – is a set of singing techniques in which the vocalist manipulates the resonances of the vocal tract, in order to arouse the perception of additional, separate notes beyond the fundamental frequency being produced.
Singing is the act of creating musical sounds with the voice. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music, Japanese music, and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, ghazal, and popular music styles such as pop, rock, and electronic dance music.
The Tuvans are a Turkic ethnic group indigenous to Siberia who live in Russia (Tuva), Mongolia, and China. They speak Tuvan, a Siberian Turkic language. They are also regarded in Mongolia as one of the Uriankhai peoples.
Sainkho Namtchylak is a singer originally from Tuva, an autonomous republic in the Russian Federation just north of Mongolia. She is known for her Tuvan throat singing or Khöömei.
James Edward Maceo West is an American inventor and acoustician. He holds over 250 foreign and U.S. patents for the production and design of microphones and techniques for creating polymer foil electrets.
Tyva Kyzy is an all-female folk ensemble performing Tuvan throat-singing, under the direction of Choduraa Tumat. It is the first and only women's group in Tuva that performs all styles of Tuvan throat-singing.
The angular spectrum method is a technique for modeling the propagation of a wave field. This technique involves expanding a complex wave field into a summation of infinite number of plane waves of the same frequency and different directions. Its mathematical origins lie in the field of Fourier optics but it has been applied extensively in the field of ultrasound. The technique can predict an acoustic pressure field distribution over a plane, based upon knowledge of the pressure field distribution at a parallel plane. Predictions in both the forward and backward propagation directions are possible.
The vestibular fold is one of two thick folds of mucous membrane, each enclosing a narrow band of fibrous tissue, the vestibular ligament, which is attached in front to the angle of the thyroid cartilage immediately below the attachment of the epiglottis, and behind to the antero-lateral surface of the arytenoid cartilage, a short distance above the vocal process.
Tuvan throat singing, the main technique of which is known as khoomei, includes a type of overtone singing practiced by people in Tuva, Mongolia, and Siberia. In 2009, it was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. The term hömey / kömey means throat and larynx in different Turkic languages. That could be borrowed from Mongolian khooloi, which means throat as well, driven from Proto-Mongolian word *koɣul-aj.
Timbral listening is the process of actively listening to the timbral characteristics of sound.
Donald Duck talk, formally called buccal speech, is an alaryngeal form of vocalization which uses the inner cheek to produce sound rather than the larynx. The speech is most closely associated with the Disney cartoon character, Donald Duck, whose voice was created by Clarence Nash, who performed it from 1934 to 1984.
Josephine Antoinette Estill, known as Jo Estill, was an American singer, singing voice specialist and voice researcher. Estill is best known for her research and the development of Estill Voice Training, a programme for developing vocal skills based on deconstructing the process of vocal production into control of specific structures in the vocal mechanism.
Anna-Maria Hefele is a German overtone singer. Hefele is from Grafing near Munich.
Vladimir Okonovich Karuev, better known by his Kalmyk name Okna Tsahan Zam is a Kalmyk folk singer, known for his throat singing and as a performer of the Kalmyk national epic Jangar.
Brian C.J. Moore FmedSci, FRS is an Emeritus Professor of Auditory Perception in the University of Cambridge and an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. His research focuses on psychoacoustics, audiology, and the development and assessment of hearing aids.
Christian Lorenzi is Professor of Experimental Psychology at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, where he has been Director of the Department of Cognitive Studies and Director of Scientific Studies until. Lorenzi works on auditory perception.
Christine Erbe is a German-Australian physicist specializing in underwater acoustics. She is a professor in the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences and director of the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST)—both at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, Australia. Erbe is known for her research on acoustic masking in marine mammals, investigating how man-made underwater noise interferes with animal acoustic communication.
Undertone singing is a set of singing techniques in which the vocalist makes use of vibrations of the vocal apparatus in order to produce subharmonic tones below the bass tone and extend the vocal range below the limits of the modal voice. In particular, the sound is produced via constricting the larynx in order to produce oscillations in the vocal cords and vestibular folds at certain frequencies of the vocal cords - corresponding to integer divisions of the frequency produced by the vestibular folds, such as 1:2, 1:3, and 1:4 ratios. This will produce the corresponding subharmonic to that frequency. For example, in a 1:2 ratio, each second vibration of the vocal folds, the vestibular fold will complete a single vibration cycle which will result in an subharmonic produced an octave below the bass tone produced by the vocal cords. This technique is found in certain Tibetan forms of Buddhist Chant, as practised by monks of the Gyuto Order, as well as in Mongolian throat singing, where it is often used in conjunction with other vocal techniques, such as vocal fry. The technique produces a deep, growling quality.