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How to Learn Overtone Singing
Producing overtones with your own voice is relatively easy. You practice singing very slow vowel transitions between the vowels /i/ and /u/ on a long-sustained drone that is kept at a constant pitch. Then, overtones start to appear quite clearly from your voice, although you might not able to hear them yet. To hear overtones in your own voice is the key to achieving deliberate control; learning to hear them is the first important part of your practice.
In this article, we have analyzed an advanced technique of overtone singing, double resonator articulation. The tongue tip is retracted and elevated in the mouth as for the American consonant /r/. This lowers the third formant and can bring it close to the second formant. As we have seen, this creates a double resonator and a double formant, which results in a strong, whistling- like overtone. To do this requires quite an accurate and simultaneous control over the front cavity for the third formant and the back cavity for the second formant. Gen- erally, it takes quite some practice to learn this technique.
A simpler start into the fascinating world of overtone singing may be to learn to enhance overtones with vowels only, with an undivided VT cavity. Then, the VT works as a single resonator, and the second formant is solely responsible for overtone enhancement. Also, this technique can be learned by very slowly changing the articulation between /i/ and /u/, keeping a drone with constant pitch. When you manage to do this, you will discern single overtones; one by one, they first increase and then decrease in loudness as they approach the second formant, pass it, and then move away from it, and soon after, the next overtone will appear and do the same thing.
After you have learned the vowel-technique well, it is mostly both exciting and not too difficult to learn the double formant technique. Then, you may want to explore the pleasure of shifting the drone pitch and so extend the melodic possibilities of overtone singing even further. If you want to learn more, see Hefele (2020)!
Bernhard Richter, Matthias Echternach, Louisa Traser, and Michael Burdumy at the Freiburg Institute of Musi- cian’s Medicine are acknowledged for their work with the two dynamic magnetic resonance imaging videos.
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      About the Authors
 Johan Sundberg
Department of Speech Music
and Hearing
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Johan Sundberg studied musicol- ogy at Uppsala University (Uppsala,
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