Saturday, February 27, 2016

Using & Improving: Overtone Singing and Desire

For ten years I've been teaching a method for learning to overtone sing. Every student I've known wants to improve the isolation and amplification of parts of the harmonic series; in other words, make the overtones louder. Increased prominence of the overtones in one's voice is easy to achieve, and you might be producing loud harmonics already, but your ear is not yet able to detect them; more specifically, your awareness of your ear's signals is not yet heightened enough to perceive the inherent overtones in sound. That concentration and some time.

Teach the ear to hear the harmonics by sustaining very long tones with your natural singing voice while, as slowly as possible, and with the minutest of oral movements, stretch out some vowels sounds. Then as you continue to sustain a steady tone while stretching vowels sounds, relax and just listen. Don't yet  try to hear any harmonics in the sound yet. Instead, just place all your focus on your hearing of the sound, and all the while feeling the vibrations of the sound in your body. Direct all the senses, and even the inner senses of the imagination, toward sounding and sensing. When you begin to hear a kind of melody, a changing of flute-like sine tones, over or within your droning, you're beginning to hear your own overtones.

The ear leads the voice. Listening, in the most all-embracing sense, yields to almost all of the most desirable improvements.

So, one improves and reaches the desired level of ability. Then one asks, "What can I do with this?"

The human nervous system is programmed to seek out improvements. Perhaps this condition of continual betterment is the deep impulse to evolve , but it is also the source of much misery, as even when one has something great, one wonders of having something even greater. In leaving the great for the greater, and finding there is no greater, one returns to the great, but sometimes to find it gone.

In contrast, we might perceive the great thing as great in itself, and we declare to be totally satisfied, but then we ask, "What use is it?" or "What can I do with that?"

Like meditation, singing overtones is an end in itself, and needs no purpose to evince its value. In way, it is totally useless, as is meditation, but therein lies its highest use!

The moment we desire some end from the process of singing, we have lost the purpose. Desire for something more than the act itself diminishes the quality of of the act.

However, I have made some use of overtone singing in creating eleven mystical love songs in a collection of songs known as "The Me Machine."

For many more years that I have taught, I have struggled conceptually with what to do with overtone singing, to whom it belongs, whether I should be teaching it at all, and how best to share it with others.

Forced into live performance on occasion for need of money, I had to come up with something to do to keep the show going. Overtone singing alone can't always fill an hour-long set. So, when not overtone singing, I would sing or recite lyrics of my own smart-ass design, or play trumpet, and generate looping drones of any of those sound sources to support the lead melody. After a few performances, I found I had a body of "songs," which audiences found amusing.

These songs are studio creations that employ much layering of overtone singing. These vocal layers provide accompaniment to the principal singing of lyrics that either switches to mini-solos of obvious overtone singing styles. When the overtone singing is not obvious, the singing is still performed with a subtle enhancement of the overtones. Nevertheless, all the sounds on this album were created with an enhanced awareness of harmonic overtones, and my awareness of of the overtones might be apparent to the listener.

The lyrics are mystically romantic. The praises sung are for one beloved individual in particular, yet simultaneously for the infinite self within her, and me, and you, and in every thing and every no thing. The text also contains little lists of philosophical aphorisms that I need to remember.

So, I have used overtone singing to produce an end, a product, an album of songs. The songs are blatantly popular, yet still weird enough to keep it all from falling into the pit of illuminati pop. And I can't say I like them all, and I can't even believe they are from me. But I didn't do them for me. I made these songs for those that love me, and I took care to be sure that the music would have maximum universality for the diversity of my loved ones, and how thankful I am for the diversity of all the strange angels in my life.

They only indicator of success I desire is for them, and that one, to love this music.

Finally, I hope my use of overtone singing honors the beauty of solo singing while including it in the style of the popular song. Meanwhile, I shall set to work on the next improvement, the next whim of my desire, which I will soon share with you, with the beloved, and with the One.