14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Acoustic Characteristics of Different Styles of Overtone Singing in Altai

Reijo Aulanko, Lauri Harvilahti

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Samples of four styles of overtone singing, or ‘throat singing’, that are traditionally performed in Altai (Sygyt, Qargyraa, Kh.mei, and Qay) were studied. Spectral analyses of the digitized singing samples showed that these different styles have certain acoustic characteristics in common. There seems to be a stylistic continuum from a traditional (western-like) singing style to ‘pure’ overtone singing. In the Sygyt style overtone melodies are produced by selectively amplifying overtones especially in the frequency area normally occupied by the F2 of vowels. In Qargyraa and Kh.mei melodies are produced in a similar way by amplifying certain overtones, but in addition there is a prominent high-frequency component giving these styles their characteristic timbre. The peculiarity of the epic Qay style is the use of a similar high-frequency component simultaneously with clearly articulated words, although Qay singers can sometimes switch between ‘normal’ articulation and overtone melody production within one song.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Aulanko, Reijo / Harvilahti, Lauri (1999): "Acoustic characteristics of different styles of overtone singing in Altai", In ICPhS-14, 985-988.