Overtone Singing: continuous overdub tutorial

Some of the creative things that I do don’t fit neatly into the categories on this site so they end up here in the blog section.  One of those things is overtone singing. I’ve been singing harmonic overtones as a meditative practice for  many years. Its something that I’ve always done for myself. This is partly because I was never motivated to record and edit my singing into a form that I wanted to share.

That changed when I watched this hilarious Reggie Watts video. It gave me a sense that I could create something in real time by applying some of the techniques Reggie uses to the very different realm of overtone singing. It was obvious to me that this was a much more immediate way of creating stuff than editing recordings after the fact. So I got myself a second hand delay pedal with a loop/overdub function (like the one Reggie Watts uses in that video) and started messing around with it. After a while I realised that I could set the pedal in a continuous overdub mode that would allow me to constantly add to an ever-evolving loop with the previously recorded vocal layers gradually falling further back into the mix. Its a warts and all process that will never be as refined as it might be if the recordings were carefully edited but I reckon the continuous overdub make sense in relation to a practice that is about following the continuity of breath.

Here’s an explanation of the process in video tutorial form:

I currently use just tuning ratios from this wikipedia page and this online tone generator to make the tones that I sing. Here’s an example (the fade at the beginning is the only post processing of this track):

A list of the gear:

  • Line 6 DL4 delay
  • Boss digital reverb
  • juicedLink pre amp
  • Shure SM57 microphone
  • Zoom H1 recorder
  • Sony MDR-7506 headphones