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Notating overtone singing

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Notating overtone singing

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:23 pm

Hi all. My wife has access to a couple of overtone singers for a piece of music she is writing for public performance. She has Sibelius 7.5 but she doesn't know how to notate what she wants them to sing. Does anyone have any ideas?

Cheers,

CC
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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:14 pm

No one? Never mind, it was a bit of an esoteric question, I suppose.

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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby forumuser840717 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:51 pm

So far as I know, and having asked a couple of singers who do a lot of contemporary music which might call for this, there's no standard way.

Something I've seen a few times on woodwind parts - 'specially flute and sax - has been the use of diamond shaped note heads instead of oval/round.

Another option, sometimes used to denote harmonics, is a small cross over the note/grouping so I guess it could be used for vocal overtones too.

I don't use Sibelius so have no idea whether it can do any of these things.

Usually the composer just picks a scheme he/she likes and adds a text footnote to the score/part explaining that the device used indicates overtones.
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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:09 am

Thanks for the response and for asking. Anne has met and used the diamond head when writing for harmonics on the violin and we wondered about that. Eventually in discussion with her singers they agreed a two staff approach for each singer with the lower staff showing the root note and the higher staff showing the harmonic. This allows for the fact that the singer can hold the root note for an extended period while singing different harmonics during that period.

Cheers,

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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:23 pm

Just to close this thread out here is a piece of one of the scores my wife wrote showing the notation she agreed with her overtone singers. She did it by producing a PDF of the basic score in Sibelius then loading the PDF into Photoshop and adding the lines there:

Image

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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:45 pm

Fascinating!

Judging by the dimensions of the overtone steps, does notation indicate jumps of a single tone, or more generalized harmonic multiples?


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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:48 pm

As questions go that's a bit out of my pay grade but I'll ask her. Meantime here is the piece itself on Soundcloud. It's about 8 minutes long so that bit of score only represents the beginning of it.

Harmonics for tenor and Harmonium

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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Oct 15, 2016 3:09 pm

Yours wife's solution is simple and elegant. From what I understand extended techniques can be notated according to the composers preferences and then somewhere on the score either top or bottom in text is a roadmap to the performer how to interpret the symbols chosen. For fine tuning the concept in case the words are not specific enough the performers get more information from the composer and or conductor during rehearsal.
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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Oct 15, 2016 4:00 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:As questions go that's a bit out of my pay grade but I'll ask her. Meantime here is the piece itself on Soundcloud. It's about 8 minutes long so that bit of score only represents the beginning of it.

Harmonics for tenor and Harmonium

CC

Thanks CC - they are harmonically-related jumps then as I rather expected.

Nice to push my reading knowledge a little further though ;)


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Re: Notating overtone singing

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Oct 15, 2016 4:50 pm

Thank you very much for that. I have passed on the compliment. The following is taken from Anne's commentary on the piece:

When listening to someone overtone singing the first three harmonics are not very obvious to the untrained ear and the first one that is noticeable is two octaves above the fundamental note and from the third above that onwards the harmonics are very clear and obvious. Rather than show the actual harmonics or use diamond-headed notes the performers and I invented our own notation which is easier for the performers to read. It consists of a line, or level, for each harmonic shown like a graph with steps in between. The first level represents two octaves above the fundamental, which is where the harmonics become really clear, and each subsequent line is the next harmonic. The lines are only a suggestion to give the overall shape of and a certain amount of improvisation of the harmonics is encouraged. No phrasing or dynamics are given as they would detract from the harmonics notation and the singer only takes a breath where a rest is shown.

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