The Night: World music | :: Radio

The Night: World music

sun 8 mar 2009 00:00 
Composer: Mark van Tongeren

The Night of the Overtones. The Concertzender turns the overtone inside out: with a special about overtone singing from 2003 by Pieter de Rooij, a part fom the Souterrein Sessions by Jew’s harp trio Aubergine, meditative gong sounds by the Swiss Verena Jenny and hypnotising throat and overtone singing from  Kalmykia.

Okna Tsagam Zam fom Kalmykia.
We start this night with a special from 2003 by Pieter de Rooij about overtone sining.

By means of surprising recordings, a tour is made visiting all regions where overtone singing happens. Here overtone singer and researcher Mark van Tongeren reveals the aspects of the vocal technique and its social meaning, as well as new insights into the philosophical and spiritual range of overtone singing in the East and in the West.

In Tibetan monasteries, at the shepherds of Tuva and on the prairies of Mongolia, overtone singing has been practised for centuries; a fascinating singing style where the voice produces two of more tones simultaneously. The higher whistle tones are isolated from a lower throat sound and amplified through the oral cavity.

Central Asia is known for it but it’s also practised in other regions like in South Africa or Sardinia. In the West, the magic of the overtone has finally sunk in as well, through CDs and world music stages and through modern contemporary music and spiritual movements like New Age.


The play of overtones not only exists in singing but also in numerous instruments such as the Jew’s harp and the gong.
Jew’s harp trio Aubergine is a triumvirate from the Netherlands that focuses on the sound of the Jew’s harp. Recently, the four-part series Souterrain Sessions was released, a unique sound document in which the three Jew’s harpists put to the test numerous combinations of differently tuned (metal) Jew’s harps from all parts of the world. Since the spring of 2008, the Jew’s harp trio compiles a marathon series of Jew’s harp improvisations that have been recorded on tape. In total 21 Souterrain Sessions have taken place that include 301 Jew’s harp improvisations. The best among them were selected and put on 4 CDs. Tonight, you will hear the second part.
The Swiss Verena Jenny only has a bronze gong at her disposal. She softly beats the gong with two kettledrum sticks thus creating a harmonious universal tone structure with an extensive overtone spectrum that has a therapeutic effect. The gong, traditionally used to scare off, or propitiate ghosts, was discovered by Jenny as a helpful instrument during meditation.

To conclude, you will hear hypnotising throat and overtone singing from Kalmykia, the only Buddhist state of Europe.

Thanks to the vocal chords of Oknat Tzagan Zam, the ancient nationalist Kalmyk epic ‘Dzhangar’ seems to be reanimated. This singer has renewed the epic genre of Kalmykia all by himself with overtone singing, a technique not formerly used in the Kalmyk genre. The recording is from circa 1999.