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Science & Technology

Scientists solve mystery of Tuvan throat singing

By T.K. Randall
March 23, 2020 · Comment icon 7 comments

It takes a lifetime of practice to master the art of throat singing. Image Credit: YouTube / Tonio Delafuente
A unique form of singing that produces two tones simultaneously has remained an enigma for many years.
A staple of cultures across central Asia for generations, Tuvan throat singing is a unique form of song that produces dual tones through a mechanism that scientists have long struggled to fully understand.

"They can produce two different pitches, which goes against the typical way we think about how speech sounds are produced," said study lead author Christopher Bergevin.

"It was a bit of a mystery how they did it and it's something researchers have wondered about for the last two decades."

To get to the bottom of how Tuvan throat singing works, researchers recorded high-quality audio in a sound booth and used an MRI scanner to capture images of a throat singer in action.
The resulting computer reconstruction revealed two distinct parts of the vocal tract that the throat singers were able to use to produce sound, almost as though it was a musical instrument.

The key to producing two notes simultaneously seemed to lie in maintaining very precise control over the vocal tract in order to merge together multiple resonances at certain frequencies at the same time.

"The Tuvans are able to make this sound through such precise control of their vocal track that they can kind of tease these things out and create simultaneous sounds," said Bergevin.

You can check out a video of a Tuvan throat singer performing below.



Source: SciTech Daily | Comments (7)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by acute 4 years ago
I can whistle and hum the same tune at the same time, if that's any good.  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Lot of amazing stuff people can do with training ! But sure that Bigfoot is able to do that !
Comment icon #3 Posted by Stiff 4 years ago
Me too! Me too! (I just tried it) 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I also can 'whum' (whistle and hum). I cannot figure out circular breathing, though. Tuvan throat singing is amazing stuff, though. I've seen it live in a concert hall and its even more impressive then.
Comment icon #5 Posted by SpaceBumZaphod 4 years ago
I've seen videos of other performers throat singing. It's an eerie, yet beautiful form of music. Loved this video.
Comment icon #6 Posted by jbondo 4 years ago
I can stand on my head and spit quarters.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Chaldon 4 years ago
It took me about 10 years to master the kargyraa and the khoomei styles (sygyt is still a bit beyond me). It probably could take less time but I did it without a teacher (just like everything I do). Throat singing is a weird art and the hardest part is that there is no way to describe how to do it. It's just like Yoda said, 'do it or do not, there is no try'. For example, more than half of the learning time I did it the wrong way, the much harder way than it could properly be done. I mean there was a sound and it sounded good and kinda right, but the strain in the throat was way too hard to ad... [More]


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