Harmonic Singing

What is Harmonic Singing?

Harmonic Singing (also known as overtone singing, or throat singing) is a way of singing and listening with acute attention to the natural spectrum of harmonics produced by the voice, creating a sound at once otherworldly and deeply human.

Almost unknown a quarter century ago, it has gained wider recognition as more people have heard the chanting of Tibetan Buddhist monks, the throat singers of Tuva, and the music of David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir.

As a member of Hykes' Harmonic Choir since the early days, Timothy Hill helped to pioneer the expansion of harmonic singing as an artistic discipline over the last three decades, prompting The New York Times critic Robert Palmer to praise him as "a virtuoso of the Tibetan chanting technique." Hill appears on eight recordings by David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir and has performed with them in concerts throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Far more than an exotic vocal technique, Hill believes harmonic singing can give powerful insights into the nature of harmony and the origins of human language and song. He states, "An intimate knowledge of harmonics is as indispensable for musicians as the color spectrum for visual artists, the spine for physicians or the periodic table of elements for scientists."

Hill has given workshops in harmonic singing around the US with presentations at St. Thomas Boys Choir School, Smith McNally College, The North American Choral Directors Association, and has been a visiting lecturer at New York University, Dartmouth College, and at Bard College Conservatory Graduate Vocal Program under the artistic direction of Dawn Upshaw every year since its inception in 2006.

Timothy Hill - Harmonic Spectrum

Sonogram of the first 16 harmonics sung by Timothy Hill
Image by Frizzi-Lillian Linck