(Note: treble frequencies! Also, some of the videos cut off abruptly--and some of them start with a slight bump. I've added timings so you know how long each piece lasts. Volumes may vary--not too much, I hope.)
I'd like to start with these two videos, narrated by David Attenborough--but lots of time given over to the...non human voices of:
Humpback Whale (2:24)
The Most Amazing Birdsong (2:40)
Okay, what about the human voice?
Human voice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The sound of each individual's voice is entirely unique not only because of the actual shape and size of an individual's vocal cords but also due to the size and shape of the rest of that person's body. Humans have vocal folds which can loosen, tighten, or change their thickness, and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of chest and neck, the position of the tongue, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in pitch, volume, timbre, or tone of the sound produced. Sound also resonates within different parts of the body, and an individual's size and bone structure can affect the sound produced by an individual.
And, in particular, what about the human singing voice?
Well...where to start?
A Native American song (2:19)
Huun Huur Tu at Philadelphia Folk Festival, August 2006 (3:33)
The human voice...in an open space and no...noise to distract my attention from...those strange sounds.
Overtone singing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The best-known of the traditional forms comes from Tuva, a small autonomous republic within the Russian Federation. The history of Tuvan throat singing reaches too far back for anyone alive to accurately discern. Among the Tuvans, throat singing is taught formally at the Tuvan School Of Art, but it also comes naturally to them and is picked up like a language. Many of the male herders can throat sing, and women are beginning to practice the technique as well. The popularity of throat singing among Tuvans seems to have arisen as a result of geographic location and culture. The open landscape of Tuva allows for the sounds to carry a great distance. Ethnomusicologists studying throat singing in these areas mark khoomei as an integral part in the ancient pastoral animism that is still practiced today.
The animistic world view of this region identifies the spirituality of objects in nature, not just in their shape or location, but in their sound as well. Thus, human mimicry of nature's sounds is seen as the root of throat singing. (An example is the Mongolian story of the waterfall above the Buyan Gol (Deer River), where mysterious harmonic sounds are said to have attracted deer to bask in the waters, and where it is said harmonic sounds were first revealed to people.) Indeed, the cultures in this part of Asia have developed many instruments and techniques to mimic the sounds of animals, wind, and water.
Add a bagpipe, a low keyboard drone, and...a singing competition called Music Idol:
Music Idol Bulgaria - The Winner: Nevena (3:56)
Okay, this is where I wanted to start, and here we are.
Humans have a wide vocal range. Nevena can hit the high notes, but...what about the bass?
Paul Robeson - Ol' Man River (1928) [3:54]
From Nevena to Paul Robeson--quite a range!
All of the above singers (including the whales and the lyre bird) create sounds which are not just similar to others of their species (and gender) but also--unique!
Vocal resonation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Vocal resonation is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air. Various terms related to the resonation process include amplification, enrichment, enlargement, improvement, intensification, and prolongation, although in strictly scientific usage acoustic authorities would question most of them. The main point to be drawn from these terms by a singer or speaker is that the end result of resonation is, or should be, to make a better sound.
A better sound. Hmmm. Here's someone with an easily recognisable vocal resonance. "Like glue and sandpaper" is the description I remember. This is from his pre-electric days:
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol (3:27)
Once you have individual resonance...your own unique sound...people will listen--and if you're singing words they'll listen to what you say.
But what if I don't understand the words?
And what if I can't even hear the...sounds?
Sound of India
Now, as an example, take a sound (or tone) having a frequency of 100 Hz. Another sound, having twice the frequency, that is, 200 Hz, will sound the same. But it will sound 'higher'. The frequency ratio 200:100, which is 2:1, represents what is called an octave. The number of sounds that the human ear can hear, in an octave, is infinite. But the number of sounds that it can discern, differentiate, or grasp, is 22. They are called shruti-s (microtones). Shruti has been variously translated as: microtone, microtonic interval, interval, step etc. It is mainly determined through fine auditory perception
The shrutis are those notes that make indian (and arabic, and many other styles of) music particular to the western pop-habituated ear.
Lata Mangeshkar: Wada Na Tod (Don't break your promise) [5:54]
Solo voices are great, and since the advent of the microphone they have come to the fore. But...historically there was group singing, maybe with a leader at times, to get things going, but it was the group effect that was important (there is a theory that singing started as a way of letting the wild cats and other tribes know that our tribe was united--the power of voices singing together--)
strati na angelaki doumasche (2:55)
Okay. These diaries are experiments. I'm hoping to be able to produce one each Wednesday. Here's a link to Part 1. I hope you enjoyed this one, and don't forget: my hope is that you will participate by adding a video following the week's theme, only one video per comment (my reasoning is that a single video will draw attention to itself, while a great video in with a bunch of other (no doubt great!) videos might get lost--he types...having filled a diary with videos...)
Maybe write a few words about why you've chosen the particular clip--but if the music makes its point, no words necessary!