What are the following vocal techniques?

  • on the word Quantus at 0:17
  • on the word mi-rum at 0:36
  • on the word mundus at 1:30
  • on the word ju-dex at 3:14
  • on the word Et at 3:59
  • on the word O-ro at 3:12
  • on the word dona at 6:10.

I asked this question on this on the Gregorian Chant Facebook group, and one of the members thinks that what I'm hearing is reverb added to the recording! I don't think that is the case because Gregorian Chant has overtones and the men that sing Gregorian Chant are perfectly capable of producing them!

For an example of Gregorian Chant overtones, listen to Pater Noster from Gregorian Vespers in honor of Saint Vincent Pallotti (Vesperae de Confessore non Pontifice) recorded by Schola Gregoriana from Pallottine Seminary in Ołtarzew, Poland, conducted by father Dario Smolarek!

  • 3
    1) It's not a very good quality recording. 2) I don't hear those words being sung with a noticeably different technique. Can you describe what the technique sounds like to you? How do those notes sound different? What do you mean by "overtones"? Sep 28 at 23:25
  • The overtones produced in Gregorian Chant are the result of many forces working together. First, the monks usually sing in the middle range of their voices, the baritone register. In this register it is easier to produce and to hear the nominally perceptible range of the overtone series. They also make use of what is known as “singer’s formant,” or the resonant frequencies in the range of 2,000-4,000 hz; this is what gives trained singers the pleasant “buzz” when they sing. By utilizing this singer’s formant, and by singing in unison, the chanters are able to reinforce the natural harmonics,
    – Ana Maria
    Sep 28 at 23:52
  • 1
    @AnaMaria I hear no overtones in either the wikipedia recording nor the youtube recording.
    – Aaron
    Sep 29 at 0:24
  • 3
    I would say that I hear no overtones in their voices that aren't present in every trained singer's voice, along with many untrained but experienced singers. Also, I hear the same quantity and quality of overtones during the entire recording, not just on the words highlighted in the question. So I still don't understand what is different about the moments in the recording that are in question from the rest of the recording. I'm assuming it's something I can't hear or that I don't know to listen for because I don't know what change in sound you are hearing. Sep 29 at 1:00
  • 1
    Have you tried listening to this recording on a variety of headphones and/or speakers? I have found that the overtone content of some recordings, particularly of baritone voices, is highly dependent on the speaker acoustics.
    – phoog
    Sep 29 at 11:10

There are no special techniques involved in this recording. There are three noticeable traits that occur at or near the time-points mentioned:

  1. The natural reverberation of the space in which the recording was made (throughout the entire recording).
  2. The interchange between the entire ensemble and a smaller subset.
  3. Occasional vibrato.

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