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I found when I was a child that if I attempt to sing a note in a particular part of my vocal range, I can produce a chord rather than the usual single note. I can even speak in this mode. It is quite difficult to do, as the pitch that I have to aim for is quite specific, has lowered as I matured, and cannot be achieved at all if I have a respiratory infection. It also involves expelling a large volume of air quite quickly, and I can only speak a few words in this mode before having to take a breath, and the amount of air I must expel has only increased as my natural vocal range has lowered.

Does this technique/vocal mode have a name, and is it used in any vocal performances?

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  • For once I have found the french-Wikip going deeper into details about the methods than its english counterpart. So, if you can read french : fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – MC68020
    Feb 5 at 15:10

3 Answers 3

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Singing multiple notes at the same time is known as overtone singing.

The Wikipedia article on overtone singing claims that overtone singing is also called overtone chanting, harmonic singing, polyphonic overtone singing, and diphonic singing, and throat singing methods are among the most common ways to produce overtone singing, to the point that the two get confused for each other.

I don't know the exact name of your method of producing overtone singing or whether the Wikipedia article mentions it.

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  • I think it's a different mode of phonation, not overtone singing. Overtone singers sometimes use unusual modes of phonation, but it isn't necessary to do so, and it's not the defining element of overtone singing.
    – phoog
    Feb 5 at 18:27
  • @phoog - As far as I can tell, this different mode of phonation produces overtone singing results - thus my admission that I don't know what the mode's name is.
    – Dekkadeci
    Feb 5 at 21:15
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It sounds like false chords to me. I can't promise that's it, but just a guess. I would look into a bunch of techniques and see which one sounds/feels the most like what you're doing. Some ideas are Kargyraa, false chord singing, subharmonics, overtone singing, metal screaming, etc. There was some lady that could hit a very breathy, dissonant chord and she used it in jazzy stuff; I've seen at least one beat boxer use that same thing but I can't find the video. Odds are a beat boxer has found the same sound as you. Just look at those kinds of techniques and hopefully you'll find something that matches you. Good luck!

[edit]: I'd love to hear what technique this is, because it might be the sound I've been looking for.

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Nodules on your vocal chords appear at about 1/3, so some people manage to get the two sections to vibrate independently in what is close to an octave. The singer of the funk band Slickaphonics used this to great effect.

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  • Did you mean "Nodes"?
    – Edward
    Jun 3 at 23:04
  • No, actually. healthline.com/health/vocal-nodules Jun 4 at 3:49
  • So, a person with healthy vocal cords cannot use this sound?
    – Edward
    Jun 4 at 13:35
  • @Edward Sorry, I'm not a speech therapist or a vocal coach. I know that nodules can cause people to spontaneously generate octaves, and I'm guessing that Ray of Slickaphonics has something on his vocal cords that allows him to do this. Check out the start of the video and listen to his speaking voice. There is a suspicion of overtones there too. I would be surprised if someone with healthy vocal cords could do this, but I've been surprised before in my life. Jun 4 at 13:38

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