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An Introduction to Extended Vocal Techniques: Some

Compositional Aspects and Performance Problems1


http://www.ex-tempore.org/kavash/kavash.htm
Deborah Kavasch
A vocal sonic vocabulary is developing in Western art music which
includes and extends beyond traditional Western art music phonation, the basic
voice production associated with opera and recital singing. Contemporary vocal
writing includes sounds which previously were seldom or never heard in musical
contexts. Some of these sounds or techniques occur in other musical cultures while
others have arisen through the research and experimentation undertaken by certain
contemporary vocalists.
This paper discusses selected "extended vocal techniques" in the context of
specific compositional uses and related performance problems and relates
specifically to the vocabulary of vocal techniques and sounds developed by the
Extended Vocal Techniques Ensemble (EVTE) of San Diego, California. The
descriptive, subjective terminology developed by EVTE for its vocabulary of
techniques is used in this paper since precise definitions have not yet been
developed for most of the techniques. The ensemble recorded a Lexicon of
Extended Vocal Techniques in 1974 and the expanded index of this Lexicon 2 ,
prepared by Linda Vickerman of EVTE, has aided in explaining some of the
techniques discussed in this paper.
The five techniques chosen for discussion include "reinforced harmonics,"
" ululation," vocal fry," "chant," and ""complex multiphonics." They represent those
techniques which: 1) can be learned most quickly; 2) have been used most
extensively in compositions written for EVTE; and 3) are basic techniques which
can be applied to- many sounds and/or from which distinctive variations can be
produced.
Although improvisation can provide a basic musical context for new sounds
and, indeed, was the first performance vehicle for these techniques used by
EVTE, compositional demands offer the vocalist new performance dimensions. As
EVTE members became more proficient with these sounds, composers wrote
works specifically for the ensemble. Musical examples taken largely from these
compositions are cited and discussed in the paper and a tape recording of these
examples accompanies the paper. By presenting practical instances of certain
extended vocal techniques, the paper addresses interested com posers, singers
and others, and illustrates and suggests some effective uses, limitations, and possibilities
of these techniques.
Harmonics present in a sung tone can be individually reinforced or
amplified and perceived as discrete pitches (sounding like whistles) as tongue
and/or lip action changes the shape of the vocal tract. The sung fundamental is
produced using Western art music phonation, usually without vibrato so that the

harmonics nasalization, which tends to filter out the fundamental and focuses greater
attention on the harmonics.
The examples discussed below demonstrate harmonics reinforced over
either a single pitch or a continuously changing fundamental. One or more
harmonics may be individually reinforced over a single pitch, both ad libitum and
as a designated, specific harmonic. The vocalist's skill may even allow the
composer to write a melody with the harmonics. A rapid movement through a
series of harmonics will probably shift the listener's attention to timbral changes
rather than recognition of specific pitches. A shimmering effect may result from
rapid oscillation between two adjacent harmonics (see below).
Improvisation over a unison fundamental pitch represents one musical
context for reinforced harmonics. Early improvisations done by the Extended
Vocal Techniques Ensemble during rehearsal sessions were frequently
structured in the following manner: A single pitch comfortable for both men and
women was chosen, usually F# (184 Hz) 3 or G (196 Hz) below middle C (261 Hz),
and sustained without break by staggered breathing. An approximate duration was
set, perhaps 5-10 minutes, during which an emphasis first on the lower harmonics
was to gradually progress to the inclusion of higher harmonic reinforcement
within a specified dynamic structure of perhaps soft to loud. Tape recordings of a
number of these early sessions are filed in the archive of the Center for
Music Experiment at the University of California, San Diego.
The first notated composition written for EVTE, The Owl and the
Pussycat by Deborah Kavasch, includes an improvisatory section on a unison G
(196 Hz) built on the last word of the text, " moon." The score (Figure 1) indicates
that only those harmonics in a fifth or octave relationship to the fundamental are
to be reinforced at first: others can be reinforced later. The instruction "Create a
dancing texture, active" is made possible by including several techniques in
combination with or as a variation of the basic individual harmonic reinforcement.
The "dancing" characteristics arise principally from those tec hniques which
rapidly change the pitches of the harmonics or which interrupt or alter
the fundamental and harmonics. The term "glissandi" refers to ascending or
descending sweeps through a series of harmonics. An oscillation between
harmonics, which is subsequently referred to as " harmonic oscillation," results
from a backward and forward movement of the tongue and is quite effective when
produced rapidly between two harmonics. If the fundamental pitch is low, two
high adjacent harmonics are easily oscillated: if the fundamental is high, two low
adjacent harmonics respond well. Oscillation of the funda mental, similar to
vibrato, changes the pitch of the fundamental at regular or varying speeds,
causing the reinforced harmonic to change pitch at the same rate. The
rapid, repeated note effect of ululation (see III. Ululation) rather evenly and
quickly interrupts the fundamental, these pulsations help emphasize the
harmonics as well. When another voice adds a fundamental pitch one octave
higher than the original fundamental, it generates a new but closely related series
of harmonics which increases the complexity of the texture'4 (Tape Example 1).

Figure 1: Reinforced harmonics in The Owl and the Pussycat by


Deborah Kavasch (Tape Example 1)

Another use of reinforced harmonics over a drone appears in Sweet


Talk by Deborah Kavasch. In one section the harmonics are specifically those
which result from a slow glide through the vowel sounds of the syllable "beau" (as
in "beautiful" ), i.e. a slow glide between [ i ] and [ u ] 5. The duration and dynamics of
each entrance are notated, showing specific breathing points (rests) and definite,
perceivable entrances (Tape Example 2). Although a drone results from the
continual overlapping of entrances, the whole is not perceived as a smooth,
unbroken fundamental as in the previous example.
One further example involving harmonics reinforced over a single pitch
drone illustrates a slightly different usage involving different rates of change in
harmonics generated from similar texts. In the opening section of
Deborah Kavasch's Requiem. (Tape Example 3), the upper three taped voices sing
one syllable per measure (B 247 Hz); the upper three live voices sing the same
text on the same pitch at one syllable per two measures. Har monics appropriate

to each vowel are reinforced without vibrato. This emphasis of a par ticular
harmonic determined by the specified vowel aids in tuning the unison and
provides a type of countermelody to the drone, in this instance two
countermelodies. Amplification with microphones for each vocalist aids in projecting the
harmonics.
Nasalized, reinforced harmonics ad libitum on specific pitches provide a
striking beginning to Edwin London's Psalm. of These Days II (Tape Example 4).
The intelligibility of the word "Lord" varies due to the changing harmonics as well
as its long duration (threemeasures). Although the initial unison D# (311 Hz)
expands to a four-note chord spanning a minor seventh, the fundamental pitches
together with their harmonics of the " r" in "Lord" are still close enough to create a
rather dense texture. Compare this with a later example of reinforced harmonics
on the same word, in which the fundamental pitches are spread over approximately a
two and one-half octave range (Tape Example 5).
Both nasalized and non-nasalized harmonics are reinforced over slowly
gliding fundamental pitches against a background of computer-generated tape
sounds in Joji Yuasa's My Blue Sky in Southern California (Tape Example 6). The
fundamental pitch is chosen at random by the vocalist and gradually ascends or
descends as indicated in the graphic score. Unusual effects are achieved by pitch
changes in both the fundamental and harmonics which may move at varying rates
in similar or opposite directions to each other. In order to be easily heard in this
very loud and dense section, the vocalists tend to choose and nasalize the higher
harmonics (towards UP, creating a rather buzzy, piercing quality in the long pitch
glides.
In another section of the same composition, the oscillation between several
pairs of low harmonics of a rather high fundamental (approximately A 880 Hz) is
heard against a sparse background of very soft clicks and other similar
short, nonpitched sounds (TapeExample 7). The higher the fundamental, the more
difficult it becomes to reinforce its highest harmonics. In this instance, the
oscillations occur between various combinations of the first three or four
harmonics (including the fundamental), which may acocunt for the pulsating
whistle effect during part of the example. Oscillations between low harmonics (of
a high or low fundamental) may also be more striking because of the greater
intervallic distance between the pitches of the lower harmonics. For example, the
oscillation between the (1) fundamental (or first harmonic) and second harmonic
covers one octave; (2) second and third harmonics covers a fifth; (3) third and
fourth harmonics covers a fourth; (4) fourth and fifth harmonics covers a major third,
and so on, the distance always smaller.
At one point in Deborah Kavasch's Tintinnabulation, harmonic oscillations
occur simultaneously in several voices. The fundamental pitches are each a half
step apart (F 350 Hz, F# 370 Hz, and G 392 Hz) with the harmonic oscillations of
each pitch determined by the same [ill] vowel alternation (Figure 2). Such a close
pitch combination results in an overall pulsating or shimmering effect rather than
the perception of individual harmonics (Tape Example 8).

Figure 2: Harmonic oscillations in Tintinnabulation by Deborah Kavasch

A vocalist's increased skill and accuracy in reinforcing harmonics allows the


corn-poser to specify more particular uses. Simple melodies are possible, especially
when using the lower three to three and one-half octaves of harmonics (first
seven to twelve harmonics). Novices can quickly learn to reinforce the melody of the
traditional bugle call, "Taps," which uses a one-octave span of harmonics, specifying
the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth harmonics. The lower three octaves of harmonics
are more favorable for writing melodies based on reinforced harmonics because
it is easier to distinguish between the lower harmonics than between those which
are less than the interval of a second or thirdapart. Generally, the lower the
fundamental the more harmonics can be reinforced with clarity. If the fundamental

is too low, however, the lowest harmonics become difficult or impossible to


reinforce. Although this varies with the individual voice, a comfortable lower
limit for a fundamental pitch within which the vocalist, male or female, can
clearly reinforce the lowest harmonics can be set at approximately F 175 Hz
(below middle C). Fundamental pitches lower than this arbitrary point
are increasingly more favorable for the discriminatory reinforcement of higher
harmonics, particularly those in the third and fourth octaves above the fundamental.
A melody formed by specified reinforced harmonics appears in the
second "Hosanna" of the Kavasch Requiem. (Tape Example 9). Against a
taped background of four voices singing for the most part in octave F#'s (185
and 370 Hz; note that a strong C#1108.5 Hz is generated by the [a] vowel), the
vocalists form melodic phrases using certain of the lowest seven harmonics of
three F#'s(92.3, 185, and 370 Hz) and two C#s (138.5 and 277 Hz). The score
shows regular noteheads (stems down) for the sung fundamentals and diamondshaped noteheads (stems up) for the harmonics. For greater clarity and reliability,
the melody of harmonics is always carried by at least two voices; all voices are
amplified with microphones. The use of voices on tape singing a slowly paced
text to a very simple harmonic structure provides pitch stability and avoids
interference with the audibility of the harmonics produced by the live
performers but helps to mask vowels resulting from reinforcing the specified
harmonics of the live portion (which do not form intelligible words). The
harmonics form a melody quite similar to that which is sung in the first
"Hosanna" and should, by association, be more easily recognized or perceived
by the listener than a new melody would be.
Reinforced harmonics is one of the few techniques which does not always,
or even most often, require individual or general microphone amplification.
Especially when reinforced over a drone, the harmonics are often perceived as
non-directional, filling the entirespace as though surrounding the listener. The
fundamental, however, is usually directional and perceived as originating in one
particular spot. Amplification is recommended when the harmonics must be heard
above a very loud or dense texture, or for better pro jection of specific melodic
passages.
Ululation
The technique of ululation is perceived as a rapid, relatively even
interruption of the basic sound. It is articulated by aspiration (puffs of air or
"his") or glottal stops and can be applied to virtually any sound, voiced or
unvoiced. Children often ululate a loud, nasal sound to imitate the firing of machine
guns or the bleating of sheep.
Several forms of ululation are discussed below: (1) ululation of a single
pitch or series of pitches; (2) nonpitched ululation, or an ululated whisper; (3)
ululated glottal clicks, referred to as "glottal whisper;" and (4) cross-register
ululations, i.e., a very rapid alternation of two pitches produced by a rather loud
ululation in the area of a natural register break.

The opening section of The Owl and the Pussycat, preceding the
narrator's first entrance, builds a gradually thickening texture of soft ululations.
The score (Figure 3) indicates the progression of time in minutes and seconds
and shows a graphic outline of approximate pitch levels and directions. Each box
represents from top to bottom the high to low pitch range of the individual
vocalist. The taped example (Tape Example 10) demon strates the effect of
several voices softly ululating an aspirated [u] in relatively low pitch ranges. The next
example (Tape Example 11) includes ululation of some of the vowels and
consonants of the word "pussycat." Appropriate vowels and consonants are
deliberately aligned with similar ones in the narrator's text. Ululations can be
used not only with short or long passages of a single vowel or to extend and
color individual words but to articulate melodic phrases as well. The vocalists
ululate several short melodic fragments set to the words, "0 lovely Pussy," "0
Pussy, my love," and " What a lovely Pussy you are." This 90-second section
gradually expands in total pitch range and density, and ends with a sudden shift
from soft to loud ululations. The taped example (Tape Example 12) is excerpted
from the first part of the section.

Figure 3: Ululations in The Owl and the Pussycat (Tape Example 10)

Ululation of an unvoiced whisper is used in the "Lacrymosa dies illa"


section of Requiem. In this section the unvoiced sounds are divided into four
categories: (1) a straight or uninterrupted whisper; (2) measured (sixteenth-note)
pulsations or aspirations of a whisper; (3) ululations of a whisper, which are faster
than the pulsations and result in an almost shivering sound; and (4) measured or
unmeasured "glottal whisper," a term which refers to a rapid series and/or

ululation of glottal clicks. The ululated whispers attempt to support the imagery
suggested by the text (" A day of tears is that day" ) (Tape Example 13).
The latter part of Example 13 includes a soft ululation of two alternating
pitches. This sound may be related to the production of a glottal whisper to
which voice is added. Although it can be produced throughout most of
the egressive singing range, it is usually referred to as a cross-register ululation.
This type of ululation usually settles into the interval of a third and is most easily
produced on the vowels [i] and [u]. Because it is not as reliable as the simple
ululation or the louder cross-register ululation, it should be allowed a certain
amount of preparation time. It is least tiring in the lower female
range (approximately middle C to C 526 Hz). (As is true of certain variations of
theEVTE's techniques, the soft cross-register ululation has been perfected by only
one member of the ensemble and is probably less likely to be produced by a majority of
vocalists.)
A more extended use of the soft cross-register ululation appears in
Roger Reynold's A Merciful Coincidence. In Tape Example 14, the ululations cover
a wide pitch range and appear as background material near the end of the piece.
The designation "soft" in the term "soft cross-register ululation" refers more to the
physical sensation of the vocalist in producing the pulsation, or interruption of the
sound, than to the actual dynamic level. In this example the higher ululations
become much louder but are still softer than a regular cross-register ululation at a
comparable pitch level.
The term "cross-register ululation" refers to an ululation produced in the
area of a natural register break 6 . It results in a rapid alternation of two pitches,
which creates the illusion of two pitches ululated simultaneously. The intervallic
distance between the two pitches varies with the individual vocalist but
usually falls into one of two categories. The first category emphasizes narrow
intervals, i.e., approximately a minor second to a fifth. The intervallic distance
can be controlled so that either one specified interval or a continuous glissando
from narrowest to widest interval (or vice versa) can be produced. The glissando
appears to be most easily produced by the upper pitch, which moves towards
or away from the stationary lower pitch.' This glissando of one of the pitches
is best controlled in the register break around middle C. The second category
emphasizes wide intervals, i.e., approximately a sixth to an octave or ninth. There
does not seem to be the same degree of intervallic control possible in the wider
cross-register ululation, which generally locks into one interval. This type usually occurs
in either the male or female voice around the middle C register break area. Either
type of cross-register ululation may occur in male or female voices but both types do
not generally occur in one voice.
Cross-register ululation, as described above, requires more energy than
simple ululation and is necessarily rather loud. It sounds particularly loud in the
male voice since the first register break at which it can be produced includes
pitches fairly high in the male chest voice range. For the same reason, crossregister ululations in the female voice around the second register break area are
usually extremely loud.Ululations crossing into the whistle stop area, however, are
often much softer. Those cross-register ululations which occur higher in the voice
are usually more tiring than the lower ones and should be used with consideration.

Both simple and cross-register ululations enhance the text of


the " quantus tremor..." ("how great a quaking..." ) section ofRequiem. A total of
eight voices produces the effect of many more, an effect due both to the
pulsations and to the extra number of pitches generated by crossing registers, i.e.,
alternating two pitches (Tape Example 15). A later example (Tape Example 16,
Figure 4) combines several other techniques with cross-register ulula tions which
are indicated by a general pitch level and which end in a quick upward glis sando.

Figure 4: Cross-register ululations combined with other extended vocal techniques


in Requiem by Deborah Kavasch (Tape Example 16)

Ululations form a major portion of Tintinnabulation. The last section


emphasizes high cross-register ululations alone and in combination with high,
wide vibrati and trills on glockenspiel bars (Tape Example 17).
Tape Example 14 (from Reynold's A Merciful Coincidence), cited
previously to illustrate soft cross-register ululations, also provides an example of a
loud cross-register ululation. Although the vocalist is probably not crossing
registers at all times during the ascent, the overlap of registers seems to be
greatly expanded with an overall effect of a continuous glissando of alternating
pitches.
Vocal Fry
Vocal fry is perceived as dry, clicklike pulses and is often used to imitate
the opening of a creaky door (hence, another common designation as "
creaky voice"). The pulse rate of vocal fry can be controlled to produce a range
from very slow individual clicks to a stream of clicks so fast that it is heard as a
discrete pitch. It can be produced both egressively (exhaling)
and ingressively (inhaling). The individual vocalist may find one mode easier to
control than the other in terms of such parameters as pulse rate, dynamics, and
pitch. The term "pitch," as used here in relation to vocal fry, refers to the range of
perceived pitches rather than to any implication regarding the mode of
phonation. Egressive and ingressive vocal fry can greatly expand the practical pitch range
(singing and - speaking) of the individual vocalist, male or female.
Egressive vocal fry can be controlled to merge with and extend
downwards the lowest part of the egressive singing range. It allows the same
degree of pulse rate control as ingressive vocal fry but does not appear to
produce individual pitches or pulses as loudly. Microphone amplification is
usually necessary to project both modes of vocal fry. An attempt to produce
ingressive vocal fry very loudly can result in dryness in the throat or coughing.
Ingressive vocal fry can produce very stable pitches, i.e., pitches which can
be sustained with little or no wavering, in the area of E 41 Hz to C# 69 Hz in
both male and female voices. Words are easily articulated in this range, as well
as in higher ranges, although many of the consonants must be
performed egressively for greater clarity or to avoid a lisping effect. As
ingressive pitched vocal fry rises in pitch range, it
gradually resembles egressive singing, especially above the area of middle C,
where it seems to lose any resemblance to the click-likequality of the lower pitches or
individual pulses. This area can be controlled in terms of pitch, duration, vibrato, and
dynamics (although not as reliably as a comparable egressive range) and is
particularly useful in producing very soft, high pitches (area above B 967 Hz).
Ingressive phonation in the range above middle C has greater practical value in

producing more unusual sounds such as complex multiphonics (see


VI.Complex Multiphonics). Pitched ingressive vocal fry in the area between
approximately D 73 Hz and middle C seems to be the least practical for individual
pitch control or other more specific uses, although speech in this range may acquire an
unusual timbre.
Ingressive vocal fry (or low ingressive speech) is the mode of voice
production used by the narrator in The Owl and the Pussycat.Tape Example 11
(see III. Ululation) demonstrates the resultant voice quality and illustrates the
possibility of wide speech inflections. Later in the piece, all the vocalists are
required to speak a short phrase ingressively, the group as a whole covering a wide
pitch range from low to high (Tape Example 18).
Specific low pitches are produced by ingressive vocal fry in long
passages of the "Dies irae" ("Day of wrath" ) section of Requiem. Thebuzzy quality
of the ingressive pitch B 61 Hz, combined with the characteristics of the other
techniques, seemed to the composer particularly appropriate to the mood
suggested by the text (Tape Example 19). The ingressive pitched vocal fry
which doubles the lower note of the octave chanted (see V. Chant) by another
vocalist is more reliable than the chant and insures that the low B will always
be present.
One instance of ingressive vocal fry in John Celona's MicroMacro demonstrates an unusually accurate imitation of the taped computergenerated sweep of harmonics on the pitch Db 69 Hz. In accordance with the
instructions to blend with and imitate the tape, the vocalist sustains the same Db
and reinforces harmonics in a wide ascending and descending sweep (Tape Example
20), creating a timbre very similar to the taped pitch. A short excerpt from the
"Libera animas" (" Deliver the souls" ) section of Requiem requires fast pitch
and text changes of low ingressive pitched vocal fry in the lowest voice to create
an organ pedal effect (Tape Example 21).
Loud, nonpitched vocal fry begins the "Rex tremendae majestatis" ("King
of fearful majesty" ) section of Requiem (Tape Example 22). The unison rhythm of
the taped voices is answered in unison by the live voices, both at a fortissimo
level made possible through close-miked amplification. Immediately preceding
this section, a very different effect is created through a single voice producing a
softer, slower vocal fry against a background of sparse whispers (Tape Example 23).
Very slow, individually pulsed nonpitched vocal fry forms the basis for
text articulation in Roger Reynolds' Still (Tape Example 24). Syllables and
words are formed and gradually perceived over long, fairly even pulse
streams. The eerieness of inflected but unvoiced, pulsating words is often
increased by overlaid whispers and by the air sounds between pulses of the
vocalist's slowly indrawn breath. A slightly different example of nonpitched,
individually pulsed vocal fry from the middle of David Evan Jones' Pastoral (Tape
Example 25) demonstrates an interplay of varying pulse speeds between live
and taped voices.
Chant

The term " chant" refers to one technique of singing an


octave multiphonic, i.e., one voice producing simultaneously two pitches one
octave apart. Low-pitched chant (the lower pitch in the area of B 61 Hz to D 73
Hz) resembles chant used in certain Tibetan TantricBhuddist schools. This
Tibetan chant sounds like a three-note chord because of a strong reinforced
harmonic above the octave multiphonic. When chant is produced with higher
pitches, the harmonic content is less noticeable and the sound is thinner
and buzzier. The vocalist's physical sensation of chant may be described as a
light singing tone combined with vocal fry. The sung tone is the upper pitch of the
octave, and the vocal fryseems to lock into place with it to produce the lower pitch.
This rather delicate process renders the chant less reliable than other
techniques; the least amount of phlegm may necessitate considerable clearing
of the throat to produce a clear, unbroken, resonant sound. In some instances, a
loud sung tone preceding a chanted octave seems to prepare the vocalist in the same
way that clearing the throat would remove a mucus obstruction. One example of this
occurs at the end of Psalm of These Days II (Tape Example 26). The vocalist
generally has little or no trouble chanting a C (130 plus 65 Hz) after several
seconds' rest following a quadruple forte Bb 233 Hz. In this example the original
notation showed only a low C (65 Hz). The. vocalist could not produce this
note in his normal singing range and chose chant as the technique which would
produce a C 65 Hz that would blend best with the other pitches. Chant is used
effectively by both men and women to produce pitches lower than those in the normal
singing range.
Chant seems to require an extremely steady airflow to maintain a
smooth, unwavering tone. It is best produced with straight tone. The addition of
vibrato, which alters pitch and/or intensity, or ululations, which regularly
interrupt the airflow, might upset the delicate balance of whatever vocal
adjustment produces the chant. Fast pitch changes are less dependable than
long or repeated notes and may result in the loss of the lower chanted pitch.
One or more of the following suggestions may insure a reliable chant
production at a specific point in a composition. The chant may be: (1)
prerecorded on tape; (2) performed by several vocalists simultaneously; or (3)
used in combination with other techniques which would double the pitches of
the chant. The lower chanted pitch is usually the first to disappear, leaving a weak
or unsteady upper pitch.
The opening of Requiem uses chant to highlight certain portions of the
text. A solo voice on prerecorded tape provides a reliable basis for the live
soloist to double selected words with chant. Refer to Tape Example 3, in which
the soloist chants with the tapeon the words "Domine" and "Deus in Sion," as
well as the entire last sentence (Tape Example 27).
The "Dies irae" section of Requiem begins with chant and pitched
ingressive vocal fry combined on tape (refer to Tape Example19). The texture
gradually thickens with additional taped voices chanting on higher pitches
(each F# and B up to B 493 Hz). Some chanted pitches are doubled
with egressive singing or ingressive pitched vocal fry; the live voices use either
chant or vocal fry on the lowest pitches. Tape Example 28 provides a
short excerpt from the most dense part of the section.

Nonpitched chant combined with vocal fry and glottal whispers produces
a quite different total sound. These techniques are combined in both live and
taped voices in Requiem (Tape Example 29), using the words
"dona eis requiem. Amen" at the end of the " lacrymosa" section.
Low chant, even when soft, is generally quite resonant and full. This
may explain in part why it can effectively produce a settled feeling or
a cadential sense of resting point or arrival. Isolated examples of
this cadential quality appear at the end of Psalm of These Days II on the last
syllable of " forever" (refer to Tape Example 26) and on the word "sleep"
in Pastoral (Tape Example 30). A more extended use of chant to produce the
sense of a strong final cadence appears in the continual overlapping of live and
taped voices chanting a low B (123 plus 61 Hz) in the last section of Requiem (Tape
Example 31).
Two instances of chant in Psalm of These Days II illustrate a sudden
shift in several parameters when chant immediately follows normal sung tones
without vibrato. In both examples (Tape Example 32, 33) pitches become much
lower and dynamics much softer, and there is an obvious timbral shift to a
thinner, buzzier quality. Even though three of the four voices in the first example
drop only one pitch, the addition of the lower octave suggests a large intervallic
leap. The pitch shift in the second example is much more extreme, the distance in each
voice covering two to three octaves. In both instances, the sudden dynamic reduction
is a function of the chant technique, especially since only gen eral rather than
individual microphone amplification is used.
Chant functions as an ornament to the word "my" in Psalm of These
Days 11 (Tape Example 34). In this instance, the instructions for two of the four
voices indicate "multi-phonic chant on and off." Each voice sustains one pitch
with several similar ornamental figures of rapid pitch changes resembling a trill,
the chant adding a lower octave at random.
Complex Multiphonics
The term "complex multiphonics" rather loosely designates a cluster of
sounds produced egressively or ingressively by one voice. The cluster may
be perceived as a number of non-intervallically related pitches resembling noise
or as a complex mixture of vocal fry with other sounds or pitches. The total
mixture can cover a narrow or wide band of sound at various general pitch
levels (low, medium, high) as well as on and around specific, perceivable
pitches. Complex multiphonics vary greatly among individual vocalists but are
fairly consistent for each individual. Those which are most reliable for the
individual vocalist can generally be reproduced with a similar degree of
complexity at approximately the same pitch levels.
The major difference between complex egressive and
ingressive multiphonics lies in the amount of air used to produce them.
Theegressive version, referred to as " forced blown" by EVTE, requires a large
amount of air, is usually fairly loud, and can be sus tained for a short time only.
Although it is possible to produce complex ingressive multi- phonics with a large

amount of air, this yields a gasping sound and may lead to coughing or choking.
However, if a very small amount of air is gradually drawn in, very
complex multiphonics can be sustained for a much longer time (one long breath).
The physical sensation is similar to ingressive vocal fry. Both types
of multiphonicsare best amplified with microphones to avoid undue strain on
the vocalist in an attempt to make them louder. Both ingressive
andegressive multiphonics tend to tire the voice more quickly than other
techniques and should be used carefully.
A short burst of multiphonics supports the climax of a middle section
of Requiem at the words " confutatis maledictis, flammis accribusaddictis" (when
sentence is passed on the damned and all are sent to piercing flames" ). The
upper two of four taped voices hold a long, high ingressive multiphonic while the
lower two have several repeated lower egressive bursts (refer to Tape Example
16). The combination ofthese multiphonics with high whistles, vocal fry, and
cross-register ululations creates a complex texture covering a
wide, approximate pitch range. In a much longer section in Still (Tape Example
35), the illusion of a light wind gradually developing to hurricane proportions is
achieved through various combinations of whistles, high ingressive pitches, and
complex multiphonics.
Since complex multiphonics do not always "speak" immediately, it is
wise to allow for some preparation. Several possible types of preparation may
include: (1) using other loud or complex sounds to cover the entrance of
the multiphonic; (2) instructing the vocalist with the most reliable multiphonic to
enter first if several voices are to produce multiphonics; (3) preceding
the multiphonic with a sound from which it is relatively easy to build
the multiphonic. One example of the last suggestion occurs in Requiem in
the "Rex tremendaemajestatis" section (Tape Example 36). In both taped and
live parts, vocal fry is followed by high, complex multiphonics. The physical
sensation in producing both techniques is somewhat similar, and one seems to
follow the other quite easily. The long sustainedmultiphonic on "salva me" near
the end of the example is prepared by the shorter preceding multiphonics in the
same voice and its entrance is covered by multiphonics in other voices.
A more extended example (Tape Example 37) of
complex multiphonics set to a text occurs towards the end of A Merciful
Coincidence. The overlapping of most of the entrances helps mask any
awkward beginning and allows each multiphonic to grow out of the preceding one.
Complex multiphonics can also effectively contrast with, or punctuate,
single pitches. In one section of A Merciful Coincidence, the three vocalists, in
various overlapping combinations, articulate the text over a sustained, nonvibrated, rather piercing C (523 Hz). Specified consonants are "barked," resulting
in a multiphonic which briefly interrupts the sustained tone (Tape Example 38). A
similar example occurs later in the piece (Tape Example 39). The text is
articulated on a single pitch E, 659 Hz. Each word is short, loud, and further
resonated by a piano sound board which exaggerates the contrast between
the straight tones and multiphonics.
Conclusion

The musical examples and explanations of selected extended vocal


techniques included in this paper are intended to give composers and singers some
idea of the practical uses and limitations of a number of very different sounds
which previously have seldombeen used in vocal writing in Western art music.
Although the techniques descussed belong specifically to the sound vocabulary
of the Extended Vocal Techniques Ensemble of San Diego, California, they are
not limited to this group of vocalists. The EVTE has given a number of workshops
in the United States and Europe and has discovered that most of the techniques
are quickly, if less skillfully,reproduced by persons hearing them for the first time.
The most readily accessible of the five technique discussed in this paper
arereinforced harmonics, ululations (single pitch), and vocal fry.
Complex multiphonics and chant generally take much longer to learn to control,
although the basic mechanism involved may be imitated or understood from
the first attempt. Singers and others who try to reproduce these techniques
without supervision, especially those techniques which involve loud and/or
complex sounds, are urged to exercise care. One may involve unneces sary
muscles which could cause tension or strain when first experimenting with the
sounds and continuous attempts may overtire the voice. Sensible pacing of the
voice is necessary with both "normal" singing and extended vocal techniques.
They are quite compatible and extended techniques can be even more effective in
the context of the normal sung tone than if totally isolated.
Microphone amplification is a necessary component of extended vocal
techniques performance. Individual amplification (a microphone for each vocalist)
is preferable and usually essential. Certain techniques require delicately
balanced vocal production or are inherently quite soft. These sounds cannot , be
projected without strain and often lose their essential characteristics if pushed.
The vocalist must develop skill in moving close to or away from the microphone
for appropriate techniques and dynamic specifications. Close-miking requires
proper care to avoid " popping" or " blowing" the microphone, ampli fying
extraneous air sounds (including air escaping through the nose), or exploding
consonants (especially egressive consonants with ingressive vowels).
Composers should remember that close-mikingrequires recurring head motion
to breath off-microphone. Theatrical gestures or deliberate lack of motion should be
planned accordingly.
The use of prerecorded tape offers several possibilities, for example,
taped nonvocal sounds can provide a musical context for live vocal sounds. Due
to the rich variety of sounds available through extended vocal techniques such as
those discussed in this paper, the composer may wish to work with vocal sounds
only. Techniques which are less reliable in realtime performance can be put on
tape with the assurance that they will appear at the appropriate moment in the
composition. Prerecorded tape can provide the opportunity for more voice parts to
occur simultaneously than are available with the number of live performers (this is
especially useful when the number of available vocalists who have perfected
certain techniques is limited). Complex mixtures of sounds are possible on
tape whereas they may be impossible with live performers.
Notation of these techniques has not been standardized. In many instances,
verbal instructions added to a graphic or traditionally notated score are quite
adequate. Certain stringed instrument notation might be adapted for similar vocal

techniques: specific vocal harmonics may be indicated by diamondshaped noteheads; ululations may be indicated by the notation for tremolo. When
long melodic passages are produced with reinforced har monics, separate staves
for the fundamental pitches and harmonics might be useful. The composer must
decide what form of notation is most accurate and meaningful to the per former.
The extended vocal techniques chosen for discussion in this paper
represent only a portion of EVTE's sound vocabulary, which in turn represents
only part of an undefined limit of .vocal sounds. Through the work of vocalists
such as the members of the EVTE, a colorful and extensive vocabulary of reliably
and consistently reproducible sounds is made available to other vocalists and
composers interested in expanding traditional vocal boundaries.

List of References
Celona, John Anthony. 1975. Micro-Macro (computer generated tape and voices.
Unpublished.
Jones, David Evan. 1977. Pastoral (voice and prerecorded tape). Unpublished.
Kavasch, Deborah. 1980. The Owl and the Pussycat (seven voices),
Editions Reimers, Stockholm.
1976. Tintinnabulation (three voices and glockenspiel).
Unpublished.
1977. Sweet Talk (women's chorus). Unpublished.
1978. Requiem (four voices and prerecorded tape). Unpublished.
London, Edwin. 1977. Psalm of These Days II (four voices). Unpublished.
Reynolds, Roger. 1976. Voicespace: I. Still II. A Merciful Coincidence (taped
voices), C. F. Peters Corp., New York, NY..
Yuasa, Joji. 1976. My Blue Sky in Southern California (computer-generated
tape and voices). Unpublished.
List of Taped Examples
Reinforced harmonics in The Owl and the Pussycat by
Deborah Kavasch
2.
Reinforced harmonics in Sweet Talk by Deborah Kavasch
3.
Reinforced harmonics from simultaneous, different texts
in Requiem by Deborah Kavasch
4.
Reinforced harmonics in Psalm of These Days II 7 by
Edwin London
5.
Reinforced harmonics in Psalm of These Days II
6.
Reinforced harmonics over gliding fundamentals in My Blue Sky
in Southern California8 by Joji Yuasa
7.
High harmonic oscillation in My Blue Sky in Southern California
8.
Harmonic oscillations in Tintinnabulation by Deborah Kavasch
9.
Melody produced by reinforced harmonics in Requiem
10.
Ululations in The Owl and the Pussycat
11.
Ululations (vowels and consonants of" pussycat") in The Owl and
the Pussycat
12.
Ululation of melodic fragments in The Owl and the Pussycat
13.
Unvoiced ululations in Requiem
14.
Soft cross-register ululations in A Merciful
Coincidence9 by Roger Reynolds
15.
Simple and cross-register ululations in Requiem
16.
Cross-register ululations combined with other extended vocal
techniques in Requiem
17.
High cross-register ululations in Tintinnabulation
18.
Ingressive vocal fry as speech in The Owl and the Pussycat
19.
Low. pitched ingressive vocal fry in Requiem
20.
Ingressive vocal fry with reinforced harmonics in MicroMacro10 by John Celona
21.
Fast pitch and text changes of low ingressive vocal fry in Requiem
22.
Nonpitched vocal fry in Requiem
23.
Slow. nonpitched vocal fry in Requiem
24.
Slow, nonpitched vocal fry in Still11by Roger Reynolds
1.

25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.

32.

33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.

Interplay of vocal fry in Pastoral12 by David Evan Jones


Chant in Psalm of These Days II
Chant used for text emphasis in Requiem
Chant in simultaneous voices over a wide pitch range in Requiem
Nonpitched chant in Requiem
Chant in Pastoral
Chant in cadential context in Requiem
Chant in Psalm of These Days II
Chant in Psalm of These Days II
Chant as ornament in Psalm of These Days II
Complex multiphonics in Still
High. complex multiphonics in Requiem
Complex multiphonics in A Merciful Coincidence
Complex multiphonics in A Merciful Coincidence
Complex multiphonics in A Merciful Coincidence

This paper was previously published as Vol. 1, No. 2 of the Reports from the
Center which was released in No-vemb5r 1980, by the Center for Music Experiment at the
University of California, San Diego.
2

The Lexicon and Index are available upon request through the Center for Music
Experiment, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, Ca. 92093.
3
All values expressed in Hz (cycles per second) are approximate.
4
The word "texture" in this paper refers to the combined effect of all parameters
in a musical composition.
5
Bracketed symbols refer to IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).
6
For the purposes of this discussion, vocal registers are designated as follows.
Male voice: (1) chest, up to middle Carea: (2) falsetto, up to high C (1046.5
Hz) area: (3) whistle stop, above high C area. Female voice: (1) chest, up to
middle C area; (2) middle, up to E 330 Hz area: (3) head, up to E 660 Hz area:
(4) whistle stop, above high C area. These are arbitrary limits which may
overlap considerably in individual cases.
7
All taped examples from Psalms of These Days II are 1981
by Henmar Press Inc. Reproduction by permission of C. F. Peters Corpori.
8
All taped examples from My Blue Sky In Southern California are used by permission of
the composer.
9
All taped examples from A Merciful Coincidence are used by permission of the composer.
10
This taped example from MicroMacro is used by permission of the composer.
11
All taped examples from Still are used by permission of the composer.
12
All taped examples from Pastoral are used by permission of the composer.