Internal Tide (for Erika) – overtone voice, cello or viola, 10'

00:00
Sally Guenther, cello; Paul Fowler, voice; (demo recording, 1st 7 minutes). Full version available soon.

Commissioned by Erika Eckert; originally titled, “Down the Stream”
Premiered 1/11/11 by Erika Eckert (viola) and Paul Fowler at University of Colorado, Boulder.

the piece


Erika Eckert and I first met over a discussion of overtone singing at a holiday party. Our friendship was immediate and our shared interest in overtone singing was a fast acting super-glue. Together we explored the various vocal contortions required for this sort of singing and the highly focused listening that occurs as a result. During one of our many kaleidoscopic discussions on art, music, and life, Erika challenged me to compose the music that hums at my core – music that is unfettered with any filtration of style, judgement, or appropriateness to an audience. This piece is the result.

overtone singing


Overtone singing (or harmonic singing) involves the intoning of a fundamental pitch and the manipulation of the vocal tract (throat, mouth, tongue, lips, etc.) to filter a secondary pitch from the naturally occurring overtones of the fundamental. There are numerous pitches in any single tone, but generally we perceive that tone as a note (an "A," perhaps) and the overtones contribute to our experience of timbre. With overtone singing the goal is to draw one's attention to the other tones present, to listen more closely to the voice itself, and make melodies of the overtone series. At its simplest description: the fundamental sounds like voice and the overtones sound like whistling.

score excerpt, for viola
score excerpt, for cello