Have you ever heard someone sing multiple notes at the same time? Believe it or not, it is possible. It’s called polyphonic overtone singing, and the German singer Anna-Maria Hefele pulls it off in the video above, posted by BuzzFeed.
Hefele explains in the video, “Overtone singing is a voice technique where one person sings two notes at the same time,” which doesn’t sound like it should be possible. But Anna-Maria proceeds to sustain a low note with her vocal chords while simultaneously singing a higher pitched scale.
The sound produced is not like any singing you’ve likely heard before. Instead of the usual open-throated, syllabic notes classical singers usually release, Anna-Maria lets out a bizarre blend of pinched vocal sounds that don’t seem to come from a human voice box at all — but rather from some piece of alien machinery.
According to Wikipedia, overtone singers are able to produce more than one note by manipulating the air coming out of their lungs and through their vocal chords and lips.
“The partials (fundamental and overtones) of a sound wave made by the human voice can be selectively amplified by changing the shape of the resonant of the mouth, larynx and pharynx. This resonant tuning allows the singer to create apparently more than one pitch at the same time (the fundamental and a selected overtone), while in effect still generating a single fundamental frequency with his/her vocal folds.”
UNSW Australia explains the technique in the following way.
“The singer emphasizes one high harmonic of the voice to such an extent that it is heard separately from the low pitched note being sung. Different notes in the harmonic series may be chosen by changing the frequency of the resonance in the vocal tract that gives rise to it.”
Halfway through the video, Hefele also demonstrates how she can alternate between two low notes, while singing a scale in a higher pitch. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Anna-Maria can also manipulate the notes in opposite directions, singing two notes at the same time that are deviating from one another simultaneously.
According to The Huffington Post, Anna-Maria is very experienced with her voice. She has been training herself in throat singing and vocal control since 2005. In addition to her incredible singing capabilities, Hefele is also classically trained with instruments including the harp, piano, and mandolin, as well as some unusual instruments like the didgeridoo and Schwegel.
You can visit Anna-Maria Hefele’s website for more information on her singing talent and polyphonic overtone singing.