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Multiphonics – general

Date: 17/08/2009

How do I sing and play at the same time?
Ten steps to mastering multiphonics.
Multiphonics has been used in a number of recent works for the tuba. Mu composition Fnugg is a typical example. Although  you can get by without ever mastering it, it is fun and not so hard to learn. Try!

  1. Start by playing a mid range note. (in a convenient song register)
  2. Don’t buzz the lips, but try to sing the same note trough the mouthpiece.
  3. Alternate between singing and buzzing into the instrument a couple of times.
  4. Now the time has come to combine. Start by playing the note.
  5. Try to sneak in with the voice.
  6. When this is done, try altering the level of the voice compared to the lips. That is: soft buzzing/loud voice and visa versa.
  7. When this feels comfortable, try altering the voice vowel. This helps getting familiar with the whole setting. Make a nasal sound, a round sound as well as other sounds. All of this while singing and playing the same note.
  8. When this works, try separating the two pitches. Stay on the lip note while raising the voice slowly. This is hard the first time because the lips wants to go with it. Relax. If not possible, go back to work more on step 4.
  9. Usually "clean" intervalls such as an octave, a fifth, an octave and a third are easier than more complex ones. Therefore, start with them and expand from there. My piece Fnugg is 90% pure octaves.
  10. When the easy intervalls are mastered, go on to the "hard" ones. Remember that this takes time. Even a violin player has to practise very very much on double stops (two notes at the same time) to make it natural and in tune.

Good luck!

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