In the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to lots of music featuring polyphonic sounds produced from typically monophonic sources.

I don’t really understand the mechanisms that go into producing these sounds, but I love the effect. I encourage you to watch all of the videos below in their entirety, because the level of musicianship in each one is really amazing.

I’ll start with an example that I remember first noticing many years ago. It’s Taj Mahal, the blues singer, singing “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond.” He starts singing polyphonically for a few bars beginning at 4:14 in the video below:

I get shivers at 4:26 when he’s singing at least two notes and also changing the interval between them as he goes.

Here’s another example. Listen for the multiphonic singing at 1:21, and again at 4:09:

Another one. Lalah Hathaway sings multiphonically at 6:12:

And of course, nobody should be surprised that Bobby McFerrin can do it, too. Listen for it at 2:11:

Here’s Kongar-ol Ondar, the Tuvan throat singer who performs regularly with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Here, the higher pitches of the multiphonic singing are almost whistle-like. It’s a different technique from those used above:

Finally, check this out – multiphonics on a tuba. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a lovely and haunting Norwegian melody. The multiphonics and other hilarity begin at 0:48:

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