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International Harmonies: Singing Styles

Singing styles certainly make unique distinctions within a community’s heritage and culture. Varying from country to country, music changes and morphs as people incorporate their own techniques, rhythms, and styles. The following are a few examples of singing found throughout our diverse planet:

Cantu a tenore (Italy)

 

Cantu a tenore singing is a style of folk music that originates in Sardinia. Its traditional oral techniques can be traced back over 5,000 years. Each singer performs one of four parts: boke, bassu, cantra, or mea’oke; all of which resonate into a polyphonic culmination. The different elements in each tone are supposed to imitate the sound of the wind, the bleat of sheep, and the lowing of cows.


Throat Singing (Mongolia)

 

The origins of throat singing descend from traditions in western Mongolia. Today, the manner of song has evolved into many different styles and genres. By pushing air from the lungs through the pharynx, the singer can create a tone that resonates in the mouth cavity; there, it can then be amplified and molded selectively to create more than one pitch while still operating in a single frequency.

Collegiate-A cappella (US)

 

Collegiate-A cappella singing is a style of song that is most popular among college students in the United States though its popularity is increasing in other parts of the world. With no physical instruments, the singing groups are student-directed and run. Famously, the Dartmouth Aires (seen above) were finalist on the television series “The Sing-Off,” and have caused a surge in the popularity of Collegiate-A cappella all over the world.


Yodeling (Central Alps)

 

Switching from their lower “chest voice” to their higher falsetto, Yodelers rapidly belt tones in a high-low-high-low fashion in rapid succession. Characterized by its signature oh-di-lay-ee-ay sound, it was originally used as a form of communication between Alpine villages, slowly integrating into local folk music customs over the years. Today, the singing style is still very much popular both in Europe and the United States. Head to the high Alpine in your car rental in Zurich and participate in one of the frequent folk music festivals that show-off yodeling at its best.

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