The Study of 'Overtone' and the Bronze Age horns
Overtone may be best described as a musical phenomenon whereby a single continuing lower note is then super imposed with higher harmonic relatives and all coming from a single source. Traditionally, overtone occurs in singing techniques from Asia. A single voice sings a note in a lower register and through particular tongue and mouth movement a higher harmonic series is created simultaneously. A similar sound may also be heard in finely tuned bells.
In recent years however, musical exploration has resulted in overtones being produced in some lip reed wind instruments. In 1991, Australian didgeridoo player Alan Dargin claimed to be able to play overtones on a didgeridoo. While no recordings exist of a solo overtone didgeridoo tune, the aspects of his sound may be heard on the track ‘Bís’ on the ‘Two Stories in One Album’ in the online shop link.
In 1994 Ancient Music Ireland were requested to play a record six original Irish Bronze Age horns in The National Museum of Ireland. During subsequent mixing and mastering in a recording studio a number of prominent overtones became clearly audible with a continuous low drone. See the track ‘Along the Shore’, on the ‘Overtone’ album in the online shop link. Then in 2009 Ancient Music Ireland were approached by Bonnie Rideout to play a Bronze Age horn accompaniment to a piobaireachd she had recorded on viola. See ‘MacDougall’s Gathering ‘ on the ‘Overtone’ CD. The result produced a powerful and essentially new acoustic colour.
Ancient Music Ireland decided to bring together a number of tracks from the archive, some of which featured the’ overtone’ sound. The resulting album ‘Overtone’ Ancient Music of Ireland was launched at St. Nicholas’ Church, Galway City Co. Galway, West of Ireland in November 2009 by a live acoustic concert specifically put together to bring out the overtones of ancient horns and to display the wonderful relationship they can have with more modern acoustic instruments. The concert was recorded by Rod Callan completely acoustically and will be released on this web site in October 2012.