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Overtone focusing in biphonic Tuvan throat singing

Cite this dataset

Bergevin, Christopher (2020). Overtone focusing in biphonic Tuvan throat singing [Dataset]. Dryad.


Khoomei is a unique singing style originating from the Central Asian republic of Tuva. Singers produce two pitches simultaneously: a booming low-frequency rumble alongside a hovering high-pitched whistle-like tone. The biomechanics of this biphonation are not well-understood. Here, we use sound analysis, dynamic magnetic resonance imaging, and vocal tract modeling to demonstrate how biphonation is achieved by modulating vocal tract morphology. Tuvan singers show remarkable control in shaping their vocal tract to narrowly focus the harmonics (or overtones) emanating from their vocal cords. The biphonic sound is a combination of the fundamental pitch and a focused filter state, which is at the higher pitch (1-2 kHz) and formed by merging two formants, thereby greatly enhancing sound-production in a very narrow frequency range. Most importantly, we demonstrate that this biphonation is a phenomenon arising from linear filtering rather than a nonlinear source.


Data is a combination of acoustical recordings, MRI data, and vocal tract modeling. Movie of the dynamic MRI data are also included. All details are included in the manuscript "Overtone focusing in biphonic Tuvan throat singing".

Usage notes

Data is placed in four zipped files (compression done via Mac OS 10.12.4). The four files each contain a particular subset of the data:

1. - Modeling software (Tube Talker) and several illustrative simulations

2. - Both statis and dynamic MRI images (as .dcm files). Note that the DICOM files have been cropped (so to only show the relevant anatomical features) and metadata have been stripped.

3. - All soundbooth recordings, saved as .wav files (SR 96 kHz)

4. - Reonstruction of the 3-D airspace, saved as a .stl file

5. - Audio files collected during the MRI runs

6. - Movies of the dynamic data (with audio).


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Award: RGPIN-430761-2013