Featured image: Many Voices, One Spirit Pin
A mix of pieces using multiple voices (or a multi-tracked single voice) as the primary instrument – courtesy of our follower Bill Barnett!
A folk singer/singwriter in the 70s (and a guest singer on albums by the likes of Steve Howe and Wishbone Ash), Claire Hamill turned to electronic new wave in the 80s. Using her sampled voice as a rhythmic element in her song “The Moon Is A Powerful Lover” was likely the seed for her 1986 album “Voices,” on which her crystalline voice was used for nearly all the instrumentation. She is still active; her 2019 album “Over Dark Apples” sees her returning to her folk roots.
Much like Claire Hamill’s “Voices,” this new album by Sophie Tassignon uses her voice for most of the instrumentation. Unlike “Voices,” the songs have lyrics, and some are covers (notably Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”).
There is so much more to Bobby McFerrin than “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”! Love or hate it, it did bring his vocal inventiveness to a much wider audience than such music usually reaches.
Daniel Ash’s band between Bauhaus and Love and Rockets included this piece of mouth music on their only proper album, “Pop”.
Björ’k’s mouth music album, featuring beatboxers Rahzel (of The Roots) and Dokaka and “human trombone” Gregory Purnhagen.
St. Louis artist Syrhea Conaway plays many instruments, but on this album she sticks to her voice.
Vocal loop artist (and clarinetist) from Seattle.
Inspired by Dada in general and Hugo Ball in particular, this Canadian group performed not music but “sound poetry”.
GTM (Syntax) is a 12-disc set by a 12-person choir performing all of Braxton’s “Syntactical Ghost Trance Music” compositions, one per disc. For more information on Ghost Trance Music, see Erica Dicker’s article in Sound American.
London-based all-female choir led by Louisa Gerstein; a new album is on the way.
Founder Joseph Shabalala died in February 2020 after leading this South African male vocal group for nearly 60 years. Their big break in the West came with their collaboration with Paul Simon on his “Graceland” album. This track features guest appearances by Hugh Masekela, Lucky Dube, and Vusi Mahlasela.
Sussan Deyhim has been singing with herself electronically since the 80s. “Logic of the Birds,” which premiered in 2001, is a multimedia work (music, film, dance) in collaboration with Shirin Neshat based on the works of Sufi poet Attar. On her new album, “La Belle et La Bête,” she leads a jazz trio through a set of covers and originals.
Overtone singing by a group of six men led by David Hykes, one of the first Western practitioners of this ancient Asian technique.
Composed by Sidney Sager for the spooky British TV miniseries (1976).
Part of the opera “Donnerstag aus Licht” but can be a standalone piece. Features multitracked vocal groups, with up to 180 voices at once.
“Sleep” by Erin Gee is one of three contemporary pieces performed by this vocal sextet on their new album “A Howl, That Was Also a Prayer.”
“Scored for 24 unaccompanied voices…. No electronic effects were used in the performance or recording of Anonymous Man.”
“30 Voices – 1 Take – 60 Minutes” read the flyer for this 2015 recording session of four of Neil Luck’s compositions. London-based Musarc is accessible: “There are no auditions for Musarc. Whilst a background in music (vocal or instrumental) is preferable, it is possible for people to join Musarc who have limited experience of reading traditional music notation, but who like to sing and engage with the choir’s ideology.” Entr’acte released this album on vinyl only.
This setting of Richard Brautigan’s poem “Lions Are Growing like Yellow Roses on the Wind” appeared on “The Digital Domain – A Demonstration,” a 1983 CD intended to highlight the sonic qualities of that then-new audio format.
“Written for ‘AutoTune choir’ and synthesizer, the work was performed live by four singers, each controlling their own vocal effects in real-time.”
Contemporary composer and singer’s 1971 debut album “Key” was reissued for Record Store Day in 2017.
Darius Jones is a composer as well as a saxophonist. This album for female vocal quartet “utilizes a heretofore unheard (by Earthlings) sacred language of sound / composition used in the alien birthing ritual of a new being.”
The Beacon Sound Choir’s “Fortunate Ones” has now been heard by millions as the opening theme of Alex Garland’s Hulu series “Devs,” which prompted First Terrace Records to reissue the “Sunday Songs” album with bonus tracks as “The Complete Works.” This 35-member group of varying abilities and strong enthusiasm (like Musarc) was put together by Peter Broderick in Portland, Oregon, singing together at the Beacon Sound record store on Sunday mornings.
12-person group based in London and led by Kieran Brunt.
Starting as a punk singer in Osaka in the 70s, Phew has collaborated with a number of luminaries over the years: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Anton Fier, Holger Czukay, and many more. This 2018 album uses only her voice as instrumentation.
One of great jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s triplet daughters, Petra Haden started singing at a very young age. She is especially great at a capella arrangements, such as this King Crimson cover. While some of her covers have been released on albums, she has dozens more on her Youtube channel.
Brazilian voice and body percussion group founded by Fernando Barba in 1996.
Overtone singing choir based in Barcelona.