Magic Choral Trick #160 Expanded Sound

Ok folks – they don’t tell you about this in school because, like those bar pressing rats we all heard about in Psych 101, once you’ve experienced expanded sound, you really don’t want to do anything else in life. It’s the Holy Grail you never even realized you were searching for.

Expanded Sound is the result of all singers locking in to a chord at exactly the right tuning, similar placement, and correct balance (notes lower down in the Harmonic Series – the Root and Fifth – are sung louder than the notes further up the Harmonic Series – the Third and the Seventh)

When this is in place, all the notes much further up the Harmonic Series get excited and sing along. It sounds like some of the voices have gone rogue and are taking everything up the octave. With all these extra notes ringing, it actually sounds like the chorus is about twice the size – hence – Expanded Sound.

Once upon a time I was with a quartet for the pre-stage walk through, from warm up room to quiet room, before they were to compete. They stopped to sing a bit in a cement hallway between two doors. And for the first time ever, I heard undertones. It sounded as if the Bass was taking everything down the octave. So from the undertones up to the top overtones I could hear, it sounded as if this quartet was made up of about sixteen singers – singing in about a four octave range.

If you’re wondering if you’d even be able to realize that you were hearing Expanded Sound – your ears wouldn’t necessarily be the first thing to tell you. Full body goosebumps are a pretty good indicator. You might also experience the rare sensation of a kind of clear, excited joy. And when you’re actually in the middle of this, helping to produce the result, these symptoms can be even more intense.


About janetkidd

I've been waving my arms in front of choirs now for more than 35 years - and these are descriptions of all the very best things I've learned. I direct a Women's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Men's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Med School choir, and for a few weeks each year - Big Choir (about 100 voices) - which performs at an annual fundraising concert. Hope at least some of these Choral Magic Tricks will be useful to you - and thanks for reading. Janet

Posted on June 21, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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