Chapter 1. Introduction

Overtone Analyzer is a tool that helps you you understand
the phenomenon of harmonic overtones of sounds intuitively and in a
musical context. The program was originally developed for musicians,
composers and singers who work with overtones in performance, education
and musical theory. However, it should excite anyone who wants to analyze
sound in a musical context.

1.1. Why a new software?

There are several good software applications for analyzing sound on the
market, but we could not find any that help visualize the musical
interpretation of the sound. Most spectrum analyzers are optimized for
experts with a background in the physics of sound. Musicians and voice teachers are not
normally trained to read physical data. Hence it is useful for musicians
to relate the physical representation of the sound to the musical terms
that they are familiar with.

Therefore we started to add visual aids to the spectrum analyzer that
make the visual representation of frequencies accessible to musicians
directly and intuitively. The addition of a musical staff and a piano
keyboard already simplified things greatly. A further step to enhance the
understandability of spectrograms was to switch from the linear frequency
scale that is common in physics to the logarithmic scale that is more
familiar to musicians (because it more closely models how the ear
perceives pitch). The overtone sliders highlight the relationship between
a fundamental and its overtones in a direct and intuitive way and helps
simplify the understanding of the sometimes very complex spectrograms.

Many other programs are also not very practical to use. Overtone Analyzer has been refined through much feedback from people who use it daily to record their voice students or their instruments. It is not simply a tool for analyzing sounds: it also helps to collect and manage a large set of recordings.

1.2. What can you do with Overtone Analyzer?

As a software application for recording and exploring sound, especially the sound of the voice and of musical instruments, Overtone Analyzer helps visualize, measure and understand various aspects of your sound:

Pitch
  • What pitch am I singing or playing?

  • Am I in tune?

  • How is my vibrato?

Timbre
  • How strong are the different harmonics / overtones in my sound?

  • How is my resonance?

  • What is the relationship between the physiology of the voice, the physics of sound and the theory of music?

Change
  • How does my sound change over time?

  • How does my voice develop and what progress have I made?

  • How do different recordings look and sound in comparison?

While the previous list includes most functions of Overtone Analyzer, it may not yet be obvious how this relates to specific tasks that you can perform with the program. Here are some more specific examples of things you can do with Overtone Analyzer:

  • Record your voice, visualize it and listen to it.

  • Measure the pitch of an instrument. Practice holding the pitch over an entire note.

  • Analyze the harmonic structure of an instrument.

  • Listen to and learn the harmonic series. Identify the overtones belonging to a specific fundamental. Practice singing the overtone scale.

  • Transcribe the notes in a musical recording.

  • Construct a musical scale through relating the constituent tones by their overtones.

1.3. Who is Overtone Analyzer for?

Singing teachers can use
Overtone Analyzer like a mirror for the voice to explain to the student what he or she is doing.

Singers can use the program as a visual feedback aid to practice pitch and to support the development of
vibrato and formants as well as other aspects of their vocal technique.

Voice therapists can use the program to monitor the
progress of their client, and as another sensory feedback channel for
certain exercises.

Instrument builders and tuners can easily measure and analyze their instruments with extreme precision and detail.

Instrument vendors can document the sound characteristics of their wares. This is especially useful for handmade instruments where each item is highly unique.

Overtone musicians can use Overtone Analyzer to study
and improve their vocal or instrumental technique and to create or
rehearse complex compositions, assisted by the visualization of their own
overtones and by listening to changing fundamentals and harmonics.

Musical theorists find in Overtone Analyzer a new visual
aid to illustrate the development of tuning systems and the interplay of
natural overtones in classical harmony theory.

Choir conductors can recognize the role of overtones in
chords and can use this knowledge to improve the brilliance of their
choir and to achieve pure intonation. Recordings can be analyzed in order
to systematically optimize the sound of specific passages. The timbre of
individual passages can be adjusted to their current chord, which
enables even amateur choirs to achieve a professional sound.

Composers that want to understand the role of overtones
in their compositions can use Overtone Analyzer to learn the necessary
background knowledge about overtone music. Very few professional
musicians are familiar with the phenomenon of overtone singing, since
this is not yet taught in most music schools. The software supports
composers in relating ambitus (vocal range), vocal technique, and harmony of the
singable overtones.
Analyzing existing recordings gives insights into the sound and the
expressive abilities of individual artists.

These are just a few examples of possible applications of Overtone
Analyzer. Of course there are no limits to one's imagination (for example,
the author analyzed the sound of dolphins to sing them as overtones).

1.4. How to use this manual

This manual can be used in several ways. If you already know what you want to do and simply need to know how certain things work, have a look through the Reference Guide. When you are using the program and need help with a dialog box (a settings window) that is currently open, click on its Help button or press F1 to bring up the online help for this dialog.

If you want some ideas of what can be done with Overtone Analyzer, have a look at the chapter Sample Uses. It contains a list of tutorials and usage examples that will be continually expanded over time.

To simply get yourself started, go to the Quickstart Guide and at the User Interface Overview.

1.4.1. Terminology used in this document

A menu choice is indicated with an arrow.
FileNew
means: select New from the
File menu.

User Interface Buttons are indicated like this:
Press OK to continue.

Keyboard commands look like this: press F1 to open help.

The Glossary at the end contains definitions for many subject-specific terms used in this document.für