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Harmonic convergence: Timothy Hill’s otherworldly vocal prowess

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Posted: Friday, May 31, 2013 5:00 am | Updated: 2:39 pm, Thu Jun 13, 2013.

Timothy Hill’s version of the 1930 Blind Willie Johnson song “Soul of a Man” is easy and soulful — and “normal” until three minutes in. At that point, Hill temporarily transforms into a singer of abstract sound, which occupies two realms simultaneously: his low voice and a high, spooky “bell tone” that may remind you of a science-fiction movie.

It’s called harmonic singing, and it is achieved by altering the resonating cavities in the mouth, sinuses, and throat. Hill has been doing it for decades. Probably the best-known disc that has featured these special vocals is 1983’s Hearing Solar Winds, with Hill performing as a member of David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir.

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