The Singing Voice in Different Cultures

Some Westerners think Chinese singers sound like squeaky brakes on a car.

Some Chinese think Western singers sound like they’re singing in a box.

There are real differences; are the differences genetic or cultural? Are they different because of the different languages, or perhaps even because of the weather?

Don takes you on a lighthearted journey through different ways of singing, some of which are familiar, and some you probably have never heard. You’ll discover the why and how of different styles found is different parts of the world. It is an adventure with discussions of videos of native musicians, and an opportunity for you to learn how make some of the sounds you’ll be hearing.

Main Points

  • Locally and Globally Diverse Singing Styles

  • Origins of different styles

  • How to sing in the different styles

  • What to listen for in and how to enjoy different styles


    The Powerpoint Presentation

    The accompanying videos:

    1. Looks can be deceiving: Susan Boyle, I Dreamed a Dream (72MB)
    2. Tuva throat singing: Tuva Documentary (11MB)
    3. Tibetan Music: Tibet Throat Singing (9MB)
    4. Country-Western: Petula Clark, Downtown (3MB); Alan Jackson, Little Bitty (5MB)
    5. Musicals: Carol Channing, Hello Dolly (15MB); Louis Armstrong, Hello Dolly (11MB)
    6. Yodeling: Bavarian yodeler (4MB); Franzi Lang (15MB); 11-year-old yodeler (4MB)
    7. Hue'er: Hue'er Singer Xia Ye Chuan (5MB); Su Yang (1MB)
    8. Opera--Chinese and Western: Pavarotti (9MB); Chinese Tenors (21MB); Classical Chinese style (6MB); Classical Western style (7MB); Mozart's Queen of the Night (7MB) from The Magic Flute; a very badly sung version! (14MB)
    9. Jazz: Bing Crosby, Now You Has Jazz (37MB); Beyonce, jazz scat (38MB)

    Additional Resources

    • How to do Tibetan Throat Singing -- a video (13MB)
    • Seven Styles of Tuva Throat Singing -- a video (19MB)
    • Smithsonian Folkways: Throat Singing -- a documentary video (7MB)
    • What a Wonderful World, sung by Louis Armstrong -- a video (7MB)
    • Now You Has Jazz lyrics -- an MS Word .docx document


    Last modified: 06/07/24