How do you sing underwater without your tones getting garbled? The secret is to not blow bubbles. This is an incredibly difficult task, but after 10 years of effort, Laila Skovmand has learned how. New Scientist reports:
Skovmand’s first experiments with aquatic singing involved submerging her mouth in a kitchen bowl filled with water and trying to produce a steady vibrato. During a diving trip, she then had the chance to try singing underwater. It worked but generated a lot of bubbles, adding popping sounds to the vocals.
To prevent this, Skovmand came up with a technique where she keeps an air bubble in her mouth and sings through it when submerged, rising to the top about every minute to take in a breath and a new bubble. “There is also a technique where I switch between singing on the exhale and inhale,” she says. “But it can be hard to control.” Due to the small amount of air in a bubble, she can only produce short tones. High notes also tend to sound better than lower notes, which sound nasal.
Skovmand worked with musical instrument maker Andy Cavatorta to develop instruments that could play underwater:
The rotacorda, inspired by a traditional hurdy-gurdy, has six strings that can be plucked like a guitar. Move your fingers along the string and you can modify the pitch of the note. Turn a crank so as to strike them repeatedly with a mechanical hammer, however, and they produce a continuous sound.
The second instrument, called the crystallophone, is a modified version of Benjamin Franklin’s glass harmonica. It is made up of bowls that are played with the fingers like singing bowls, creating a similar effect to a bow moving over a violin string in air.
The results of their efforts is Skovmand's band AquaSonic, which bills itself as the world's first underwater band. The members plan to hold their first concert on May 27 in Rotterdam. They will perform inside huge aquariums.
-via The Presurfer