Did She Just Sing Chords!?!?

posted in: Newsletter | 125

Ok… I know these posts are supposed to be every week, but my mind has just been blown to pieces tonight and I’m just too excited to keep this one to myself!!

I was just minding other people’s business on Facebook tonight as usual and noticed the latest Snarky Puppy video had just been released. This is from their latest project called Family Dinner (Volume One) which has a very similar concept to their past projects, which is them performing (their very amazing music) in a band room with an in-studio audience, and it’s all recorded.

The difference this time is that they’ve decided to team up with some of the vocalist that they’ve worked with in the past to perform along with them… and what a decision that was!

What I’ve witnessed tonight is a level of vocal mastery that I have never seen in my life! The amazing Lalah Hathaway has performed the song “Something” with Snarky Puppy and if you listen carefully from around 6:10 on the YouTube video you’ll notice that she’s creating THREE notes with her voice! The first time I heard it I was like… “wait… what was that just now…” then I scrubbed it back and listened to it again… and she did in fact create three notes with her voice! She did not do it just once, but she did it a whopping FOUR TIMES!!!!

Now I’ve known that this kinda this is possible, cause heck… I’ve even made two notes with my voice a few times, but accidentally. This lady has clearly mastered this technique and is doing a damn good job at using it musically!!!

A new found respect has been placed in my heart for Lalah… keep doing your thing girl… and keep inspiring others!

Anyway… I’ll have to let my excitement cool down… it’s late and I need to go sleep.

Check out the video below…


  • JustinGQ

    O_O I’m dumbfounded

  • Bee Bee

    I like how everyone shit bricks at 6:10-6:33

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      Haha… trust me I totally shat bricks when I saw it too!!

    • shae

      im only at 4min i’m a lil scared and excited :D

      • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

        Haha… sweet!!

    • Halka

      Ha! Yeah!

    • Errol Jeffries

      Riiight…my favorite is the guitar player that sat down like I’m so glad I got 16 more bars before I play because I can’t play if I was asked right now.

    • camisu

      I noticed that as well, and to me proves that she is just doing it and not using anything electronic to produce the chords. That would not elicit the reactions in the band. So very wonderful!

  • David

    Ariana brought me here

  • Charles Metcalfe

    Astonishing! As Bee Bee says, listen very carefully from 6.10 on!

  • Cj Doofdoof

    Might have learnt a thing or two from Mongolians

    • janos_2

      If you want to hear vocal “chords”, google/youtube the Tuvan/ Mongolian throat singers. Those guys get down.

      • Christian Friis Jensen

        Huun Hur are pretty goddamn awesome.

  • Allyce_k

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M3YFK3sJ54 Mongolian throat singing. Mind. Blown.

  • Julie

    She is singing overtones. This type of singing has been used throughout history in chanting in places all over the world and has even made its way to a cowboy singing country music I can’t remember when the recording was from. Anyways kudos to her for incorporating it in jazz. Brilliant.

    • Mal Webb

      Hi Julie, I’m fairly sure what she’s doing isn’t actually “overtones”, as in the air in oral cavities resonating to create another note (which are the high overtones or “harmonics” that the Mongolian/Tuvan singers do). Lalah’s is a vibration of the “false vocal folds” (also called “ventricular folds”), which are two fleshy parts either side of the vocal folds that can be drawn together to create extra notes (or noise!). It’s these that create the Tuvan/Tibetan/Inuit throat singing “growls”, as well as death-metal screaming and rock distortion. But what Lalah is doing is a much lighter, breathy contact. I can do it on a good day and I have friends who can do it really well, but not with the control that Lalah has! To find it, try making a straining sound, like you’re lifting something heavy, then make it breathier and more “oo” like… do it gently to avoid hurting your vocal folds or straining the muscles… good luck!

      • John Denney

        you guys are both right, she is singing G in two octaves then their is A# right above the higher octave of g shes hitting. the lowest note she is sing is D#. She nailed D#minor. A full chord. Shes hitting 4 notes includeing the overtone of G

        • Dallas Scott Wilke

          There* LOL. Sorry.

          And, technically, she wouldn’t be producing the overtones, as overtones are produced by the acoustics within the room.

          And, D#minor? That’s a “false” chord, as there is no practical leading tone to it. So, while it could be written, it is one of those “theoretical chords” that doesn’t have much function. (In traditional tertian harmonic analysis. However, as the bounds of harmonic analysis were stretched in the 20th century, it’s a moot point with this style of music, and I’ll concede that D# minor exists for the purpose of “Jazz” and all the Genres that that implies)

          But even so, D# – G – A# is not a D# minor chord. That is simply the enharmonic respelling of an Eb Major Chord. Eb(D#) – G – (A#)Bb. A D# minor chord would be spelled D# – F# – A#.

          I don’t feel like listening again to verify the notes she sang, so I don’t know what she actually sang, I’m just saying that D# – G – A# is not a D# minor Chord.

          • Dallas Scott Wilke

            And considering she sang three different chords… Yeah….

          • Dallas Scott Wilke

            And, I apologize if this came off as a troll. It is very possible you simply made a mistake. If so, apologies, as I said, I don’t feel like listening to it again, (as I don’t really enjoy this style of music, and parts of the rest of the performance are lacking in the intonation department) so again, I apologize if this came off as me just trying to be mean or prove that I’m smart, I assure you, it’s not my intention. I am a music theory teacher/tutor, so I just go into correction mode. Apologies.

          • Tesse

            I know nothing about music. And corrections should be fine. But is it really that hard to just scroll to 6:10 and listening to the chords again if you’re an expert that can actually hear what’s being sung?

          • Dallas Scott Wilke

            You’re correct, it isn’t hard to listen again, I was just being lazy. Again, apologies. I have listened again, now, and I can honestly only hear her phonating (producing from her vocal chords) 2 pitches. A minor third. G# and B. (or Ab and Cb) I agree the overtones that complete the chord are present, but overtones are produced with any sound, ever.

            My point to my post was not about the actual pitches sung, but rather the pitches John said comprised a D#minor chord.

            Thank you for calling me out on my laziness. I was an unintentional troll. Apologies.

          • Yankeu

            Overtones are always produced by the acoustics within a mouth, and can be isolated and emphasized easily. This makes speech possible.

          • Dallas Scott Wilke

            I concede your point. This is true. Overtones are just there. Always, it’s part of how sound functions. So yes, my response was very limited and elementary. Apologies. (See, I’m not a troll, and admit when I am wrong)

          • John Denney

            Im sorry but your wrong D# , G , A# is simply D#major or E flat major and both chords are used ALL THE TIME in contemporary pop music :)

          • Joe Harley

            No, you completely missed what he was saying. a D# major chord consists of D and A sharps, and an F doublesharp. Not a G. Learn some theory before trying to show off how “smart” you are.

        • Rich Kilfoyle

          She never actually sings a technical “full” chord triad (nitpicking I know). However, she gets really great 2-part harmony
          (and because of the breathiness of the vocals, it gives the impression
          of multiple octaves) that creates interesting full chord tones when
          combined with the backing music. The first two notes she hits are G#
          & B, which is a G#m/Abm (the backing music is playing G# power chords, so her harmony “finishes” the chord), then she swoops into A# and C# which is a quick little A#m/Bbm. The next two notes she sings are D# and F#, which is a really cool inversion to an F#6 chord, before she kills everyone with a pitch-perfect whole step drop to C# and E which is the same inversion for an E6. Very nice!

          • John Denney

            i actually through it in a spectrum analyzer my ears are def not as good lol but the spectrum doesnt lie she does in fact hit 2 octaves of G and it is e flat major. A full triadic chord

        • Errol Jeffries

          Exactly, John…it’s not just the overtones that are impressive, it’s the progression that she uses for all three notes that makes it so impressive.

      • Smithereens

        It’s interesting to confirm with these comments that there a pedantic buzzkills in every discipline.

        • Mudtheif

          Well, you sound like the boring geezer who is not interested in how things happen.

          • Smithereens

            Aw… Did you get a boo boo on your feelings?

          • Mudtheif

            Yeh, you can come and rub it for me

      • KaZ Akers

        Yes I agree. It is a technique that has been used in other cultures and obviously she has perfected the technique for herself. It takes practice but it can be done by experienced singers.

    • disqus_Pkhoet3vns

      She’s not singing overtones, it’s called multi-phonics.

      • Julie

        My understanding is that the two terms have been used interchangeably. As someone mentionned you are not really singing each note and that is totally correct. My point was just that I had heard this technique used by monks and others and although I tried it myself I never thought of incorporating it while scatting. I thought it was a genius move to put it in jazz. That’s all. I’m not looking to argue the technicalities. This is starting to feel like theory class all over again. LOL…But thank you for the discussion. I rarely get a chance to talk about music with peers anymore.

  • Drew Lorenzo

    Wow, love it, especially when the drummer has to stop playing! He practically falls off the stool. I think she’s singing two notes, not sure it’s physically possible to sing three. Very very impressive, especially actually hitting the right harmonies. Each time it’s a minor 3rd, I wonder if she can do other harmonies or just a minor third…

    • Julian Essex-Spurrier

      Read John Denny’s post. He nails it.

  • Gary Trotman – Steelasophical

    Amazing how many teachers tried to discourage my chord singing…” cu they cudnt do it.. (LH twitter quote)

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  • Annie Nungan


  • Michael

    I saw one other singer do something similar a long time ago. A rock singer actually, where you’re using your full voice and part of your falsetto simultaneously rings out in a harmony. Very cool though….

  • Vicki Smiley Miller


  • Leah Brown

    Awesome!! She is using an ancient vocal technique called “throat singing” used by Tuvans, the Inuit, and some South African tribes. What sounds like chords are really partials or overtones.

  • Robert Helms

    Yes she sang chords in the intro!

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      You’re absolutely right… she did it in the intro as well… very subtly though!

  • jobz

    very impressive technically, really didn’t like the sound of her voice harmonising with itself though… kinda like where you sometimes hear a recording of someone harmonising or doubling themselves and sometimes it sounds like shit. different voices are beautiful together.

  • sdtyuiop

    bricks not shat

  • Ron

    That is tight! I’m only hearing 2 note though. what are the notes that everybody is hearing.

  • YourWifeIsMyLife

    That is amazing! If this music thingy doesn’t work out she could get a job doing video game sounds.

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      Dude… Lalah Hathaway is fully established vocalist and the daughter of a legendary musician.

      • YourWifeIsMyLife

        lol Just trying to make a back handed compliment, you know, like if you take a really good solo and one of your friends says “Too bad you can’t play.” She’s freaking amazing and a quality musician through and through.

        • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

          I get you dude.

  • buddha

    we have something in common, me and you.

  • John Denney

    I hear D#,G#ish,A#…..witch……i think she just nailed Dminor

  • Jessica Carol Harris

    drummer: “i quit. she broke music!”
    she’s mastered what you hear Martin Lawrence doing when he impersonates a woman.
    i hope she gets even more famous from this. so talented!

    • Adrianne Wilson

      Yes! Yes LOL!!!

  • Adrian Smith

    wow…I just cried

  • Sarah

    I actually know someone who can do this. We were in choir together. It was pretty awesome but if you do it wrong it can really damage your vocal chords so she rarely did it.

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      Awesome Sarah! You should high five that person you guys meet!

  • Digby Holeong

    This lady is no human…. Amazing but true…

  • Donna Flood Mitchell

    Loving her Jazz!!! 6:10 however reminds me of “Gollum” in the Hobbit, with a Falsetto sound. Nonetheless, she’s a total awesome singer!!! I sort of wondered how the musicians got caught up in the moment, when I’m sure they practiced before performing??? Just saying.

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      I thought about the thing with the musicians too… but what she’s doing is improvising… meaning she’s making it up along the way. The def practiced before, but she may have just felt to sing it in that moment… or probably kept the big guns for performance…

  • Toiah

    LOL @ minding other people’s business… Haha.

    But this right here is simply amazing.

  • kritikosman

    Sort of like the stuff ‘Trane and Rahsaan do with horns….; but with the voice–that’s magical!!

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  • Jorge Orozco

    holy shit!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hans.vanleeuwen.10 Hans van Leeuwen
  • Juice

    I am blown away….

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  • Ben Davenport

    Great video love it!

  • Rainer Pusch


  • Ryan

    Sorry to burst the bubble but she’s using a TC Helicon Harmony M…It harmonises your vocal via midi. I use one in my band…

  • Alan Gottesman

    guys she’s using a harmonizer pedal

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      Please listen carefully to the quality of the different notes she sings… some are clear… some are raspy some are hard to hear… if she used a pedal then all the notes would have the same clarity…

  • Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

    No she isn’t singing chords — notice the backup singers in the wide tracking shot?

    • magnusmax

      yes, the backup singers…that aren’t singing.

      • Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

        I was in error and wrote that before I finished the clip — see Mal Webb’s remarks.

  • Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

    OOps, my bad, now I hear what you’re getting at and I totally buy what Mal WEbb is putting down. Very nice!

  • realpigasus

    >_< !!!

  • http://severinghaus.org/ Steven N. Severinghaus

    The two (but not three or four) notes she sings are visible in a spectrogram, if you don’t believe your ears: http://www.flickr.com/photos/horsepunchkid/10316759954/

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  • Luis Gonzalez

    beautiful… check this out though… Ella Fitzgerald’s Air Mair Special.. especially after the 2:10 mark… MY GOD!


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  • Anji

    Train whistle. Doo doo waah. What an amazing amazing amazing lady.

  • phantom stranger

    i wonder if Ms Hathaway analyses the hell out of her own singing as much as everyone else does :p

    awesome performance!

    • Denise Landry Morgan

      Amen…ditto phantom stranger…..talk about analyze.something to.death right? I think i will go look for some more snark and lalah tunes and chill


    I know what you mean… I’m excited about this band and this great singer. So inspirational!

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  • Brook Downs

    I think she’s got vocal chord nodules. it’s also how Mariah Carey can sing so high .

  • Kristian Aagaard


  • matrevovgel

    Who is Snarky Puppy?

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      The awesomist jazz fusion band on the planet!! (I got that from the dictionary)

      • matrevovgel

        Thanks for the reply. I was kind of saying that sarcastically.I guess I could have been like Snarky Who? But, It is always good to get the personal perspective. I looked them up on YT and they are pretty awesome.

  • colonel Mustard

    if you like this technique, you may enjoy the work of Demetrio Stratos, singer of the band Area

  • enochmubarak

    Any relations to Donny Hathaway?

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      His daughter

  • Raquel Bryant Davis

    Two notes, three notes, who cares? She is singing more than one note, which most of us singing folks can’t do! She is a beast! Point blank.

  • born2shine4ever

    I love how everyone on here commenting is a vocal expert lol. “Well actually its a triple note” —”Oh no no i chose to disagree its really a quad harmonized airflap summer salt run” …….all of you need to take several seats and just enjoy the wonder that is Lalah Smh! Stop tryin to sound like you know what your talking about. Because most of you don’t. Smh

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.huch.3 Tim Huch

    amazing talents From Father God given to us just show part of His greatness

    • Errol Jeffries

      Agreed. I am going through a hard time in my life, and my relationship. This song, and her singing reminded me of my love affair with music from my youth.

  • Thomas Johnson

    epic … i am so in LOVE with her … ahhhhhh

  • Matthias Robinson

    over toning shes the best

  • KD Newman

    Tuvan throat singers sing chords all the time.

  • JuliaWardHowe

    She has like a direct line to God or Goddess!

  • Linda Furtado

    I love how this video post has brought out comments and musical analysis from some pretty smart people out there. Makes me want to go back to Music Theory classes. Also makes me want to get into Jazz Studies. So thankful for this inspirational artist, the band, and the music.

  • Karen Anderson

    Ok, I sing jazz. After reading all the comments below about Lalah, I’m afraid to open my mouth…I’ve got to go back to school….:D!


    This young woman could sing in a bag, and I would buy it! I have followed her musically since she FINALLY stepped out onto the stage. My first experience? SOBs downtown NYC early 1990′s (if I remember correctly). She was nervous, and we were as well. I miss her Dad every time she opens to reveal her gift. THIS was on her first album. I know…I have it.

  • bee

    This made me want to get up and take off running! Brilliant!

  • David West

    My grandpa used to fart “Popeye The Sailor Man”. I don’t know what key…I never heard him do it. He just told me about it. He used to depress the hell out of me. Oh…yeah, good post. Laryngopathia , first identified in 455 C.E., in a little village called Cank, Turkey. The guy died swallowing his tongue. Depressing story.

  • Denise Landry Morgan

    I would never attempt to add to a.discussion such as this because I could not even begin to.discuss these topics with the level of.expertise.stated in these comments. But I.woukd.like to.say whatever you call it…..it’s incredible!

  • Big Woman

    Her singing cords trick made by an electronic vocal processor. It makes your vocal sounds like cords, intervals, octaves, etd. And video made us to believe it is natural. My friends singers use it too.

    • Zaphod

      Doesn’t sound like a vocorder or vox…..sounds pretty natural to me….

  • Jonny Bird

    Clearly a talented vocalist, but not her best work by far! In spite of the band-mates enjoying her singing, many, many flat notes in this piece, and I found it distracting. Don’t mean to seem like a downer, but I expected more from her…

  • Sid_of_Id

    While certainly amazing, this is just an applied ‘overtone singing’ technique that’s quite common in other parts of the world, and for thousands of years by Mongolian children. Also incorporated by the late Jack Mercer to create the voice of Popeye.

  • afro samurai

    This is the ULTIMATE jam session!

  • A Jennese James

    I love this. I showed it to my chorus class and they have been trying to do it everyday. One of my students was able to do it the very next day.

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      That’s awesome!!!

  • J.C. P.

    I wish I could still do that…..

  • Anthony Michaels

    see the little machine to her right? yeah thats how it’s done lol

    • http://chasingmusiclife.com/ Kewoni Berkley

      That is a mixer for the headphone monitors she is wearing dude

  • Mattie E Bailey-Sullivan

    Reminescent of her dad and Roberta Flack!

  • Emma Jones

    Can someone please teach me this!?

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