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Bela Lugosi and X-Rayed Overtone Singing

August 30, 2011

Two unrelated thoughts for Tuesday:

First of all, I read an interesting bit of trivia about the actor Bela Lugosi yesterday. Apparently, when the Hungarian native started appearing in English language talkies, he spoke his lines without understanding any English. The actor simply learned the sounds phonetically and dashed them off on camera. He thought that all actors should follow his lead.

Secondly, my friend Ange sent me a link to a video clip featuring the performer Christian Zehnder practicing throat singing while being X-Rayed. The imaging was created by the Dept. of Radiology at the CHUV Lausanne and comes from INLAND, a 2002 abstract film by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud. I've seen quite a few x-ray videos of people singing, but this one stands out for me: Even though Zehnder is making wildly contrasting sounds in the video, which range from sweet overtone whistles and ferocious barks, what's going on inside his voicebox looks pretty much the same regardless. You can watch the video here.

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