I found a new commute project — learning Tuvan Throat Singing. I actually got started on that by listening to the Baby Gramps CD last night. He actually does some Tuvanesque stuff along with all his other "vocalisthenics." (Incidentally, Baby Gramps actually stayed over in our guest room last night — Daniel was thrilled. He was in too late and I was out too early, though, for me to meet him.)
I found out last night that it's not actually too hard to whistle and hum at the same time. I can't vary the notes independantly or do anything very complex with them, but it's still kind of cool. I also found some articles to read about singing in harmonics. Then in the car today, I was experimenting with droning on a low note and changing the shape of my mouth and the position of my tongue to try and bring out higher harmonics. I thought I could hear something working once or twice, but it wasn't very strong. I should try taping myself to see how much it's audible outside of my own head. But I at least felt like I was getting an idea of how it might work once I get better at it. It's pretty neat.
For the reader who wants to follow along at home, try this: Sing as low a note as is reasonably comfortable. While singing, and without changing the note you're generating in your throat, put the tip of your tongue against the backs of your upper teeth. Now press the sides of your tongue against your molars. Experiment with slight adjustments of your mouth, lips and tongue to see if you can get high, whistling harmonics to come out above the drone. It's hard. I think there are lots of other ways to do it, too, so if anyone figures out anything else, let me know.
I think there's also a throat singing technique that helps you sing notes lower than your normal range, sort of like subharmonics on a violin. That would be really neat, too, though I don't know how much it would help in making me a bass for shape note singing. Now that I think about it, it would be cool to try learning to play subharmonics, too. I never got very far when I tried it a couple years ago.
Anyway, the throat singing stuff make a good car project. Almost makes me wish I had a longer commute. (Well, not really.)