Tag Archives: throat singing

Artist profiles: Huun-Huur-Tu

Huun-Huur-Tu

If you were to journey to the geographical center of Asia you would reach Tuva, an autonomous republic on the Russian-Mongolian border. This is the home of Huun-Huur-Tu a group of fascinating overtone- and throat-singers whose language can be traced from Turkish and whose culture reflects many similarities to that of Mongolia. Tuvan throat-singers produce up to three notes simultaneously by selectively amplifying harmonics naturally present in their voices. Traditionally attired the quartet alternates between solo and ensemble works.

Sasha Bapa his brother Sayan and two other musicians Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Albert Kuvezin formed Huun-Huur-Tu in 1992 to focus on the performance of as Sasha put it “old and forgotten songs”. Sasha Sayan and Kaigal-ool were refugees from one of the large state-managed song and dance ensembles that became a fixture of official cultural life during the Soviet era. For decades these ensembles with their glitzy performances of folk music or pseudo folk music offered close to the only outlet for young musicians who wanted to earn a living playing indigenous music. But as the music business has become increasingly privatized throughout the former Soviet Union many musicians have abandoned the state ensembles and formed their own groups. The musical results have been decidedly mixed.

At the same time that the members of Huun-Huur-Tu have devoted themselves to learning old songs and tunes their performances reflect the values of innovation as much as tradition. For example the very notion of an ensemble like Huun-Huur-Tu is new to Tuva: Most Tuvan music has traditionally been performed by a solo singer or instrumentalist and musicians have tended to specialize in a particular genre or musical style. These genres and styles in turn have deep roots in particular kinds of social occasions. By contrast Huun-Huur-Tu’s eclectic concert presentations of old songs and tunes fall between the cracks of Tuvan musical life.

In Tuva there’s still no real context for what we do,” says Sasha Bapa. “We perform there only rarely because it’s so difficult for an independent group like ours: where can we find a good hall and sound equipment and transportation to get there? How can we deal with all the government and commercial structures that still control a lot of the booking? And who can offer fees that will support us even modestly as professional musicians? Kaigal-ool Khovalyg the musical leader of our group might be better known in America than in Tuva. We’re trying to preserve our musical heritage but at the same time we’re trying to look forward. If a musical tradition stops evolving it is destined to die.”

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg – voice, igil, doshpuluur, Chanzy

Anatoly Kuular – voice, byzaanchi ,khomuz, amarga

Sayan Bapa – voice, doshpuluur, marinhuur, guitar

Alexey Saryglar – voice, tungur (drum), dazhaaning, khavy (rattle)

Discography:

6 Horses In My Herd (USA: Shanachie 645 1993 – Europe: JARO 4196-2, 1996)

Fly Fly My Sadness with The Bulgarian Voices – Angelite (JARO 4197-2, 1996)

Orphan’s Lament (USA: Shanachie 6458 1997 – Europe: JARO 424-2, 1997)

If I’d Been Born An Eagle (USA: Shanachie 648 1997 – Europe: JARO 4216-2, 1998)

Mountain Tale with The Bulgarian Voices – ANGELITE (JARO 4212-2, 1998)

Where Young Grass Grows (Shanachie 6618, 1999)

Best Live (JARO 4236-2, 2001)

More Live (JARO 4246-2, 2002)

Spirits from Tuva (JARO 4243-2, 2002)

More Live (2003)

Altai Sayan Tandy-Uula (2004)

Live at Fantasy Studios (2008)

Mother-Earth! Father-Sky! (2008)

Eternal (2009)

Ancestors Call (World Village, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Chirgilchin

Chirgilchin – Photo by Gary Ehlenberger

Chirgilchin are the 1998 champions of the Tuvan national throat singing competitions in Kyzyl the capital of Tuva. Chirgilchin means either mirage or miracle in the Tuvan language.

In 1996 Alexander Bapa also the founder and producer of Tuvan Throat Singing group Huun Huur Tu gathered the cream of the younger generation of Tuvan musicians and formed Chirgilchin. One of the group’s more extraordinary features is the appearance of a Female Throat Singer which is still quite uncommon in Tuva.

All Chirgilchin’s songs are in the Tuvan language and the group plays instruments such as the Doshpuluur – a kind of lute with two strings the Igil – a violin with two strings the Limbi – a trapezoid harmonic soundbox Flute and the Dymbra – a rattle drum used by the Tuvan Shamans in their rituals.

 

Chirgilchin

 

A Chirgilchin performance will also get the public acquainted with shamanism. The Tuvan religious culture is primarily shamanistic but for some hundreds of years has also been strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism [or Lamaism as they call it]. Indeed many people note the relationship between some Tuvan throat singing styles and the religious chanting of Tibetan lamas.

Throat-singing or overtone singing is the audible expression of producing two or more notes at once. This startling technique was developed in response to the sounds of the natural environment in which Central Asian nomadic tribes roamed.

A particularly rich throat-singing tradition survives in Tuva and neighboring Mongolia. In these areas marked by vast grasslands and mountain ranges throat singing is called khoomei. The singer produces overtones by varying the shape of his mouth and pharynx; as a result two three or even four distinct tones can be heard at once. The fundamental tone remains constant while melodies are sung with the highest overtone resembling the sound of a flute.

Line-up:

Aydysmaa Kandan: female vocalist khomus (Tuvan mouth harp) tenchik (bells)

Mongoun-ool Ondar: throat singing (5 styles) igil morin-khuur khomus
vocals.

Igor Koshkendei: throat-singing (5 styles) igil morin-khuur doshpuluur khomus guitar.

Aldar Tamdyn: throat singing (kargyraa and khoomei styles) morin-khuur doshpuluur limbi igil

Alexander Bapa: founder producer arranger manager. Founder of Huun Huur Tu producer of their first two CDs (6 Horses in my Herd and The Orphans Lament)

Discography:

The Wolf and the Kid (Shanachie, 1996)
Aryskan’s Wind (1999)
Ezir-Kara (2002)
Collectible (2005)
Will Teach (2006)
Pictures of Tuva (2008)
Kaldak Khamar (2009)

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Artist profiles: Tanya Tagaq

Tanya Tagaq

Tanya Tagaq is a performer and improviser of Inuit throat singing. Born and raised in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Tagaq left her community at 15 to attend Sir John Franklin High School. Continuing her education, she attained her Bachelor of Fine Arts and the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. During her final year of school, weary of `southern’ culture and yearning for home, she began emulating tapes of throat singing sent by her mother.

Inuit throat singing has traditionally been a two-person voice game using vocal multiphonics and vocal percussion techniques. While studying at a Nova Scotia university with no other Inuit women to play with, Tanya Tagaq began throat-singing solo. She found soloing a good way to express herself, her culture, and her art to her new colleagues. It was also a fine way of teaching Inuit throat singing to others, thus creating singing partners and introducing a growing number of people to a little known art.

Tanya Tagaq can perform solo but prefers to improvise with other capable musicians. She is able to present workshops and seminars on Inuit throat singing and a number of other things.

Tanya Tagaq

Since the release of her debut CD Sinaa (meaning ‘edge’) in 2005, the Canadian Nunavut-born singer has not just attracted the attention of some of the world’s most groundbreaking artists, they have invited her to participate on their own musical projects. Recently recording once again with Bjork (on the soundtrack for the Matthew Barney film Drawing Restraint 9), having appeared on Bjork’s Medulla CD and accompanied her on the Vespertine tour.

In 2007 the acclaimed Kronos Quartet invited Tanya to participate – as co-writer and performer – on a project aptly titled Nunavut, performed across North America since 2008.

Sinaa was nominated for a Juno Award (Best Aboriginal Recording) and won in three categories at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, including Best Female Artist.

Tanya Tagaq

Traditional throat singing is a game between two women that is an emulation of the sounds from the land. It is a very complicated game where you are making two sounds and you have to go back and forth alternating the sounds. The leader can change the song to the next verse anytime they want to, so you have to be able to follow them. It is not emotional, although it may sound that way. It is a game, you giggle afterwards.” Tanya Tagaq

Discography:

* Sinaa (Jericho Beach, 2005)
* Auk / Blood (Ipecac Recordings, 2008)
* Anuraaqtuq (2011)
* Animism (Six Shooter Records, 2014)
* Retribution (Six Shooter Records, 2016)

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Folk Rockers from Nunavut

The Jerry Cans – Inuusiq

The Jerry Cans – Inuusiq (Aakuluk Music, 2017)

Canadian band The Jerry Cans is based in Nunavut, in Canada’s far north. On Inuusiq they present a unique mix of folk-rock, pop, indie rock, reggae and Inuit throat singing.

The band indicates that their songs talk to young people and their challenges, trying to make music that equalizes traditional and contemporary life.

One of The Jerry Cans’ initiatives is the creation of the first record label ever in Nunavut, Aakuluk Music. “We had thrown around the idea to start a label to support Inuktitut music. We have four young artists singing in Inuktitut,” says vocalist and guitarist Andrew Morrison. “We’ve often heard as we were pitching our work, that if you want to succeed, you have to sing in English. We don’t accept that. We wanted to create a business entity to support it.”

 

The Jerry Cans

The lineup includes Nancy Mike on throat singing and accordion; Brendan Doherty on bass; Steve Rigby on drums; Gina burgess on fiddle; and Andrew Morrison on lead vocals and guitar.

The CD version includes a booklet with Inuit and English-language lyrics.

 

 

With Inuusiq and their new record label, The Jerry Cans give a fresh, creative new voice to Canadian Inuit culture.

 

 

Buy Inuusiq

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Acclaimed Tuvan Throat Singing Ensemble Alash to Perform at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro

Alash

Renowned Tuvan throat singing ensemble Alash is set to perform this Thursday, February 16 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Alash’s musicians are maestros of Tuvan throat singing (xöömei), an extraordinary technique for singing multiple pitches at the same time. What differentiates this talented trio from earlier generations of Tuvan throat singers is the delicate addition of modern influences into their music.

Alash collaborated with American musicians Béla Fleck & the Flecktones and the jazz collective Sun Ra Arkestra.

Available recordings include Achai, Alash and Buura.

Tickets for this concert are $22. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit artscenterlive.org or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787.

The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main Street in Carrboro.

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Artist Profiles: Bady-Dorzhu Ondar

Bady-Dorzhu Ondar – Photo by John O’Hara, Whitefish Bay Herald

Bady-Dorzhu Ondar was born in the village of Iyme. In May 2006, he was awarded Best in Competition among xoomei performers on the 85th birthday of the popular throat singer Maxim Dakpai. He was given a horse (a very valued award in Tuva) as grand prize.
In July 2005, Bady-Dorzhu Ondar won the Best Vocals category at the Ustuu-Huree Festival, and in September 2005 he was given a special award at the 4th All-Russia Festival of Folk Orchestras, dedicated to Kalinin and held at the Saratov Folk Arts Center.

Bady-Dorzhu Ondar’s career started early. At the age of eight, the young throat singer started to perform with his teacher, the distinguished xoomeizhi Kongar-ool Ondar. The teacher and student were guests on one of the most highly rated American TV late night programs, the David Letterman Show. Later, 9-year-old Bady-Dorzhu Ondar performed Tuvan throat singing on another popular show, hosted by popular comedian Chevy Chase.

In 1999 Bady-Dorzhu Ondar became one of the founders of The Alash Ensemble. The group was formed in the basement of the Kyzyl Arts College in Tuva’s capital city. Originally known as Changy-Xaya, Alash became the resident traditional ensemble at the school.

In December of 2007, Bady-Dorzhu Ondar (who was 23-years old) was awarded the title People’s Xoomeizhi of Tuva. The title People’s Xoomeizhi is an honor bestowed by the president of Tuva in recognition of a throat singer’s artistic accomplishment.

Discography:

Alash Live at the Enchanted Garden (2006)
Alash (2007)
Buura (2011)
Achai (2013)

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Throat Singing from Eastern Siberia

Shono – “Hunters. Throat singing from the shores of Baikal” (Sketis Music SKMR-122, 2016)

Shono is a new ensemble from eastern Siberia that skillfully combines traditional Buryat and Mongolian throat singing techniques and musical instruments with modern rock and jazz instruments and arrangements. It’s what Russians call ethno rock.

The band’s repertoire includes Buryat traditional songs about hunting, the beautiful mountains, friendship, warriors, Lake Baikal, wedding songs, and wolves as well as Buryat ritual dances and a handful of originals.

Three of the musicians have mastered the art of throat singing. On Hunters you’ll hear styles such as khoomei and sygyt.

Shono was founded in 2014 by musician and storyteller Alexander Arhincheev.

The lineup on Hunters includes Alexander Arkhincheev on vocals, throat singing, morin khuur, suur, sukha khuur, and limbe; Beligto Sambuev on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, throat singing; Vladimir Sidorov on bass, throat singing, and khomus; and Dmitriy Zanin on drums and percussion.

“Hunters. Throat singing from the shores of Baikal” is fascinating fusion of traditional folk music and rock highlighting the mesmerizing throat singing styles.

Buy the digital version of Hunters. Throat singing from the shores of Baikal

Buy the CD version of Hunters. Throat singing from the shores of Baikal

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Transfixing Tuvan Rock

Yat-Kha – Live at Stray Dog Club (Sketis Music SKMR-115, 2015)

This live album showcases the transfixing music style developed by Tuvan throat singer Albert Kuvezhin. Although Kuvezhin founded the traditional throat-singing group Huun Huur Tu, his greatest achievement is Yat-Kha, a genre-defying band that mixes overtone Tuvan music with rock. Some call it ethno-rock, others world music, but whatever you call it, it’s a groundbreaking form of music that brings an ancient Siberian tradition to European rock clubs.

Live at “Stray Dog Club” was originally released by Yat-Kha in 2011. The Sketis Music label has re-released, providing a much larger distribution and marketing effort and therefore reaching a significant audience.

On Live at “Stray Dog Club” you’ll find Kuvezin’s characteristic vocal drones and fascinating growls accompanied by a mix of western and Tuvan musical instruments.

The lineup on this album includes Albert Kuvezhin on vocals and guitar; Evgeny Tkachev on drums, mandolin and backing vocals; Sholban Mongush on vocals, igil (2 or 3-stringed Tuvan fiddle with a carved wooden horse’s head attached to the top of the neck), temir-khomus (Tuvan jew’s harp); and Alex Saaya on bass, clarinet, backing vocals

Live at “Stray Dog Club” is a stunning performance by one of the most alluring artists from Siberia.

Buy the digital version of Live at Stray Dog Club

Buy the CD from sketismusic.bandcamp.com/album/yat-kha-live-at-stray-dog-club-skmr-115

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