This album marks the official ending of a long period of doubt and uncertainty what to do with my music in light of the music industry. Basically, I have been slow, very slow, to catch on with the possibilities of the internet, and apparently refused to make up my mind. The first signs of dealing with it has been to launch some videos on YouTube, including a live concert with Sinan Art. Now, here is my next step: the first physical release of new music made just by myself in some twenty years (besides collaborative projects such as Oorbeek,Parafonia, the Superstringtrio and ad hoc projects such as the Odna soundtrack). I have about a dozen of other releases in the pipeline, partly new, partly old, some of it by me but mostly collaborations, spanning many kinds of music and sound-art.
I had some ideas for the design, starting from the excellent photography of Yi-Jin Hsieh. I decided to use one of her photos and then to turn everything upside down/inside out, with a nod to Chinese writing, which used to be vertical and starts where our Indo-European-language book(let)s normally end, folding open to the right instead of left. So the Chinese cover of the printed album is intentionally the negative and upside down version of the English cover. UN-intentionally the title of track 2 (a kargyraa solo in Tuvan style) somewhat related to this turning around of things, as you see here (I only realised this when I took the photo):
JiJi Liu quickly jumped in to turn my design ideas into proper InDesign-shape that printers need, took care of many details, and suggested to use cardboard instead of a digipack, a great improvement. Our CD agent, named Rush Blood, was not trying to push for a quick and easy fix, he also loves all these details. He does photography, calligraphy and together we went to check the first test plates as they rolled off the presses. The smells and sounds brought me back to my childhood when I joined my dad, the architect, to fetch all kinds of print-work. I inherited a great love of paper, carton, printing, binding etc. etc. from him and truly enjoy getting back to publishing something palpable and beautiful.
To check out the album details go to my brand new Bandcamp profile. Bandcamp is the place where I buy more and more music, streaming/digital and sometimes as a ‘hard copy’ (CD or LP). It brims with creative output in many genres and is the platform that is really supportive of artists. The release date of my album, Friday September 2, 2022, happens to be Bandcamp Friday, the day they pay an even bigger share than usual to their artists. If you want to order the CD, the added advantage of Bandcamp is that you automatically get unlimited access to the streaming and audio files on Bandcamp. This would require another step if you order the CD directly from me – but if you prefer that, then just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help you get it to you and sort out how to do that. And do note:
First weeks: free shipping around the world – saves quite a bit I would say.
Also: second CD half price.
If you are curious about future releases you can also go to Bandcamp to sign up for new releases, you’ll probably be notified well before the release date. Even better: become a Bandcamp member and write a line or two about this album (… if you like it…).
This weekend a new work by Chinese-German composer Yang Song in which my voice and Jew’s harp are featured, will have its world premiere: In Einem Moment – 须臾. The piece features orchestra and tape, as it is often still called, meaning pre-recorded audio played back during the live performance. Yang Song studied electro-acoustic composition and created an 8-channel version with spatial and some digital effects superimposed on the voice and instrument recordings. Among the recordings are not just pieces of throat singing (khöömii or khöömei), but also vocalisations inspired by a special genre of folk song I have practiced in a free style for many years: Mongolian long song or urtyn duu.
The timing of the invitation, some four months ago, was auspicious, because I had just began to delve deeper into the Mongolian long song genre with the intention to include it in my live repertoire. So a month or so earlier I picked up a book plus CD I had bought in Mongolia but never properly studied: Alain Desjaques’s Dix-Huit Chants Mongols Dzahtchin et Ourianhai. (If this sounds familiar to some readers, I wrote more about that in this recent blogpost.)*
While I was working on that material, Yang Song got in touch with me through a common friend, Frank Kouwenhoven, of CHIME in Leiden. Song grew up in Inner-Mongolia, part of the PRC, from partial Mongolian parentage, but in a Chinese-language environment. In the program notes to her piece, she admits that she is familiar with traditional Mongol music and yet not really used to them. “In my family Mongolian blood flows; I was used to be surrounded by Mongolian music in various formats, even though I did not understand the lyrics.”
The question was if I could provide a number of different techniques of throat singing / overtone singing, Mongolian long song, and Jew’s harp, to use as the ground material for her electronic composition and the orchestral piece. I wanted to oblige, as her music immediately appealed to me and our first conversation made clear we had many things in common aesthetically. At the same time I was a bit confused: Why Me? Wouldn’t it be easier and more logical to ask a musician from Inner-Mongolia to provide the basic tracks for her piece? Even though I am a Dutchman living in Taiwan, and she is a Chinese Mongol in Germany, we had a similar proximity, or rather: distance to the music that inspired her. Noticing that this was apparently what she wanted (someone with a certain distance to the living source of Mongol traditional music) I put the question aside and started to work.
I sent her my updated and expanded Anthology of Overtone Singing: a selection of my field recordings from traditional of overtone singing plus several of my own pieces and demonstrations (and which will be published soon as the 2022 version of my book Overtone Singing is in its final stages of publication). She sent me back samples of it and of recordings she found on the web. We agreed to work on 7 short pieces of about 30 to 90 seconds. Although initially it seemed she wanted to let me improvise, over time her ideas became more fixed. She wanted to let the orchestra sing or recite some of the long song syllables, so she ended up needing fixed lyrics. I then wrote lyrics inspired by Mongolian phonemes (I only speak a few words of Mongolian and do not want to make a fool of myself pretending I can sings ongs in fluently Mongolian). She also set out the rhythmical structure, fundamental notes and durations for my parts, all of which I recorded in a studio.
I am curious about the result but will not be able to hear it in its full 8-channel form with live orchestra. If you are near Saarbrücken, please go and listen for me – at least Frank Kouwenhoven will be there to give his account of how it sounded! Since this is a radio concert, I think it will be live on the radio too this Friday.
May 20, 2022, 19:00
Variationen über ein Thema von Frank Bridge für Streicher op. 10
„In einem Moment – 须臾“
Uraufführung / World Premiere
Violinkonzert d-Moll op. 15
German Radio Philharmonic. Conductor: Martyn Brabbins.
Today I tried out something I do a few times a year: take a deep breath and see how long I can sing. Well, this time I just tried to sing for one minute, not as long as possible. The best technique to use for this is either khöömei or sygyt as it automatically constricts the throat and inhibits the airflow.
It is trivial, I know, but it is a good exercise for the lungs, diaphragm and the entire respiratory system. The other challenge is to make some musical sense. The throat singing is far from perfect (some of the overtones should not be there) but I decided to share it anyway as an example of some of the things I practise.
Here is the latest issue of the journal The New Research of Tuva, dedicated this time to the music of Tuva. Many articles are in English, some in Russian, by a wide range of authors including Valentina Suzukey/Валентина Сузукей, Robbie Beahrs, Malgorzata Stelmaszyk, Maxim Chaposhnikov, Morten Abildsnes, Tadagawa Leo, Hsu Shen-Mou, Sauli Heikkilä and myself. The chief editor is Chimiza Lamajaa and this edition’s guest editor is Valentina Suzukey. This is a wonderful and diverse issue of new research on throat singing, Jew’s harps, shamanism, popular music and much more from Tuva.
You van find the Table of Contents here , a pdf of the entire journal here, and you can start the download if you want to have the issue on your own device here. My own article about Maksim Dakpai’s throat singing is available for download here, and for online viewing here.
These are all 15 contributions:
Ethnomusicology Issues of academic study and practical acquisition of Tuvan music (a case study of Tuvan instrumental music)
Suzukey, Valentina Yu.
What does Dakpai Maksim do when he sings sygyt? A preliminary investigation of one throat singer’s personal style
Van Tongeren, Mark
Nomads in the Global Soundscape: Negotiating Aesthetics in Post-Soviet Tuva’s Traditional Music Productions
Beahrs, Robert O.
From the sound of throat singing to the sounds of shamanic practice: Structural organisation of shamanic rituals in Tuva
Tuvan music and World Music
Chaposhnikov, Maxim V.
Tuvan music and its discography (principal names, titles, issues of description)
“The khomus is my red deer on which I fly through the middle world” (Khomus in the shamanic practice of Tuva: Research issues)
Social and cognitive functions of music based on the example of Tuvan throat singing
Let me sing your songs: how Finns found xöömei
Tuvan music in schools in the United States
Quirk, Sean P.
The development of contemporary music culture of Tuva (a view from Japan)
The language of poetic texts in contemporary Tuvan pop songs
Saaya, Oyumaa M.
Psychological features of the professional activities of Tuvan musicians
Sandyi, Anna D.-B.
On the composition of modal structures of Tuvan traditional songs
Baranmaa, Ayasmaa D.-B.
The song folklore of Tozhu Tuvans: collection, publication, research
Tiron, Ekaterina L.
Immerse yourself in Tuvan culture by joining four events in three days: 1) a lecture on Friday morning 2) a concert on Friday evening 3) an introduction to Tuva on Saturday 4) a throat singing workshop on Sunday
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THE PROGRAM DAY BY DAY
FRIDAY APRIL 7, 10:00 – 12:00 Soul and technique of Tuvan khöömei culture
Lecture by Mrs. Choduraa Tumat
National Chengchi University
Register and details on https://goo.gl/9wpgU7
Special guests: Pisui Ciyo (Tayal, voice), Sauniaw 少妮瑤 (Paiwan, double nose flute), Ivan Alberto (Mexico, percussion), Mark van Tongeren (Netherlands, voice and more)
Location: Red Room TAF, 2F LIBRARY, Daan District
No. 177, Sec. 1, Jianguo S. Rd (Intersection of Jianguo S. Rd. and Jinan Rd.)
Tickets: 600 NT$ at the door, 500 NT$ pre-sale. Includes free drink, snack. Discounts
– Student group discount: 5 tickets for 2200 NT$ (12 %)
– Students with ID: 500 NT$
ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES Choduraa Tumat hails from the steppe grasslands of Western Tuva, a republic in South Siberia that is part of the Russian Federation. As a child, she was fond of listening to khoomei and sygyt throat singing performed by her brothers.
In 1998 she founded and became the artistic leader of the all-female throat-singing folk ensemble Tyva Kyzy (‘Daughters of Tuva’). She is now an accomplished performer of many Tuvan throat-singing styles: khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, ezenggileer and chylandyk. Tumat has been performing professionally since 1998.
Besides throat-singing, she sings traditional folk songs, plays chanzy (three-stringed lute), igil (two-stringed horse-head fiddle), shoor (recorder), khomus (Jew’s harp), all to be heard in today’s concert. She also plays byzaanchy (four-stringed horse-head fiddle), doshpuluur (three-stringed lute) and chadagan (zither). She received several prizes and honourary titles in her native Republic of Tuva, as well as invitations to Moscow, other Russian cities and many countries around the world.
A graduate from the East-Siberian State Academy in Buryatia, she carries out postgraduate research on female throat singing at the Tuva State University and teaches there and at other schools in Tuva’s capitol Kyzyl. Tumat is the highest-ranking teacher with experience in training foreign students the skills of throat singing and traditional music. She founded the first group of female throat singers, Tyva Kyzy and led their tours to Japan, China, Taiwan, the USA and many European countries. She recorded several CDs and a DVD, both solo and with Tyva Kyzy.
Pisui Ciyo is a performing artist, choreographer, educator and scholar who began her professional carreer as the lead performer of the Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe, 1994-1997, an early project to raise public awareness and give a stronger voice to Taiwan’s indigenous people. Besides taking inspiration from her Tayal background, she traveled widely and worked with native American tribes and flamenco artists, among others. Her performances range from traditional songs to contemporary dance, and from musical poetry to socially engaged text theatre. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, and currently prepares a PhD at Taipei National University of the Arts.
Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj is the youngest inheritor in Paiwan flute and nose flute (lalingedan), and she is the only one female inheritor in Paiwan culture. Recently, she is devoted to transmitting Paiwan music culture to younger generations. In addition to release three CD albums, nominated by the Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, she did fieldwork to collect endangered traditional tunes for teaching material and conducted numerous workshops to promote Paiwan music. She interprets traditional tunes in a creative way to express traditional and modern Paiwan music for the contemporary world. Sauniaw performed in Australia, America, Japan, Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Estonia, Philippines, and Hong Kong with many famous musicians.
Ivan Alberto was born in Mexico city. Ivan started his studies on contemporary percussion but one of his main influences has been traditional music specially Indonesian and Mexican. He went to study traditional gamelan, puppetry as well as instruments construction on Bali and Java and currently lives in Taiwan, where he works with theatre.
Mark van Tongeren is a vocalist/sound explorer who received a PhD in Creative and Performing Arts from Leiden University. In his artistic work he emphasises performance/theatrical aspects of music and collaborates with visual artists, composers and dancers. Essentially an improviser, he also duetted with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on a Bach partita, took part in the world premiere of a film score by Russian composer Dmitri Shoshtakovich, and collaborated on dance projects in Taiwan with Horse, Ming-Hwa Yeh and Taipei Dance Circle.
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SATURDAY APRIL 8, 14:00 – 18:00
A TOUCH OF TUVA. SOUNDS SIGHTS AROMAS AND FLAVORS OF SIBERIA
Entrance:free, donations welcome
Location: Red Room TAF, 2F LIBRARY, Daan District
No. 177, Sec. 1, Jianguo S. Rd (Intersection of Jianguo S. Rd. and Jinan Rd.) Language: English with Chinese translation
Come and learn all about Tuva’s secrets! Once an independent country of its own right, Tannu Tuva is a hidden gem of natural, cultural and religious synthesis, tucked away between dramatic mountains and forests, north of Mongolia. Very few people know it. Today we offer films, talks, the best CDs from Tuva, some live music, drinks and dishes from the taiga and grasslands — even its special aromas! Your hosts:
* Tuvan musician Choduraa Tumat, who bravely broke taboos as a female throat singer (khöömeizhi) and knows Tuvan culture inside-out
* Tuvan PhD-student Chechena Kuular from NCCU, talking about Tuva in Chinese historic documents
* Mark van Tongeren, an ethnomusicologist who writes and teaches about the music and culture of Siberia
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SUNDAY APRIL 9, 10.00-17.00.
ART OF TUVAN THROAT SINGING / KHÖÖMEI WITH CHODURAA TUMAT
Beginners workshop 10:00-13:00 Advanced students 14:00 – 17:00 English spoken with Chinese translation. Location: Canjune Training Center, Fu Xing South Road Sec. 2, Lane 151, No. 3, 4th Floor. For map and route, check here, scroll down.
Throat singing is one of Tuva’s most iconic cultural expressions. Children in Tuva grow up listening to subtle shades of timbre and to overtones that are rare or unheard of in many cultures. It takes years to really master Tuvan overtone singing, moving forward step by step. Today you can join a beginner’s workshop and learn about the three basic techniques (in the morning) or continue your practise of them (in the afternoon). Choduraa Tumat is an experienced guide for males and females, and will be assisted by Mark van Tongeren, an expert in the theory and practise of throat singing living in Taiwan.
While learning a Tuvan song, we will get to know and practise these three well-defined techniques of Tuvan throat singing: Khöömei
The Tuvan khöömei refers to all types of Tuvan throat singing in general and to one particular technique. According to the Tuvans it is with this technique that throat singing began. Khöömei comes closer to the articulation of everyday vowel sounds than the other techniques.
This is the principal style in Tuva. Like all Tuvan throat singing, a guttural voice is necessary to produce sygyt. The name refers to ‘whistling’ and indeed, this technique sounds more like whistling or a flute than the other tow basic techniques. Sygyt resounds powerfully in the surrounding space, making it hard to tell where the sound comes from.
Tuvan kargyraa is most easily recognised by its unusually deep bass register, which gives the voice a very rough quality. In kargyraa the harmonics of the melody are usually paired with vowels. Listeners have to learn to hear the overtones ‘through’ the vowels. Kargyraa is probably the most difficult technique to learn and to explain.
Price: 2500 NT$ (for each half day, that is, morning or afternoon) Discounts
– Students with ID: 20% / 500 nt$ (bring your ID)
– Combine with Friday’s concert: 10 % / 250 NT$ (show your Accupass registration)
– Combine with NCCU lecture or Touch of Tuva: 5 % / 125 NT$
– Only the highest discount counts. To register please pay the workshop fee to Mark van Tongeren and send an email to email@example.com with your name and the last digits of your bank account.
Find out why Mark van Tongeren thinks anyone can learn something from listening to Tuvan music at his talk for TedX Taipei.
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A TOUCH OF TUVA / 3 Days of Khöömei Soul is organised by Fusica in collaboration with Red Room, Canjune and the Russian Center of NCCU, with the help of many volunteers.
Ivan Alberto 出生在墨西哥市，Ivan學習當代打擊樂，但他的主要影響是在傳統音樂方面，特別是印尼以及墨西哥音樂。他也在峇里島以及爪哇學習傳統甘美朗(gamelan，印尼的打擊樂器)，偶戲(puppetry)以及樂器製作，目前在台灣居住，並在劇院工作。
馬克．范．湯可鄰Mark van Tongeren
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ 4月8日(星期六) 14:00 – 18:00 觸動圖瓦 來自西伯利亞的色聲香味 A Touch of Tuva. Sounds Sights Aromas and Flavors of Siberia.
喉唱是圖瓦最具代表性的文化資產表現之一。圖瓦的兒童從小就生長在聆聽音色裡細微的弦外之音，並聆聽在許多文化裡罕見甚至從未聽過的泛音(overtones)。要專精於圖瓦的喉唱，必須要花很多年，一步一步的精進。現在你可以參加這個為初學者舉辦的工作坊，並學習到三種基本的技巧(上午時段班)，或是繼續你的練習(下午時段班)。楚德拉．圖瑪特(Choduraa Tumat)是一位男性及女性喉唱資深的導師，並由居住在台灣的喉唱理論及實務專家馬克‧范‧湯可鄰(Mark van Tongeren)擔任助教。
This Saturday evening (September 5, 19:30, at Yuppy Cafe/Bookstore) I’ll be doing a concert of songs I have learned from oral traditions of various places around the globe. Tea (Tina Ma) is going to help create some links between them in her own magical way. After that, I will sing together with the audience and give an idea what we do in the R e s o n a n c e course.
For me this is a real first, to sing ‘plain’ traditional songs: I have never quite thought of myself as a ‘traditional singer’ of any kind and only reluctantly began to sing Tuvan khöömei (throat singing or overtone singing) when I was asked to. I developed an interest in singing Dutch songs at the time my son and daughter were born. Since then (and maybe because of that) I have changed my attitude towards traditional music. I slowly started to learn more songs in traditional ways, instead of ‘appropriating’ other music for my own musical language. I am now learning and singing songs from Tuva, Corsica, The Netherlands and other places for some years, and feel ready to present them onstage.
I began travelling to collect and learn music in 1990, when I visited Bulgaria. Then to Corsica in 1991. Then Russia in 1992, which was the upbeat for Siberia in 1993, where I went back several times. In the 2000s I visited New Zealand, Dharamsala, Jerusalem and Sardinia, amongst other places, and began moving to Taiwan. All the while I also met many travelling and migrant musicians, learning from or with them from time to time.
This Summer I visited Turkey and had an opportunity to learn a song from a well-known Turkish folk singer, Aysegül Aral. I was curious to learn more about singing with the quartertones you can find in Turkish and Arabic music, and I was happy to find I was doing alright, according to my instructor Aysegül. The song we sang (and which I will perform Saturday) is called Havada bulut yok, a well-known folk song.
Aysegul Aral, the interpreter and me
Another special meeting several years ago was with Firaz Ghazzaz, a muslim reciter for the Palestine community of Eastern Jeruzalem. We collaborated in a project by two Dutch composers, Merlijn Twaalfhoven and Paul Oomen, helping to give voice to the suppressed communities of Palestines in Jerusalem. Firaz is the descendent of a long line of reciters for the Al Aqsa Mosque (going back for as much as 422 years when I visited). Al Aqsa is one of the most important mosques in the Arab world, situated on holy, historic territory in Jerusalem. I was struck by the humanity and the willingness to improvise, leaving his religious tradition behind to look for common ground in my improvised, coloristic, harmonic language and his own modal chanting. There is tremendous power and refinement in his singing, as you can hear in Firaz’ collaboration with another musician from Europe here.
With Firaz Ghazzaz, 2009
In Corsica, the French isle, you can hear echoes of this kind of intonation, though very distant ones. In this case they stem from the need for voices to harmonise according to pure, Pythagorean intonation, and not because of a modal tuning system as developed by the Arabs. In recent years, when I re-visited Corsica, I had many opportunities to immerse myself in polyphonic singing, and take part in it. Now I feel ready to sing some Corsican songs, but of course there will be no polyphony this Saturday (though I am considering to teach the audience a simple line so we get two parts). This year I joined the concert of musicians from Pigna: Nando Aquaviva and his daughter Battista, and Cecce Pesce, the guitarist. When we first met, Battista was beginning to be famous in Corsica. This Summer, she suddenly was famous all over France due to her appearance in the popular TV show The Voice.
In 2013 I sang some ‘alle-male’ polyphony with Claude Bellagamba, a middle-aged singer with an exceptional, powerful and natural voice, and Nando, who is past his prime years (he is 70+) but still getting along well and very active musically.
Claude Bellagamba, Nando Aquaviva and me singing polyphonic songs, Corsica 2013
Of course there will be music from Tuva, Siberia. Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay, who came over from Tuva to perform in Taiwan this spring, helped me with the lyrics of a well-known song by the folk singer/composer Maksim Dakpai. In their concerts we did not sing this song, but contemporary and shamanic improvisations with voice and Jew’s harp. I did not quite feel up to singing traditional songs with them onstage: to be honest, I think for singing traditional music you need to know the lyrics by heart, and I am still struggling with that. In that sense my concert this Saturday is not so traditional: I will need the help of written lyrics on a sheet for sight-reading for most of the songs. The ‘shamanic’ improvisation is one possible way out of that problem, but not just second choice. Besides singing Dakpai’s song Saturday, I will also do a shaman-styled improvisation.
Otkun Dostay, Choduraa Tumat & me at Wistaria Teahouse, 2015 (photo by Ewan Kuo)
I visited Hungarian shaman and sound practitioner Joska Soos several times in Belgium.
I have spent much time learning a Hakka song, Hakka being one of the Chinese minorities in Taiwan (and China) with a distinct culture and music. I have always liked Hakka music when I heard it on the radio here, but it is not easy to sing it. My kids learnt some Hakka songs at school and I had great difficulty to get the melody right when I asked them to teach me (and how lucky I am with children who have such critical ears at such an early age!). This year I am working on a dance piece with Taipei Dance Circle, founded by Hakka choreographer Liou Shaw-lu. In order to pay tribute to Shaw-lu, who passed away a year ago, we decided to sing a Hakka song for him. The dance performance will première next week in Taipei’s National Theatre (Experimental Theatre), so I take the chance to do a try-out of Lao shan ge at Yuppy Bookstore.
Then there will be an indigenous Taiwanese song and things from Mongolia, India and of course the Netherlands.
Talking about oral traditions, there is Tina ‘Tea’ Ma, or … is she? It is still a little bit of a mystery what she will do, or even that she makes it, immersed as she is in Taiwan’s East Coast indigenous Amis communities. She seems to be forgetting the time in Hualien (we all do when we go there!). I am not even sure she will manage to get out of the spell of the songs and rituals she is learning there. If she makes it, she may turn out to be the most ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ of the voices you will hear this Saturday. Let’s hear!