Throat Singing

Trailer “Space Sound Voice” – Overtone singing (English)

“Space Sound Voice – A Quest for the Origin of Harmonics” – 45min 2009 German. A film documentary about Overtone Singing and Harmonics.

DVD available on Void Visuals. (title: Raum Klang Stimme).

Harmonic Singing (also known as overtone singing) has the power to move us deeply. It is an ancient form of singing, using our voice to produce two or more tones at once. But how does it work? And how can harmonic singing have such a profound effect on us?

Harmonic Singing (also known as overtone singing) has the power to move us deeply. It is an ancient form of singing, using our voice to produce two or more tones at once. But how does it work? And how can harmonic singing have such a profound effect on us?

In the documentary Raum Klang Stimme (Space Sound Voice), filmmaker Minghao Xu takes us on a quest for the origins of harmonics, giving us insight in our amazing ability to sing harmonics. Not only a varied range of international harmonic singers is introduced, but also the scientific side is well presented, resulting in an inspirig journey through the world of sound.

This film documentation, portraying seven musicians, tells the story of my personal quest for and fascination of ‘overtone-singing’ and the harmonic proportions.


David Hykes
Christian Bollmann
Wolfgang Saus
Danny Wetzels
Hosoo & Transmongolia
Jill Purce
Mark van Tongeren

Sainkho Namtchylak returns to Taipei

sainkho- DOM Moscow 2005-
Tuvan folksong / extended vocal techniques / throat singing-diva Sainkho performs once again in Taiwan. Sainkho was born in Soviet-era Tuva, in a Siberian outpost within eyesight of Mongolia. She developed more than average singing skills and during the late 1980s she took advantage of the political/cultural reformations (perestroika) to set out on an innovative career that soon put her in the international ranks of outstanding, progressive singers.

She moved to Austria in 1994, and was begged to come back to Tuva by president Sholban Kara-ool this month, while she visited Tuva.

She established her name with sweat and original interpretations of Tuvan songs in the early 1990s and experimental work. Nowadays much of Sainkho’s output is ecclectic, avant-garde, with an electrifying, ear-catching aura to it. She is an amazingly busy and energetic performer, who constantly travels the world to collaborate with ever new musicians, pouring out CD after CD, and re-inventing herself every year.

Exactly ten years ago, she gave a memorable concert in Zhongshan Hall, and a throat singing workshop in TNUA (reported in Chung Mingder’s book OM. Overtone singing as meditation). At that time she brought with her German Popov, an old friend of mine from Amsterdam (born in the Ukraine), and singer/guitarist Caspar David Sacker from Austria. I am happy to see that this time she works with a local musician (and again a friend of mine), the Taipei-based pianist Lee Shih-Yang. Also taking part will be Dickson Dee, a Hong Kong sound artist.

This concert is highly recommended for all people interested in Tuvan/Mongolian music, throat singing and new vocal techniques. When I spread this message through my Fusica newsletter there were still tickets left. Now there aren’t…  But I had reserved a bunch of tickets for the students of my R E S O N A N C E  course through Lee Shih-Yang. If you are interested respond quick (reply below) and I can see if he still has a ticket for the October 5 show for you . Tickets are 500 NT$ minus a little discount. Hope to see you there!

2014新點子樂展Innovation Series – 人聲風景「即興篇」
SoundScape-Improvisation Across the Horizon

Videolink Youku

Experimental Theatre

October 4 19:00

October 5, 14:30

Tuvan/Chinese throat-singing festival

I received news from Aldar Tamdyn, the good-hearted and pun-loving member of the Tuvan group Chirgilchin, who is now also the director of the Tuvan Cultural Center. There will be a combined festival of throat singing (khöömei, in Tuvan) to be held in Tuva AND in China. It is possible for participants (khoomeigie as Aldar calls them) to make the journey from Tuva to China with the Tuvan musicians, which promises to be an outstanding opportunity to immerse yourself deeply in throat singing and meet a lot of musicians from both sides of the Russian-Mongolian border.
Aldar wrote:

“Greetings Khoomeigie!
The Tuvan Cultural Center would like to personally invite you to the 2014 “Music of the Great Steppe Festival”. The festival will take place in Kyzyl, Tuva, Russia June 26-28, 2014. Participants are being invited from all over the world. We welcome your participation at our festival in the birthplace of Khoomei culture.”

Foreign throat singers and guttural artists who want to join the competition should get in touch with the organisers as soon as possible. If you have never been to Tuva and dream about once doing it, then perhaps this may be a good opportunity. Send an email to to register.

There is a chance to study in small groups with the excellent musicians
of Chirgilchin:

“We are also offering special master classes for those who choose to arrive in Tuva early. These classes will be taught by contemporary masters of the craft:

Mongun-ool Ondar, the recent recipient of “Notable Artist Of The Russian Federation” as well as many times Grand Prix winner of the International Khoomei Symposium and member of the world famous group, Chirgilchin.

Igor Koshkendey, recipient of the coveted “Throat Singer of the People of the Republic of Tuva”, a member of the Tuvan National Orchestra as well as a member of Chirgilchin.

Other teachers will include other members of the Tuvan National Orchestra, Ensemble Tuva, Alash, and Tyva Kyzy.

This is an incredible opportunity for the Khoomeigie enthusiast.
These Master classes will take place from June 19th thru the 28th.

During this meeting, we will be forming duets and trios with the students. Then we will drive to China to participate in the Throat Singing Festival for ensembles in Manchuria. “

This festival, the first festival of traditional Asian overtone singing to be held in China, takes place in the city of Manzhouli from July 5 to 9, 2014.

Manzhouli (map) is just across the Siberian border, and slightly east of the Republic of Mongolia. I guess it’s about a two-day car-journey from Tuva’s capital Kyzyl. Since it is a multinational event, permits to cross the border at Manzhouli should be included in the package or easy to obtain on the spot with the invitation of the festival.

The Tuvan Cultural Centre website offers a bit more information:

“The competition will be attended by the unique folklore groups from different parts of Russia, China and the Republic of Tuva. Organizers invite throat singers from other countries to participate in soloist competition.

To participate in the contest a competitor must complete an application and return it no later than May 1, 2014 by e -mail:”

Please also check the Tuvan Cultural Center’s website, I suggest to those who are interested to write to the above email address a.s.a.p., to find out more details about participation fees, program, accommodation, visa, et cetera.

Catch a video of Chirgilchin playing for goats here on Youtube. “Chirgilchin normally plays music for people about goats. This performance is a song for goats about people.”

Hans is Back! Showtime!

Concert announcement. For English: see below.


聲音的饗宴: 客廳音樂會 = 8/23(五) 晚上7:30~9:00

真不知道 {人} 也可以發出這樣的聲音!
卻可以在這個小小的體內 招喚出各種形式與力量的聲音.
這聲音, 不是歌唱或是模擬任何對象
馬克說: 身體就是樂器呀!
還有看得見與看不見的 所有存在

音樂大師: 泛唱 Mark 與 頌缽 Hans
日期: 2013年8/23(五) !new!
時間: 晚上7:30-9:00 (1.5hr)
費用: NT$600(每位)
名額: 15位

1) 1hr聲音的景緻: 人聲泛音, 頌缽
2) 0.5hr玩聲音: 泛唱練習, 現場敲缽體驗

附註: 本活動須事先報名 + 完成繳費
銀行: 第一銀行 古亭分行 (代號: 007)
帳號: 171-68-063496 (姓名:高立言)
伙伴請攜帶輕薄披肩或襪子. 現場備有茶點輕食

(尋)…粗聲暫發; (伺)…細聲隨行
辯證到到 “無尋無伺”, 是佛經中關於心的定靜慮的境界
這是佛光大學 生命與宗教學系 林香君教授
Hans的 ≪頌缽音樂會≫所下的標題!

MarkHans 親自帶領. 大師合作, 精彩可期!

Hans de Back, world-renowned percussionist/singing bowl/gong player from Holland, has returned to Taiwan once again. Hans and Mark will share the intimate ‘stage’ of HansUna’s singing bowl paradise for another evening of bowls, bells, gong, sruti’s, Jew’s harps and overtone singing.

Date and time

Friday, August 23, 2013, from 19:30 till 21.
One hour of live music, plus 30 minutes of Q&A,
with some exercises to try some of our sounds for yourselves.
Damage: 600 NT$.

You can reserve a seat by writing an email to Una Kao:

and do bring some friends if you like!

If you cannot make it, keep an eye on our blogs/Facebook. We’ll have one or two more houseconcerts in ShiDa: in October (maybe) and in November (29).

HansUna’s blog
Mark’s Facebook
Hans’ Facebook

Attending conference on Overtone Singing in Sardinia

End of next week I return to Europe again to attend a conference entitled “Music practices, identity and tradition: overtone and polyphonic singing in Sardinia and Central Asia.” It is organised by Sabrina Salis of the University of Sassari, Sardinia. Speakers and performers include Gian Nicola Spanu from the University of Sassari, Populos Tenore Nugoresu, Keith Howard from SOAS, London and myself. I’ll give a workshop and talk. Here is the abstract of my talk:

Discourses of authenticity surrounding traditional overtone singing practices.
The technique of singing overtones has been capturing the attention of a steadily growing number of listeners over the past decades. For audiences and practicing musicians alike, it brings to the forefront facts of the musical nature of an auditory reality that is inhabited by humans all over the world. For audiences new to the ability of the human voice to produce several pitches at the same time, the phenomenon itself leads to a breakthrough of habitual patterns of auditory perception and cognition; it may become a catalyst for deeper, personal transformations on levels beyond musical and auditory realms. For certain musicians from Sardinia, Tibet and the Altai-region, who are part of older traditions, the phenomenon itself is obviously not new. What is new, is the scientifically informed discourse that develops around their music, and also the associations that audiences make between their own traditional music on the one hand, and different traditions and (ancient) philosophical ideas about music on the other. Scientific discourse and ancient music philosophies are thus informed by previously unknown, older musical traditions, and vice versa.

Traditions, like those kept alive by Tibetan choirs, North-Asian throat singers and Sardinian polyphonic groups, sometimes lend authority, authenticity and credibility to singing harmonics for musicians outside these traditions. But what does this authority-claim mean for those inside and outside the traditions? Who are claiming what and on what bases? For example, how do non-traditional overtone singers use or abuse various traditions? Is it right to claim that traditions have a higher authority over certain musical techniques, in this case, overtone singing? Can this authority be extended to musical or acoustic phenomena as such? Several case studies from the literature and fieldwork will show the complexity of this issue, with different stances taken by musicians (and a scholar) inside and outside traditions. The overall picture emerging from such comparisons expands on the idea of my PhD Thresholds of the audible: about the polyphony of the body (2013). It shows that music, in theory and in practice, is a tool for drawing boundaries that inevitably keep fluctuating.

Workshop overtone/throat singing in Taipei

When: Sunday April 28 , 2013, 10 AM – 4:30 PM

Where: Can June Training Centre, Taipei

Chinese version of this post can be found here

Contents of the workshop
The workshop introduces a number of basic exercises that allows singers and non-singers to develop a different attitude towards making sound and listening to sound. At the beginning, a number of exercises prepares us for breaking new musical ground. They deal with four themes: breath, resonance, silence and the interconnectedness of sound, body & mind. Gradually we focus more on listening to and singing our own harmonics.

Focus for today
On this day we will pay extra attention to throat singing techniques, as practised in Tuva and Mongolia. Throat singing is a particular variant of overtone singing (but we might as well say the reverse: that modern types of overtone singing are particular varieties of the older throat singing techniques from Central –North Asia). Throat singing requires special attention to the use of pressure on the vocal chords, necessary to obtain that powerful, distinct sound quality that makes throat singing unique among the world’s vocal techniques. Mark’s method assures that no one gets hurt.

For whom?
Every one-day workshop of overtone singing by Mark van Tongeren is a sound journey. Participants from very different backgrounds are gently led to discoveries that suit their own needs. The starting point is your own path as a musician, a speaker, a communicator or simply as a human being. Everyone is invited to participate and share. No previous is required, but familiarity with Mark’s Voice of Dao lessons will give you an advantage.

About the teacher
Mark van Tongeren is a musician and holds a PhD in music. He has traveled to Tuva to study with throat singers since 1993, and has worked with musicians from all other traditions as well (Mongolia, Altai, Khakassiya, Tibet, Bashkortostan, Sardinia, South Africa, in addition to avant-garde pioneers like Michael Vetter). He makes obscure vocal techniques and insiders’ knowledge available and accessible through lively examples, structured exercises, and explanations that reveal a profound understanding of the field of harmonics and overtone singing as a whole.

3.12 Andrei Opei in yurt 75jepg

Tuvan throat singer and composer Andrei Öpei sings ina yurt. Teeli, 2000. Photo by Mark van Tongeren.

Registration and fees
Please register by sending an email to Una Kao: (in Chinese or English) or to Mark van Tongeren: (English only).

The fee for the one-day workshop is 3000 NT$, to be paid before the beginning of the workshop on the day itself. There is a discount if you bring a friend: then you pay NT$ 5000 instead of NT$ 3000. Those who have attended concerts, workshops or several weekly Voice of Dao sessions, may also be eligible for a discount. Please write us for the conditions or if you have any questions.

Chinese version of this post can be found here at Hansuna’s blog.

Tuvans in Beijing!

Friends in Beijing, don’t miss this opportunity:

Otkun and Choduraa bring their authentic and yet innovative Tuvan music to China for the first time. Take your chance to learn throat singing from original Tuvan masters!

Jan 13 SUN 16:00   Zajia Music Workshop:

Tuvan Traditional Throat Singing
with Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay

Admission: 60rmb (student:40rmb)

Seats for the workshop are limited, please book your seat at

特邀图瓦音乐家:Choduraa Tumat 和Otkun Dostay

Tuvan Traditional Throat Singing with Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay

工作坊时间 :1月13日(周日)下午4点
workshop: Jan 13(SUN) 4:00pm  60rmb(student:40rmb) and the class is in English

The website of Zajialab / Beijing Project Space:


Zajialab is a wonderful alternative space for arts events, and also the one and only distributor in China of my book/cd Overtone Singing, my solo cd Paraphony and Parafonia’s cd Sphere.

Sangpuy’s new cd Dalan


Today is a special day for the Katipul tribe in Jrben village, Taidong. It is the end of the Big Hunt Ceremony, an age-group ritual held every year where boys learn about hunting and traditional territory, the social system of the tribe, perform dances and songs in the night, and where respect is paid to elders and those who have suffered from loss and tragedy in the past year. Once I had the privilege to join the ceremony. That was in 2004, when I spent two months in Taiwan learning traditional songs and dances from the Katipul, Amis, Bunun, Saisiat and Tayal tribes.

I vividly remember those days spend down in the valley where the Jrben hotspring hotels are, at the riverside. It began with rituals in the village to mark the places of various historic events and to visit traditional tribal boundaries. Today, as then, the morning of the 31st of december marked the return of the men from their hunting camp. Women dress up beautifully to receive them, and a series of rituals is performed in an open field.


Performing songs and round dances in Jrben’s Katipul community (photo by Mark van Tongeren)

Later in the morning young men go through the community to visit private houses of those who lost a family member in the past year. At every courtyard the men line up in their traditional dress to perform a song and dance that ends the period of grieve and isolation of the widow or widower and other relatives. At times this is a very moving ceremony, where the tragedy of loss is felt by all present. The words spoken, and the songs and dances energetically re-enacted by beautiful and strong young men, provides genuine relief and consolation and shows how closely knit the Katipul community is. (for completeness sake, I should add that the cd uses ‘Katatripul’ instead of Katipul).

A central figure in the ceremonies, then and now, is multi-talented performer known by his tribal name as Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw. He belongs to this rare species of individuals who tend to be the focal point for many people around them, whatever they do. They may be performers, they may be natural leaders, or they may be ruthless dare-devils. When such talents are bestowed upon someone already at a young age, it is easy to become engulfed in one’s own power. Not so with Sangpuy: it was clear, also in 2004 when he was in his mid-twenties, that he carried his responsibilities towards the younger age group and the elders. Sangpuy formed a natural bridge between elders, such as the much respected elder singer Valikay, and his own and younger generations.

Valikay and Sangpuy at the Big Hunt Ceremony, december 2004

Valikay and Sangpuy at the Big Hunt Ceremony, december 2004 (Photo by Mark van Tongeren)

In 2004 Sangpuy taught me some of Katipul’s songs and dances, made a double-nose-flute (‘ma-omui’) for me and showed me how to play it. I did my best to learn a melody played by him for a year or so, but did not get very far, mainly because playing requires considerable control over a very small airflow coming out of the two passages of the nose. But Sangpuy quickly picked up some of my throat singing techniques and quatrain-singing from Tuva (Siberia), which he immediately transformed to quatrains and guttural sounds in his native tongue, causing roaring laughter from everyone present.

Making of the ma-omui double-nose-flute Sangpuy offered to me. As he writes in the cd, "Every hand-made nose flute is unique, exclusive, one and only."

Making of the ma-omui double-nose-flute Sangpuy offered to me. As he writes in the cd, “Every hand-made nose flute is unique, exclusive, one and only.” (Photo by Mark van Tongeren)

I was struck by the ease and fluidity with which Sangpuy sang, by the pleasant sonority of his voice whether singing or speaking. Last year, when I visited the men coming back from the hunting camp, I saw an exhausted Sangpuy who had missed many hours of sleep (if he had slept at all), dragging himself from one ceremony or function to the next. His voice, though rough and tired, kept a convincing, natural power: there was no question that anyone else could take over his functions.

Already in 2004 I heard Sangpuy’s characteristic voice on several cds. During the Bihg Hunt Ceremony we often woke up at the river bank with a fine cd of his singing accompanied by guitar and a choral group. The night before we had heard him and the other men singing. I am lucky to have heard how Valikay at his old age could still produce his typical, forceful falsetto, either alone or alternating with Sangpuy and another elder singer, because several years ago Valikay has passed away.

Perhaps Valikay’s passing away is part of the reason why Sangpuy is taking his calling to a new level. He spend much time to set up his own studio, with the aim of producing a new album of his own music. About two months ago I received an invitation to the launch of this new cd, called Dalan. Upon arrival, and seeing the art-work, I noticed that Sangpuy had gone through a considerable transformation: he has adopted a new look and had enlisted the help of many others to produce a cd that is, again by the looks of it, ready to compete with top-quality world music acts. The cd-package is a gem, with fantastic photos and artwork in black, greys and browns, and extensive lyrics and texts in three languages.

Artwork for the cd (photo courtesy of Katatepan Studio)

Artwork for the cd (photo courtesy of Katatepan Studio)

I wondered how much Sangpuy’s new path had changed his music. And I must say, he did an admirable job. He uses the possibilities of the studio and his network of music professionals sparsely and with intelligence. There is a grand opening theme song praising the Lord with big orchestral sounds, but there are also intimate solo songs and instrumental pieces. The dance song Malikasaw, a sort of ‘anthem’ for the Katipul, is captured with its characteristic, optimistic energy with a chorus responding to Sangpuy’s leading voice, and also in a minor-key version. In some traditional songs recordings of the voice of Valikay are blended in, creating a clever post-humous studio collaboration with a voice of the past. Several other sounds from the environment and social gatherings evoke the communal atmosphere of Katipul music and emphasise its deeply social nature. Acoustical music predominates on Dalan, but the closing song uses some looped samples and field recordings to great effect.

With Dalan, Sangpuy stays close to his roots, and focuses on boosting the production side of Katipul music compared to older cd releases. It is clear he will develop his artistic vision step by step, with a strong sense of commitment to his tribal lineage, but with a professional attitude toward the world music business. He wisely demands patience from admirers, of which there are plentiful, who wonder what other new musical directions or collaborations he envisions. Stay tuned!

Mark van Tongern and Sangpuy

With Sangpuy at the cd presentation (photo by Hao Sheng-Hsin)


14 tracks, 49 minutes, 44 page booklet with high quality b/w and color prints enfolded in luxurious cd-package.

Produced by Katatepan Cultural Studio. Tel. 0975689462.

Distributed by / available through Wind Music

More about Sangpuy’s cd, concerts and activities:

Sonic spectrum and Poetic Silhouette: Soloconcert in Taiwan

I present a soloprogram at the First International Arts Festival at the National Chiayi University, in Chiayi, Taiwan, October 18 2012.

Program description for the concert:

The twentieth century constituted a watershed of new vocal and sonic arts, and brought voices from distant times and places closer than ever before. And yet, in the twenty-first century the voice still retains its secrets. Vocalist Mark van Tongeren returns to the simple question: how does the naked voice of a single human being sound, when we strip everything away from it? As it turns out, a voice never comes alone. With his current theme The Polyphony of the Body, van Tongeren exposes the colourful, polyphonic nature of the singing human voice. Drawing upon his studies with traditional overtone singers from the Sayan and Altai mountains of South Siberia, extended-vocal techniques and sound poetry, van Tongeren’s performance moves from the introvert to the extrovert, from blissfull harmony to unpredictable noise. Instruments such as the shruti-box from India, Jew’s harps from Siberia and live electronics are his companions for Sonic spectrum and Poetic Silhouette.

One-Day Workshop Overtone Singing / Paraphony (May 12 and 21)

(info in chinese below)

After years of, well, silence as a voice teacher in Taiwan, I am going to make some sound and noise again. In May there will be two one-day workshops held in the Shih-Da area in Taipei. Perhaps you know someone who wants to join. Or you could prepare your own, unique Mother’s Day serenade. There’ll be full Chinese translation as well and you can find more info in Chinese below and on

Paraphony is Mark van Tongeren’s approach to sound and music. It reflects his longstanding practice and study of musical techniques from Tuva, Mongolia & Tibet, musical improvisation, avant-garde and experimental music, theatre and performance art, as well as yoga and meditation.

This basic workshop is an introduction to that approach for musicians and non-musicans alike. In the morning we will start with ‘voice-yoga’ exercises to develop attention for body, mind and sound, and explore basic techniques for using the resonances of the natural voice.

After a lunch break, we will listen to and try specific techniques for singing harmonics, and combine voices to work with simple sound structures and compositions. We will finish with a group improvisation.

“聲音瑜珈”… 泛音工作坊

 Voice Yoga byMark van Tongeren

日期: 5/12(六) 及 5/21(一)
時間: 早上9:30 ~ 下午4:00
主題: Voice Yoga * 泛音工作坊
老師: Mark van Tongeren
費用: NT$3000/每場
人數: 12位


在馬克老師返回歐洲前,五月將舉辦兩天的 Voice Yoga 工作坊。
也會對我們自己的聲音 有更寬廣的探索與領悟!
這次特別邀請 台大音樂系研究所助教 協助翻譯,

* 報名優惠 *
– 參加過{玩聲音音樂會}者: 可抵$600元
– 兩人同行: NT$5000

* 匯款帳號 *
銀行: 第一銀行 古亭分行 (代號:007)
帳號: 171-68-063496
姓名: 高立言

* 心得分享 *
他的聲音超越了美,對我而言,那是真實,包容了好聽 及無法定義的奇幻!

有一場演出,馬克老師說: 他一開始發出的聲音{很醜}! 哈~{醜}的聲音?!


1995年獲頒吐瓦的 《國際喉音泛唱獎》; 2000年出版 Overtone Singing一書。
重要的是: 當你明白馬克是如何對聲音臣服,如何忠於自己的心