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.
In April two excellent musicians and friends from Tuva are coming to Taiwan, so that people here can get better acquainted with this fascinating musical culture from the North. Get to know Tuvan music and culture and learn throat singing directly from established, original masters!
be amazed by Tuva’s signature sounds of throat singing
hear the beats of the shaman drum and Jew’s harp
resonate with the buzzing strings of horse-head fiddles and lute
At Wistaria, an atmospheric original Japanese building, you will be seated on tatami mats. The concert is purely acoustic, so you can enjoy the sounds directly with your own ears. An excellent way to get to know the amazing acoustic world that Tuvans have developed over the centuries. Tuva’s auditory culture has become an icon in the last two decades for its remarkable throat singing techniques, which they share with Mongolia. Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay both perform seveal throat singing techniques, which you will be able to hear at close range: the soft, light technique called khöömei, the whistle-like sygyt and the thundering low kargyraa. In Tuva we also find the horse-head fiddle (igil) and erhu-like fiddle (byzaanchy), lutes (doshpuluur, chanzy) and flute (shoor), the Jew’s harp (khomus) and the shaman’s drum (dunggur), among others. Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay master many of these and will play tunes and pieces from different regions and times in Tuva. Songs and pieces will be alternated with stories about and from Tuva and its rich musical folklore. The only public Tuvan concert in a very special intimate setting!
As a donation we suggest 500 NT$ for the perfomance, tea and a snack. Call Wistaria and leave your name and number for a seat: (02)2363-7375 or register here.
Sunday April 12, 10-17 1-day workshop Tuvan throat singing and culture, at Canjune Training Center
Learn to sing khöömei,sygyt and/or kargyraa with Otkun Dostay and Choduraa Tumat. The one-day Throat Singing workshop will have not just one, but two expert throat singers, including a female throat singer. A rare opportunity to learn the three basic Tuvan styles of throat singing: khöömei, sygyt and kargyraa, which tend to be a little softer and therefore easier than the Mongolian counterpart. During the day you will learn about Tuvan music and culture and get plenty of chance to hear throat singing and try it for yourself. With a maximum of 15 students (plus perhaps a few listeners), there is a chance to get personal feedback from Choduraa or Otkun for everyone. About half the time will be devoted to throat singing, the other half to other music and culture of Tuva.
Otkun Dostay teaching khöömei in Venice
We aim at a 50/50 divide of male/female voices. The workshop is held in English/Russian with Chinese translation. Mark will be there to help translate Russian-English, if needed.
This presentation features introductions, videos about the beautiful, unknown land of Tuva, a display of many styles of throat singing and different musical instruments. Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay both perform seveal throat singing techniques: the soft, light technique called khöömei, the whistle-like sygyt and the thundering low kargyraa and other substyles. They will also present a selection of pieces and instruments found in Tuva, such as the horse-head fiddle (igil) and erhu-like fiddle (byzaanchy), lutes (doshpuluur, chanzy) and flute (shoor), the Jew’s harp (khomus) and the shaman’s drum (dunggur). Choduraa Tumat and Otkun Dostay master many of these. Songs and pieces will be alternated with stories about and from Tuva and its rich musical folklore. Afterwards there is a chance to talk to the musicians during the Q&A.
The concert at NCCU is free and open for everyone. Just register here. Without reservation there may still be places when you come, there is no guarantee but there are 300+ seats.
In the late 1980s Dostay was the youngest member of the internationally acclaimed Tuva Ensemble. During the late Soviet era he enrolled a theatre school in Leningrad (now Sint-Petersburg), and was engaged in acting, dancing and storytelling. With fellow students Stanislav Iril and Olaak Ondar he took part in Buddhist ceremonies in Leningrad and founded the group Özüm (‘sprouts’). They recorded their first CD in 1991, published by Window to Europe/Orpheus. Dostay has continued to direct Özüm with changing group members over time. He plays horse-head fiddle, all the Tuvan varieties of Jew’s harp and the shaman’s drum. He organised festivals to commemorate the great throat-singer Gennadi Tumat in his native village Khandagayti. He is currently active as the founder-director of the Tuvan-Japanese friendship Center and works as a correspondent for Tuvan State Radio, under the State TV & Radio Company. He regularly performs in solo, duo and ensemble projects, which he toured in Germany, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Morroco, Japan and China. He has been involved in recording, producing and playing on several CDs of Tuvan music published in Russia, Japan and Europe. In 2013 he published his first solo CD, an exciting mix of traditional songs and melodies with 21st-century sounds.
Born in Western Tuva, as a girl Tumat was fond of listening to khoomei and sygyt throat singing performed by her brothers. She studied traditional music in music college in Tuva and went on to become one of the world’s most active female overtone/throat singers, as well as the founder and artistic leader of the all-female throat-singing folk ensemble Tyva Kyzy (‘Daughters of Tuva’, www.tyvakyzy.com). She is an accomplished performer of all basic throat-singing styles, sings traditional folk songs, and plays various Tuvan string instruments, Jew’s harps and zither. As a performer, she received many titles in Tuva. She is a teacher of traditional music and khöömei throat-singing at the Pedagogical College of Tuvan State University in Tuva’s capitol Kyzyl. With Tyva Kyzy and with solo projects she toured extensivly in the USA, Poland, Russia, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Japan. She recorded and released several CDs and DVDs, among which her outstanding solo CD Belek/ The Gift.
1970年生於圖瓦Khandagaity小鎮，為知名喉音演唱與馬頭琴表演者，亦是著名圖瓦民族音樂團體《圖瓦樂團》Tuva Ensemble的一員，於音樂上有卓越的成就，不斷受邀至日本、土耳其及荷蘭等地演出。歐特昆一直以來致力於圖瓦傳統音樂的傳承與創新，舉辦圖瓦喉音國際音樂節《Övur之地—西奇與呼麥》（Sygyt and khoomei in the land of Övur)。他不僅擔任全女子喉音團體《圖瓦的女兒》的經紀人，同時也在電視台製作音樂節目，極力推廣傳統音樂。目前於圖瓦的聯合國教科文組織UNESCO部門擔任主席。
Two programs have just been broadcast online with great recordings of Tuvan and Khakass throat singers. Both are produced by long-time throat singing afficionados who have traveled to Tuva/Khakassiya and deeply involved themselves with Southern Siberian music culture. A unique chance to hear many recordings you will not easily find, or even never find at all. Never mind the Dutch- and Norwegian-language presenters, most of the program is music.
One show is by Norwegian Morten Abildsnes, and is devoted to throat singers who have passed away in the last 10 years. An important theme which asks our attention to the tragic and untimely fate of many great Tuvan musicians, and which honours them once more (“post-mortem”). Don’t wait to listen to his one! Only a few weeks are left before it goes offline.
The artists presented are:
Ayas Danzyryn 1976–2005
Timur Kara-sal 1973–2005
Mönggün-ool Dambashtai 1956–2009
Aleksandr Sarzhat-ool 1957–2011
Aldyn-ool Sevek 1962–2011
Kongar-ool Ondar 1962–2013
Vladimir Oidupaa 1949–2013
Oktyabr Saaya 1968–2012
The internet-streaming can be heard here http://radionova.no/programmer/sortkanal
To listen to the program find the black-and-grey player box with the title “Repriser” on the same page, and click the line with the text “Sort Kanal 02.02.2015”. On a narrow screen, you might need to scroll further down the page to find the “Repriser” player. On a broad screen, it might lie right under the black-red-black box. On this page you can find the playlist.
2. EPIC THROAT SINGING FROM KHAKASSIA
The Dutch program is by Russian-Dutch producer, field-recordist, DJ Maxim Chapochnikov from Amsterdam, founder of Window to Europe. He first travelled to South-Siberia in the early 1990s. On one of his trips he met Slava Kuchenov, who had just received a calling from the spirit of khaidzhi, or epic story-tellers/reciters. Without any further experience or help, Kuchenov build himself an instrument and started reciting ancient stories about Khakass heroes. Kuchenov is and was a very clear case of a young man who does not set out to learn epic singing, but who receives a divine gift to tell epic stories. They just appeared to him, without first learning them by heart, like dreams appear to us. Maksim was there to capture this gift on mic right when it happened (of course Kuchenov still recites epics nowadays). Maksim presents a large part of the original recording in his radioshow. After a Dutch introduction you can hear almost one hour of Khakass epic throat singing. To listen, click on the link below, then click on the small loudspeaker to the right of the words “22:00 – 23:00 De Zwervende Microfoon”.http://www.concertzender.nl/programmagids/?date=2015-01-31&month=0&detail=76042
Maksim Chapochnikov (photo by Mediamatic)
Thanks to Maxim and Morten for sharing these recordings from their collections! Enjoy listening!
Featured image: Slava Kuchenov at the rock formations of Salbyk, Khakassiya. Photo: Mark van Tongeren 2005