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< img title="Voice of the Great Steppe: listen to how the khoomei throat singing traditions are kept in Tuva" src="/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/golos-velikoj-stepi-poslushajte-kak-v-tuve-hranjat-tradicii -gorlovogo-penija-hoomej-ddca5fd.jpg" alt="Voice of the Great Steppe: listen to how the khoomei throat singing traditions are kept in Tuva" />
< p> Born in 1974 in the Solchursky sumon of the Ovyursky district of the Tuva ASSR. Singer, composer, khoomeizhi is a skilled performer of Tuvan throat singing.
Winner of prestigious world awards, including BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. Organizer and member of the Uer group, ex-soloist of the Yat-Kha group, soloist of the Huun-Khuur-tu group (four Tuvan musicians were nominated for a Grammy in 1998 and for the BBC Radio Awards in 2008). He is fluent in the art of throat singing and the methods of teaching it.
“Throat singing are messages transmitted by our ancestors”
— How would you describe and compare with what Tuvan throat singing for the inexperienced listener?
– If I heard throat singing for the first time, then for me meeting with him would be a culture shock. These sounds and vibrations resonate in the soul of a person, help to realize a certain truth, to hear harmonies that he had not seen anywhere before.
Art itself came to us from antiquity, from that world that we have long forgotten, but which has always been there. When people come up to me after a concert and tell me that they felt something that cannot be expressed in words, I perfectly understand what they are talking about: they felt a connection with their roots, with their ancestors. We are all people and we are all the same: everyone has roots and is strongly connected with them. The messages that our ancestors put into sound form reach us when we listen to throat singing. In other words, throat singing is the message transmitted by our ancestors.
— Can you tell us a little about the main styles and features of khoomei?
There are three main styles. The first & nbsp; is actually khoomei. This word denotes both the name of one of the styles and the very phenomenon of throat singing. The second – sygyt – is a high style, high tones are heard in it, sounds similar to the sound of a flute. The third style —low, kargyraa —it is characterized by very low vibrations and tones.
There are still about 10 sub-styles, and in total with the three main ones they have one name – khoomei. There is no exact translation of this term, as it is a very ancient word. The styles are unique in that a person can produce two, three, four or more tones at the same time, while using alternative ways of working with the vocal cords. Each style has its own techniques that allow you to reproduce low or high tones by compressing the ligaments.
There are also sub-styles such as borbanadyyr, ezengileer, dag kargyraazy, khovu kargyraazy, dumchuktaar, kanzyp, horekteer, chilandyk. Also, the masters have their own sub-styles. So we can safely talk about the wide variety of Tuvan throat singing, which is characterized by imitation of the sounds of nature, animals, as well as the ability to extract several tones at the same time, which is what makes this art unique.
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“Everyone has their own way to khoomei”
—Khoomei in the 21st century —niche music, “not for everyone” ? Or, on the contrary, thanks to new technologies, is it becoming more accessible to an increasing number of listeners? Where should a neophyte start getting to know him?
Nowadays, thanks to the development of the Internet, everyone can find what he needs. Khoomei and traditional music are still not mainstream, but special music that not everyone will understand. It is important that not only the performer, but also the listener delve deeper into the topic of this phenomenon, understand it more. You need to start, of course, by listening to sounds, and it is desirable that early acquaintance begins with live sound, because the recording is not able to convey the live atmosphere of the sound. You need to surround yourself with these melodies, soak up the atmosphere.
To master throat singing, you need to live it, understand the work of the chords and be aware of what you want to reproduce. Then it is worth going to the teacher, and it is best that this is a traditional performer, and not people who pass mastery through second hands. I would recommend contacting traditional Altai or Tuvan performers and addressing your questions directly to them, avoiding situational lessons and online master classes.
Everyone has their own way to khoomei: someone discovers it for themselves on the recommendation of other people, someone encounters throat singing by accident, and someone purposefully seeks it. But if a person realizes that he wants to master throat singing, there are sources and people who can teach him. Everyone can reproduce throat sounds if he has a conscious desire to learn and a good teacher who is able to explain and show playback techniques in an accessible way.
— You teach throat singing yourself. How much is this art in demand and what are the main difficulties that those who decide to study it will face?
– Yes, I teach throat singing, but besides me, in Tuva, of course, there are also people who teach this art. I must say that this is a fairly popular direction: every year more and more people are imbued with throat singing and want to master it. People are returning to their roots and appreciating this type of traditional art.
At the beginning of training, a person is first of all faced with the need to understand how to extract sound. The most important thing is vocal technique, special methods of ligament compression, special exercises. It is also extremely important to be willing to learn, to get acquainted with new things and to try. You need to start the path in khoomei with the realization that you really need it. Some people get the basic skills pretty quickly, some take time, but in general, everyone can extract throat sounds and even sing some styles.
Knowing how to compress the ligaments in order to get a characteristic guttural, throaty sound is the basis, from the development of which the first difficulties may arise. Next, we move on to the study of melodies, rhythms and, of course, lyrics, because without them, singing loses any semantic load. Therefore, when studying Tuvan throat singing, it is important to gain basic knowledge of the Tuvan language.
– For a resident of St. Petersburg or Moscow – this, of course, is the East. I believe that it is from Tuva that all the crossroads of the West and East begin. But still, this is the East, Siberia, that part of the Earth where high mountains, spacious steppes, tundra, and taiga fit on one territory.
Tradition and culture absorbs reflections of the area where people live – the bearers of this culture. Although we have crafts associated with settled way of life, but basically Tuva are nomads. Accordingly, the culture of Tuva is closely connected with cattle breeding and nomadism. Tuva has its own special environment and culture, which also forms throat singing. Our music has not been greatly influenced from outside, we have our own instruments, our own melody, rhythms, polyrhythms. Which, of course, is very pleasing, because in our time it is difficult to find self-sufficient cultures, many of them are strongly influenced by external factors and borrowing.
— How do you see the future of khoomei in Russia and the world?
— How do you see the future of khoomei in Russia and the world?
“It all depends on the attitude of people. I understand that development takes time, but I think that the fate of khoomei is predetermined, because I see that more and more people are interested in him. I hope that Tuvan throat singing will become as popular as, for example, African or Latin American culture. After all, the art of throat singing is the property of all mankind.
It is very sad when representatives of a particular culture fight for the status of a primary source, send papers to UNESCO, and UNESCO, in turn, puts confirmation seals. It's sad because that's how people limit themselves. They do not understand that in the end, any art is the property of all mankind. If a person believes that this is only his culture, then you need to ask him, and who came up with all this: you or the people? Therefore, I urge people to understand why art exists, and in particular, the art of throat singing.
The origins of Tuvan throat singing come from Tuva, but it itself is the property of mankind. This is a phenomenon of nomadic culture, in which knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation from century to century. And I work as a conductor that brings these sounds, melodies and texts through me. The purpose of my speeches and classes is to convey to the world the best that was before us, and show a picture of the world that does not exist today. Therefore, if I teach, I not only convey technical skills, but also the meaning, the philosophy of the past. Throat singing helps to develop in harmony with the surrounding world, people and phenomena, helps to be in tune with the world.
Photo: Dairafest, Wikimedia Commons, Pavel Filatov/Alamy/Legion Media< /p>
Material published in October 2020, partially updated in March 2023