Khoomii: Mongolian throat singing
Throat singing is Mongolia's invaluable contribution to world.
Although this type of unique singing developed in Mongolia
in its classical form, it is also performed in India, Bashkir,
and Tuva. But what exactly is throat singing? It is a special
sound made in unison with the tongue, teeth, larynx and palate.
To put it simply, it is a replacement of musical instruments
with all aspects of vocal organs. To hear it for the first
time is a wonder. It is said that there is no other nation
in the world that can combine such human physical capacity
in place of musical instruments, than the felt walled nation*
The famous Russian Scientist, P. Chukot measured throat singing
with sensative sound equipment and discovered that it was
formed from converging tunes of different scale octaves between
lower tone (which incidentally makes up the primary tone)
and a combination of high peaks. Click on the picture to hear
this unique style of singing.
The technique of throat singing may be easy to write about-
but it is almost impossible to actually try to perform. To
perform the higher tune, the singer should bend (or fold)
the tongue, and tap skilled sounds with the tongue point and
whisper through the front teeth. At the same time the converged
melody is made by making lips conical. As the basic tune resonates,
a melodic buzzing sound also reverberates.
Because of the unique skills needed to master this type of
venerated singing is rigorous, there are not very many throat
singers. The mother land of throat singing is considered to
be in Khovd aimag, (in western Mongolia,). It is said that
almost everyone there can throat sing. But although almost
everyone can throat sing, very few actually can perform it
professionally. It is estimated that only one out of two hundred
children eventually master this demanding skill. Mr. Zulsar
is one such gifted vocalist. He has traveled with the National
Folk Song and Dance Ensemble to roughly fifty countries presenting
the wonders of throat singing. Mr. Zulsar firmly believes
in order to be a throat singer, one must not only have a capacious
throat, but more importantly- the ability to refine through
hard work and demonstrate a real patience for the continuous
development of it.
“It is difficult to pinpoint the period when throat singing
actually started, but as an art it started to develop during
the 19th century. Khoomii is not studied well. Shorter forms
of Khoomii was sang. In 1954 Tsedee, a singer from Chamdmani
soum, Khovd aimag sang, Eulogy of Altai Kaan (long song about
Altai mountain) in the throat singing form during the Khovd
aimags Arts Days in Ulaanbaatar- That song was a revolution
in the Khoomii art!" Zulsar asserts.
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