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14 May 2011

Perspectives of female throat-singing

Mergen Loigu. Translated by Heda Jindrak

Perspectives of female throat-singingToday at a round-table conference at the National museum a whole campaign for promotion of female throat singing started off. We will be speaking about traditions of its performance in the republic and the current existence of female khoomei. The initiative of the debates,  the concert in Kyzyl, and the tour of the districts of the republic belongs to the legendary Tuvan-Austrian singer Sainkho Namchylak and to the only khoomei performing all-female group in the world, "Tyva Kyzy" (Daughters of Tuva).

"We have Shagonar, Ak-Dovurak, Erzin, and Chadan on our tour schedule. We would also like to perform in Samagaltai," says Sainkho, who arrived to Kyzyl last night.

-  The tradition of female throat singing has always existed in Tuva. The scholars just try to say that the women never sang in public. But they, as far as I understand, never danced in public either. And now Tuvan dances are an obligatory part of all the concerts. We will talk to people during this tour, to find out their attitude and opinion, and to explain the way we see further development of khoomei.

I first tried to sing khoomei when I was already over thirty years old, the singer relates. And it worked out right away.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya in  "Ogonyok" journal wrote in her time very well about how the world star of improvisational music  sings khoomei. The writer was at the singer's concert at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

"The sounds were so astonishing, unusual and seductive, that the audience from two floors came closer and closer just like the rats following the fairy-tale Pied Piper. It seemed to me that such a sound picture has never before existed and never will. It not only combined ancient techniques of throat-singing with contemporary avant-garde  influences - the Tuvan singer produced sounds that an European ear can't perceive as singing. In our languages, there simply is no concept of this art. The vibrations that Sainkho produced, go beyond the fashion of  ethnic or world music. Of course, Sainkho has a relationship to the music, and to nightmares and voices of living nature - bird song, rustling of forest trees, blowing wind. She came to us from distant steppes of Tuva,  saturated with legends of Mongolian nomads. Sainkho suffered for her art - she was the first Tuvan woman who sang with her throat. Until then throat singing was an absolute prerogative of the men."

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