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8 September 2011

Aldyn-ool Sevek - "The Shield" of Tuvan throat singing

Valentina Suzukei. Translated by Heda Jindrak

Aldyn-ool Sevek -  "The Shield" of Tuvan throat singingOne of the most vivid representatives of the traditional school of Tuvan khoomei, who is the possessor of  inimitable mastery of performance in the kargyraa style, is the National khoomeizhi of Republic Tyva Aldyn-ool Sevek

His way of throat-singing performance is unique to such an extent that it is unmistakably recognizable, just as Soruktu Kyrgys, Ak-ool Kara-Sal, Maxim Dakpai, Kyzyl-ool Sanchy, Khunashtar-ool Oorzhak, Gennady Tumat, as well as many others among our prominent khoomeizhis were unmistakably recognizable. The it was impossible to mistake the performance of each of these khoomeizhis with that of anybody else. It is precisely the recognizability and uniqueness of the manner of performance that is the most highly prized quality of traditional khoomei, which, unfortunately, is being gradually lost in our times. Khoomeizhi of  the older generation were remarkable in that each of these great musicians was able to express in his performance the sounds of nature of the places where each of them was born and grew up. It is precisely in this that they were different from each other. Aldyn-ool Sevek's kargyraa also expresses the entire majesty and might of the highest mountain  ridges of Mongun-Taiga, with all the specifics of  diffusion and reverberation of sounds in those mountains. The young performers of these times are difficult to distinguish from one another, because they are not oriented towards reproduction of sounds of nature of their native places; instead, they aim at copying the recordings of famous khoomeizhis. 

Aldyn-ool Sevek is the only khoomeizhi whose performance, to this time nobody in the world, despite all efforts, was able to repeat or imitate. Aldyn-ool Sevek is one of the most popular  contemporary khoomeizhis, one about whom foreign khoomei fans ask first of all. Aldyn-ool Sevek is the performer that many visitors from Japan, America, and Europe come to meet. Recordings of his performances are the ones most utilized at all whole republic scale events - for example on the radio and TV as musical breaks, or they are periodically broadcast in stadiums during khuresh wrestling, to encourage the Tuvan wrestlers' spirit.

It was not only on a single occasion that women, both in Russia and in countries abroad told me that after listening to Aldyn-ool Sevek-s recordings, they fell in love with all Tuvan men, unconditionally and sight unseen, because kargyraa is such a beautiful and vivid expression of male essence, that is very difficult to resist.  "No matter how many times I heard this mighty, masculine sound, at the same time full of masculine nobility and dignity, every time it reaches into such depths of my soul, and every time it touches me to tears," -  one of my colleagues-anthropologists told me, who dreams of marrying a Tuvan khoomeizhi, regardless of the fact that she is much taller than average, something that she even finds a bit embarrassing. 

Aldyn-ool Sevek has been, figuratively speaking, "standing" for many years in defense of Tuvan khoomei at the westernmost border of Tuva, in Mongun-Taiga kozhuun, and is an original dependable "shield" of Tuvan throat-singing, invariably demonstrating the highest level of performance mastership.  During quarrels and pretensions to khoomei, which sometimes happen among musicians of Khakassia, Altai, Mongolia and Tuva, Tuvan musicians proudly say: "Just try to cross the mountain pass and "step over" Aldyn-ool. If you can withstand competition with him, then maybe we'll talk. But we know that this is where you'll get stuck - with Aldyn-ool." 

Despite all his popularity, Aldyn-ool is delicate and lives modestly, without immense riches. As a faithful son of his small native place, he, being seriously sick and living in an oncology clinic of the republic, used to dream of going to his native place, to his remarkable mountains with the purest air, but he did not know how to do it. Drivers of passenger transportation refused to take this critically ill passenger on such a long and difficult trip. 

In the name of all Tuvan musicians, I want to express immense gratitude to Anatoly Partizanovich Damba-Khuurak, to all the physicians of the oncology clinic and catastrophe medicine for their support of the initiative of a group of musicians in the transportation of National khoomeizhi Aldyn-ool Sevek to his birthplace in Mongun-Taiga. Because of his modesty, he never in his life found the courage to bother  the higher-ups  with his requests. With the co-operation of the vice-premier of the government of RT, A.P. Damba-Khuurak, a resuscitation machine with medical escort was assigned to this purpose. 

We are extremely grateful for the sensitivity, attention, and invaluable help extended to our unique musician, National khoomeizhi of Republic Tyva, Aldyn-ool Sevek.

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