Altai throat singing

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/19/altai-throat-singing.html

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I like it.

I think I would like some Georgian singing, next.

That being the Kartvelian, not the other Georgian stuff. No offence.

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Didn’t realize how many different cultures have throat singing (or overtone singing)…

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That bit where their voices drop to a lower pitch was rather marvellous.

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just dropping this off

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I’m curious about the flute at the beginning. Seems like he’s channeling air across the roof of his mouth into the instrument, which has no reed, using his mouth for that purpose. Wild.

Yeah, it’s amazing how it crops up in various spots all around the world. At first I wondered if it developed in similar landscapes around the globe, but it seems more widespread than that, in more diverse environments. What also struck me is that it seems the Inuit (etc.) throat “singing” was an odd man out in that in didn’t have a musical function (at least originally, though it’s used that way now), but research into the Ainu practices suggests they were almost identical in form and function, and they seem to be otherwise unique in both.

The whole genre of Mongolian rap/rock throat singing is really something.

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MUST BE ALIENS, says producers from the history channel! /s :rofl:

Agreed. I think it says something about the unity of humanity or some such. Could be communal memory of when there were far less of us and far less scattered across the globe. It likely has something to do, too, with the structure of the human body and how we make noises… or some thing…

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It’s not really throat singing, but I love this stuff:

I wonder if there isn’t some cultural or linguistic commonality that contributes to developing the skill. (My initial assumption that the environment played a role was based on this being the case with yodeling, and as there’s also research indicating that the landscape impacts language development in general, favoring sounds the carry better in local conditions.) I wonder if overtone singing was more common in the distant past, or is a fairly recent development, invented independently by all these various cultures…

Well, it is considered to be:

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That was Amazing! 'specially the more bass singing from the same guy.

Yeah, I thought it was just Mongolian / Tuvaan.

@ Shuck “The whole genre of Mongolian rap/rock throat singing is really something.”
Please post more vids

Paul Pena’s amazing documentary Ghengis Blues is required viewing, although I see youtube has now only got it in segments for those who don’t want to pay for the full vid.

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Good question! I wish I knew. I do wonder about these long historical trajectories, since my own interests is rather modern and modest…

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While I can see that mossy serpentine vault as being conducive to cracking out some study of singing (overtone or otherwise,) I have to view that as a Jerzey Boyz version of ‘Sherry Baby’ for when a 50-year rain (under cover of an Astin Martin with aluminum wipers or something) or a prize hot-pepper-eating event has broken a good fraction of my perception. [So maybe your chili’s coming out right!]

Singing is how you test your plastering, even sod wall skills. No resonance to the space? Maybe put it through the kiln (pastures) again and retry.

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Genghis Blues was shown at the Detroit Film Theatre, at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It was wonderful.

My BF took me to see Huun Huur Tu, a Tuvan throat singing/trad instruments group in the 2010s. They were amazing! I have never helplessly wept through any other concert - the voices and instruments struck something primal deep inside me, and I couldn’t stop crying. My BF told me a male friend of his said that he’d wept thru the Huun Huur Tu concert which he’d attended. Our inner nomad horsemen were awakened or something.

We often listened to them on the way to and from the stable when mom & I took riding lessons. We especially loved a song recorded while the singer was riding, with the horse’s whinny and hoofbeats, creaking saddle leather, and the jingling of the horse’s bit as he sang a capella.

I got a little hardcover book + CD called Deep in the Heart of Tuva: Cowboy Music from the Wild East. It was from Ellipsis Arts,* who released it in '96; I musta got it then or thereabouts. I’d picked up an LP of Inuit women’s throat singing in the mid '80s, but that CD hipped me to Tuvan throat singing, and Pena’s Kargyraa Moan is one of the tracks. It’s where I first heard HHT and Kongar-Ool Ondar, who became a dear friend of Paul Pena. It also features Yat-Kha, my favorite of the rock-ish Tuvan groups. My favorite song of theirs is on my tumblr.

I’ve since acquired CDs of Mongolian and Siberian throat singers, and they are also amazing.

*They put out several of those cd + book thingies, and they sell for a lot when you can find them.

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I think the environmental idea is particularly interesting. I knew an Italian farmer who hung out at the same pub that I did, his voice is a gravelly low monotone that would cut through any of the loudest bar conversations. Likewise yodeling seems to have a function of making sound travel distance by using pitch relative to projection by providing physical power into the equation!

A trick/technique of writing Gregorian church song is to move a small pitch down from the current note to reach a much higher note, a vocal gymnastic tool to springboard the voice up, very much harder for a singer to leap up pitch from the note they are currently singing. Again the environment is at play here, the cavernous reverberation within the church ‘marries’ (pun intended :wink:) the voice to the place of worship.

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Yeah, yodeling, like whistled languages*, was developed to be audible across large distances (yodeling in an open environment, whistling apparently in more forested areas), and I saw a reference to some recent research that tied how heavily forested an environment was to the consonants or vowels used in the local languages. So there’s all sorts of connections between environmental acoustics and the kinds of sounds people make. (Which in turn presumably impacts the sorts of sounds people find pleasing as well.)

Watching this video, with what looked like the singer using his own mouth to act as the “reed” in the flute, it also makes me wonder how other technologies impact overtone singing. If perhaps instruments, in cultures without it, fill a similar sonic role (or obscure its unique sound, causing it to be lost). If an environment that lacked the materials to (or didn’t have an economy or culture that allowed it to) develop certain instruments, perhaps it left open the (acoustic) space for overtone singing to be invented (or retained, if it’s an older practice).

*I.e.:

So metal.

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