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Ancient musical miracle: Throat singing from shamanistic rituals to the modern scene

It may seem to people unfamiliar with this art form that the sounds they hear are actually made by a musical instrument. It is difficult to imagine that human ligaments are capable of this, especially when masters of throat singing do the almost impossible – they begin to sing with two voices at once. Some types of such peculiar music are not even amenable to musical notation. Researchers believe that the peoples of Siberia and Central Asia, owning this art, are the guardians of the oldest method of sound production lost in other countries.

Listening to throat singing, you can catch many sounds: the murmur of water, echo, rockfall in the mountains, the whistle of the wind, the voices of birds and animals. The basis of this ancient art was the onomatopoeia of nature. We can say that this is the very foundation of music, its historical roots. Ancient hunters lured prey like this, nomad cattle breeders controlled their pets with their voices, ministers of ancient religious cults communicated laryngeal sounds with the gods, because a simple human voice was not suitable for such unusual purposes.

Until now, many very modern people who have never before heard the throat singing, note the unusual effect that it has. Most often, the effect of this music is described as calming and soothing. Therefore, throat singing today is an important part of shamanistic incantations and is even performed in Buddhist services when prayers are read. However, in Altai and Tuva, he is considered a high art, and it is actively developing. Modern performers are very popular and gather a lot of spectators at concerts.

An amazing feature of the throat method is the ability to sing in two voices at once. This is practically impossible with ordinary sound extraction, therefore, sometimes it causes an unprepared audience to react, even to a paradoxical one – for example, foreign experts who studied Tuvan singers first tried to find a hidden whistle in the throat of the musician. For the first time in Russia, the two-voice solo of the Bashkirs was studied and described by Vladimir Dal:

“This really is a wonderful thing: picking up as much air as possible into the lungs, this chorister drives hard, without taking a breath, the air through his breathing throat and his borehole, or throat, and you hear a clean, clear, sonorous whistle with trills and rifts, like a glass bell, only much longer. This is nothing more than a whistle with a breathing throat – a physiologically remarkable phenomenon, especially since the chest voice echoes this whistle at the same time with a deaf, but quite distinct monotonous bass. ”

There is a theory that throat singing, in different versions, was owned in ancient times by many peoples, but most later lost this ability. Evidence of this is found by scientists around the world. Such sound production can be found in the folk singing of people very far from Siberia and Asia: some African tribes and even in Europe – in Sardinia and Ireland. The unusual singing of Tyroleans – yodli, is also a “distant relative” of guttural music. Although it would be wrong to say that today throat singing is a half-forgotten art known to units. It is widespread among peoples living in the vast territory from Altai to Chukotka: Khakass, Altaians, Buryats, Tuvans, Yakuts, Chukchi, Evens, Evenks, Nganasans, Koryaks, Nenets, Itelmens and others.

In the European part of Russia it can be heard among the Bashkirs and Kalmyks. In addition, Tibetans and some tribes of the North American Indians keep these skills. It is also popular in certain countries of Asia, for example, in Mongolia. In Tuva, which is recognized as the world capital of throat singing, this art has been taught since childhood – at home and in children’s music schools. In the capital of the republic, Kyzyl, the Hoomei International Scientific Center operates and numerous throat singing contests are held.

In throat singing, there are a huge number of styles and sub-styles. Each nation has its own, and in Tuva there are only four main ones. For the performers and lovers of this music, the difference between Chukchi poles, Altai kai, Tuvan khoomei, Bashkir uzlau and Yakut kylysakh is the same as between hard rock music and classical opera. Throat singing is performed with words or only as onomatopoeia, some songs have been kept for thousands of years, and some are improvisations. Most of them have a very specific melody,…

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