Category: TUVAN THROAT SINGING


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A LEGEND OF THE IGIL
A long time ago there was Ösküs-ool, who lived with his aged father and whose entire wealth consisted of three goats. Early in the spring, one of the noyon old mares foaled and died of exhaustion. The noyon ordered the foal to be taken to the steppe and thrown to the wolves, saying that losing one foal wasn’t going to make him poor. Ösküs-ool took pity on the foal, taking him as his own and feeding him on the milk of his own goats. The foal grew up to be a wonderful grey racer with a white star on his head. In the races Ösküs-ool’s horse began to beat all the noyon’s horses and won fame throughout Tuva. Out of hatred and spite the noyon ordered his men to kill Ösküs-ool’s horse, and they drove her over a high cliff.

Ösküs-ool, not finding his beloved horse anywhere, passed out from fatigue, dreaming of his horse who spoke to him with human voice. ” You will find my remains at the bottom of great cliff. Hang my skull on an old larch tree, the wood of which you will use to make musical instrument, and its face ill be the skin of my muzzle, and its strings will be of the hair of my tail. When you begin to play on this instrument, my double will come to you from the upper( heavenly ) kingdom.” Ösküs-ool did all this as his horse had said in the dream and began to play. He remembered his horse, how was a small little foal and how they played together, he remembered how they won the races, and he played and wept, and it was as if the instrument wept together with him. Ösküs-ool become angry thinking of the evil noyon, and all of his longing and anger found reflection in his playing, and that’s why it is said that the igil is such a complex instrument, with such great expressive possibilities.

Öksüs-ool played for a long time, and the people listened for a long time and laughed and cried together with him as they listened. Suddenly on top of a high mountain the clouds parted and there came down from the heavens a beautiful grey foal – an exact copy of his horse, and he wasn’t alone but with him was an entire herd of black and white horses.

From them on, so they say, Tuvans do not throw the skull of a horse on the ground, but always hang it on a tree. This tradition was strongly preserved in Tuva until the 40s.

Konstantin Khlynov

What is the history behind the developement of khöömei?

The phenomenon of Tuvan throat-singing, with its various styles of performance, continues to amaze people. The spiritual world of the Tuvans, like their lifestyle itself, consolidated and embodied the freedom-loving impulses of the steppe dwellers, the inhabitants of Inner Asia.

If one imagines how endless a steppe road is, how unhurried a Tuvan horse’s tread or pensive a camel’s step is, how far steppe roads and mountain paths stretch, then it will not be difficult to realize that the life of a Tuvan in the steppe is inconceivable without sygyt-khöömei, a symbol of the Tuvan steppe that is as quiet, measured, and interminable as life itself. It is not without reason that Tuvans puzzled ethnographers when they could not answer the question: “How old are you?” The matter was not that they were unable to count. This question itself made no sense to them because time per se was an abstract notion.

Nature created a striking acoustic effect in the mountains and steppes of Tuva, where every loud word echoes with deafening reiterations. Over time Tuvans learned how to extract from these sounds the incomparable melodies that are the hallmark of the Tuvan national singing tradition. This is why from time immemorial Tuvan throat singing has been the eternal companion of singers and storytellers.

A khöömeizhi was a welcome and honored guest in any yurt, who always gave his listeners the gift of his music, born in the heart and soul of his people. The melodies of khöömei accompanied the Tuvan people in all their joys and sorrows.

Khöömei Is a phenomenon close to the soul of the Tuvan people a means of expressing the Tuvan worldview, a symbol of Tuvan spirituality, and the key to the spirit of the Tuvan people. It is in khöömei that Tuvans found consolation in their hour of need ancient times khöömei has helped Tuvans persevere, overcome hardships with dignity, and preserve their humanity.

If a nation loses its own unique identity, it will disappear from the face of the earth. Current data make it abundantly clear that not only of researchers, but also members of the younger generation are trying to preserve the art of singing, as well as the customs, rituals, and traditions of the Tuvan people. By exploring and researching Tuvan throat singing, we are able to revive all genres of musical culture long songs (uzun yrlar), short songs (kiska yrlar), refrains and ditties (kozhamyktar), as well as instrumental works for such traditional instruments as igil, byzaanchi, doshpuluur, khomus (mouth harp), and other bowed, plucked, wind, and percussion instruments

Khöömei is an art that attracts the attention not only of connoisseurs of folk music, but also of all those who would like to learn about the history of the music and the spiritual world of the Tuvan people, and of their lyrical and ritual songs. Every ethnic group has contributed to the development of human civilization and global cultural heritage. Tuvans likewise have their own contribution of great value, which has been passed down for centuries from generation to generation, and that is khöömei. Locals have preserved in memory several techniques of this art, including khöömei, ezengilleer borbangnadyr kargyraa, and sygyt.

ZOYA KYRGYS

THE MYSTERY OF TUVAN KHÖÖMEI ( THROAT SINGING)

INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC CENTER “KHÖÖMEI” REPUBLIC OF TUVA

This publication is protected by the law of the Russian Federation ob avtorskom prave ( ” On copyright”) .

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