The members of Khogzhumchu are leaders in a new, post-Soviet generation of musicians who masterfully incorporate elements from western styles in a way that only enhances the breathtaking impact of the ancient traditional form of throat singing.
- Tuvan Throat-singing
- Kyzyl, Tuva (Russian Federation)
From the Brothers Burton
Taylor says: It is always a rarity to witness a performance from a Tuvan ensemble, and often tends to be mind-blowing. To witness a solo throat singer is incredible enough on its own, but to see how the other musicians of this quartet play off of the overtones of the throat singer is amazing.
Scott says: Tuvan throat singing really is a treat. Like my brother said, it should be interesting to hear other vocalists interacting with it. Think of Tuvan throat singing as reverse ventriloquism without the puppets… or the bad jokes.
One of the oldest and most striking vocal traditions of mankind is xöömei (throat-singing) from the heart of Central Asia. The ethereal tones of throat-singing evoke sounds of nature—the wind whistling down from the mountains, the deep lowing of the yak, and the high trill of birdsong—all set to the rhythm of trotting horses ridden by the nomadic herdsmen of the tiny republic of Tuva. Largely unknown to the outside world until the 1990s, Tuvan throat-singing expanded western conceptions of the limits of the human voice, and quickly became a sensation worldwide. The members of Khogzhumchu are leaders in a new, post-Soviet generation of musicians who masterfully incorporate elements from western styles in a way that only enhances the breathtaking impact of this ancient traditional form.
Throat-singing is a unique kind of overtone singing that involves one singer simultaneously producing two or three notes of different pitches – a low fundamental tone, often a drone, and harmonic tones several octaves higher (sometimes lower) that, with virtuosic skill, are shaped into a melody. The effect is miraculous; nothing exists in western vocal music that resembles this eerie and beautiful Central Asian sound. Such singing was also practical, since the sounds of xöömei carried far across the thinly-populated steppes. The music expresses the cultural value placed on nature in traditional Tuvan spiritual beliefs—although its lyrics, like those of many folk songs, often focus on pretty girls and fast horses.
The founder of the Khogzhumchu, Andrey Mongush, is recognized as one of the foremost young leaders of this tradition. He has received numerous distinctions and awards both in Tuva and abroad. A musician and composer, he is a veteran of two of the most well known throat-singing groups, Huun Huur Tu and Chirgilchin. Mongush travels to the remote regions in his homeland to collect songs and inspire other performers. The group is rounded out by Ayhan Ooshaz who sings and plays the igil (two –stringed upright fiddle), multi-instrumentalist and singer Evgeny Saryglar, and Kan-Khular Saaya, an instrument-maker, singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays the igil, the byzaanchy (four-stringed upright fiddle), and the chadagan (plucked zither). Although formed just two years ago, Khogzhumchu has already performed for the Dalai Lama in India and at the Ustu-Huure world music festival in Tuva. This is the group’s first trip to the United States.