TBGT – Khoomei (Tuvan Throat Singing)

Scaling the musical landscape can be a treacherous task without a guide to act as your ears to lead you down the path to discovering the true hidden or not so hidden gems, and with the explosion of global streaming services this has allowed otherwise unknown songs, musicians and genres to become not only more commonplace within general listening circles but also to gain resurgence in international markets with ‘The Beginners Guide To’ be prepared to find new favourites or possibly solace in knowing your not alone in your mutual appreciation. 

I pride myself on being pretty open towards most genres and styles of music, when posed the generic question by friends none the wiser about my musical taste “What music do you listen to?!” I usually respond confidently with “..Well I listen to anything and everything” now in any other situation if you were to ask any joe blo on the street this question and they shared a similar response what they actually meant to say was something along the lines of “Well I actually don’t like rap, country music, anything pop or doof doof music.

However like I was saying not long ago I was asked to takeover the duties of choosing music for when a friend and I were cracking open a couple of cold ones however they were soon to receive a massive shock when the chosen music was completely outside of the usual sphere and this is how I gave my unsuspecting accomplice an introduction to Khoomei more commonly known as Tuvan or Mongolian throat singing. 

I chanced upon this glorious piece of ear candy by weirdly catching it on terrestrial commercial radio on my drive to work, at this point I was a pissed off high school graduate who ended up being in the position of taking a forcible gap year and as a result I was working in a box factory (Oh what a job that was). Across the airwaves the announcer beckoned my aural senses with a simple Monty Python phrase “Now for something completely different” and blasting from the slowly disintegrating speakers in my station wagon was this completely off the wall cover version of Nirvana which sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. 

So what are the origins of this form of music and singing.. well it traces back thousands of years and was developed supposedly as a form of traditional entertainment among rural men to see how far they could make their voice travels through the valleys and mountains of Siberia and Mongolia, particularly in the region called Tuva. Tuvan throat singing has a strong influence with the general framework and structure of the sounds coming from nature and a lot of throat singing is said to mimic these sounds such as  flowing water, blowing winds and moving trees. The tradition is largely associated with spiritual well-being with those who perform it believing they gain the power of whatever form they are imitating. However there are many different forms and styles of throat singing with Khoomei being the most notable and recognisable but there are many different variants from other parts of Asia.

Now Tuvan throat singing has regained a new breadth of popularity with the recognition of its cultural importance by UNESCO and also with the volume of musicians bringing this music to the world stage. Also in a stark contrast to the original practitioners more women are becoming involved in learning the art of throat singing and ignoring previously long held superstitions in regards to females becoming gravely ill or potentially gaining life threatening afflictions if they chose to try and practise the art. Also with the rise of social media many more artists are gaining traction online and capturing audiences further afield than within their own continent but the style has also adapted with the times with some bands blending tuvan throat singing with more modern and contemporary genres to create wholly new sounds. 

Top 5 Tasters: *These can be all found on youtube.

Хөсөгтөн – 12 жил / Khusugtun – 12 Years /

The HU – Yuve Yuve Yu (Official Music Video)

Hanggai – Batubagan

Mongolian Throat Singing-Batzorig Vaanchig

Буготак – Каар меге

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