Tuesday, July 22, 2008

According to news.mn, the International Throat-Singing Competition will be held in Tuva during 25-28 July, 2008. I couldn't find any other information online regarding this competition, which deserves its own website. The Tuvans, and in particular, the Khun-Khuur-Tu ensemble, the great throat-singer Kongar-Ool Ondar, have done much to promote this Central-Asian art of throat / khuumii singing. Tuva and Mongolian traditions are nearly identical, except for the language. Tuvans speak Turkic, which is probably a result of the Golden Horde and their extensive use of Turkish soldiers.

There is a great documentary called "Genghis Blues" about the journey of the late Paul Pena, a blind American blues musician of Cape Verdean ancestry, to Tuva. He learnt throat-singing by listening to recordings and practicing for 2 years. When Kongar-Ool Ondar was in the US for a performance, Paul Pena attended his performance and afterwards, met Kongar-Ool backstage to demonstrate the kargyraa-style (kharkhiraa, or growling in Mongolian) khoomii he had learnt on his own. Kongar-Ool was so impressed by Paul Pena that he invited him to participate in the Khoomii / Throat-singing competition in Tuva. Paul Pena accepted, went and won in the kargyraa-style. The soundtrack of the documentary is highly recommended. The mixture of Paul Pena's Delta blues guitar, Cape Verdean morna sung in Portuguese Creole and Tuvan throat-singing is nothing short of amazing. Here are a couple of videos: