Throat singing is a Central Asian singing technique where the basic sound is formed in the throat with a pinched technique or with a rumbling effect created with the pocket lips. It usually also includes filtering the upper notes of the voice to be heard so that they can be used to sing or play melodies.
Throat singing has traditionally been practiced in Western Mongolia and Tuva, where it still has an important position, but it is also found in many other cultures. There are also many species of throat singers in other parts of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. There are some throat singers in Khakassia, the Altai Republic, Bashkortostan, Kalmykia and Buryatia, and throat singing is still an important tradition in these regions. There are also some types of throat singers in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Saha and Chukotka, but there the tradition is not very strong. Throat singing can also be classified as the roaring umngqokolo song of the women of the South African Xhosa tribe, the belching song of the Chukchi, Inuit and other northern peoples, and the song of the accordion group of the male quartet tradition of Sardinian tenores.
High-pitched vocals differ from throat-singing in that high-pitched melodies are filtered over normal vocals. All upper-pitched singing is two-part, but throat singing is not always so. Throat singing can have up to four different voices, but even a layman can usually distinguish between two. The throat singer's main accompanying instrument is a two- or three-stringed lute, but many other traditional instruments are also used. Throat singers are usually men. Women's throat singing has long been restricted by, among other things, warnings that throat singing would cause infertility in women and bad luck for relatives.
The basic techniques of Tuva throat singing can be divided into three styles:
"like the caress of the wind in an empty bottle"
"like a shrill whistle"
grumpy and sultry double bass of a gay song
with no other singing techniques, the human voice can reach such low tones. Harhira corresponds to kargyra, and isgeree corresponds to sygyt. Melodies sung on top notes in Mongolian homey are more complex and numerous than in Tuva. In addition, the singer's basic pitch is usually higher in Mongolia. According to some definitions, throat singing subspecies also include borbangnadyr, ezengileer, chylandyk, dumchuktaar and buga-höömei.
Famous throat singers
Huun-Huur-Tu from Tuva
Kongar-ool Ondar from Tuva
Albert Kuvezin & Yat-kha from Tuva
Mongolian Hosoo & Transmongolia
Throat singing examples
What do the Finnish Chorus Singers do and why? Association website. 2000. Suomen Kurkkulaulajat ry. Cited on 10/17/2008.
Heikkilä, Sauli: Fascinating throat song. Aviador, 2018. ISBN 9789527063439.
On topic elsewhere
Suomen Kurkkulaulajat ry
Sauli Heikkilä's throat singing website
Esko Pulliainen: Throat singing is a skill with a prehistoric sound - Kuuntele Yle 11.7.2015