SED’s Khoomei page / Learn Kargyraa, USA


Sed’s Khoomei page

Learn Kargyraa

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In this page, I will give you some tips and tricks for you to put your voice in the right direction to produce kargyraa. 
On the web, you will find some explainations about kargyraa. People say you have to use your “ventricular folds”, not only your vocal cords, to produce the right sound. This is probably right, but what are those “ventricular folds” and how can you use them? That’s not that obvious. 
Here, I will try to help you to get the point with kargyraa, with some sound samples. Those samples are not pure kargyraa. I don’t master the technique enough. It’s just a start. After getting the basic technique, you still will need to work and work and work to get a clear, precise, strong sound. Strength can’t be acquired in ten minutes. 
Let’s enter kargyraa’s world.

Find your ventricular folds

First, cough. Do you hear kargyraa? no? that’s ok, you’re in the right direction. 
Then, scrape your throat, with a closed mouth. Depending on the way you scrape, you may use your ventricular folds or not. Listen to the first example to get it. You must constrict some muscles of your throat, but which one, I don’t know. If you scrape your throat with no strength, it won’t come. When I think of it, I do just as if I wanted the front and back of my throat to touch themselves. It may help you finding the muscles. 
One other point is how to push the air. You must use your abdomen muscles, constrict them a lot. This point is important, it will insure a heavy air pressure. You don’t have to let a lot of air go out, but it must go out with strength. Without it, the ventricular folds won’t vibrate (if they vibrate, but they surely do, because we hear a sound, and a sound is a vibration). 
Those two elements (air pressure by your abdomen and muscles constriction in your throat) come together. 
If you don’t get it, let’s try another explaination. Take a lot of air in your lungs. Push the air with your abdomen muscles, but close your throat, so no air will go out. Imagine that you are under the water and that you want to hold your breath. This will help you finding which muscles in your throat to use. By pushing the air, you should feel its pressure in your throat. Now, open your throat a little (open it with the idea to produce sound, you could open it with only wanting the air to go out, which would be wrong, so open it while saying “aaaaaa”, but with a closed mouth, so something like “mmmm”), and let the air go out. This may produce the right sound. Remember to push the air with your abdomen. If you don’t get it, try different frequencies. Example 2 shows different frequencies. Remember that you not only have to want to produce a sound, but to scrape your throat too, but not too much. 
After being sure you use your ventricular folds, try the same but with an open mouth. Listen to the third example. 
Now, try to do it longer. Listen to examples 4, 5 and 6. 
You should get the point with the ventricular folds. If not, try to listen to the examples of the next section. Remember, if you can’t do it, that’s not that terrible. Don’t be too frustrated. Be patient. And if you really can’t do it, give up. Don’t damage your body. 
I don’t know if to give you the idea to scrape your throat is a good thing or not. While producing long kargyraa, you should not think as if you were scraping your throat. If you think like this, maybe you won’t use the right muscles, still getting a sound close to kargyraa, but maybe much more painful to your throat. So, remember that any huge pain is a bad thing. Remember too that to scrape your throat is only a tip. When I do kargyraa, I don’t think to scrape my throat. When I scrape my throat, I use more muscles (as far as I can feel, without seeing what’s going on inside my throat), the throat is more constricted, in places where I don’t constrict when I do kargyraa. Take all this as a starting point only. 
As a final note in this section, listen to the last example. On the three attempts, I start with my throat low, then I put it up. Do you listen to the difference in the sound? (Is this helpful, I dont know…) Mastering kargyraa may involve a good vertical position of the throat.

Be a motor

Those motor-like sound might help you get the point with kargyraa if the previous section did not help.

Avoid wrong directions

  • Example 1: wrong 1 (39,984 bytes) (39 KB)
  • Example 2: wrong 2 (61,656 bytes) (60 KB)

You may produce a kargyraa-like sound with only your vocal cords. Listen to those examples to hear the difference. 
They start with a wrong kargyraa-like sound, and then show the right way to do it. Do you hear how loud you can be with the right technique?

Produce a melody

  • Example 1: Huun Huur Tu (54,936 bytes) (54 KB)
  • Example 2: me (57,792 bytes) (56 KB)

Now that you get the right vibration, you will use it to produce a melody. 
And here, we must explain what khoomei is all about: frequency emphasizing. When you produce a sound, let’s say a “aaaaa”, you will produce a note, which has a frequency, which is called the fundamental. But you will produce a lot of other frequencies too, which all are multiples of the fundamental. Those are the harmonics. Khoomei is to emphasize one particular of those harmonics. Kargyraa does not escape this principle. So, when you do kargyraa, you will try to produce a note which will be as rich as possible in harmonics, and, only moving your lips, opening or closing your mouth, you will emphasize one of those harmonics. This is how you will produce melodies. Think of an “ooo” and a “aaa”, you see that the only difference is the position of your lips. In kargyraa, this is the same. You simply will listen to a melody because the kargyraa performer has a sound rich in harmonics, and that he selects one of those with his lips. His fundamental won’t have all the power that he puts in his voice (with sygyt, another way to do khoomei, it’s even worse (for what I can hear, I’m not a specialist)). 
Example 1 is one melody from the song “aa-shuu dekei-oo” performed by Huun Huur Tu (a world famous band, coming from Tuva), taken from their CD “The Orphan’s lament”. Example 2 is me trying to sing it. You hear big differences here. My voice is less precise, the fundamental frequency is less constant (this is a very big problem to have a constant fundamental, because when you change the frequency you emphasize, you may instead change the fundamental frequency, which is the wrong thing to do), there is less strength in the throat, we hear the fundamental frequency too much (and the pitch is a bit wrong, the rhythm too, but it’s not very important here :-)). All this may be said in one word: practice. (And my microphone was a poor Shure SM58, with a poor mixer behind it, but I don’t know if it has a lot to do with my bad performance 🙂 .)


This should lead you to a good start for kargyraa. Now, exercise, practice, strengthen your throat. Be patient, don’t practice too much in a short amount of time. Mastering kargyraa is a matter of time… 
I would be very happy to hear about what you think of this page. Was it helpful? What is wrong with it? What is good with it? Don’t hesitate to contact me.
Some khoomei techniques may damage your voice when badly practiced, which may especially be the case when you start. Don’t pratice too much or too loud. If you have a sore throat after practicing khoomei, I highly urge you to consult a physician.
Contact: (don’t hesitate to contact me, for any purpose). 
Please, only send text mails (iso-8859-1 or us-ascii). Don’t send MIME mails, no base64 or uuencode or anything else, otherwise your mail may get lost. 
Last update: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 21:31:00 +0100 
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