Liner notes for the LP “Pesni I Instrumentalie Melodii Tuvi”, TUVA


Liner notes for the LP
“Pesni I Instrumentalie Melodii Tuvi”

Melodiya D030773-74, 1969
Recorded by Vyacheslav Shchurov.
(Translation from Russian, supplied by
 Bernard Kleikamp, Pan Records).

Musical art of the Tuvans, people inhabiting the western Sayans in the Upper Enisey, is notable for its big originality.

The Tuvan singing presents a special interest. The peculiarity of the art of the Tuvan musicians lies in the fact that the singer simultaneously extracts by voice, two or even three sounds. The solo two/three-voice singing emerges thanks to the simultaneous sounding of the fundamental which has a gutteral timbre colouring and its upper overtones which are caught and amplified by the head resonator. For all this the fundamental performs the function of the bass pedal and the upper subsounds also carefully draw a crystal pure melody on natural overtones in a high register. Sometimes a special additional subsound joins the lower sound. In such cases this produces the effect of the solo three-voice singing.

There exist a number of styles of the Tuvan throat-singing, sometimes a singer can perform several styles. The styles differ by the pitch of the sound extraction and timbre peculiarities of the phonation connected with it. Each style has its own distinctive expressive properties.

The highest, brightest style is ‘sygyt’ in which the highest register of the voice is used. The head subsounds have a singing ‘glass’ timbre shade.

Songs in the ‘khoomei’ style sound somewhat softer. The timbres in the style are slightly muffled.

Singing in the ‘borbannadyr’ style attracts by its velvet sound. The bass pedal in the middle register has an additional subsound affecting the quint overtone over an octave, as a result of that, there appears a peculiar three-voice singing.

Usually the performing of the melody with corresponding words foregoes an inclusion of the head subsounds on the bass pedal. There are a lot of different songs that can be performed in each style.

In a number of cases, the throat singing can be accompanied by an instrument, either the stringed pizzicato – doshpuluur or the stringed bow – igil, byzaanchy.

In every-day life the throat singing songs are usually performed while a herder, watching a flock of sheep, is having a rest, the throat-singing in the mountains can be heard far away. According to a singer he is sending greetings with his song to his people who are staying in a yurt far away from the pasture.

Diverse styles of the throat-singing are presented on Side 1 of our recording.

  1. Alash River (‘sygyt’ style). The song has a lyrical content. The beauty of the beloved girl is compared to the beauty of a running mountain river.
  2. Bayan-Kol (name of a place in the mountains), performed in the ‘sygyt’ style to the accompaniment of the doshpuluur. The song praises the native land, its nature.
  3. I won’t give up my Khoomei (‘khoomei’ style), No trouble will make the singer forget his songs.
  4. Manchurek (‘khoomei’ style), performed to the accompaniment of the doshpuluur. It is devoted to the singer’s beautiful country.
  5. My Brother, I’ll Sing Borban (Lyrical song in the ‘borbannadyr’ style). The two songs are performed by Khunashtar-ool Oorzhak, young herder from the Sut-Khol state farm, Ozun-Khemchik Region.
  6. The song “My Beloved Girls Ear-Rings” is performed by a herder from Chadaana Region, Ak-ool Kara-Sal to his own accompaniment on the igil (‘sygyt’ style).
  7. “The Tuvan Folk Tunes” are sung (without words) by a Tuvan throat-singing master, Manchakay Sat.
  8. “Song of Khoomeizhi” (‘khoomei’ style), performed by a well-known Tuvan singer M.Dakpay.
  9. “Artyy Saiyr” (name of a place) D. Damba-Darzhaa sings in the ‘kargyraa’ style to the accompaniment of A. Laptan on the byzaanchy.

On Side 2, different Tuvan folk songs and instrumental melodies are recorded.

“Fantasia on Tuvan Folk Songs”. “Song about the Igil”, three old melodies, as well as instrumental pieces. “Dembildey” and “Uzyn-khoyug” are performed by Ak-ool Kara-Sal to his own accompaniment on the igil.

A Tuvan folk musician N. Olzey-ool plays a tune on the reed folk instrument – temir-khomus. It is a bent metal plate with a chipped off lath vibrating when touched by a finger.

Kara-kyz Munzuk sings a modern song “To Summer Pastures” to the accompaniment of the instrumental trio (two chadagans and a chanzy). The song praises the happiness of free work.


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