Category Archives: Robert Oliver BEAHRS

ROBERT OLIVER BEAHRS: Ph.D. dissertation : Post Soviet Tuvan Throat Singing (Xöömei) and the Circulation of Nomadi Sensibility, 2014

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Post-Soviet Tuvan Throat-Singing (Xöömei)
and the Circulation of Nomadic Sensibility


By

Robert Oliver Beahrs


A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the

requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

in

Music

in the

Graduate Division

of the

University of California, Berkeley



Committee in charge:

Professor Benjamin Brinner, Chair
Professor Bonnie Wade
Professor Alexei Yurchak
Professor Theodore Levin


Fall 2014

ROBERT OLIVER BEAHRS: Ph.D. dissertation : Post Soviet Tuvan Throat Singing (Xöömei) and the Circulation of Nomadi Sensibility, 2014


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Abstract

Post-Soviet Tuvan Throat-Singing (Xöömei)
and the Circulation of Nomadic Sensibility

by

Robert Oliver Beahrs

Doctor of Philosophy in Music

University of California, Berkeley

Professor Benjamin Brinner, Chair



Guttural singing practices in the Sayan-Altai region of south-central Siberia have
been historically framed as possessing “nomadic” qualities linked with pastoral
population groups indigenous to the region. As these singing practices were
incorporated into a genre of national folk music for Tannu Tuva (1921-1944) and
the Tuvan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1961-1991)—and then later
reformulated as the centerpiece of an exotic genre of world music—xöömei throat-
singing was shaped by contradictory attitudes towards its purportedly nomadic
characteristics, which have been essentialized at various times, for multiple
reasons, by local and global actors and interest groups. In the post-Soviet era,
xöömeizhi (master throat-singers) from the Tuva Republic (now part of Russia)
express a revitalized nomadic sensibility through xöömei singing practices, which
has come to operate both as an ideology and a disposition for Tuvan traditional
music. Drawing on a selective use of history, cultural memory, and natural
environments, post-Soviet xöömeizhi construct a nomadic sensibility that is
embodied in music and sound-making activities, foregrounded in intercultural
exchanges, and circulated as a social disposition.