A deep hum echoes
Vibrating whispers unfurl
Human and nature are one
Sounds illuminate souls
© Carol Campbell 2015
“In Mongolian throat singing, the performer produces a fundamental pitch and—simultaneously—one or more pitches over that. The history of Mongolian throat singing reaches far back. Many male herders can throat sing, but women are beginning to practice the technique as well. The popularity of throat singing among Mongolian seems to have arisen as a result of geographic location and culture. The open landscape of Mongolia allows for the sounds to carry a great distance. Ethnomusicologists studying throat singing in these areas mark khoomei as an integral part in the ancient pastoral animism that is still practiced today. Often, singers travel far into the countryside looking for the right river, or go up to the steppes of the mountainside to create the proper environment for throat-singing.
The animistic world view of this region identifies the spirituality of objects in nature, not just in their shape or location, but in their sound as well. Thus, human mimicry of nature’s sounds is seen as the root of throat singing. An example of this is the Mongolian story of the waterfall above the Buyan Gol (Deer River), where mysterious harmonic sounds are said to have attracted deer to bask in the waters, and where it is said harmonic sounds were first revealed to people. Indeed, the cultures in this part of Asia have developed many instruments and techniques to mimic the sounds of animals, wind, and water. While the cultures of this region share throat singing, their styles vary in breadth of development.”
Personal note: We lived in Northern New Mexico for many years and every time we’d visit Taos, I would hear a hum. No one else with me could here it. When I heard the Tuvan throat singing, I was very excited because it was that sound that I heard or should I say the human reflection of that sound. Later I was to read an article that talked about “The Taos Hum” and I must say, I showed it to my skeptical family with a bit of glee! 😉 We in this world, truly are one if we’d just slow down enough to hear!
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