Tuvan Throat Singing

Download my paper, and enjoy this unique learning experience in world music.

I had the distinct pleasure (yes, pleasure!) of researching and writing a brief college paper on a topic of great fascination. My paper is titled, “Tuvan Throat Singing, and the Legend of the Horse Head Fiddle”. Now, you may be wondering, first, where on this great green earth is Tuva, and second, what have these two things got in common? You’d be surprised. I was.

Tuva is a small country in the center of Asia, wedged between Mongolia and Russia. Consequently, it’s been under the rule of these nations — and under China, too, at one point — for some 800 years, minus about a 20 year period when Tuva was established as an Independent Republic. What makes Tuva so intriguing is that, because of its isolation, the land and its people and their culture have all been preserved and kept untouched, like a pure natural haven of beauty. One of the things for which the nomads of Tuva are known is their throat singing — a method of singing, essentially, two or three notes at the same time! You’ll have to read about this great art of musical expression!

The Horse Head Fiddle (or the Igil, as they call it) is an important part of their throat singing traditions. The instrument is a lot like the Tuvinian version of the Mongolian morin khuur, and the Legend about the fiddle’s origins is very similar to that from Mongolia.

There are so many nuggets of information I discovered while researching this topic, such as the cultural taboos meant to dissuade women from throat singing, and the role of throat singing in traditional shaminism. But I eagerly invite you to read my paper to see for yourself! There is a bibliography of sources at the end, so if you wind up hungering for even more information, as I did, you may explore this thorough list of books and internet articles provided.

What others have said about “Tuvan Throat Singing, and the Legend of the Horse Head Fiddle”:

“I want to…compliment you on your wonderful essay on Tuvan Throat singing and the Igil. I am connected in some way or another with most of the people you mention quote or feature in the article and know most of them personally. This is a great new addition to the subject! I am letting people know about your article, hopefully it will get read even more.”

–Devan Miller, Director of the Tuva Trader, and US Manager and booking agent for Tyva-Kyzy

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