collected stories: spirit
A peculiar style of singing is found in the tiny Siberian country of Tuva. Called khoomei, or throat singing, the songs are typically performed by soloists who each specialize in a particular variant of khoomei. The amazing technique of Tuvan throat singing is still a mystery to Western science, but listen closely and you will hear the singers produce up to four notes at once, singing melody and accompaniment simultaneously.
In 1992, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, Alexander Bapa, his brother Sayan Bapa, and Albert Kuzevin founded the quartet as a means of concentrating on the presentation of traditional songs of their homeland. While they devoted themselves to the preservation of these songs, their concerts demonstrated the significance of combining tradition and innovation. The musicians later decided to rename the ensemble as “Huun-Huur-Tu”-a name that means “Separation of Light Rays on the Prairie.”
Huun-Huur-Tu presents its style of throat singing in the context of wonderfully tuneful songs, employing instruments reminiscent of the banjo and fiddle. The combination of earth-rumbling growling and whistle-like harmonics, along with the ethereal jaw harp and shaman’s drum make these songs both lively and deeply spiritual.
Huun-Huur-Tu has toured extensively in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia, and has an international fan base. The group has also collaborated with Frank Zappa, Ry Cooder, The Chieftains, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, the Kronos Quartet, L. Shankar, and the Bulgarian Women’s Choir.