Sunday, August 16, 2009

Inuit Throat Singing

When I lived in Canada, I became fascinated with the Inuit culture -- the native peoples who lived in the northeastern Arctic.

I remember when the eastern part of the Northwest Territories became its own territory on April 1, 1998 and became the autonomous territory of Nunavut (meaning our land.) I watched the festivities all day being broadcast from the new capital city of Iqaluit (meaning many fish) and was simply fascinated.

What really captivated me was a performance of Inuit women demonstrating the ancient musical genre called “throat singing.” It was developed centuries ago when the men folk would go off for weeks at a time in pursuit of arctic critters and the women would be left alone. They developed this incredibly unique means of singing as a form of entertaining themselves and I have to say that it’s one of the most unusual forms of music I’ve ever heard.

Throat singing is performed by two women facing each other and generating sounds in their throats by inhaling and exhaling through the nose and mouth, often making glutteral noises along with some rising and falling tones.

What really makes it difficult, is that one woman makes a throaty sound and the other immediately makes a corresponding, imitating intonation, often with percussive noises that don't even sound human. They concentrate on each other in order to keep the process going back and forth -- and like I said, it really is one of the most unusual, yet captivating forms of music I’ve ever heard.

I used to watch Inuit television when I lived in Toronto. When I left, I thought I might never hear throat singing again, but thanks to the you tubes, here is a great example of it. Be sure to listen to all the variations. It’s really amazing.

(Maybe I can get Miss Healthypants to do it with me.)

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At 2:45 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

Yeah, never gonna happen, Dooder. Unless you get me really drunk on watermelon daiquiris, there is no way I'm going to try that weird singing. :)


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