Voices of Tuva

By Chen Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-12-15 07:10:19

Voices of Tuva

Tuvan musician Sayan Bapa founded his band in 1992 with his friend Kaigalool Khovalyg. The quartet Huun-Huur-Tu tours China this month.[Photo provided to China Daily]

An ethnic Siberian band, whose members produce music in their throats, is coming to China yet again to charm audiences with their exotic craft, Chen Nan reports.

Sayan Bapa, 52, grew up listening to an old, beautiful folk song called Camel Caravan Drivers, popular for generations in his home state of Tuva Republic, which is a Russian Federation subject in southern Siberia, bordering Mongolia.

The song is about a horseback rider's travels to Beijing from Tuva along the Silk Road.

The lyrics revolve around the man's beloved horse and how he misses his family during the long trip. The ancient central Asian singing technique of khoomei, also known as "throat singing", is used. Vocalists in this strain tend to produce the sounds of multiple notes simultaneously in their throat.

The song haunted Bapa for years and inspired him to create his own music.

Along with his quartet, Huun-Huur-Tu, based in the capital, Kyzyl, the veteran throat-singer will perform the song during his band's first major tour of China, beginning later this month. The tour will include Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and two other cities.

The ensemble will adapt the song with the members' traditional Tuvan instruments, including Bapa's three-stringed doshpuluur (Tuvan lute), Radik Tulush's four-stringed byzaanchi and his flute-like instrument shoor, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg's two-stringed bowed igil and Alexei Saryglar's shaman drum.

"The lyrics are poetic and like maps (of Tuva), portraying the sky, mountains and air. If you have never been to Tuva, you could see how the landscapes look by listening to our songs," Bapa tells China Daily.

Ever since the band first performed at the Shanghai World Music Festival in 2008, it visited China almost every year, greeted by warm receptions from Chinese audiences.

According to Liu Zhao, Huun-Huur-Tu's China tour promoter, the throat-singing art has been embraced by more young people in China. Liu's company, Stellion Era Cultural Communication, also works for two popular folk bands from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Hanggai and Yik-Ccn.

Most shows that such bands put up are usually sold out, no matter which venue such events are held at, Liu says.

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