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◌  Throat singing

8 February 2009


I have just accidentally contributed some of my Christmas iTunes credit (thorths!) to the Long Now by getting Iolet. It’s exactly what I’d hoped plus throat singing.

Ten or fifteen years ago, before the celebrated documentary films, throat singing was pretty obscure here. Huun-Huur Tu were not yet the cultural institution we know today, and you could go weeks without hearing any sygyt or ezengileer on Top 40 radio. I didn’t know anyone outside my family who had heard of it.

In 1997ish the school went to Dry Falls, and as usual some extra islanders came along to help drive and herd. One of these was a certain M. – let’s let him decide for himself whether the web should know his part in the events here revealed – a great guy and fine company on the tedious drives. (Eastern Washington is beautiful, but there’s a lot of it, especially when you’re a car full of kids.)

Our campground at Sun Lakes State Park, just below Dry Falls, had the most mosquitos I’ve ever seen. They were like passenger pigeons. You could swat them two at a time. The bathroom especially was full of them, and they filled it with a nasal ringing like fine rain on water. You know bathroom acoustics.

There I was on the toilet trying to ignore them. Then this other noise impinges, a humming roar like the mosquitoes but louder, richer, and more melodic, resonating in the chest as much as the nose, buzzing in the stall doors. M. was fighting the mosquitoes with khovu kargyraa–style throat singing.