Carole PEGG: Mongolian conceptualizations of overtone singing (xöömii)

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Original Articles

Mongolian conceptualizations of overtone singing (xöömii)

Pages 31-54 | Published online: 31 May 2008

Based on field work in western Mongolia during 1989 and 1990, this paper relates Mongolian xöömii or overtone singing to its social context and to the cognitive world of the performers. It looks at secular performance contexts, theories of origin, legendary/historical development, recent transformation into an art form, traditional training methods and transmission, Mongolian classification of xöömii, and its relationship with nature and shamanism. A brief overview is given of previous non‐Mongolian perspectives, which have either concentrated on acoustical and physiological analysis of the sounds themselves or have made claims that overtone singing is a “magical voice technique” causing spiritual and physical healing. The latter is contrasted with the Mongolian belief that, although consumption of the sounds may be beneficial, the production of xöömii is potentially harmful to the body.

Author: tranquanghai1944

Ethnomusicologist, composer and vietnamese traditional musician

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