TSAI Chen-Gia, Ph.D. Acoustics, Taiwan, selectec publications

TSAI Chen-Gia, Ph.D. Acoustics, Taiwan


Vocal fold vibration and singing

* Ultrasonic imaging of vocal folds
* Vocal fold vibration as sea waves on a porous seabed
* Overtone singing & high-frequency vocalization
* Growl voice & spine stability

Chen-Gia Tsai
Assistant Professor, Graduate Institute of Musicology
National Taiwan University, Taipei, TAIWAN

Ph.D., Musikwissenschaft
Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany
Research Interests
Mechanics of the Chinese membrane flute

* Acoustic effects of the dizi membrane
* Linear effects of the membrane: impedance
* Nonlinear effects of the membrane I: jump phenomena and wrinkles in the membrane
* Nonlinear effects of the membrane II: spectral features

Perception of musical sounds

* Brightness and spatial effects
* Helmholtz’s hollowness and nasality
* Roughness induced by subharmonics

Vocal fold vibration and singing

* Ultrasonic imaging of vocal folds
* Vocal fold vibration as sea waves on a porous seabed
* Overtone singing & high-frequency vocalization
* Growl voice & spine stability


* Absolute pitch
* Music & biological motor system
* Chinese opera music & memetics

Selected Publications
Journal papers

C.G. Tsai (2004) Absolute pitch: studies in cognitive psychology. Guandu Music Journal 1, 77-92.

C.G. Tsai (2005) Chaotic behavior of performer’s vocalizations: an interdisciplinary study of growl voices. Taipei Theatre Journal 2, 39-62.

C.G. Tsai (2006) Disease and Composing: Syphilis in Smetana, Wolf, and Schubert. Formosan Journal of Music Research 3, 91-106.

Chen-Gia Tsai, Yio-Wha Shau, Hon-Man Liu, and Tzu-Yu Hsiao. Laryngeal mechanisms during human 4 kHz vocalization studied with CT, videostroboscopy, and color Doppler imaging (accepted by Journal of Voice)
Conference papers

C.G. Tsai (2003) Relating the harmonic-rich sound of the Chinese flute (dizi) to the cubic nonlinearity of its membrane (poster). Stockholm Music Acoustics Conference 2003, August 6-9.

C.G. Tsai (2004) Helmholtz’s nasality revisited: physics and perception of sounds with predominance of upper odd-numbered harmonics (poster). Proceedings of the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics, March 31-April 3, Nara, Japan.

C.G. Tsai (2004) Auditory grouping in the perception of roughness induced by subharmonics: empirical findings and a qualitative model (oral). Proceedings of the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics, March 31-April 3, Nara, Japan.

J.H. Chen, and C.G. Tsai (2004) Experimental research of the flow field in a brass mouthpiece-like channel using Particle Image Velocimetry (poster). Proceedings of the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics, March 31-April 3, Nara, Japan.

C.G. Tsai, Y.W. Shau, and T.Y. Hsiao (2004) False vocal fold surface waves during Sygyt singing: a hypothesis (oral). International Conference on Voice Physiology and Biomechanics, August 18-20, Marseille, France.

C.G. Tsai (2004) The timbre space of the Chinese membrane flute (dizi): physical and psychoacoustical effects (invited). 148th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, November 15-19, San Diego.

C.G. Tsai (2005) Multi-pitch effect on cognition of solo music: examples of the Chinese flute, Jew’s harp and overtone singing (oral). International Symposium on Body & Cognition, June 4-5, Taipei, Taiwan.

C.G. Tsai, W. Auhagen (2005) Intonation, tone range and timbre of the Chinese flute (dizi): a Duffing oscillator model of the dizi membrane (oral). Conference on Traditional Music Instruments, September 10-11, Taipei, Taiwan.

C.G. Tsai (2005) Disease and composing: syphilis in Smetana, Wolf, and Schubert (oral). Taiwan Symposium on Musicology, November 11-12, Taipei, Taiwan.

C.G. Tsai, T.Y. Hsiao, Y.W. Shau, and J.H. Chen (2006) Towards an intermediate water wave model of vocal fold vibration: Evidence from vocal-fold dynamic sonography (oral). International Conference on Voice Physiology and Biomechanics, July 12-14 2006, Tokyo, Japan.

C.G. Tsai, Y.W. Shau, and T.Y. Hsiao (2006) Vocal fold wave velocity in the cover and body layers measured in vivo using dynamic sonography (oral). 7th International Conference on Advances in Quantitative Laryngology, Voice and Speech Research, October 6-7, 2006, Groningen, the Netherlands.

C.G. Tsai (2006) Inharmonic sounds of bowed strings in Western music and Beijing opera (oral). 4th Joint Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the Acoustical Society of Japan, 28 November-2 December, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

* Music Acoustics Laboratory at UNSW (impedance measurements of the dizi were performed there)
* Mitzi Meyerson’s homepage (my favorite harpsichordist)
* Introduction to the Qin
* Learn traditional Chinese painting
* Liu Fang’s pipa and guzheng music world

[Chinese version]
Latest update: 12/2006








Research can be done in many ways: by means of obervation of native performers after on or more visits to the country concerned, or by means of practising instruments and vocal training aimed at a better understanding of the musical structure employed by the population being studied. My own research does not belong to either of these two categories since I have never been to Monglia and I have never learned the KHOOMEI style (Overtone singing) from a Mongolian teacher.

What I am going to describe for you here is the result of my own experiments which will enable anyone to produce two simultaneous sounds similar to Mongolian and Tuvin overtone singing.

The Tuvan vocal phenomenon Khöömei (literally Throat) since the last ten years

has thrilled World music audiences around the world from the USA to Holland, from Canada to Germany, Sweden, from France, Spain to Japan, Australia.

In 1969,I started my overtone research with Mongolian xöömij style which was very closed to Tuvan Sygyt style.Then, I wrote an article on my “discovery” of this split-tone singing style” on the acoustical point of view, in cooperation with Denis Guillou in a book published by Japan Foundation in 1980. Another important article with Hugo Zemp on my experimental research on overtones was published in Geneva in 1991. The film the Song of Harmonics, made by Hugo Zemp in 1989 with me as co-author was released in 1989 in Paris.

Only in 1977 I heard the Tuvan overtones for the first time from the LP edited by

Melodia GOCT 5289-68 “Pesni i Instrumentalnye Melodii Tuvy “ (Songs and Instrumental Melodies of Tuva) with the cover notes by G.Tchourov.


Throat Singing in Central Asia

The most well-known area for overtone singing is found in Central Asia, more specifically Western Tuva and Northwestern Mongolia. A great number of singers practice overtone singing, a tradition going back to the time of the Silk Road trade, according to some references in Tuvan songs. There is a rich culture of overtone singing, as demonstrated by many different styles, the great regional and even personal differences and the number of singers. In Tuva five basic styles exist: called sygyt, khoomei, kargyraa, borbannadyr, and ezengileer. Borbannadyr was called in some regions, but the latter indicated in orther regions the general term for overtonesinging. Nowadays, it still has this function, but khoomei can at the same time be the name for a separate style, apart from borbannadyr. In addition to these styles some sub styles exist, such as folk and middle sygyt, steppe and mountain kargyraa, and the “stil Oidupa”. The latter is a substyle of kargyraa named after the singer who invented it , and it is considered as the first city style. The parametres for this emic – or folk classification, seem to be the melody of the fundamental, the melody of the overtones and the sound colour or over all sound.


The Mongols did not have a traditional, general classification of their styles of overtone singing. The late folklore specialis Badraa and the singer Tserendavaa attempted to make such a classification of Mongolian xoomij. Their results seem to be based on two criteria: the places of origin and the palce of resonance in the body when singing xoomij. They came up with six different styles: uruulyn (labial) xoomij, tagnain (palatal) xoomij, xamryn (nasal) xoomij, bagalzuuryn (glottal or throat)xoomij, tseejiin xondiin or xevliin (chest cavity or stomach) xoomij and xarxiraa. The latter style is somewhat controversial, since different singers have different opinions about what constitutes it, and whether or not it is xoomii.

In addition to Tuvan and Mongolian styles Khakassian “xaj” and Gorno-Altaian

“kaj” overtone singing, usually accompanying epic songs, should be mentioned.

while Tuvan and to a lesser extent Mongolian musicians travel around the world performing their xoomej, little is known about other Central Asian styles.

A special case is the “uzliau” or “tamak kurai” of Bashkirs, who live in the

european part of Russia, some few thousand kilometers from Tuva. It is the name for their overtonesinging, with melodies similar to those of ordinary folksongs. The Baskirs are a Turkic people, who moved from Central Asia or Saiano Altai in the first millennium. Wainshtein advanced the opinion that they could have taken with them this peculiar singing style when moving westward from Central Asia. If this is so, he writes, then xoomej existed before their migration, i.e. in the second harl of the first millennium.


The manner in which the Mongolian and Tuvin word is transcribed is by no means not uniform: HO-MI, HÖ-MI (Vargyas, 1968), KHOMEI, KHÖÖMII (Bosson, 1964:11), CHÖÖMEJ (Aksenov, 1973:12), CHÖÖMIJ (Vietze 1969:15-16), XÖÖMIJ

(Hamayon 1973; Tran Quang Hai, 1980:162). French researchers have used other

terms to describe this peculiar vocal technique such as CHANT DIPHONIQUE or

BIPHONIQUE (Leipp, 1971); Tran Quang Hai, 1974; Gilles Leothaud, 1989), VOIX

GUIMBARDE, VOIX DEDOUBLEE (Helffer, 1973; Hamayon, 1973), and CHANT

DIPHONIQUE SOLO (Marcel-Dubois, 1979). Several terms exist in English such as


SINGING. In German, it is called ZWEISTIMMIGEN SOLOGESANG. In Italian, it is


For convenience, I have employed the term „OVERTONE SINGING“ to describe a style of singing performed by a single person producing simultaneously acontinuous drone and another sound at a higher pitch issueing from a series of partials or harmonics resembling the sound of the flute.

In Mongolia and Tuva, thee word KHOOMEI means pharynx, throat, and KHOO-

MEILAKH is the technique of producing vocal harmonics. This most unusual technique, which takes the human voices to its limits, entails the production of two sounds simultaneously: a drone or fundamental that is rich in harmonics and reminiscent of the jew’s harp (the reason why this technique is also known as „jew’s harp voice“). This technique is strenuous for the performer according to Mongolian singers. The performer must tauten his muscles and swell his cheeks. Different sounds are obtained by varying the air pressure across the vocal folds, the volume of the mouth cavity, and tongue placement. In this way, variable pitch harmonics are produced to form the melody. The fundamental is produced in the back of the throat, passing through the mouth, and exciting throught the slightly parted lips and to a lesser extent through the nose.

Five Styles of Overtones in Tuva

It is necessary to have a clear idea about the five basic vocal styles of Tuvan

overtone singing before analyzing the different items recorded in these 2 compact discs reviewed in this paper.


Khoomei is a vocal style which enables the singer to produce two sometimes

three simultaneous voices: one fundamental with low sound considered as a drone, and the other(s) with overtones giving one or two formantic melody (ies). In acoustics, harmonics are sounds the frequencies of which are integral multiples. If the singer sings the fundamental pitch of 200Hz (written H1=200Hz), harmonics 2 (written H2) will be 400Hz, H3=600Hz, etc…In this paper, whenever I mention H2, H3, that means overtone 2, overtone 3.

Khoomei is the common term for overtone singing, the origin of all styles. It

means literally „throat, pharynx“. It is considered as the oldest style by many Tuvan singers. It sounds like the sygyt style with high pitch fundamental, but less tension, softer overtones in the mouth. The use of rhythmic ornamentation accentuates the beat of the song. Nowadays khoomei is often faster and louder. Grace notes become tremolos as in borbannadyr style (after Mark Van Tongeren).

Sygyt (also written Sigit ) is a high overtone singing sounding like a flute, a whistle, mostly combined with text. The term sygyt means „whistle“. Songs in sygyt style start without overtones. At the end of a line, the melody ends with a sustained fundamental on which the singer surimposes a second melody with overtones (generally H9,H10 and H12, sometimes with H8,H9,H10,H12,H13). The best singers in Sygyt are Mongush Mergen, Tumat Kara-ool, Chuldum-ool Andrej.

Borbannadyr is sung from a fundamental in bass or baritone range. It is char-

acterized by a pulsating asymmetrical rhythm and is not normally sung with text. The term is derived from the verb borbanna (to roll over). The singer employs the tremolo of overtones, and can create the triphonic effect with the fundamental , the first overtone level in fifth parallel (harmonic 3 : one octave + a fifth higher), and the second overtone level which gives the melody. This style is sung in a higher register than the one used in kargyraa with more nasal resonance. Mikhail Dopchun, Tumat Kara-ool, Anatolii Kuular are the best exponents of this style.

Ezengileer is produced by rapid vibrations of the lips, and is sung over a low fundamental. It creates soft shimmering overtone melodies.Both the high (nasal) and low (throat) sounds are important. The alternation of the two different sounds seem to define the style. It is characterized by a pulsating galloping asymmetrical rhythm which suggests riding on horseback. Ezengi means strirrup the metal parts of a bridle. Songs in ezengileer style were usually sung when riding on horseback. To-day the ezengileer style is rarely performed and is considered rather difficult. Mongush Mergen and Ondar Marzhymal are the best singers of this style.


Kargyraa is a very low overtone, singing with long breath and open vowels (u, o, ö, a ) used in songs in which texts are sung. The term kargyraa is a homonym of the onomatopoetic verb kargyraa which means „to expectorate“. The pitch of the fundamental varies from 55 Hz to 65 Hz.

Apart from the five main styles, we can find other sub-categories: Opei-khoomei is a lullaby khoomei, similar to the rhythm of rocking a baby to sleep. It is sometimes called tönmes khoomei (never ending khoomei).

Khovu-kargyraa is a steppe kargyraa practised when riding a horse on the

steppe with the wind blowing at the right angle into the mouth with lips curled. The wind amplifies overtones (this style can be heard in the compact disc Tuva – Voices from the Center of Asia – Smithsonian Folkways CD SF 40017, track 1).

Dag-kargyraa is a mountain kargyraa, practised in the mountains, producing an

echo and singing with it. Tempo and timbre have a different rhythm than khovu-kargyraa.

Chelbig-kargyraa is a fan kargyraa, sung while continuously moving a fan in

front of the mouth. The air circulation produced by the fan genereates different kargyraa effects.

Sygytting borbannadyr is sygyt singing in borbannadyr style, also known as

the Gennadi Tumat style because he has developed it.

Chilandyk is a combination of sygyt and kargyraa alternating between high and

low registers. It is named after the chilandyk (cricket) which produces the same sound.

Dumchuktaar (from the nose) means khoomei singing through the nose, with

mouth almost or completely closed. It can be combined with other styles such as

kargyraa, sygyt, khoomei with nasal character.

Kangzyp is a special kind of overtone singing for someone who is depressed or

sad. The word kangzyp is probably derived from the verb kangzyyr which means „to wail“ (like a dog) or figuratively „to annoy“.

Xörekteer (xörek means breast). It refers to singing with the breast of the

melody before or in between actual overtone singing style. It is sung with words. If it is sung in the lower register, it is called xörekteer . Gennadi Tumat has sung it. Lebedinskij ,in 1948, wrote : „It is unnatural for a person to be able sing two

notes at the same time. The timbre is alreasy unnatural, not to mention the principal notes and the harmonics, or overtones, and what is downright unnatural is the length of time the breath is sustained „. Aksenov, the first Russian researcher, wrote an important article on Tuvin Folk music in 1964 (an English version was published in Asian Music Journal – New York, USA, in 1973).

Since the years of Perestroika and with the disparition of the USSR at the end

of the ’80s, Tuva has rebuilt the traditional music and Tibetan Buddhism. The „cultural rebirth“ has started since. Competitions, Khöömei Song Concerts were organized in 1992 and 1995 in Kyzyl, capital of Republic of Tuva. By chance I was invited in Tuva in 1995 and was nominated as President of the 2nd International Symposium and Festival of Throat-Singers from 19 to 21June 1995.

The Tuvan singers generally use overtones from 6th to 13th. Renowned sing-

ers can reach overtone 18. During the Russian domination, throat singing was not encouraged by the Soviet authorities, but it survived. In the ancient time, overtone

Polyphony in One Throat


singers specialized in a single style or two related styles. Nowadays, it is frequent to see singers perform several styles arranged in short segments.If an overtone singer cannot master the five basic styles (khoomei, sygyt, borbannadyr, ezengileer, kargyraa ), he is not considered a good singer. Young singers like combining throat singing with rock, pop, punk and disco music. National Khoomei competititons have been taking place for severel years, in which often more than thirty to forty singers take part. Young talent is discovered like the 11year old Schaktar Schulban has taught himself throat singing by listening to Khoomei singers on radio and Television since he was five. He can sing kargyraa style with 70Hz as fundamental pitch and changes to sygyt style (H1=240Hz) during the same song and raises his overtones to H12= 2880Hz (it is very difficult for an adult throat singer to reach that overtone pitch). Onda Mongun-Ool (17 years old) is a virtuoso of sygyt style, and Bujan Dondak (20 years old) is a specialist of kargyraa style.


How Did I Come to the Overtone Singing

In 1970, at the Department of Ethnomusicology (Musee de l’Homme), Prof.

Roberte Hamayon let me listen to her recordings made in Mongolia in 1967 and

  1. I was surprised by the extraordinary and unique nature of this vocal technique.

For several months, I carried out bibliographical research into articles con-

cerned with this style of singing with the aim of obtaining information on the practice of overtone singing, but received little satisfaction. Explanations of a merely theoretical and sometimes ambiguous nature did nothing so much as to create and increase the confusion with which my research was surrounded. In spite of my complete ignorance of the training methods for overtone singing practised by the Mongolians, the Tuvins and other Siberian peoples, I was not in the least discouraged by the negative results at the beginning of my studies after even several months of effort. I worked entirely alone groping my way through the dark for two whole years, listening frequently to the recordings made by Roberte Hamayon stored at the Sound Archives of the Department of Ethnomusicology of the Musee de l’Homme.

My efforts were however to no avail. Despite my knowledge of Jew’s Harp technique, the initial work was both difficult and discouraging. I also tried to whistle while producing a low sound as a drone. However, checking on a sonagraph showing that this was not similar to the Mongolian Xöömij technique. At the end of 1972, I got to the state that I was still a long way from my goal.

Then, one day in November 1973, in order to calm my nerves in the appalling

traffic congestion of Paris, I happened to make my vocal folds vibrate in the pharynx with my mouth half open and while reciting the alphabet. When I arrived at the letter L , and the tip of my tongue was about to touch the top of the palate, I suddenly heard a pure harmonic tone, clear and powerful. I repeated the operation several times and each time, I obtained the same result; I then tried to modify the position of the tongue in relation to the roof of the mouth while maintaining the low fundamental. A series of partials resonated in disorder in my ears. At the beginning, I got the harmonics of a perfect chord. Slowly, after a week of intensive training, by changing the fundamental tone upwards and downwards, I discovered by myself the mystery of the overtone singing style which appeared to be near to that practised by the

Mongolians and the Tuvins.


About my Overtone Training Method

After two months of „research“ and numberless experiments of all kinds, I succeeded in creating a short overtone melody. Here is my „recipe“ to help anyone to get this first step of overtone singing.

  1. Intensify the vocal production with the throat voice;
  2. Pronounce the 2 vowels I and U linked together and repeat it several times in

one breath;

  1. Make a nasal sound and tip of the tongue in a down position;
  2. In this way, it is possible to obtain both the drone and the upper harmonic

line in descending and ascending order.

This is the first technique what I call „technique of one mouth cavity“. This one

is easy to do and anyone can produce the effect of 2 voices in one throat after one minute of practice.

The second „recipe“ will help you to produce clear overtones in the Mongolian

and Tuvin styles. I call it „technique of two mouth cavities“

  1. Emit a throat sound of the vowel E` as long as you can;
  2. Pronounce the letter L. Maintain the position with the tip of the tongue

touching the roof of the palate. In this position, the mouth is divided into 2 cavities,

one at the back and one at the front;

  1. Say „LAANG“ for the first exercice, and say „LONG „ for the second excercice.

When you succeed in making the harmonics come out of the mouth, you keep the tip of the tongue to the palate while you sing , and at the same time you modify the mouth cavity by saying from A to O and from O to A several times in one breath;

  1. Make a nasal sound;
  2. In this way, you can produce clearly thé drone and a series of harmonics in

the Mongolian style.

For the beginners, the harmonics of the perfect chord (C, E, G,C) are easy to

obtain. However, a considerable amount of hard work is necessary especially to

obtain a pentatonic anhemitonic scale. Each person has his favourite note or pitch which enables him to produce a wide range of partials. This favourite fundamental varies according to the tonal quality of the singer’s voice.

New Experiments about Overtone Singing

Other experiments which I have been carrying out indicate that it is possible to

obtain two simultaneous sounds in three different ways:

  1. In the first method, the tongue is either flat or slightly curved without actually

at any stage touching the roof of the mouth, and only the mouth and the lips move.

Through such varieties of the mouth cavity, this time divided into a single cavity, it is possible to hear the partials but faintly and the highest harmonics cannot reach beyond 1200Hz.

  1. In the second method, the basic technique described above is used. However,

instead of keeping the mouth half open, it is kept almost shut with the lips pulled back and very tight. To make the partials audible, the position of the lips si varied at the same time as that of the tongue. The partials are very clear and distinctive, butthe technique is rather exhausting. The highest harmonics arrive at the zone of 2600Hz.


  1. In the third method, thé tongue si down, and the teeth bite the tongue while

singing the vowels U and I with the contraction of muscles at the abdomen and the throat. The hightest harmonics can be heard at thed zone of 4200Hz

Other new experiments I have tried to show that I can maintain the same

selective harmonic level which is used as a drone while changing the pitch of fundamentals (e.g. C, F, G, C). I have succeeded in creating the fundamental line and the harmonic line in the opposite direction. In other words, I arrive to sing the fundamental line in ascending order, and at the same time, I create the harmonic line in descending order. This harmonic effect is quite unusual and exceptional.

In 1989, Dr. Hugo Zemp and I made a film called „THE SONG OF HARMON-

ICS“ showing X-ray and spectrographical pictures in real time ans synchronous

sound about the overtone singing practised in different countries. This film produced by the CNRS – Audiovisual and thé French Society for Ethnomusicology, obtained 2 prizes (Grand Prize and Best Music Prize) at the International Festival of Visual Anthropological Film in Estonia in October 1990, a prize (Special Prize for Research) at the International Festival of Scientific Film in Palaiseau (France) in November 1990, and a Grand Prize of the 2nd International Festival of Scientific Film in Montreal (Canada) in 1991.

In Western contemporary music, groups of singers have also succeeded in emitting two voices at the same time, and vocal pieces have been created in the context of avant garde music and of electro-acoustical music. David Hykes with his Harmonic Choir, created in New York in 1975, use the overtones to link with the cosmic universe in his compositions. Demetrio Stratos (1945-1979) used the overtones to create the relationship between voice and subconscious. In my compositions for improvized music, I recommend the investigation of overtones to enrich the world of sound. Other overtone singers like Michael Vetter, Christian Bollmann, Michael Reimann, Wolfgang Saus, Miroslav Grosser from Germany, Roberto Laneri from Italy, Rollin Rachele, Mark Van Tongeren from the Netherlands, Josephine Truman from Australia, Les Voix Diphoniques , Thomas Clements, Iegor Reznikoff, Tamia from France have also used the overtones in their works.

Overtone singing is also practised by a number of ethnic groups (Oirat, Khakass,

Gorno-Altai, Bashkir, Tuvin, Kalmuk) of the republics of Russia bordering on Mongolia.

In Rajasthan (India), in Taiwan among the Bunun ethnic group, in Tibet among the monks belonging to the Gyuto and Gyume monasteries, in South Africa among the Xhosa population, the practice of overtone singing style is known throughout recordings. The Dani tribe in Aryan Jaya (Indonesian part of New Guinea) also practise the overtone singing .

I hope that after this short introduction to the overtone world, you will have an

idea concerning the existence of the overtones in different areas in the world, the possibility of obtaining the know how of singing overtones.

Tran Quang Hai



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Polyphony in One Throat


Pegg, C. (1992). Mongolian Conceptualizations of Overtonesinging (xöömii ). The British Journal of Ethnomusicology (1) : 31-53, London, United Kingdom

Sauvage, J.P. (1989). Observation clinique de Monsieur Trân Quang Hai. Dossier n° 1 Le Chant diphonique : 3-10, Institut de la Voix, Limoges, France.

Tisato, G. & Maccarini, A.R. (1991). Analysis and Synthesis of Diphonic Singing (Analyse et synthèse du chant diphonique). Nouvelles Voies de la Voix, 1ère partie, Bulletin d’audiophonologie 7(5&6): 619- 648,Besançon, France .

Tisato, G. (1989). Analisi digitale dei suoni multifonici. Proc. of III CIM (Colloquio di Informatica Musi- cale): 107-128, Padova, Italy

Tisato, G. (1989). Il canto degli armonici. Nuove tecnologie et documentazione etnomusicologica , Cultura Musicali n° 15 & 16, Italy

Tongeren, M.Van (1994). Xöömij in Tuva: New Developments, New Dimensions. M.A Dissertation, supervised by Dr. Ernst Heins, Ethnomusicologisch Centrum „Jaap Kunst“, Universiteit van Amsterdam,september 1994, The Netherlands .

Tongeren, M.Van (2002). Overtone Singing / Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West. 271pages, 1 CD, FUSICA (ed), Amsterdam, the Netherlands .

Tran Quang Hai & Guillou, D. (1980). Original Research and AcousticalAnalysis in Connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing. Musical V

oices of Asia : 162-173, The Japan Foundation (éd),Heibonsha Ltd, Tokyo.

Tran Quang Hai & Zemp,Hugo. (1991). Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique (Experimental researches on the overtone singing). Cahiers de Musiques traditionnelles : VOIX vol.4: 27-68, Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie /AIMP, Genève.

Tran Quang Hai, (1975). Technique de la voix chantée mongole: xöömij. Bulletin du CEMO (14 & 15): 32-36, Paris, France

Tran Quang Hai, (1990). Les Musiques vocales. L’Esprit des Voix, C.Alès (éd), La Pensée Sauvage: 43-52, Grenoble, France .

Tran Quang Hai, (1991). New Experimental About the Overtone Singing Style (Nouvelles Expérimentations sur le chant diphonique). Nouvelles Voies de la Voix, 1ère partie, Bulletin d’audiophonologie 7(5&6): 607-618, Besançon, France.

Tran Quang Hai, (1995). Le chant diphonique: description, historique, styles, aspect acoustique et spectral. EM, Annuario degli Archivi di Etnomusicologia dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, 2:123-150, Roma.

Tran Quang Hai, (1995). Survey of overtone singing style. EVTA (European Voice Teachers Association, Dokumentation 1994 (congress report): 49-62, Detmold, Germany

Tran Quang Hai, (1997). Recherches introspectives sur le chant diphonique et leurs applications’.Penser la Voix, La Licorne (ed.) :195-210, Poitiers, France .

Tran Quang Hai, (1998). Survey of overtone singing style. Die Ausdruckswelt der Stimme: 77-83, 1-Stuttgarter Stimmtage/Horst Gunderman, Hüthig (ed), Stuttgart, Germany.

Tran Quang Hai, (1999). Overtones used in Tibetan Buddhist Chanting and in Tuvin Shamanism.Ritual and Music: 129-136, Lithuanian Academy of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology (ed),Vilnius, Lituania

Tran Quang Hai, (2000). Some Experimental and Instrospective Researches on Xoomij Overtone Singing. Proceedings WESTPRAC VII (october 2000): 593-598, University of Kumamoto, Japan .

Tran Quang Hai, (2001). Chant diphonique. Science et Conscience, 2: 42-44, Luxembourg.

Tran Quang Hai, (2001). Voix d’autres cultures. Cinq Sens dans un corps, 284: 36-37, Paris, France


Tran Quang Hai, (2002). A la decouverte du chant diphonique. Moyens d’Investigation et Pedagogie de la Voix chantee: 117-132, Symetrie (ed), Lyon, France

Vargyas, L. (1968). Performing Styles in Mongolian Chant. Journal of the International Folk Music Council : 70-72, Kingston.

Vlachov, E. (1985). Recherches Vocales contemporaines: chant diphonique. Maîtrise à l’Université de Paris VIII-Saint Denis, supervised by Daniel Charles, 90 pages, Paris.

Walcott, R. (1974). The Chöömij of Mongolia – A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing. Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 2 (1): 55-59, UCLA, Los Angeles.

Zarlino, G. (1558). Institutioni harmoniche, Venise. (cf. Tisato, G.).

Zemp, H & Tran Quang Hai, (1991). Recherches expérimentales sur le chant diphonique (cf. Tran Quang Hai & Zemp, Hugo).

Discography only in CD


  1. Epics and Overtone Singing. Central Asia, Siberia: Touva, Chor, Kalmouk, Tadjik, vol.1 , Paris (France) Maison des Cultures du Monde W 260067 (1996).
  2. Shu-De. Voices from the Distant Steppe , London (United Kingdom)Realworld CDRW 41 (1994).

3.TUVA/ Tuvinian Singers and Musicians ,Frankfurt: World Network 55.838 (1993).

  1. Huun -Huur-Tu /Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva , New Jersey (USA): Shanadie 64050 (1993).
  2. TUVA- Echoes from the Spirit World, Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2013 CD (1992).

6 Tuva. Voices from the Land of Eagles , Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2005 CD (1991).

7.Ozum / Sprouts / Young Voices of Ancient Tuva, Amsterdam (Holland): Window to Europe SUM 90008 (1991).

  1. Tuva – Voices from the Center of Asia, Washington DC (USA): Smithsonian/Folkways CD SF 40017 (1990).


  1. White Moon / Tsagaan Sar/ Traditional and Popular Music from Mongolia , Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN2010CD (1992)

10.Mongolie / Musique vocale et instrumentale , Paris (France): INEDIT / Maison des Cultures du Monde W 260009 (1989)

11.Mongolie / Musique et chants de tradition populaire , Paris (France): GREM G7511 (1986).

  1. Mongolian Music, Hungaroton, HCD 18013-14, collection UNESCO, Budapest, Hongrie, 1990.
  2. Folk Music from Mongolia / Karakorum , Hamburgisches Museum für Völkerkunde, Hambourg, Allemagne, 1993.

14.Vocal & Instrumental of Mongolia , Topic, World Series TSCD909, Londres, Grande Bretagne, 1994.

15.Jargalant Altai/-Xöömii and other vocal and instrumental music from Mongolia , Pan Records PAN 2050CD, Ethnic Series, Leiden, Hollande, 1996


16.Uzlyau ; Leiden (Holland): Pan Records PAN 2019CD (1993)

  1. Voices of the World , Paris (France): Le Chant du Monde CMX 37410-12, set of 3CD, bilingual booklet (188p), collection CNRS-MUSEE DE L’HOMME (1996). Grand Prize of the Academy Charles Cros (1997), Diapason d’Or of the Year 1997.


Chen-Gia Tsai : Perception of Overtone Singing

Perception of Overtone Singing : Chen-Gia Tsai

Pitch strength

Voices of overtone-singing differ from normal voices in having a sharp formant Fk (k denotes Kh??mei), which elicits the melody pitch fk = nf0. For normal voices, the bandwidths of formants are always so large that the formants merely contribute to the perception of timbre. For overtone-singing voices, the sharp formant Fk can contribute to the perception of pitch.

A pitch model based on autocorrelation analysis predicts that the strength of fk increases as the bandwidth of Fk decreases. Fig. 1 compares the spectra and autocorrelation functions of three synthesized single-formant vowels with the same fundamental frequency f0 = 150 Hz and formant frequency 9f0. In the autocorrelation functions the height of the peak at 1/9f0, which represents the pitch strength of 9f0, increases as the the formant bandwidth decreases. Fig. 1 suggests that the pitch of fk is audible once the strongest harmonic is larger than the adjacent harmonics by 10 dB.

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chen 1

Figure 1: Spectra (left) and autocorrelation functions (right) of three single-formant vowels. Stream segregation

Next to the bandwidth of Fk, the musical context also plays a role in the perception of fk. During a performance of overtone-singing, the low pitch of f0 is always held constant. When fk moves up and down, the pitch sensation of f0 may be suppressed by the preceding f0 and listeners become indifferent to it. On the contrary, if f0 and fk change simultaneously, listeners tend to hear the pitch contour of f0, while the stream of fk may be more difficult to trace.

The multi-pitch effect in overtone-singing highlights a limitation of auditory scene analysis, by which the components radiated by the same object should be grouped and perceived as a single entity. Stream segregation occurs in the quasi-periodic voices of overtone-singing through the segregation/grouping mechanism based on pitch. This may explain that overtone-singing always sounds extraordinary when we first hear it.

Perception of rapid fluctuations

Tuvans employ a range of vocalizations to imitate natural sounds. Such singing voices (e.g., Ezengileer and Borbannadir) are characterized by rapid spectral fluctuations, evoking the sensation of rhythm, timbre vibrato or trill.

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Mongolian Khöömii Singing Papers, Singers and Recordings

Mongolian Khöömii Singing Papers, Singers and Recordings

There have been many explanations of khöömii that I have come across over the years. I will attempt to point to the main contributors and sources. My own studies brought me to Mongolia in 1993/4/7 and 2000/5/6 and I have interviewed attended and set up workshops with Gereltsogt (London 1993) and Tserendavaa (Europe 2002) that gave me further insight. This page is still under construction and will be updated as I find time to put more information on. If you would like to send me any information regarding Mongolian khöömii and if any Mongolian khöömii singers would like their own page on this site then please email me at ormi_khoomii@yahoo.com

Carol Pegg’s articles on Khöömii
Khöömii nomination extract for UNSECO Intangible Cultural Heritage 2010
Scientific American Article September 1999
The Chöömij of Mongolia A Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing by Ronald Walcott 1974
Original Research and Acoustical Analysis in connection with the Xöömij Style of Biphonic Singing
Tran Quang Hai and Denis Guillou, Paris 1980
A Two Voiced Song With No Words by Lauri Harvilahti circa 1981
Tuvin Folk Music by A. N. Aksenov, Tuvinskaia Narodnaia Muzyka (Moscow, 1964)
Analysis of Acoustical Features of Biphonic Singing Voices Male and Female Xöömij and Male Steppe Kargiraa
By Takeda, Shoichi and Muraoka, Teruo
Why Do We Perceive Two Tones Simultaneously In Xoomij Mongolian Traditional Singing? By MasashiYamada
Synthesis of the laryngeal source of throat singing using a 2×2-mass model
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Hiroshi Imagawa, Seiji Niimi, Naotoshi Osaka
Physical Modelling of the vocal tract of a Sygyt singer by Chen-Gia Tsai
Perception of Overtone Singing by Chen-Gia Tsai
Kargyraa and meditation by Chen-Gia Tsai
Growl Voice in Ethnic and Pop Styles
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Leonardo Fuks, Hiroshi Imagawa, Niro Tayama 2004
False vocal fold surface waves during Sygyt singing: A hypothesis
Chen-Gia Tsai, Yio-Wha Shau, and Tzu-Yu Hsiao
False Vocal Fold Surface Waves During Sygyt Singing: a theoretical study by Chen-Gia Tsai
The Effect of the Hypopharyngeal and Supra-Glottic Shapes on The Singing Voice
Hiroshi Imagawa, Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Niro Tayama, Seiji Niimi, 2003
The Laryngeal Flow model for Pressed-Type Singing Voices
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Hiroshi Imagawa, Seiji Niimi, Naotoshi Osaka 2006
Observation of Laryngeal Movements for Throat Singing. Vibrations of two pairs of folds in the human larynx
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara, Tomoko Konishi, Emi Zuiki Murano, Hiroshi Imagawa, Masanobu Kumada, Kazumasa Kondo, and Seiji Niimi
December 2002
Altai Khangai Ensemble info on Khöömii from the net
Zulsar on Khöömii from the Net

Page one of some Mongolian CD’s Featuring khöömii with track listings and liner notes

Page two of some Mongolian CD’s Featuring khöömii with track listings and liner notes

Page three of Some Mongolian CD’s found on the net

An Incomplete List of recorded Mongolian khöömii singers
A to F G to R S to Z

Magic of Tone and the Art of Music by the late Dane Rhudyar
This is a very interesting extract about the Harmonic series from the now out of print book

Some Khöömii, Khoomei, Overtone Singing Links and Related Sites

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Khöömii nomination extract for UNSECO Intangible Cultural Heritage 2010

Khöömii nomination extract for UNSECO Intangible Cultural Heritage 2010

This is an abbreviated extract of the proposal. Mongolian Khöömii is now on the UNSECO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
The text raises many questions, particularly in regards to the authenticity and modernisation of Mongolian Khöömii.
Note I have changed the spelling from Khöömei to Khöömii (from Charles Bawden Mongolian-English Dictionary 1997 ISBN 0-7103-0439-0).
The former is a version of the Tuvan Spelling of this style of singing. The Spelling can also be Xöömii as there is no exact transliteration of Mongolian to Roman alphabetic script. Spellings such as Xöömij and Khöömiich are variants of the word for the singer of this style of singing and not the actual style of singing. I have also made some small grammatical corrections and there are a few comments in square brackets. Michael Ormiston Feb 2011

Identification of the Khöömii performers and practitioners in the territory of Mongolia from ancient to present times is as follows:

map of mongolia

In Khovd aimag (province): In Chandmani sum (county), Chuluun Dagva (1929-1978), Derem (1931-1980), transmitted Khöömii to Tsedee B. (1935-1987), Chimeddorj, Sundui D. (1938-2002), Darjaa, Namjil, Sengedorj N. (1948-), Tserendavaa D.(1955-), Ganbold T (1957-), Gereltsogt T, Davaajav P (1969-)., Baatarjav, Tsogdelger Ya., and the next generation inherited from them, such as Khosbayar (living in Germany), Amartuvshin B. (living in Germany), and many others who are the successors of the well-known Khöömii masters mainly among the Khalkh ethnic group, and in other sums of Khovd aimag.

In Uvs aimag: Among the Bayad, Dörvöd and some Khalkh, Khöömii has been transmitted through the outstanding skills of masters as Toivgoo E. to Lxagva, Otgonkhuu and others.

In Bayan-Ölgii aimag: Among the Tuvinians, Khöömii is mainly transmitted by Bapizan in Tsengel sum.

In Zavkhan aimag: The son of Geser nobleman, a well-known shaman Undur Kharchuu, who lived in the Bayankhairkhan sum in the area of Lake Oigon nuur and Mogoin gol river basin, was a prominent Khöömii practitioner. One of his descendants, Renchin Yo., called as ‘Flute voice’ (1885-1948) inherited his skills and transmitted it to Jigmed U. (1901-1999). Jigmed U. handed down the Khöömii to his children, Khurelbaatar.J (1940-2000), Tsend-Ayush J. (1940-1995), as well as to the local fellows Danaajav.G and Gongorjav.B and his grandson Sandagjav.E, who is currently living in Ulaanbaatar. Gaanjuur.B (1908-1965), the eminent Khöömii singer from Bayantes sum transmitted his skills and knowledge of Khöömii to Tserendorj P. (1931-2007), Namjilsuren Ts., Davaa D. from Tes sum, Chimeddorj G., Gantulga S., Yavgaan B. from Aldarkhaan sum and Odsuren B. from Ulaanbaatar, respectively.

In Ulaanbaatar: More recently, since less than 40 years, some singers out of the western provinces inherited the Khöömii from Khöömii masters from the Altai Mountains region, such as Davaanyam D. from Tsagaan uul sum of Khuvsgul aimag, Ganzorig N. from Zuunkharaa in Selenge aimag, Bayarbaatar D. from Gobi-Altai aimag, Gantulga D. and Ashid N. from Ulaanbaatar and many others.

Other parts of Mongolia: Khöömii heritage has been transmitted through the outstanding skills of other masters, such as Purev (1936-1975) in Bayanbulag sum of Bayankhongor aimag, Buyandelger S. in Övörkhangai aimag, to the famous practitioners, including Bazarvaani and Zulsar S (Died 2010) who both live in Ulaanbaatar today.
Khöömii has been transmitted and developed with its original characteristics from generation to generations particularly in the provinces in Western region of Mongolia mainly in the Altai mountains, namely, Chandmani sum and Khovd city in Khovd aimag, Tes sum and Ulaangom city in Uvs aimag, Tsengel sum in Bayan-Ölgii aimag, and Bayankhairkhan, Asgat, Bayantes, Tes sums of Zavkhan aimag; among several ethnic group such as the Khalkh, Bayad, Dörvöd, Tuva, Zakhchin, and Uriankhai.
The communities from neighbouring countries of Mongolia such as Tuva, Kalmyk, Bashkir, Khakass of Russian Federation, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang Autonomy Regions of PR China share the Khöömii art with Mongolians, and according to the historical sources, they are the descendants of native Mongol nomads in Central Asia. The governments of Tuva, Kalmyk, Altai of the Russian Federation and of Inner Mongolia of the PR China are paying notable attention for the development of Khöömii art in variety of ways and invite Khöömii masters, teachers and practitioners from Mongolia and Tuva to learn Khöömii with its Mongolian authenticity. This shows a great importance of Khöömii for its concerned communities, not only in the territory of Mongolia, but in abroad as well. Although some teachers, performers and practitioners of Khöömii successfully spread the Khöömii training worldwide, there are distortion phenomena still in existence, such as deterioration and fragmentation on the authenticity and integrity of the tradition.
Khöömii is closely attached to the daily life of the concerned communities in the rural areas of Mongolia, featuring wide performance range, from herding the livestock to lulling the baby. In general, the art of Khöömii belongs to the domain of performing art, as defined in the Convention. It is popularly performed and practiced during the social celebrations, festive events, and official occasions. Moreover, Khöömii is in close inter-relation with the other ICH (Intangible Cultural Heritage) domains. For instance, it associates with different aspects with variety of other Mongolian folk oral and intangible heritages, such as magtaal blessing, praising, traditional short, popular and long songs, as well as the folk instruments.
The Mongolian traditional art of Khöömii is an outstanding heritage representing the Mongolians’ contribution to the cultural heritage of humanity. Khöömii is a type of unique music art created, maintained and recreated by the Mongolian people from generation to generation and is one of the essential cultural identities of the Mongols.

“Khöömii” is a generic term defining the whole vocal practice of a single person who voluntarily and simultaneously overlays several sounds but mainly two sounds with his voice. It is a melody of harmonics sung above a fundamental tone called drone. The harmonics originate in the vocal drone that they are extracted from by simultaneous pressure on the pharynx and diaphragm. [and movement of the tongue] Khöömii literally means “pharynx”, referring to the main body part used to produce this vocal technique. A multitude of techniques can be found in Mongolia and they are grouped within two main styles, the kharkhiraa (deep Khöömii) and isgeree Khöömii (whistled Khöömii) [Tserendavaa has classed Khakhiraa “non-melodic Khöömii”, meaning that a harmonic melody arising from the vocal drone is not sung, this has changed since he stated this, with singers like the late Zulsar’s combination Khöömii which combines the deep Khöömii(Kharkhiraa) with a melody of harmonics arising from the kharkhiraa drone . Isgeree Khöömii is classified as melodic Khöömii by Tserendavaa]
The basis of Khöömii art is an imitation of sounds of the nature, from the mountains, water and breathing of the wind. The Mongolians used the human vocal organs to the high degree of level and developed the art of Khöömii as a unique musical art. The exact origin of the Khöömii is unknown, but researchers suppose that it could have been developed in connection with argil (a throat timbre) [argil means bass/bass voice, the vocal technique associated with epic singing is Khailakh] epic telling vocal technique, shamanic calling and the playing of the wooden tsuur flute.
The history of Mongolian Khöömii dates back hundreds of years. The popularity of Khöömii among Mongolians has arisen as a result of close interaction between natural environment and human culture. Ethnomusicologists studying Khöömii mark it as an integral part in the ancient pastoralism that is still practiced today. This art has developed to mimic and imitate the sounds of animals, nature, wind and water.
The wonder of the art of Khöömii is its simultaneous melodies-overtone [drone and harmonic overtone melody]. In this way the Khöömii is a phenomenon which differs from other traditional arts based on human vocal organs. [The Dhzo of The Gyuto & Gyume Gelupka Tantric colleges and the Umngqokolo singing of Xhosa women from South Africa may use similar techniques to the Kharkhiraa style]
This is the reason of calling the Khöömii performer as “Human-Music” (Khun khugjim [khögjim]) which highlights its specificity from a “normal singer”. The meaning of Khöömii for its community is enormous. As the traditional art form, Khöömii is in close cohesion with the daily life of the Mongolian nomads. They perform Khöömii in the variety of social occasions ranged widely, from grand state ceremonies to the household festive events, associated with respective rituals, and customs. Khöömii is not only performed in social events, because Khöömii performance is often found during the herding, and even when lulling the baby, as well as in the evenings in the ger (Mongolian traditional round felt tent) in domestic context. Hence, Khöömii is an essential part of the identity, pride and continuity of Mongolian society. Therefore, it provides the concerned community with sense of unity and harmony, as well as continuous creativity.
One of Khöömii’s social functions is that, it is used as a traditional pedagogic instrument in the social and art education and upbringing. This is because during the Khöömii transmission, a comprehensive knowledge, philosophy and wisdom on the correlation of human life and nature are transmitted at the same time. As an art form created and developed by the Mongolians, Tuvinians and other ethnic groups, and regarded as the classic art of nomadic civilization, Khöömii is one of the core performing arts that shape the Mongolian national arts in today’s Mongolia. Thus, it shows great influence on ensuring the visibility and enhancement of the living art of Mongolia.
Khöömii is born by variety of ethnic groups as Khalkh, Bayad, Dörvöd, Uriankhai, Zakhchin, Tuva, Tsaatan in different locations, therefore there are a number of sub-classifications of Khöömii styles, reflecting the special features and local flavours. This diversity is what constitutes the richness of Khöömii composition, and thus, each community concerned are proud of their own unique styles and techniques while expressing themselves with such diversity.
The governments of Mongolia, Russian Federation and PR China have been undertaking variety of measures for the effective enhancement and spread of Khöömii tradition, such as holding international meetings, workshops, competitions and performances on Khöömii. This shows the significance of Khöömii for the bearers and their will to safeguard, transmit and develop it in multinational level, which also promotes international interaction, mutual respect and intercultural dialogue.

Researchers classify Khöömii’s vocalization into 2 styles:
-The Kharkhiraa (deep Khöömii) [Tserendavaa “non-melodic Khöömii”] vocal emission: The singer sings a drone in a normal voice, then he inhales deeply and, simultaneously pressing on his pharynx and abdomen, he produces a deep harmonic sound which vibrates one octave lower than the fundamental note produced. What you hear is in a very low-pitched register. The singer actually vibrates not only his vocal cords but also his arytenoid cartilage. It is this deep harmonic sound that is heard in the foreground and that characterizes the kharkhiraa style, although in some variants a melody of high-pitched harmonics can be heard above the fundamental sound.
-The Isgeree Khöömii (whistled Khöömii) [Tserendavaa “Melodic Khöömii] emission: Also called Nariin [fine/thin/exact]Khöömii, Uyangiin[?????] Khöömii, Altain shingen [liquid/watery??] Khöömii. The singer sings a drone in a normal voice, then inhales deeply and still pressing [pressing may the wrong word. I was taught to constrict my pharynx, the word used was Shakhalt, or with Shakhaltai meaning, with compression/constriction. The Superior pharyngeal constrictor muscles are most probably used. The pressure from the abdomen is for the immense support the throat needs and in particular for the protection of the larynx of this highly compressed voice] simultaneously on his pharynx and abdomen he (can be a woman as well] produces a harmonic sound, which vibrates several octaves above the fundamental sound. A melody of harmonics with a very high-pitched whistle [sounding like a high pitched whistle] can then be heard.
In both cases, the harmonic melody is sung in the same fashion. The singer modulates his mouth cavity by opening and closing his lips or by moving his tongue backwards, sticking its tip on his palate, or else by moving the central part of his tongue from front to back, its tip against his bottom teeth. To this are added techniques aiming to enrich the tone colour and others of ornamental character. Moreover, all these techniques can be combined. Inside more than 20 techniques, we can find the Bagalzuuriin Khöömii (throat Khöömii) Tsuurai Khöömii (echo Khöömii) Khamriin Khöömii (nasal Khöömii) or Dangildakh Khöömii (syllabial Khöömii) [ I am not sure what the word Dangildakh means, it is not in Bawden Dictionary. I was taught a warming up practise Dandailakh, which means “to check repeatedly”. The exercise was to sing with the Shakhaltai voice, various vowels with a repeated loose tongue “L” quickly placed on and off the hard palate. It was not a Khöömii technique just a strengthening and flexibility practise]. The singers use the Shakhaa [????] [this is probably Shakhagdakh which means “to be pressed or squeezed” the vocal technique associated with epic/praise singing is Khailakh] vocal emission to sing the magtaal praise songs with a throat timbre as well.
It is necessary to intensifying and deepening the Khöömii research and studies particularly on the originality and authenticity of the heritage in order to identify and reveal the deeper form, techniques and specifications furthermore.

Current mode of transmission of the Khöömii is as follows:
Apprenticeship training – Traditionally, Khöömii has been handed down from the bearer to the learner, or master-to-apprentice way. It has still been practiced especially in the rural areas of Western Mongolia. Key practitioners maintaining the diversity of apprenticeship training by oral way, include state honoured artists, such as Tserendavaa, Sengedorj, Davaajav, Toivgoo, Ganbold and Bapizan. The Khöömii practitioners engaged to the apprenticeship training often find themselves in a family chain and broadened relatives, as well as neighbourhood area.
Classroom training – This type of training was started in 1992 by the concerned practitioners, bearers and the researchers of Khöömii. It has been developed with various types of courses, and even integrated to the formal educational system such as the University of Culture and Arts, National University of Mongolia, Music and Dance College and also through theatres in rural areas in the city of Khovd, Ulaangom in Uvs aimag and the school of Tsengel sum in Bayan Ölgii aimag. A number of institutes, public organizations and NGOs, such as “Association of Mongol Khöömii”, “Foundation for the Studies on the Throat Singing Art and Heritage, ”Blue spot” Khöömii training centre, “Khöömii and Morin khuur training centre”, and “Khuurchiinkhan” are engaged in transmitting the Khöömii art with classroom training in cooperation with the State Morin Khuur Ensemble, and other public and private ensembles. More recently the Cultural Centre of Chandmani sum is becoming a Khöömii international centre to teach Khöömii to its residents and foreigners.

Inscription of the Mongolian Traditional art of Khöömii on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will make a great contribution for the safeguarding of this folk heritage which reflects exceptional talent of human creating music in close interaction with nature. As one of the mainspring heritage elements expressing the national identity of Mongolians, the Khöömii tradition and its emerging tendencies contribute promoting cultural diversity while manifesting human creativity and capability. So the inscription will support strengthening the national cultural pride of the Mongolians in and out of Mongolia, thus will promote understanding the insight of Khöömii in a deep and broad range.
The inscription will promote the concerned communities to maintaining this tradition in the ever changing modern world and inheriting the heritage to the next generation and also spreading it to the other cultures all around the world. Also, it will greatly encourage the bearers and practitioners, and strengthen their enthusiasm, which will lead to more effective activities aiming to safeguard and maintain this heritage.
Moreover, as it will raise the national awareness and pride on Khöömii, its sequent outcome will be vary. For instance, the multilateral cooperation among the relevant governmental and nongovernmental organizations, research institutions, private persons, heritage bearers, practitioners, masters and apprentices could be strengthened on the overall safeguarding efforts.
Until today, some communities and singers disagree on historical aspects and questions related to the vocal technique. Globalization, urbanization and modernization are the common major factors impacting the intangible heritage of most of the countries and cultures around the world. Other than the aforementioned agents, there are myriad factors threatening the intangible cultural heritage of Mongolia. These include, negative consequences of Communist ideology and the Great Repression, which caused Mongolian society to neglect their national identity, cultural heritage and tradition; socio-economic and culturally negative phenomena incurred during the transition to modern society; urban migration caused by both socio-economic difficulties and environmental disasters; over-integration and the prevalence of modern popular culture and etc.
Therefore, to some extent, Khöömii is a vulnerable heritage in terms of the transmission and maintenance with its authentic Mongolian characteristics. In these circumstances, the inscription of Khöömii on the List will offer noteworthy contribution to revival of Khöömii and ensuring its vibrant visibility and increasing public awareness, particularly that of young generations on the significance and value of it. Consequently, the dissemination of the Mongolian folk authentic characteristics of Khöömii tradition will be further strengthened and promoted not only among the concerned communities, but also among the diverse cultural fields, demonstrating the badge of Mongolia on the world arena. In this way, Khöömii related activities show considerable influence on promoting intercultural understanding and thus ensure mutual respect among diverse cultures.

There are number of foreign countries interested in Khöömii studies, namely France, USA, Japan, UK, Netherlands and etc., and the interest on Khöömii from different cultures are increasing dramatically over the time. The researchers and scholars of those countries have been studying Khöömii on variety of aspects, and considerable amount of research materials have been produced. Yet, it should be further noted that the original Mongolian authenticity on Khöömii should be further studied and disseminated appropriately throughout the world. In regard with this, cooperation and collaboration between the foreign and domestic entities should be further ensured and strengthened.
With the socio-economic development and evolution, Khöömii and other intangible heritages are in gradual change. This change has both negative and positive aspects on the heritage, so it is high of importance to maintain the positive side, such as enhancement and enrichment of Khöömii repertoire and composition, dissemination to worldwide thereof, and etc., while eliminating the risks and dangers to the heritage and its authenticity, including distortion, fragmentation, and deterioration and so on.
As a result of the negative effects of modern era, such as over centralization of urban population and technological waves, humankind loses some rooting and native skills on interaction with the natural world and hearing and sensing the voice and echo of the mountain, river, forest and their spirits.
However, one of the new forms of communication might become traditional music to promote help humanity to live in harmony with nature and with each other. And Mongolia has its Khöömii. This is one of the importances [important reasons] to spread the art of Khöömii.
The inscription of the Khöömii art to the World Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will promote ensuring the safeguarding of this outstanding heritage by engaging the Mongolian nation throughout the world and other nations bearing the heritage to strengthen their cooperation, as well as drive worldwide attention on further destiny of this unique cultural heritage.

The Constitution of Mongolia (1992), State Strategy on Culture (1996), Law on Culture (1996), and Law on the Protection of the Cultural Heritage (2001) are the major legal instruments constituting the initial favourable condition for the safeguarding of ICH. Mongolia ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005 and the Parliament of Mongolia amended ‘Law on the protection of cultural heritage’ with the articles concerning the ICH, which became the fundamental base for the establishment of legal background for the safeguarding of ICH. The Mongolian Presidential Decree on the Promotion and Development of Khöömii Art (2006) RL10 – No. 00396 – page 9 and the National Program ‘Mongol Khöömii’ (2007) demonstrate the national-level effort for keeping the Mongolian folk art of Khöömii under the state patronage, improving the dissemination and promotion of Khöömii as well as strengthening the Khöömii studies and researches.

Within the framework of the implementation of the National Program on the promotion of Traditional Folklore (1999-2006), and National Program ‘Mongol Khöömii’ (2008-2014) a number of decisive actions and activities for the promotion and enhancement of the Khöömii have been taken, including the international and national symposiums, seminars, meetings, festivals, variety of contests, workshops and etc.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences of Mongolia organizes biannual Khöömii Festival aims to spread the Khöömii knowledge and skills to children and youth, and expand the Khöömii heritage scope furthermore. The collaboration with UNESCO in this field results with successful consequences. For instance, the International Academic Conference under the theme of “Traditional Khöömii Art and Modern time” was held in 2003. Series of “Khöömii Festival of the World Mongolians” were organized along with the Khöömii competitions in 2003, 2006 and 2008 respectively, engaging and networking over 120 bearers and transmitters of the Khöömii.
The International Festival on Khöömii was held in Ulaanbaatar for the first time in 2009 in which the Khöömii researchers, scholars from around 10 countries, local Khöömii bearers, practitioners and other relevant stakeholders took part.
In the recent years, the Khöömii studies and research, and promotional activities have been broadened up in variety of ways. A number of NGOs, associations and centres have been set up on the Khöömii studies, transmission and cooperation and undertaking diverse activities, working hand in hand with the key stakeholders. “Foundation for the Studies on the Throat
Singing Art and Heritage” and “Association of Mongol Khöömii” are one of these NGOs keeping close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences of Mongolia to promote developing and safeguarding the traditional art of Khöömii both in Mongolia and worldwide. Several research papers and abstracts have been produced in Mongolia by the musicologists and ethnomusicologists such as Badraa J., Enebish J., Kherlen L., Tseden-Ish A. and SandagjavE. Also, there are number of foreign ethnomusicologists focused on Khöömii such as, Zoya Kirghiz in Tuva, Theodore Levin in USA, Carole Pegg in the UK, as well as Trân Quang Hai, Alain Desjacques and Johanni Curtet in France.
Khöömii performers, practitioners and bearers take great endeavour for the maintenance and enhancement of the Khöömii while concerning to keep the balance of its traditional authenticity with the modern ways of development.

Mongolia passed over 200 years under the Manchu colonization, which showed negative influence on the Mongolian national culture, folklore, oral and intangible heritages. Moreover, due to some aspects of communist ideology, under which Mongolia was about 70 years, the traditional Mongolian culture and intangible heritage had been suppressed and regarded as primitive and backward, which led to the ignorance, dereliction, disrespect and forgetting of the traditional culture and folklore, and even to the extinction and disappearance of the invaluable elements of the intangible cultural heritage. For example, Morin khuur (horsehead fiddle), Urtiin Duu (Long song), Tuuli (Heroic epics) and Khöömii were treated as savage these intangible cultural heritages. Although the national pride of Mongolians has revived since the 1990s, triggering considerable efforts to be taken for the overall safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, traditional culture and folklore are still under the threat of gradual disappearance, distortion and deviation due to the globalization, urbanization and modernization. In addition, it should be noted that incorrect training methods and techniques are existing particularly in foreign countries, which dimming the traditional authenticity of Khöömii. Moreover, one of the factors that deteriorating the traditional characteristics of Khöömii is that, it is under increasing manufacture for commercial purpose.
It is important to broaden public awareness and understanding on Khöömii through various ways and means and increase the number of the heritage bearers and practitioners, especially in the areas of Central, Eastern and Southern regions of Mongolia. Furthermore, it is necessary to take appropriate measures for increasing financial sources and budget allocation for the research, propagation and dissemination of outstanding and exceptional intangible cultural heritage.
Since the heritage bearers, practitioners, researchers and scholars, local communities and administrations, as well as relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations are willing to safeguard, enhance and disseminate the Khöömii art in their respective ways, it is a high time for supporting and encouraging their efforts and activities in the following ways:
• To strengthen the method of the traditional apprenticeship training of Khöömii performance and to establish training centres like the existing ones such as “Blue Spot” centres in Ulaanbaatar, the new Khöömii center in Chandmani sum of Khovd aimag, or the Khöömii class in Tsengel sum of Bayan-Ölgii aimag, make the arrangements for the relevant provisions such as, administrative, financial and managerial provisions thereof both in the rural areas and in the capital city.
• To inform about Khöömii as a knowledge of heritage in the general educational schools.
• To ensure the integration of the Khöömii safeguarding activities and efforts for supporting the bearers of Khöömii art to the measures taken through the UNESCO Program ‘Living Human Treasures System’, which launched in Mongolia in 2008.
• To hold annual events on Khöömii, including meetings, seminars, various festivals, performances, concerts, workshops and other promotional activities in international, national and local levels, in order to strengthen the relations between the foreign and domestic singers and scholars.
• To promote and support initiatives on the development and enhancement of the art of Khöömii and to build favourable conditions for enriching its repertoire with the modern music genres and world music elements so as to improve the world attraction on Khöömii art and ensure the living flow of Khöömii art in its authentic characteristics.
• To enhance researches and support the extensive survey on Khöömii by officially appointing special research team focusing thoroughly on the Khöömii forms and techniques which have been forgotten or studied incompletely so as to identify and reveal the hidden techniques, manners, and related customs. A comparative study between researchers from abroad, Tuva, Mongolia, and Inner Mongolia is needed.
• To take a decisive measure for creating appropriate socio-psychological environment to introduce the Khöömii art to the worldwide and within the scope of the measure, implement diverse awareness-raising activities, including publish books on historical facts related to Khöömii, disseminate the Khöömii through the newspapers and periodicals, produce a documentary movies, CD and DVD as well as broadcast TV programs and etc.,
• To strengthen human resource capacity in terms of improving the overall management and coordination on the safeguarding of the art of Khöömii. Workplan for Safeguarding and Maintaining the Mongolian Traditional Art of Khöömii and Promoting its Bearers`

Khöömii trainings, conferences, traditional art festivals and Khöömii shows organized by the relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations in Chandmani sum of Khovd aimag, city of Khovd; Bayankhairkhan and Asgat sums of Zavkhan aimag; the city of Ulaangom, and Tes sum in Uvs aimag; and Tsengel sum in Bayan-Ölgii aimag and etc., are showing positive influences for the safeguarding of Khöömii art in a wide range. There are a number of Khöömii practitioners who are making notable effort on the effective transmission of the Khöömii by training local youths and children, such as Tserendavaa D., Davaajav R., Bapizan, Toivgoo E., Sengedorj E., Ganbold T., Odsuren B., Ulanbayar M., and Jamiyan Ts, and so on.
The participants from various administrative and professional affiliations, all concerned Khöömii heritage, such as Cultural Centers and well-known practitioners from aforementioned aimags, NGOs, training centres including “Foundation for the Studies on the Throat Singing Art and Heritage”, “Association of Mongol Khöömii”, “Blue Spot”, and “Khuurchiinkhan” participated in the Great Assembly of the Mongolian Khöömii performers in 2009 and unanimously agreed the decision to nominate Mongol Khöömii to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This Assembly directed its activity for reviving and safeguarding this heritage before losing its native and original characters.
Dogsom G., the governor of Chandmani sum, Khovd aimag initiated to establish the Khöömii centre in Chandmani sum together with the concerned individuals and taking considerable efforts for the transmission, dissemination and maintenance of the Khöömii art in local level. This is a good practice engaging and encouraging the heritage bearers, concerned communities, researchers and relevant officials for the effective safeguarding of the Khöömii. List we met with bearers and transmitters of the Khöömii art tradition such as, Ulambayar M., Jamiyan Ts., Davaajav R., Tserendavaa D., and Sengedorj E. and delegations from Community Centres of Culture of the Bayantes, Bayankhairkhan, Asgat and Tes sums of Zavkhan aimag;
Ulaan-Uul and Rinchenlkhumbe sums of Khuvsgul aimag; as well as practitioners from Khovd, Uvs and Bayan-Ölgii aimags and conducted interviews with them on Khöömii art development.
During this expedition, photos, audio and video records on Khöömii have been produced. Aforementioned persons voluntarily helped us for collecting information resources and rare photos on Khöömii art performance. Their participation and efforts possess great role on the preparation of the nomination materials for the Representative List. Director of the NGO “Foundation for the Studies on the Throat Singing Art and Heritage” and bearer of the Khöömii art tradition Sandagjav E. has been engaged in the process of the preparation of the nomination dossier with direct involvement. The submission has been elaborated by specialists and performers of Khöömii art communities and associations through a series of meetings and consultative processes at all levels. There has been universal and unanimous responding support on the development of the nomination
dossier from the Khöömii-bearing communities and concerned individuals.

The art of Khöömii has been performed in the customs of the worshipping the sacred sites, Naadam Festival and other ceremonies as the inseparable part of the national mentality and tradition. The customary practices of Khöömii performance have been developed in interaction with traditional arts and created a harmonizing art of the Humankind and Natural world. There are several specific aspects of Khöömii art to be followed in terms of transmission and performance. Khöömii is in fact, one of the most difficult genres of the performing arts. Following are the methodological and specific characteristics to bear in mind when possessing and performing the Khöömii art:
• The Khöömii practitioner must be examined and selected by detailed and strict criteria
• The Khöömii teacher should be a specialist on Khöömii and who has no less than 10 years experience on the training method of the art of Khöömii
• When transmitting Khöömii, one should fully understand the social function and meaning of Khöömii, as well as the associated customs thereof.
• The Khöömii teacher and student shall have background knowledge on human organs and anatomy.
• When transmitting and maintaining the Khöömii art, it is high of importance to keep the balance of the tradition and modernization on the heritage.
• The Khöömii student shall learn the Khöömii in its original and authentic technique and methods, which provides fundamental background for the learner to possess Khöömii art perfectly.


How to Heal the Voice ~ Interview with Vocal Expert Jill Purce ~ Part 1

How to Heal the Voice ~ Interview with Vocal Expert Jill Purce ~ Part 1
Jane Cormack
Published on May 23, 2012
In Part One of this week’s special edition of Rhythmic Inspiration, Jane Cormack interviews Sound and Vocal expert Jill Purce at her retreat space and home in Hampstead, London. Watch this video to learn how overtone chanting and magical voice techniques can transform you and get you in-tune with life! AND hear Jill demonstrate the wonders of Mongolian and Tibetan Overtone Chanting. http://www.rhythmincolour.com

How to Heal the Voice – An Interview with Vocal Expert Jill Purce ~ Part Two

How to Heal the Voice – An Interview with Vocal Expert Jill Purce ~ Part Two
Jane Cormack
Published on May 23, 2012
In this week’s special edition of Rhythmic Inspiration, Jane Cormack interviews Sound and Vocal expert Jill Purce at her retreat space and home in Hampstead, London. Watch this video to learn how overtone chanting and magical voice techniques can transform you and get you in-tune with life! AND hear Jill demonstrate the wonders of Mongolian and Tibetan Overtone Chanting. http://www.rhythmincolour.com

Experience Music As Medicine – Jill Purce

Experience Music As Medicine – Jill Purce
Published on Sep 20, 2012
Welcome to this short excerpt from Session 9 of the online course EXPERIENCE MUSIC AS MEDICINE, a Ten Part Series on Meditation, Music and Healing. The main part of this session is an hour-long video program which also includes suggested activities to help integrate the teachings into your own life. In addition to Jill Purce, Jonathan and Andi Goldman are featured.

Click here to learn more about DailyOM online course — Experience Music As Medicine –

In this session, Jill Purce discusses her pioneering discoveries in sound healing using ancient vocal techniques and group chanting. She calls attention to the spiritual potential of the voice for healing and meditation.

Jill Purce pioneered the international sound healing movement through her rediscovery of ancient vocal techniques, the power of group chant, and the spiritual potential of the voice as a magical instrument for healing and meditation. She has taught overtone chanting and healing voice workshops for thirty years. Through her workshops and seminars, she presents diverse forms of sacred chant, especially Mongolian overtone chanting. She has researched the magical properties of the voice studying with Gyuto monks, American Indians and shamans from different traditions as well as performing with innovative German composer Karlhaus Stockhausen and teaching with her husband, biologist Rupert Sheldrake.

©2010 Dean & Dudley Evenson
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