MARK VAN TONGEREN : BIOGRAPHY

Biography

MarkVanTongerenByJochemHartzBig

photo by Jochem Hartz

Mark van Tongeren is a sound explorer and performance artist with a PhD in artistic research from Leiden University. He did ground-breaking research and vocal experiments in the field of overtone singing, which he began studying around 1990. He feels equally at home ‘in the field’ to study and practice indigenous vocal techniques, as in experimental performance art, using voice, small instruments and/or electronics.

He received his M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Amsterdam and has taught world music at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. His PhD from the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts at Leiden University explores the boundaries of science and art and is entitled Thresholds of the Audible: about the Polyphony of the Body. During his PhD studies he founded a vocal laboratory (Paraphony) to develop little known aspects of multi-voiced harmonic singing. He created a series of compositions for two or more voices, called 0… (‘Nulpunten’ or ‘Zero-points’), which make audible hundreds of possible connections or permutations within the natural harmonic series, so that it ‘encounters itself.’ The results were presented in 2010 and 2013 by Mark van Tongeren and Rollin Rachelle, aka the Superstringtrio, in the performances entitled 0… and Incognito Ergo Sum in Amsterdam and Poland. Composer Paul Oomen also conducted the three-hour Overtone Singing Marathon held at the occasion of van Tongeren’s PhD defense in 2013.

Incognito Ergo Sum with Rollin Rachele

He began his performance carreer with the artists – contructors of Silo Theatre of Amsterdam (De Parade, Oerol), where he did sound-design, and created live and recorded soundtracks (1992 until 1998). In 1999 he presented new vocal works in The Trumpets of Jericho, alongside the Trivento organ of the project’s initiator Horst Rickels, and singing ‘with’ and ‘through’ Tjeerd Oostendorp’s 7-meter long tuba. In 2001 he was artist-in residence at the School of Music of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand for Jack Body’s Secret Sounds project, producing the CD-Rom Secret Sounds and several performances. with Phil Dadson (NZ), Leo Tadagawa (JP) and Bennicio Sokong (PH). At the Silk Road Festival in Washington, D.C. he performed as a throat singer with the festival’s initiator – cellist Yo-Yo Ma – over one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cello suites (2002).

throat singing with cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the Smithsonian Folklife/Silk Road Festival

From 1995 onward van Tongeren has made solo appearances as a singer in the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Belgium, China, the USA and most recently in Taiwan (Taipei, Chiayi). In 1995 he received a special prize at the International Throat Singing Festival in Tuva, Siberia (the same festival documented for the famous Gengghis Blues documentary).

He is featured on CD-ROM’s and DVDs, including Secret Sounds (an audio-visual guide to overtone singing and Jew’s harps with Jack Body; Ode Records); Raum Klang Stimme / Space Sound Voice (documentary about overtone singing by Minghao Xu; Traumzeit Verlag). His CDs include Paraphony-Extended Harmonic Techniques, a solo exploration of the resonances of the voice and space (Ode Records), Etos (with Oorbeek, Nice Noise Foundation) and Sphere by his ensemble Parafonia (Fusica). Horst Rickels’ piece Lift-Off, written for Parafonia, is also featured in Jiska Rickels’ award winning documentary Four Elements. Van Tongeren is featured prominently on Deer Woman, composed by Taiwanese film music composer Cincin Lee with Van Tongeren as a soloist. This CD was nominated for Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards 2008.

An unusual collaboration was his involvement in the realisation of the world première of a work by the renowned Russian composer Dimitri Shoshtakovich (1906-1975), 28 years after his death. He assisted conductor Mark Fitz-Gerald at restoring the lost score of the film Odna (“Alone”), by directors Kozintsev and Trauberg (1931). Van Tongeren transcribed an original piece of Altay throat singing that was used for the film and took part in several screenings of Odna with live music, including the 2003 world première in The Netherlands. In 2008 Naxos published Fitz-Gerald’s CD recording in Germany with van Tongeren’s singing.

In 2002 Fusica published the book Overtone Singing – Physics and Metaphysics of Harmonics in East and West (Fusica/Eburon), the fruit of over 10 years of scholarly and artistic research on this vocal technique. It is the first book-CD to document comprehensively the traditional and modern forms of this unusual vocal art. It exemplifies Van Tongeren’s interest to fuse intuitive and creative processes of singing and art with theoretical issues and critical reflection.

mark_van_tongeren_overtone_singing_cover

Van Tongeren began extending his array of small, toy and ethnic instruments, as well as a Korg Kaoss Pad, while playing with Oorbeek, an Amsterdam-based collective of artists exploring the boundaries of sound and visual art. Oorbeek is one of his most enduring collaborations. Though very un-typical for Oorbeek, their televised adaptation of John Cage’s 4’33” was selected in 2017 as one of the pearls of 70 years Holland Festival.

He played with Collision Palace, an Amsterdam-based improv collective led by Nathan Fuhr (NYC), in John Zorn’s game piece Cobra. In New Zealand he collaborated with former Scratch Orchestra member Phil Dadson and Japanese singer/performer/bandleader Makigami Koichi in Off the Wall: Vocal Acrobats.

He provided electronic/vocal soundtracks for several animation video’s by Oorbeek’s Serge Onnen, displayed in New York and in MOCA Taipei, and took part in several of Onnen’s live shadowperformances with Oorbeek or as a duo on in Beijing.

In Taipei Onnen and van Tongeren presented new works for video/shadow/sound at the Taipei Artist Village (together with composer/guzheng player Tung Chao-Ming) and Lacking Sound Festival. Also in 2014, he began collaborating with the dancers of Biao/Horse, in a project produced for the Chang Kai Shek National Theatre in Taipei collaborating with pianist Lee Shih-Yang and cellist Chen Yu-Rong. More dance collaborations followed, with Biao’s Yeh Ming-Hwa (2015, 2016, 2017) and with Taipei Dance Circle.

As a teacher, Van Tongeren gave a one-minute crash course of overtone singing for His Royal Highness the Aga Khan and secretary of state Colin Powell at the opening ceremony of the Silk Road / Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. (2002). (usually learning to sing overtones takes longer, though). He has taught overtone singing workshops and courses for exploring/integrating the dynamics of voice, mind and body at various universities (Victoria School of Music, Wellington NZ; TNUA, Taipei TW) and privately. He teaches semester-long courses at National Cheng-Chi University’s creative department (X-Academy) in Taipei. Since 2012 he offers weekly Voice Yoga classes at Canjune and since 2014 a year-long Resonance course in Taipei.

An enduring passion and artistic influence are local musical traditions from around the world. Since the 1990s Van Tongeren has studied music, singing and ritual in Siberia and Russia (Tuva, Altay, Khakassiya, Kalmukiya), Mongolia, India (Tibetan monks in Dharamsala), Sardinia and Corsica (polyphonic singing) and Taiwan. His move to Taiwan prompted a further study of its indigenous music and dance, particularly through the traditions of the Bunun and Saisiyat tribes. In Israel, Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven organised yearly events to empower Palestinian artist in East-Jeruzalem. In 2010, Twaalfhoven invited composer Paul Oomen, who guided a unique meeting between Firaz Gazzaz, a well-known Palestinian muezzin (reciter of the koran), and van Tongeren.

Since 2010 Van Tongeren lives in Taiwan with his wife June and his children Attar and Illy.

download biographie artistique-MvT.pdf

https://www.fusica.nl/biography/

KIVA SIMOVA : biography, CANADA

The Biography

Kiva Simova is a seasoned musician from Manitoba (based in Toronto, ON, Canada). Best known for polyphonic overtone singing (2 pitches from one voice), she has enthralled audiences globally with her innovative ways of blending this art form with genres not commonly associated with it. Such as….jazzy pop/ experimental/ world, accompanying herself on keyboards. With 3 solo CDs to her credit (The Ladder ’98, Pulse ’05, and newest The Quality of Light ’14), her current re-invention finds her leaping off to tour solo, conduct overtone singing workshops and improvise with others at every opportunity. Speaking of….her solo career has been sprinkled with numerous vocal improvisations with other artists. Live, in recordings and soundtracks, she’s worked with the likes of Tanya Tagaq, Jennifer Berezan, Wimme, Vladiswar Nadishana, Olla Vogala Orchestra and many more. A wild improv done with world renowned didgeridoo player Ondrej Smeykal on the new CD is testament to this (Meeting in Dreamtime).
“ethereal, magical, guttural and entrancing all at once”- John Kendle, Winnipeg Free Press
“highly personal, yet global in scope and tone”- Penguin Eggs Magazine
“a force to be reckoned with”- Evolution of Media

Always the odd one out, a child boldly singing her own harmony in the otherwise all unison church choir, playing by ear was a natural. Pop, classical and jazz piano studies led to membership in all kinds of bands. This Winnipeg music veteran ultimately went on to carve out her own inimitable niche over the years since she started overtone singing in ’89. As a tour member (backup vocals and keyboards) of Crash Test Dummies for the ’94 world tour in support of ‘God Shuffled His Feet’, she demonstrated overtone singing during introductions at each concert. Expanding horizons in ’09, as one of a very few, she created a substantial body of work for overtone choir, debuting as a conductor in ’10 with her own such choir Auralia in Prague.

Past recordings feature world class musicians to contribute their magic, with an emphasis on many different cultures, especially by way of percussion. Kiva’s newest music has a strong leaning to intelligent lyrics, her piano playing skills, still with the ‘special spice’ of overtones appearing judiciously. Described as “alt singer songwriter” by George Koller (big emphasis on “alt”). In many ways, back to her roots and getting down to the essence of the songs. The timeless and biggest hit is ‘Regret‘ from the debut CD The Ladder. A moving and melancholy anthem with an overtone chorus, it addresses the repeated errors of humankind. This is one piece that continues to generate the most unusual opportunities for this artist.

Career highlights include:

-A Song for all Beings (Jennifer Berezan & Friends) mega production Nov ’13 & Feb ’17, San Rafael, CA (guest vocalist with Raz Kennedy)
-Musica Intima choral group, Vancouver ’16, as guest overtone vocalist
-Prague Overtone Festival, 4 consecutive years ’09- ’12
-Atlantykron Conference, Romania ’11
-Polyphonic Singing Festival, Albania ’08
-KEIKU Throat Singing Festival, Helsinki ’01
-Winnipeg Folk Festival main stage ’01
-International Symposium of Throat Singing, Tuva, Russia ’95 as only female foreigner to perform, judge the competition, and briefly appear in the Oscar nominated documentary ‘Genghis Blues’
-Side member of Crash Test Dummies world tour ’94 as backup vocalist and keyboardist (SNL, David Letterman, Tonight Show, Royal Albert Hall….)

As tour member of Crash Test Dummies 'God Shuffled His Feet' '94 world tour (standing second from left)
As tour member of Crash Test Dummies ‘God Shuffled His Feet’ ’94 world tour (standing second from left)

The following video is a full concert of Crash Test Dummies in Italy in ’94 in support of God Shuffled His Feet. Kiva sings backup vocals and keyboards. She was known as Kathy Brown back then. At the 54:30 point, Brad introduces her and she gives a short demonstration of overtone singing.
Influences: Jane Siberry, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Ferron, Yma Sumac, Jan Hammer, Todd Rundgren, Little Feat, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Mahavishnu (John McLaughlin) Orchestra, Claude Debussy, Bobby McFerrin, Kate Bush, Bjork, Sun Ra, Jonatha Brooke, Imogen Heap, Tanya Tagaq, Sheila Chandra, Lisa Gerrard, Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Bulgarian women’s choirs, East Indian classical, Tuvan singers.

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Kiva Simova now is making herself available for touring almost anywhere, and sharing her skills with adventurous singers.

© Claire Huteau, 2017

JOHANNI CURTET

Overtone khöömii singing, throat singing, guitar, dombra lute

Born in 1981, year of cock in Décines-Charpieu, and resides in Rennes, Johanni Curtet is a musician, overtone singer and ethnomusicologist. He learnt classical guitar with Jean-Loup Gautret (La Flèche Music School) and Hervé Merlin (Conservatoire of Rennes) while training himself in the chamber music with the guitar quartet Merienda. Following this, he turned into the musical practices of orality, influencing his play from Asia and Africa.

For 10 years, Johanni immersed himself in studying musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Rennes 2, and specialized in the khöömii (Mongolian overtone singing). Since 2004, he has won several scholarships such as Aegis, International Foundation Nadia & Lili Boulanger, Cultural Aires International Doctoral College in Brittany, American Center for Mongolian Studies and Assistance for Fieldwork of the French Society for Ethnomusicology that allowed him to conduct his research in Mongolia and learn the Mongolian language and culture.

First initiated by Tran Quang Hai, he learnt khöömii from Tserendavaa Dashdorj in the mountainous steppes of the Altai and then Odsuren Baatar at the University of Culture and Arts in Ulaanbaatar.

Artistic director of Routes Nomads Association, Johanni organizes and produces the concert tours of Mongolian overtone singing, and accompanies his master Tserendavaa and his son Tsogtgerel on stage at many festivals.
The African influence in his music comes from his long stay in Cameroon. By participating as a trainer and organizer of the first two editions of Voice of Sahel Festival in Garoua, Cameroon and N’Djamena, Chad (Trans-Saharan Azalaï program initiated by CulturesFrance), Johanni shared music stage with Camel Zekri, Yacouba Moumouni, Alpha Barry, Mounira Mitchala, and also many local musicians from Cameroon (South Team, Douala, bards of North Cameroon) and Chad.
This crossroad of culture he experienced is synthesized in the compositions of Meïkhâneh, a trio in which he plays and continues training himself. Johanni’s play has a major influence of Thierry Robin, with whom he attended two master classes organized by DROM in 2013 and 2014.

Johanni teaches khöömii at the cultural and educational institutions as University of Rennes 2, Théâtre de la Ville, Kreiz Breizh Akademi (DROM), The Philharmonie de Paris and Centre for the Heritage of Instrument-Making; for festivals as Les Orientales or Les Suds à Arles; and for various associations and groups of amateur overtone singers (Tortue Écarlate) or runs individual courses in Rennes.
In the study of khöömii, Johanni focuses on the origin, history, spectacularization, heritagization and transmission of this vocal technique in Mongolia. His researches are accessible through his PhD dissertation entitled The transmission of höömij, an art of vocal timber: the ethnomusicology and history of Mongolian overtone singing (2013, University of Rennes 2), and several academic articles he wrote.

In 2009, at the request of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, he participated in the elaboration of the khöömii nomination for its inscription on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2014, he taught Mongolian language grammar, Mongolian culture and civilization at INALCO, the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris.

References:

Festivals Les Escales, Les Orientales, Le Rêve de l’Aborigène, Classica-Evora-Portugal, Musée des Arts Asiatiques de Nice, Palais des Congrès et de la Culture du Mans…

Recordings:

Chants Diphoniques de l’Altaï Mongol : 1 CD, 1 DVD / Ed. 2008, Buda Musique (distribution Universal)
La maison de L’ivresse, Meïkhâneh, Autoproduction / Ed. 2012, Cas Particuliers, Rennes
La Silencieuse, Meïkhâneh, 1 CD / Ed. 2017, Buda Musique

http://www.meikhaneh.com/en/bio-johanni-curtet-en/

 

Huun-Huur-Tu : biography

Archaic voice wonder from Tuva
HHT May 2006 Moscow

Origin: Kyzyl, Tuva

In 1992, Huun-Huur-Tu was founded by Sasha Bapa, his brother, Sayan, and two other musicians, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Albert Kuvezin. Ever since they have tried to focus on the performance of “old and forgotten songs”, as Sasha put it. Sasha, Sayan, and Kaigal-ool were refugees of one of the large state-managed song and dance ensembles that became fixed institutions of the public cultural life during the Soviet era. For decades these ensembles with their glitzy performances of folk music or pseudo folk music offered the only possibility for young musicians to play indigenous music for a living. Throughout the privatization of the music business in the former Soviet Union, many musicians decided to abandon these state ensembles and form their own groups. The musical results have decidedly been mixed.

In an interview for the American producer and critic, Ted Levin,  Sasha Bapa  explained the meaning of  ‘Huun-Huur-Tu’ as the vertical separation of light rays that one often see out on the grasslands just after sunrise or just before sunset. It seems to be a metaphor for the band’s key element– throat-singing that “consists of producing a deep tone in such a way as to create one or two substantial harmonics. The first harmonic is a humming sound in the mid-range, and on top is a loud whistling tone that the singer raises and lowers to create a weird sort of melody by varying the embouchure” (Jon Sobel, Blogcritics Magazine). In this light and through their heavy touring, Huur-Tu can truly be seen as a leading force in popularizing throat singing or khöömei the past  decades.

However rooted in Tuvan traditions, it would be a mistake to attribute Huun-Huur-Tu to a folk ensemble. For the first time, Huun-Huur-Tu laced in the pop charts with a remix of the title “Eki Attar”. It became Greece’s No.1 hit in the summer of 2002. The ensemble then went on to release a studio project entitled ‘Spirits of Tuva’ with Djs of various nationalities. They have performed with Ry Cooder, Frank Zappa, The Chieftains, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Kronos Quartet and L. Shankar among the others. The ensemble’s collaborations do also include other members of  JARO: Hazmat Modine, The Bulgarian Voices– Angelite, and Moscow Art Trio.

Huun-Huur-Tu’s Style

Huun-Huur-Tu’s style could be best described as profoundly mysterious. This comes as a consequence of their traditional, ritual laryngeal chants descending from Central Asian land of Tuva. This unique song technique reside on developing an enthralling sound cosmos rich in undertones and overtones.

The members of Huun-Huur-Tu have devoted themselves to learning oId songs and tunes, but at the same time their performances reflect the values of globalization. The whistling of the high-mountain wind forms eerie overtones and postmodern statement. The repeated thrum of a string against wood and hide turns into a meditative, evocative figure straight from the avant-garde. The descendants of isolated Siberian herdsmen make serious, strangely universal music out of some of the planets quirkiest acoustics.

The Tuvan acoustic quartet Huun Huur Tu prove that Tuvan music can take plenty of intelligent innovation. Using traditional instruments and drawing subtly on 20th-century composers, Huun Huur Tu transform ancient songs into complex acoustic compositions.

Huun-Huur-Tu’s Performance

As they began touring in the West, Huun Huur Tu almost single-handedly introduced the outside world to the boundless wealth of Tuvan traditions, thanks in great part to their superior musicianship. Hailing from the high pastures of the Altai Mountains in south central Siberia, the musicians have spent decades honing the overtone singing, instrumental approaches, and vibrant songs of their home.

Steeped in Tuvan folklore, the ensemble wears traditional garb and accompanies themselves on string and percussion instruments, playing galloping rhythms that evoke the vast south Siberian steppe. Their tightly structured pieces often imitate natural sounds, so that a song can be a literal representation of a Tuvan landscape.

Jon Sobel of the Blogcritics Magazine characterized the ensemble’s live performance as: “[…] the music is as warmly human as any folk style, and it’s not all khoomei. The four men have six or seven very distinct singing voices among them. Accompanying themselves on plucked and bowed stringed instruments, percussion, and jaw harps, they emulate biological rhythms in song: heartbeats, breathing, a brain drifting in dreamland, and not least (for a nomadic people), a horse’s trot. The songs are about romantic love, love of place, and (not least) horses, with moods that range from lyrical and thoughtful to joyful, humorous and danceable.”  In this sense, the San Francisco Bay Guardian concluded that the Tuvan show: “will ride into your brain and leave hoof-prints up and down your spine.”

http://www.jaro.de/artists/huun-huur-tu/