Main Stage, 27 July 2018

The masters of throat singing - Huun-Huur-Tu are a music group from Tuva, a republic of Russia situated on the Mongolia-Russia border. The band was founded in 1992 by Sasha Bapa, his brother, Sayan, and two other musicians, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Albert Kuvezin (Yat-Kha). 

The most distinctive characteristic of Huun-Huur-Tu’s music is throat singing, in which the singers sing both the note (drone) and the drone’s overtone(s), thus producing two or three notes simultaneously. The overtone may sound like a flute, whistle or bird, but is solely a product of  human voice. These singing styles are known as sygyt, khöömei and kargyraa.

The group primarily use native Tuvan instruments such as the igil khomus (Tuvan jaw harp), doshpuluur, and dünggür (shaman drum). However, in recent years, the group have begun to selectively incorporate Western instruments, such as the guitar. While the core of Huun-Huur-Tu’s music is fundamentally indigenous Tuvan folk music, they also experiment with incorporating not only Western instruments, but electronic music as well.
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.

Led by original members Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Sayan Bapa, the quartet 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.

Since the group’s inception, they have travelled around the world and collaborated with musicians frepresenting  many genres, such as Frank Zappa, The Chieftains, Johnny Guitar Watson, the Kodo Drummers, The Moscow Art Trio, The Kronos Quartet and Bulgarian Women’s Choir, Angelite. 

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg – voice, igil, doshpuluur
Sayan Bapa – voice, doshpuluur, marinhuur, guitar
Alexey Saryglar – voice, tungur, dazhaaning khavy
Chanzy Radik Tyulyush – voice, byzaanchi, khomuz, amarga