Altai Khangai Ensemble info on Khöömii from the net


I found this short article somewhere on the net. It is about the Altai Khangai music Ensemble. The brief paragraph about Khöömii is interesting for “Chakkur”, the other word for Khöömii. I have never heard of this and tried to look it up in the Charles Bawden Mongolian English dictionary to no avail. If anyone knows what it means please email me at Also reaching the 40th harmonic would be remarkable. This may be possible by using the combination of Khargiraa and Khöömii that Zulsar developed (Chylandyk in Tuvan Khoomei).



Somewhere between the Altai mountain range and the Hangai steppes of central Mongolia, a corner of the world where man lives with his flocks, as part of nature, there is a group of Mongol singers and musicians. The eldest is forty, the others saw the light of day in the 1970s, These lively young folk from the steppes learned everything from their elders, from traditional wrestling to how to handle horses, from imitating animal cries to playing the morin khuur (spike fiddle) and practising diphonic (also known as harmonic) singing. Together, Palamshav Childaa, Ganbold Muukha, Ganzorig Nergui and Byambakhishig Lhagva pay a vibrant tribute to their environment. In their songs they sing the praises of the Altai, greet their horses, recall the history of the Mongol people. The sound environment of this people is omnipresent in the work of this group. Its repertoire is irremediably bound to nature and its close relationship to man.   



Khöömii or Xöömij " throat singing " or " jew's harp singing " - is a type of diphonic singing practised by the Mongols, the Tuva and other neighbouring peoples. This vocal technique involves the simultaneous emission of several sounds, several voices. The singer emits a basic sound from the throat, above which he modulates the melody using the harmonics. Even the untrained ear will hear clearly that the melodic line is composed of several harmonics. A singer may emit up to forty or more harmonics, which he obtains mainly by modifying the mouth cavity. Khöömiy (also known as chakkur) may be seen as an imitation of the jew's harp, and, by analogy with the latter, which has divinatory power, it probably possesses, or at least once possessed, capacities of the same nature. A Mongolian legend also says that khöömiy is man's imitation of the sound of a river flowing between two hills. The diphonic technique is often used for songs without words, but also as ornamentation for songs of praise to the glory of man or race-horses, or to the singer's native land (e.g. the very beautiful Altai magtaal, sung by the group Altaï-Hangai). The Mongols possess at least six techniques for diphonic singing: khöömiy using the nose, the pharynx, the thorax, the abdomen, narrative khöömiy, and isgerex or nasal flute voice (see the remarkable studies by Tran Quang Hai). The Tuva probably possess even more.


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