Tserendavaa from a Mongolian TV Programme about Khöömii 1996


When I was in Ulaanbaatar in 1997 I managed to record the Audio of a Mongolian TV programme about Kköömii singing, which featured Tserendavaa. When Tserendavaa came over to England this year (2002) he brought a copy of it on video, which we showed at our workshops. Sadly we had no time to copy this video, however one of the workshops was documented (more of that later). My friend Undraa translated this extract from the audio. There may be some blatant spelling errors, my apologies for these. Any amendments, comments etc please email me at mailto:ormi_khoomii@yahoo.com


Let me start my talk with throat training or khargialah as we call it.


... khargialah exercise (I will eventually try to put the examples on as mp3 files if there is enough space on my web site)


This exercise employs all the throat muscles and it’s lining, vibrating it slightly. It helps your throat to become accustomed to overtones and protects you from coughs and throat irritation. It is very important ‑ in particular for the beginners to set in train a protection of your throat from the very start.


Overtone singing is closely related to ballad singing and Lamaist ceremonial chants. Thus, throat training is necessary for those performers as well.


There is another exercise, so called 'daamlakh'. It is a sort of a warm‑up exercise for the singers and I always recommend it to my students. 'Daamlakh' will warm up throat and make it ready to perform all varieties of the overtone singing styles, which are about 7 (or 8) 1 would say.


... daamlakh exercise


Exercising every morning is essential for learning the throat setting and in achieving success as a throat singer.


For the start, perhaps, the easiest style will be labial overtone singing. That's why I advise to begin learning with the labial style and then go for other styles, step by step. Furthermore, you may obtain a good basis in becoming a great performer.


... overtone song


That was a labial overtone song. You inhale and then produce overtones, but the air is not locked. The overtone is pushed through the mouth cavity between the palate and the tongue. Usually, altering the shape of the lips creates the melody in this style of the overtone singing. That is why it calls labial. Another variation of overtone singing is palate style. In this type, you inhale, lock air and push overtone between palate and the tongue, which rolls and modifies against upper tooth. The palate style is also, more or less easy type, because the tuning? is hidden and you don't force very hard.


... palate overtone style song


With the careful positioning of the tongue against palate you can produce various tunes. The more fine the control of the tongue in the mouth then the melody will be more subtle and beautiful.


A quite different overtone style from others is the nasal one; it is distinct as the melody comes out through the nasal cavity unlike the other styles that use the mouth cavity, lips, the tongue, tooth and palate. In nasal overtone singing the mouth is tightly closed. The nasal overtone style requires fine techniques and a deeper airlock.


... nasal overtone song


The next style is Pharynx overtone (throat) singing. The specific of this style is using mostly the voice box, vocal chord, windpipe and lining. The resonance of the air passage in the throat is employed quite lot in tuning the overtone songs.


... throat overtone song


The throat overtone style puts a great deal of strength on the voice box and it is used in conjunction with the tongue, palate and lips to create the overtone melody.


And now about the chest overtone singing style. Our renowned overtone singer Sundui was famous in this type. He was my teacher. His overtones would come out straight from deep down in the chest cavity, even from stomach involving a huge energy. Overall, overtone singers must be fit. Talent is something we can't invent in ourselves but if you are devoted and hard working it is rewarding. Overtone singers need to put a lot of energy and patience in practicing. Of course, everybody will come across uncomfortable situations during the practice and learning like soreness, irritation, tenderness and even throat inflammations. Always take care of your throat, don't have a cold drink and keep yourself warm.


... Chest overtone song


In the chest cavity overtone singing style the singers usually locks inhaled air somewhere at the base of trachea (sternum) not in the mouth cavity or larynx. The tune is produced deep down resonating the chest cavity and is amplified from the locked place using the throat, palate, tooth and lips. It involves enormous energy and it is a very majestic style. If labial and palate overtone styles are mostly used for singing uncomplicated melodies, the specific of the chest overtone is that we can sing even a classical tunes and Mongolian long songs by this method.


And at the end, I invented so called 'hosmoljin' or combined overtone style and took part in the international folk festival 'Rainbow' in 1982, where I played in the film 'Mongolian overtone singing' with this style. Since then, I've been performing and promoting this style with much success. The 'hosmoljin' style combines overtone singing with words at the same time. Initially, it was invented for performing Mongolian long song, singing the melody with overtones and the words at the same time. It is an extraordinary style and really difficult, I would say.                


... hosmoljin overtone song



This style is unique as requires very fine techniques and approaches to combine vocal and overtone in the long songs.


... an overtone song


Mongolian overtone singing is an art based on Mother Nature imitating its sound. The vast and endless steppe, fast mountain rivers are the cradle of Mongolian overtone singing.



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