Johanni Curtet : A first approach to the transmission of overtone singing in Mongolia (2013)

Mongolian, Siberian, Central Asian and Tibetan studies. Translated from the French by Michael Ormiston (apologies for any errors. I have left the spelling of Khöömii as höömij
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Transmitted in the countryside as in the city orally from generation to generation, höömij (overtone singing) also entered university teaching from the beginning of the 1990s. From the 1930s to the beginning of the 21st century, significant changes have occurred in the practice of this vocal technique. They are proof of the existence of the mechanisms of a living, persistent and moving tradition from the past to the present (Pouillon [1991] 2010, p. 710). Based on ethnographic data collected between 2004 and 2010, I address the question of the transmission of overtone singing in contemporary Mongolia. I am interested in the processes of transmission, but also in the ruptures and changes that make höömij a living tradition. Through a look at Mongolian history and society, the limit of my field of investigation is the observation of teaching methods in rural areas in the Mongolian Altai (Altaj) and at the University of Art and of Culture of Ulaanbaatar.

An ethnomusicological and historical approach to the social developments of Mongolian music has already been developed by Carole Pegg (2001a), Peter K. Marsh (2009) and Laurent Legrain (2009). But no in-depth study on the transmission of höömij in Mongolia has seen the light of day. Based on an overtone singing lesson by D. Sunduj (1938-2003), Alain Desjacques studied the role of vowels in the Mongolian language in learning this vocal technique (1988, 1991, 1992, pp. 47-117 ) (1). C. Pegg approaches transmission among the höömijčid (höömij singers) halh of Čandman’ (2) in the province of Hovd from the angle of the predispositions (age, gender and physique) necessary for learning (1992, pp . 42-44). She discusses teaching methods used by höömij singers, but without giving details or explaining their role. Marc van Tongeren succinctly presents the transmission of Tuvan overtone singing through his field observations and his learning experience with a few singers. It highlights the fundamental principles of the lessons observed: transmission by imitation in a family setting, but also with contemporary tools for disseminating music, such as radio, television and recordings; the role of vowels in the emission of harmonics, a preamble to any melodic realization; and the constant technical pressure exerted on the vocal cords and on certain parts of the body (1995, pp. 302-304, 308).

Finally, L. Legrain places the question of the transmission of music at the centre of his research, from an anthropological field among the Darhad of Hövsgöl (2010, 2011). He questions the particular links that unite the Mongols to singing, and proposes the idea of ​​a “sound continuum”. This includes, in addition to all singing practices, certain sounds of nature, and the prosodic elements of the voice, all of these elements being brought together under the same Mongolian term duu (voice). Thus, from a very young age, the individual is called to be attentive to the “voice”, and thus naturally learns singing and its various functions (2011, pp. 341-397).

The work carried out by indigenous researchers on the Mongolian höömij is limited to historical study and ethnographic description (Badraa 1981, 1983, Enebiš 2001, 2002). Note the publication in 2009 of several articles devoted to various aspects of the spectacularization of overtone singing, written by Altangerelyn Ceden-Iš and collected in her two-volume work, Hög/Žim (Music) and Hög#Žil (Development). The same year, Valentina Süzükei published an article on the transmission of höömij in Tuva. It contrasts two modes of learning, formal and informal, and shows the influence of the institutionalization of traditional teaching (Süzükei 2009) (3). In 2010, however, the first two works entirely devoted to höömij appeared in Mongolia: Mongol höömejn utga holbogdol (The importance and meaning of Mongolian höömij) by Lhasürengijn Herlen, and Mongol höömej (The Mongolian höömij) by Erdene-Očiryn Sandagža.The release of these two works is undoubtedly a continuation of the heritage project of the Mongolian State, which included the höömij on the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. of Humanity at UNESCO in November 2010.

After a brief presentation of vocal technique, I will highlight different modes of transmission in use in Mongolia. I will try to show what is the link between the heritage developed in a rural environment and its alteration in urban centers. It will be possible to distinguish what is preserved and transformed from one generation to another in education. At the same time, I will show how the practice of overtone singing became an identity issue at the inter-ethnic, regional, national and international levels, within a process of heritage already in genesis during the communist period, the effects of which have already permeated the words of my interlocutors.
A definition of Mongolian overtone singing.

Before showing what are the fundamental elements that come into play in transmission, it is appropriate to explain the principle of this vocal technique. Indeed, its practice and teaching must be approached as a whole which is transmitted and within which the höömij takes shape.

Overtone singing is localized in several parts of the world, notably in Central Asia, in the Altai Mountains and their surroundings. Höömij is found in the Russian regions of Gorno-Altai, Khakassia and Tuva (Léothaud 1989, p. 36, Trân Quang 1995, pp. 125-127, Pegg 1992 p. 32), in Mongolia especially in the provinces of the west (Zavhan, Hovd, Uvs and Bajan-Ölgij), northern Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia in China (4). In Mongolia, several ethnic groups, such as the Halh, Irged (Tuva), Altaj Urianhaj, Zahčin, Bajad, Dörvöd and Hotgojd practice overtone singing at present. Höömij has spread across the country since the 1990s.

Höömij (5) is the term used by the Mongols to describe the vocal technique of a single person deliberately layering several sounds simultaneously with their voice, but mainly two distinct sounds: a melody of harmonics performed on top of a fundamental sound, called a drone. The harmonics come from the vocal drone and are extracted through a simultaneous contraction of the pharynx and the diaphragm (Trân Quang, 1995 p. 123, 125). To perform a harmonic melody, the höömijč (höömij singer) modulates his oral cavity in several ways, which I will explain later.

In Mongolian, höömij literally means “pharynx” (Legrand and Legrand-Karkucinska 2007, p. 557). It is one of the main parts of the phonatory apparatus which acts to produce this vocal technique. Formerly the höömij was reserved exclusively for men. A ban was based on the practice of women who could lose their fertility or because they did not have enough power to perform a song requiring so much physical strength (Pegg 2001a, pp. 108, 172). With the opening of the country in 1990 and a change in mentalities already apparent during the 1980s, some women began to learn höömij, in Čandman’ first with Dašdoržijn Cerendavaa (Pegg 1992, p. 43, Desjacques 1992, p. 13), then in Ulaanbaatar with Baataryn Odsüren in the 1990s and more recently in Ulaangom with Ežeegijn Tojvgoo. According to these masters and some ?deans?, a good höömijč must be strong, honest, intelligent, respectful towards others, if possible a good rider and a good wrestler. The quality of a höömij performance can be seen in the choice of overtone timbre, the possible evocation of a natural environment, the respiratory capacity (6), the power of the voice and finally the melodic beauty. These references are generally found in the appreciation of singing in its multiple aspects in Mongolia (Legrain 2007, pp. 6-7, 2011, pp. 143, 267, 307, 466-469).

There are a multitude of overtone singing techniques. They are grouped into two main styles: harhiraa (deep höömij) (7) and isgeree höömij (whistled höömij). When transmitting harhiraa, the höömijč sings a drone with a throaty voice then, by simultaneously pressing on the pharynx and abdomen, after taking a good breath, it produces a low sound which vibrates an octave lower than the fundamental sound product. This deep, hoarse sound that we hear in the foreground and which characterizes the harhiraa style is due to the simultaneous vibration of the vocal cords and ventricular bands. Over this double bass, the höömijč creates a melody of high harmonics. The isgeree höömij emission is also called narijn höömij (high-pitched höömij), ujangyn höömij (melodious höömij) or Altajn šingen höömij (Altai “liquid” höömij). The höömij singer emits a drone with a throaty voice then, still pressing simultaneously on the pharynx and abdomen, after taking a good breath, makes a melodic harmonic whistle which can vibrate several octaves above the fundamental sound. In both cases, with the harhiraa and the isgeree höömij, the way of achieving the harmonic melody is common. We modulate the interior of the oral cavity, in particular by opening and closing the lips, or by advancing the tongue from the front to the back of the mouth leaving its tip stuck to the palate, or by advancing the central part of the tongue back and forth, with the tip of the tongue placed against the lower part of the teeth (8).

Added to this are overtone techniques to enrich the timbre of the voice and others with an ornamental character. The höömijčid also likes to combine them with each other. Among more than twenty existing techniques, we find in particular the throat höömij (bagalzuuryn höömij), echo (cuuraj höömij), nose (hamryn höömij) or even syllabic (dangildah höömij) (9). Höömij singers use the vocal emission šahalt (pressure), also called šahmal hooloj (strangled voice) to sing magtaal praises. While maintaining a guttural timbre, this allows them to easily move from praise to harmonic whistling. To deepen this definition, which is not intended to be exhaustive, the work of Trân Quang Hai (1971, 1989, 1995, etc.) largely highlighted the study of the techniques and anatomy of the höömij (10.).

Originally, the act of höömijlöh, “singing the höömij” or “diphoning” (11), is not inscribed in the performative form in which we most often encounter it today. Several legends attribute the birth of overtone singing to the imitation of the sounds of water, the whistling of the wind and the songs of birds. Mongolian musicians and A. Desjacques (2002) hypothesize that the overtone whistling could have arisen from the performance of the epic. Indeed, in western Mongolia, among certain ethnic groups, the bard uses a particular throat voice, called argil, close to the timbre that we encounter in the installation phase of overtone singing. Some bards, arriving at the end of the stanza, extend their song with a vocal drone held on a vowel, or by alternating between several syllables. This phenomenon clearly suggests harmonics, but bards do not call this höömij and their desire is not to create a melody. It could then be a primitive form of overtone singing.

Performed first in a pastoral context, overtone singing is used to imitate nature, pass the time by tending livestock, lead a family vigil under the yurt, and play lullabies (Pegg 1992, pp. 35-36, 2001a). , p. 60; Tongeren 1995, pp. 297-298); or again, echoing my field observations, during certain domestic ceremonies, such as weddings, the celebration of a victory at Naadam. In the western provinces, the presence of höömij in these last two contexts is not systematic. If a höömijč is present in the assembly, he will show his talent for the pleasure of the audience and his guests, as each guest is usually required to drink, eat and sing during such events. C. Pegg also mentions the use of höömij by Tuva shepherds and by certain Bajad, to communicate respectively with their yaks and their camels (Pegg 2001a, p. 236). Citing Sanžim, she reports that Caatan hunters would also use the höömij when hunting (ibid., pp. 61, 245)(12)

The repertoire of Mongolian overtone singing is made up of covers of melodies belonging to other vocal repertoires, such as short songs (bogino duu), long songs (urtyn duu) and popular songs (ardyn duu). It is therefore a repertoire of borrowing. Without referring to particular melodies, some höömijčid like to improvise by “imitating nature”. But when improvising, they remain within the framework of the anhemitonic pentatonic scales, characteristic of popular Mongolian melodies. In the repertoire of magtaal praise songs, we also encounter höömij, used as a melodic interlude between the verses. In Mongolia, the introduction of overtone singing in magtaal would be a recent practice, dating back to the changes brought about by the orchestration of “traditional” music during the Soviet period..
Traditional rural practices and transmissions.

The transmission from the 1930s-1960s.

Overtone singing techniques and repertoires are passed down by word of mouth, from generation to generation. Looking at the archives consulted in the provinces of Hovd, Zavhan and Ulaanbaatar (13), there does not seem to exist at the moment any documentation, recorded or written, explaining how höömij was transmitted before the 1930s. Fortunately, the oldest of my informants met in the field remembered the practice of yesteryear. Through their memory, one can get an idea of ​​the process of transmission during their childhood. I therefore assembled the information obtained from three halh herdsmen, Dugerijn Daržaa (1933-), Gombocedengijn Margad (1939-2005) and Mjatavyn Šagž (1939-2010), all residing in the vicinity of Čandman’. Their testimonies should be listened to with caution. The influence of the politics of the 1960s, promoting the highlighting of customs represented as folklore in order to highlight “Mongolian uniqueness” (Aubin 1993, p. 141), followed by an ambient spirit of heritage in Mongolia over the last ten years, must be taken into account in the idea that all this has participated in the construction of a generalized Mongolian tradition. But having no alternative here to supplement these oral testimonies with other sources, I must still consider the traces preserved by the ancients to answer my questions.

Thus, learning höömij was done through the imitation of a person from a close circle, during collective meetings around harvest work to prepare for winter, camel caravans to fetch food. rice and flour, herding herds and various agricultural or construction activities imposed by the communist regime. At the same time, there was a handover carried out in the ger. These informal modes of transmission were and still are called “home school” (gerijn surguul’), a term which shows the importance of permeating daily life. The role model could give some guiding remarks to ensure the right path to follow. We used a bowl or our hands, which we waved in front of our mouth in order to hear ourselves better by obtaining an echo (cuuraj), with the aim of improving our technique. At that time, learning overtone singing was an experimental act. There were no specific exercises relating to an elaborate pedagogy. Everyone had to find out for themselves by following the instructions of the elders: namely, how to take their inspiration and manage their breathing, contract the muscles of their throat and place their tongue in the oral cavity to modulate the harmonics. At that time, there were not many höömijčid in Čandman’. We remember the brothers T. Derem (1893-1966) and T. Čuluun (1896-1968), H. Ceren known as Ceren Gogol (1927-?), then S. Cedee (1924-2004).
Photo 1. D. Daržaa showing the use of the
bowl as a resonator in learning höömij.
Johanni Curtet (September 2010, Čandman’, Hovd province)
Daržaa, Margad and Šagž also believe that during their childhood, vocal technique and the technical variants of overtone singing were not as developed as today. According to them, only isgeree höömij (whistled overtone singing), also called šahaltin höömij (pressed overtone singing) and harhiraa were practiced. These höömijčid specify that at that time, they had the “ambition to talk better” than the previous generation. Let us remember that this is a period where, according to socialist ideology, the people were constantly in competition to obtain the best results from them. This was verified in industry and agriculture with collective economy cooperatives where each farm had to be always more efficient than the others (Aubin 1967, p. 146); but also in the arts and music, with competitions (14) organized by the State to elect the best representatives of the commune, the province and the entire country, who were elevated as heroes (Pegg 2001a, pp. 266-280 ). This competition between singers undoubtedly contributed to the development of höömij. To be the best in competitions and stand out from others, we develop vocal technique by seeking to overtone more complex melodies or by creating new overtone singing techniques. Subsequently, the place that the world of the stage will take in the environment of singers, subject to the selection of directors of theaters and ensembles, will accelerate this process. Today, this rivalry has become very apparent, for reasons linked to the economic issues of capitalism established from 1990, a logical consequence of the gradual entry of the höömij into the cultural industry (concert tours, record production). This entry, which we will examine more closely, began with new places and contexts of representations.
The transition from the steppe to the stage, 1950s-1970s.

The höömijčid generation of the 1930s and the following experienced the development of a new cultural identity and ideology with the establishment of communism. Remember that it was between the 1920s and 1960s that ulaan bulan (red corners), klub (clubs) and ulaan ger (red yurts) were deployed by the regime in rural areas of Mongolia to spread the ideology Marxist-Leninist (Pegg 2001a, p. 253 and Legrain 2009, p. 7), with the aim of unifying populations around politically controlled, oriented and correct artistic practices (Bawden [1968] 1989, pp. 375-377) . Theatres appeared gradually in each province and developed widely in Ulaanbaatar, with methods based on the Russian and Western model (15.).

At this period, according to my informants, the transmission of overtone singing did not go beyond the framework of imitation of a family circle or a close neighborhood, particularly in the western provinces, in Zavhan, Hovd, Uvs and Bajan-Ölgij. To create a national identity, by developing traditional music in the image of socialist ideology, the instrumental construction, the modes of playing and the texts of the songs were altered following the example of the Russian big brother, with numerous Western influences (tuning of instruments on the classical pitch of A-440Hz, playing position of the fiddle adapted to that of the cello, contribution of harmony and tempered scales in the compositions, etc.), while retaining a Mongolian identity national (maintaining the traditional pentatonic-anhemitonic scale, rhythms inspired by the movements of animals, evocations of nature in the texts). Thus, this music transmitted in specific contexts was transferred onto theatre stages, in provincial towns and particularly in the capital, dissociated from their original contexts, to construct the music of a uniform nation.

According to testimonies collected in the field, S. Cedee, who allegedly learned from the brothers Derem and Čuluun, was the first Halh from Čandman’ to present höömij on the stage of the Hovd theater in 1954. The composer D. Luvsanšarav in charge of the theatre at the time had the idea of ​​integrating this vocal technique into a choral arrangement of the “Song of Praise to Altai” (Altajn magtaal), composed especially for the “decades of Hovd” (Sandagžav 2010, pp. 40, 120; Luvsanšarav 2011, personal communication). Subsequently, many höömij singers took up this magtaal which became an essential piece of their repertoire. Until the 1960s, the presence of a höömij singer in a concert program was still rare. Also from Čandman’, D. Sunduj succeeded Cedee and G. Čimeddorž (1931-1980) (16). Beginning in the early 1960s, Sunduj quickly became a role model for subsequent generations. Gradually in the 1970s and 1980s, singing höömij became a new economic issue for heardsmen who could be paid by playing in the theatre, or by participating in a concert tour abroad, under the organization and control of the state. It is through this trend towards professionalization that the practices of overtone singing were quickly transformed. Born under communism, musicians transmitted their knowledge through the prism of this policy and the new ways of thinking that it imposed. Thus, with the highlighting of the practice of certain halh individuals, most of whom came from Čandman’, heard in singing competitions and became regulars in theatres, more personalized teachings gradually appeared. Thanks to this, with the strengthening of the representation of traditions under communism, later taken up by the policy of heritage, the mindset was that, Čandman’ became the undisputed place of origin of the höömij and the starting point of renewal of the practice (Pegg 1992, pp. 40-42).

We will see that in the dynamics of such a context, singers from the Čandman’ region and those from other Altai provinces have developed specific teaching methods and founded real schools of oral tradition, recognized as such today by the höömijčid community. They thus participated in the evolution of techniques, repertoires and playing contexts. I will now show how this generation marked a decisive step in the direction of the “tradition” that we know today.
Individualized höömij transmissions, 1980s-1990s.

In the countryside

Founded on the same principle as the “home school”, while retaining the idiomatic elements of the practice of overtone singing, höömijčid have proposed new ways of teaching. In development at the end of the 1970s, they developed them between the 1980s and 1990s. From this heritage, young people are currently demanding apprenticeship with a master, often from the same ethnic group. However, when their teachers’ elders reported on their own training forty years earlier, this feeling of belonging to a particular master or ethnic group is absent. Although they may have cited role models, the practice was based on imitation, without taking classes or practicing specific exercises regularly.

In Čandman’, several halh hearsmen gradually expanded their teaching to a large number of people. To take the most significant example in this region, D. Cerendavaa (1954-) learned höömij from T. Čuluun, Margad, Šagž and Sunduj, at a time when the exercises were not yet in use. Cerendavaa says that it took him more than a year and a half before he understood how to contract the muscles in his throat and a few more months before achieving an overtone tone that seemed suitable to him. If Cerendavaa has become an important transmitter of höömij today, it is because he did not want the next generation to find themselves facing the same difficulties. In his youth, he already thought about transmitting differently and wanted everyone to be able to learn more easily.

Thus, since the end of the 1970s, he says he has taught höömij to around 200 students (17). He expanded teaching to women and foreigners. The opening of the country to tourism in 1990 helped to develop the teaching of höömij to passing travelers, who were able to learn about this music thanks to tours and records made in Europe, the United States and Japan, particularly from the end of the 1960s (18)
Photo 2. Erdenečimeg practices höömij
in front of her yurt/ger
following the advice of D. Cerendavaa
Johanni Curtet (summer 2004,
Čandman’, Hovd province)
Cerendavaa’s teaching is based on imitation and imprinting, but he gives exercises to help the student progress in specific directions. We start by learning to contract the throat in order to find the ideal tone for diphonating. We must look for a drone pitch corresponding to its range. Cerendavaa particularly emphasizes these two aspects, before moving on to the next step. The student must pronounce the seven vowels of the Mongolian alphabet (A-E-I-O-U-Ö-Ü) in a loop with a throat tone, putting the lips forward, in order to promote the release of harmonics. Then, we begin to loosen and strengthen the tongue with a pronunciation exercise always based on the succession of vowels, adding the sounds “L” and “G”. On a guttural drone, we sing the following exercise for one breath: langele, lengele, lingele, longele, lungele, löngele, lüngele. While working on your guttural tone (drone and pronunciation of the “G” sound), this allows you to exercise your tongue against the palate (when you pronounce the “L”). When pronouncing the letter “L”, we naturally place the tip of the tongue against the bony part of the palate. Once the tongue is positioned like this, we must contract the pharynx and larynx more to bring out the harmonics. Until these exercises are properly acquired, Cerendavaa does not teach melody. Once the student begins to overtone melodies, he then has him work on different overtone singing techniques. The notions of melodic ornamentation come later, when a certain number of techniques are acquired. Alongside this progression, he advises students to talk into the wind or imitate the sound of a waterfall, torrent or stream. Thus, as the legends suggest, by measuring itself against nature, the body intuitively learns to find the power of voice and the timbre sought in overtone singing.

Like all höömijčid of his generation, Cerendavaa knows and classified several kinds of höömij, without really distinguishing between a style and a technique. He practices seven “kinds” (töröl) of höömij (19): throat (bagalzuuryn höömij), palatal (tagnajn höömij), nose (hamryn höömij), lips (uruulyn höömij), chest (cežnij höömij), deep (hargia höömij ) (20) and combined (hosmolžin höömij). He does not pass on all his knowledge to students, with the exception of two of his sons, Cogtgerel (1990-) and Haša-Erdene (1996-).

To build his teaching, he says he kept the best of each of his models (a tone, a technique, ways of placing the tongue in the mouth to modulate) and reconstituted everything through series of exercises, distinguishing several overtone singing techniques.

Within his generation, Cerendavaa is one of the rare herdsmen to have maintained a nomadic lifestyle and pursued occasional activity in the cultural industry. In the space of forty years, Cerendavaa has participated in the recording of seven records (21), appeared in several documentary films (22) and given dozens of concerts around the world, notably in the United States, Japan, Russia and Europe.
In urbanized centers in rural areas.

Čandman’ district attempted to centralize the practice of höömij and institutionalize it to strengthen local color and tourist appeal. To do this, a new cultural center, intended in part for the teaching of höömij, was opened in the autumn of 2009. Despite this, since the end of the 1970s, many höömijčid, children of herders who learned in the countryside, seized the opportunity to make a living from their music and settled in Hovd, the provincial town, or in the capital when the opportunity to enter a theatreor ensemble presented itself. With the exception of Cerendavaa, this is the case for most of the current large höömijčid, such as Halh Taravžavyn Ganbold (1957-2011), established in Ulaanbaatar and Nanžidyn Sengedorž (1948-2020), established in Hovd; Bajad Ežeegijn Tojvgoo (1957-), originally from the Zuungov’ district and residing in Ulaangom in the Uvs province; or the Tuva irged Badaryn Bapizan (1957- 2016), settled in the village of Cengel in Bajan-Ölgij.

Both Sengedorž and Tojvgoo studied in the countryside, in the 1950s and 1960s respectively. In his youth, while learning the acting profession, Sengedorž also became a perfoemer at the Hovd theatre and represented the Halh höömij. With a similar background, Tojvgoo embodied that of Bajad at the Ulaangom theatre. They began to teach overtone singing from the end of the 1980s. Under the influence of the functioning of theatres, in which they learned warm-up exercises for the choir, and with the design of shows based on the Soviet model, they have developed specific teaching methods, with new exercises. Sengedorž, for example, provided a pronunciation exercise to strengthen the jaw, lips and tongue, directly modeled on the diction exercises used in actor training. Maintaining the idea of ​​a succession of vowels, he combined them with consonants from the Mongolian alphabet: a sa pa da ra ma ša; e se pe de re me še, i si pi di ri mi ši; o so po do ro mo šo; etc. The exercise can be sung on a continuous drone with the pressed vocal emission šahalt or the overtone emission harhiraa.

At the Ulaangom theatre, Tojvgoo teaches around a piano. The vowel sequence exercise is done by going up and down by tone or semitone on the tempered keyboard. He makes the singers work on their harmonic range. Renowned for being the longest-breathing höömijč in Mongolia, he developed exercises by blowing on water from a bowl or on the flame of a candle at different distances, in order to control the management of respiratory movement.

Western Mongolia is renowned for the diversity of its artistic forms, spread among several ethnic groups. Until now, it seems that the practice of overtone singing has been restricted to the Halh and a few Bajad. However, according to the research of C. Pegg (1992, 2001a) and my field data, a tradition of overtone singing which dates back before the 1920s persists among the Zahčin and the Tuva. It turns out to be impossible to know more about the form that these höömij practices took in pre-communism. The cultural purges and prohibitions against religion carried out by Party policy (Bawden [1968] 1989, pp. 350-351, 359-373 and Aubin 1993, p. 143), accompanied by a tendency towards halh domination during the communist period (Aubin 1993, p. 159 and Bulag, 1998, pp. 70-80) mask the past. Although traces still remain today, the existence of höömij among these ethnic groups remains little considered by the Halh.

Take the case of the Zahčin of the province of Hovd. The bard T. Enhbalsan (1940-2008) practiced höömij, transmitted by his father Tümen-Ölzij. Enhbalsan’s brother, T. Erdenbüren (1951-) relates that, during their childhood, the höömijč Balžinnjam would have encouraged their generation to diphone. Also, at the same time, two bards, Širendev and Vangir, used the höömij in their epics (23). The lack of sources does not allow us to know more about the specificities of zahčin practice. Indeed, today, Zahčin residing in the town of Hovd or in the districts of Manhan and Möst learn overtone singing in private lessons or in courses organized by cultural centers with halh höömijčid, such as Sengedorž and Cerendavaa, who are regularly invited. Young people therefore no longer refer to a Zahčin lineage if it ever existed. Let’s continue with the example of Tuva. The Tuva/Mongol rivalry regarding the authorship of overtone singing does not date from today (24).
Thus, a Tuva minority residing in Mongolia in Cengel in the province of Bajan-Ölgij for more than three hundred years remains practically ignored at the national level. Formerly, Cengel was predominantly Tuvan, but this district gradually became populated by Kazakhs, who formed 75.6% of its population in 2010 compared to 30.3% of Tuvan (25). For locals, höömij has been transmitted in this region since the Tuva people resided there. It is difficult to know more when we know that the Tuvans of Mongolia were never considered by the Halh during the communist period although, from 1979, the latter nationalized the country by denying the ethnic diversity in the population censuses (Aubin 1993, p. 159). Bapizan recounts that among the many prohibitions imposed by the regime, the practice of höömij had been censored (26). Thus, at the beginning of the 1990s, Tuvan overtone singing in this province was little diffused and in decline. For only a few years, thanks to the help of German researcher Amelie Schenk, Bapizan has been teaching this vocal technique to around twenty children, with weekly lessons at the Cengel school. Although he is recognized regionally, Bapizan is still little talked about in Ulaanbaatar, because he is a Tuvan singer.
Photo 3. B. Bapizan teaching höömij in his classroom.
The presence of overtone singing among these ethnic groups shows that we are dealing with a multifaceted höömij tradition. The idiomatic elements in its transmission, such as the link to nature, the management of breath, the desired contraction on the throat, the use of a bowl or one’s hands as an amplifier to hear oneself better, learning melodies borrowings and certain values ​​necessary to be perceived as a good höömijč, are found among the Halh, the Bajad, the Tuvan and the Zahčin. But each one also has its own specificity, which is what makes the höömij tradition so rich and shows that the practice has been adapted according to the environments and personal receptions of this heritage. We remain in a common space, the Altai Mountains, in a common historical continuity, that of Mongolia, with local histories and multiple identity constructions. Since the musicians are in Ulaanbaatar, they represent a generalized and mixed Mongolian tradition. They will not highlight the fact of belonging to a particular ethnic group in the theater. Abroad likewise, the höömijčid represent the “Mongolian nation”. Since the end of the 1980s, the State has recognized the interest of höömij on the international scene. Like the horse fiddle (morin huur), this vocal technique has become a true musical emblem representing an entire nation. This tradition further multiplies its paths and here becomes the identity representation of a nation. From local to global, the höömij brings together individual, family and ethnic specificities and becomes Mongolian in its national and international representation. It now belongs to the political and cultural institutions of Mongolia and more generally to the Mongols, whose construction of the identity concept of “being Mongolian” dates back to the early 1990s (Kaplonski 2004, p. 7). In fact, like most emblematic vocal instruments and techniques, long after the institutionalization of the teaching of the horse fiddle, höömij is the last vocal practice from pastoralism to have entered “conservatory” teaching. We will see what contribution a specific institution made to rural practice, placing it at the academic and national level.
The institutionalized transmission of höömij, from the 1990s to the present day

At University.

Continuing a process of institutionalization of traditions begun during the communist period (Marsh 2009, pp. 47-72), it was in 1992, on the initiative of the musicologist Žamcyn Badraa (1926-1993) (27), that A first höömij class is created at the National University of Mongolia. In 2005, a second class issuing a professional höömijč diploma opened at the Ulaanbaatar University of Art and Culture. In each university, teaching is entrusted to B. Odsüren (1949-). A halh Höömijč from the province of Zavhan, he is the only teacher to transmit höömij in this context in Mongolia (28).

At the University of Art and Culture, the transmission focuses on a practice intended mainly to train stage musicians. This considerably influences the technical requirements of academic teaching, which is generally based primarily on technicality and virtuosity, rather than leaving room for intuition and spontaneity, as L. Legrain shows through the example of the education of attention to voice in rural areas (2010, p. 62, 2011, pp. 313-416).

This course is attended by young students from all over the country. Interestingly, those who have already started learning höömij in the countryside, in the Altai provinces, are the fewest. Young people from Inner Mongolia come for a few months or to follow the entire training, as well as other foreigners from Japan or France (29).

During this four-year training, weekly courses are spread over four progressive levels, culminated by exams at the end of the year. Odsüren centres his teaching on elements from rural tradition (the management of breathing and the contraction of the throat muscles in particular) which he has pushed to the extreme to develop the virtuosity of the höömijčid apprentices. To exercises in pronunciation of vowels, which he also keeps in his classes, he prefers tongue twisters, which allow students to strengthen both the lips and the tongue and to work on holding their breath. Their use, borrowed from the exercises practiced in the teaching of epics (tuul’), is new in the teaching of höömij. Odsüren gets this from his personal learning of praise (magtaal) and epic stories, in which tongue twisters are used to learn how to pronounce the text correctly. Odsüren offers numerous combinations of phonemes through these quick pronunciation exercises. Here is a series of examples:

With the harhiraa style, sing counting in Mongolian from the word hul (large bowl for drinking ajrag) for as long as possible, the time of one breath: 1 hul, 2 hul, 3 hul, 4 hul, 5 hul , 6 hul, 7 hul, 8 hul, 9 hul, 10 hul, etc.

Same exercise with a tongue twister, to be repeated in a cycle, articulating as best as possible: Minij nutag šüleg, honhor gütger gazar (poem “My native country”, land of mountains and valleys).

With a powerful guttural voice, pronounce langele, lingele, longele, cyclically in the same breath.

Imitate the sound of a motorcycle.(30) The tip of the tongue is rolled against the teeth of the lower jaw. At the same time, the central part of the tongue touches the bony part of the palate. Holding the tongue in this position, squeeze the throat strongly and push energetically on the diaphragm while pronouncing the onomatopoeia trrrrrrr.

Using the harhira or a contracted throat voice, pronounce alternately as quickly as possible and for one breath the following words: dorgoro, dergere, then: dolgor, delger.

These examples are a sample of true pedagogy. Numerous scale exercises with or without crosstalk, accompanied by a piano, allow students to extend their range, as in learning lyrical singing. Odsüren follows his students meticulously. He does not hesitate to adapt his exercises for particular cases where students need to develop an aspect of practice that would cause them difficulty. In the courses, whatever the level, we systematically find exercises to learn to manage your breathing, contract your throat muscles, obtain a guttural tone, strengthen the lips and tongue, and progress through learning the repertoire . To work on the multiple aspects of harmonic modulation and to understand the differences in timbre between the techniques, the teacher does not hesitate to have the students move from one overtone singing technique to another in the same exercise.

The good student must be able to diphone on melodies of varying difficulty with several höömij techniques. Starting from a given melody, such as Dörvön uul (Four mountains), or Dörvön nastaj haliun (The four-year-old chestnut horse ), the young höömijč must, for example, be able to repeat it by successively passing from the höömij de nose ( hamryn höömij) to the echoed höömij (cuuraj höömij) and ending in whistled höömij (isgeree höömij). The more varied the overtone techniques, the more impressive the höömijč will be in front of its audience. This trait is characteristic of the evolution of a professional art world (31). But before mastering this, learning at university is long and demanding.
Photo 4. Sitting in front of his piano, B. Odsüren makes his students work in front of a mirror
In this impressive position, the student lifted by his companion must communicate and use his abdomen correctly to obtain a powerful höömij. Johanni Curtet (September 2010, University of Art and Culture, Ulaanbaatar)
In the first year, in the first semester, students work on breathing and throat contraction. In the second semester, it is the modulation of vowels and the integration of around ten simple melodies from the repertoire of popular songs or short songs. The course intensifies in the second year with work on more complex melodies. It is therefore through learning the repertoire that the teacher helps the students progress on the questions of throat contraction, breath management and tongue placement in the different harmonic modulation techniques. In the third year, we approach the semitone in harmonic modulation. Students must be able to diphone both in the anhemitonic pentatonism of traditional Mongolian music, but also on European scales including semitones. Language placements to achieve these are difficult. It’s a technical feat. In the fourth year, students learn to diphone the melodies of long songs, and foreign melodies, such as those of Italian opera. If the technical aspect seems to hold a large place in learning, once harmonic modulation has been mastered, we also concentrate on the aesthetics of the melody, working on vibrato and harmonic ornaments such as the trill.

Although he usually teaches in the classroom, Odsüren regularly takes his students into nature. In the same way as the höömijčid of yesteryear, which it is said could be heard several kilometers away by filling the space with their song, university students must also confront it. Odsüren asks them to work facing the wind or on top of a hill. This exercise should make it possible to measure up to what distance and with what power it is possible to communicate. By measuring themselves against nature, the student must intuitively and physically find a way of singing to match it. Odsüren also spends time explaining the values ​​of Mongolian höömijč, outlined above. Unlike the teaching of Cerendavaa which places the nature and criteria for appreciating höömijč at the heart of its transmission, Odsüren makes it the pretext of a course or a particular occasion for an outing out of town. The rural foundations of tradition (32) come second here to technique.
Apart from the economic aspect that this situation brings, to him, his students and a few other singers, being a “professional höömijč” means above all being able to read a score while diphoning and knowing the theory of music, unlike the höömijčid having learned in the countryside. Young people thus stand out from the generation before them. However, some höömij singers also consider themselves “professional” because they earn their living with höömij. But they are constantly criticized for not having a diploma in their specialty. Thus, they cannot officially obtain the position of teacher or official höömijč that they would like to have. The Čandman’ district, for example, is looking for a höömij teacher for its new cultural center. Cerendavaa is the most competent in this field, but does not have a diploma. The town hall gets around this difficulty in its relations with the Ministry, by explaining that Cerendavaa is employed as an actor and dancer. Thus, it is impossible to administratively recognize that Cerendavaa, one of the greatest höömij singers in Mongolia, teaches his art at home. For the same reason, Bapizan cannot be employed by the Cengel cultural center. The director of the center prefers to employ a young Tuvan from the village, who recently graduated from the Kyzyl music college. V. Süzükei notices the same phenomenon in Tuva, where this situation poses a problem for “non-professional” traditional musicians who, lacking official status recognizing their artistic specialty, are considered “amateurs” by institutions (Süzükei 2009, p. 9). In Mongolia, whatever the instrument or vocal technique, musicians now distinguish between “traditional” transmission (ulamžlalt) in rural areas, and “professional” learning (mergežlijn).

Nowadays, becoming a höömijč can lead to national or even international recognition. The one who learns better than others is no longer perceived as a herdsman/woman capable of diphoning, but directly as a höömijč, most often described as a professional. The Mongolian language also makes a distinction between a “professional höömij singer” (mergežilijn höömijč) and a “popular talent” (ardyn av’jastan), this category being equivalent to amateur status. Very often in my field, by retracing the links between master and student, I have noticed that “popular talents” were once the models of professionals in practice today. The teaching of oral tradition Mongolian music in institutions and the fixation of repertoires through writing have only widened the gap between generations. For höömij, this differentiation reached its peak with the successive opening of these two overtone singing classes at the university. Höömijčid heardsmen/woman say not knowing how to read music theory, they do not consider themselves good höömijčid, compared to the younger generation focused on technicality and virtuosity. However, they know many other things. The impregnation of the natural spaces that they carry within them certainly has more force in their singing than knowing how to overtone the famous O sole mio by Eduardo Di Capua, or an extract from Carmen by Georges Bizet. For the younger generation, there are multiple models. We respect the holders of the Western tradition, but to stand out, we prefer to turn to the model of the lyrical prowess of a Pavarotti. For others, we will seek new influences from the ethno-rock trend fashionable in Ulaanbaatar. L. Legrain shows that generally in the domestic context the aesthetic criteria of singing in general are more linked to emotions of nostalgia for the native country (2011, pp. 86, 458). Here, the appreciation of höömij is no longer the same when moving from the countryside to the city, although the latter now tends to set the tone and rhythm to follow for the whole country.

A large part of the new höömijčid practicing in Ulaanbaatar come from university or music schools. But there are other höömij lessons in the capital, always in the presence of a piano, taught in private centers, such as Höh tolbo (Mongolic Blue Task) founded by T. Ganbold. Until today, Odsüren has been the only one to occupy this position at the university. In May 2011, he chose one of these former students, Zagd-Očir (1981-), to assist him. Since the professor hinted at the prospect of retirement, there has been more and more rivalry between the students of the first class of professional höömijčid, who graduated in June 2010, and other more experienced ones, who also covet the future position to be filled.
In conclusion, patrimonialization?

A constant idea that is found among many höömijčid is to take the best from one’s model, search for one’s own style and ideal vocal timbre, then transmit in turn. Overtone singing thus evolves constantly, from one individual to another. There will always be someone to bring an innovation, a new way of making harmonics resonate, and perhaps invent a new technique. As long as höömij is practiced and perpetuated, this vocal technique and its repertoire will continue to evolve, with each generation. This is what makes this oral tradition so rich, through the prism of diversity, movement and change. A tradition is only alive if it is perennial and cannot be reduced to a fixation of its practice in time, otherwise it will disappear.

In parallel with teaching, radio or television retransmission, recorded media, such as discs and the “nomadic” environment of MP3 players and telephone music storage, play a large part in the dissemination of höömij. Learning through imitation and recordings also operates with these tools, in town and in the countryside, in the digital age. Concerts abroad and the increasingly important production of records, the release of video clips broadcast by television channels and the internet allow the höömijčid to propagate their art, their image and to continue to transmit their practices differently.

We have seen that the modes of transmission of overtone singing and the issues of identity have evolved through the social changes that Mongolia has experienced in less than a century. From a pastoral art, practiced in specific contexts, intimately linked to daily life, höömij also became a performative theatrical art from the beginning of the 1950s. Communist Mongolia (1924-1990), then the entry into the capitalism in 1990, brought many elements characteristic of what we know of this tradition today. What we hear in the 21st century must be perceived in a hybrid dimension (33) consisting of both a contribution from the past and the transformations experienced and integrated throughout history. After decades of totalitarian rule, Mongolians are looking for a certain “Mongol authenticity” through traditions like höömij. However, only around thirty years ago, overtone singing was located mainly in the west of the country and only concerned a handful of individuals.

With political will, the teaching of höömij entered the university. Since the opening of the country in 1990, the concept of “heritage” (öv, lit. “heritage”) has progressed in Mongolian political thought with the Japanese and Korean Asian models and the projects for safeguarding the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Unesco. Thus, the question of transmitting has entered into a more complex pattern of social organization, where politics puts the teaching of höömij forward, in the project of preserving and perpetuating a heritage, contributing to the national heritage. The transmission process is at the heart of the project of heritage of intangible culture (Unesco 2003, article 14). Without heredity, no more heritage. It is therefore the end of the presence of the past in the present. We have seen that the institutionalization of the practice of overtone singing and the distinction of skills through the delivery of a professional diploma remained a paradox in the face of the situation of the holders of the tradition in the countryside. The political heritage project therefore poses the problem of clear recognition of the actors of overtone singing on an administrative level. Mongolia clearly has difficulty conceiving of the heritage process as described in the 2003 UNESCO Convention, which advocates the idea of ​​preserving tradition in its movement over time (Khaznadar 2009, p. 108). . The political world seems for the moment to see in its use only the attraction of benefiting from these economic advantages (tourism, cultural industry, international influence). These examples clearly show the problem of the distance between the holders of the tradition and the decision-makers, who should consider more the anthropological dimension and the future consequences of their work (ibid., p. 105). But apart from the growing place imposed by the academic model in education in rural areas, to organize a major concert in the capital to disseminate höömij at the national level, or distribute medals for the recognition of the most deserving höömijčid , it remains to be observed now what the repercussions of this inclusion in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will be on musical fashion and höömij practices in the years to come.
List of testimonies.

Bapizan, B. 17/08/09, 21/09/10, dans sa maison, Cengel.
Cerendavaa, D. 14/08/04, 15/09/05, 13/08/09, sous sa yourte, Čandman’.
Cogtgerel, C. 7/10/10, dans son appartement, Ulaanbaatar.
Daržaa, D. 7/08/09, 3/09/10, sous sa yourte, Čandman’.
Enhbalsan, T.-Ö. 21/04/07, sous sa yourte, ville de Hovd.
Erdenbüren, T.-Ö. 10/09/10, sous sa yourte, Manhan.
Ganbold, T. 28/09/04, 18/08/10, salle du théâtre de l’ensemble Tümen Eh, et dans sa salle de classe, Ulaanbaatar.
Luvsanšarav, D. 4/09/11, dans son appartement, Ulaanbaatar.
Margad, G. 15/08/04, sous sa yourte,Čandman’.
Odsüren, B. année 2006-2007, 29/07/09, 6/10/10, classe de l’Université d’Art et de Culture, et dans son appartement, Ulaanbaatar.
Šagž, M. 14/08/04, dans la steppe, Čandman’.
Sengedorž, N. 10/08/04, 5/04/07, 20/08/09, théâtre de Hovd.
Tojvgoo, E. 29/08/09, 5/10/10, dans sa maison, à Ulaangom et Ulaanbaatar.

1986 Musique et chants de tradition populaire, Mongolie, Grem (G7511). Bois, P. & Gründ, F. 
1989 Mongolie, musique vocale et instrumentale, MCM coll. Inédit (W 260009). 
2006 Tserendavaa et Tsogtgerel, chant diphonique de l’Altaï mongol, Routes Nomades (RN01).
2008 Tserendavaa et Tsogtgerel, Xoër Altai, Chants diphoniques de l’Altaï mongol, Buda Musique/ Routes Nomades coll. Musiques du Monde (3017742).
2010 Dörvön Berkh, Four Shagai Bones, Masters of Mongolian Overtone Singing, Pan Records Ethnic Series (Pan 2100). 
1986 Mongolie : Musique et chants de l’Altaï, Orstom-Selaf (Ceto 811).
1991 Mongolie, musique traditionnelle, UNESCO Auvidis (D8207).
1995 Le chant des steppes, Talin duulal, Label Bleu (LBLC 2523). 
1970 Mongolia, Love Records (LREP 113). 
1973 Chants mongols et bouriates, Vogue (LMD 30 138). 
1997 Mongolia, Living Music of the Steppes, Instrumental Music and Song from Mongolia, JVC MCM (3001). 
[1977] 1994 Instrumental Music of Mongolia / Vocal Music of Mongolia, Tangent [TGS 126 et 127], (Topics TSCD909). 
1996 Jargalant Altai. Xöömii and other vocal and instrumental music from Mongolia, Pan Records Ethnic Series (Pan 2050). 
1979 Musical Voices of Asia : Mongolia, Victor Records (SJL-211).
2002 Chandman’ Song, Amina Records (TS001). 
[1967] 1990 Mongol Nepzene, Hungaroton et Unesco [LPX 18013-14] (HCO 18013-14). 


1983 Mongol höömej, premier documentaire scientifique sur le höömij mongol. 
2010 Maîtres de chant diphonique, documentaire sur mes recherches autour du höömij en Mongolie. 

1 This unique höömij lesson was recorded by A. Desjacques and published in 1991 on the disc Mongolie, Musique Traditionnelle (D8207), track 29.

2 Čandman’ is a district (sum), a Mongolian administrative territorial unit corresponding to the scale of a commune.

3 According to her, apart from her own work, the results of which are given in this article, there is no in-depth research on the processes of transmission of tuvan höömij. I am not mentioning here the research of Zoya Kyrgys, Theodore Levin and Frédéric Léotar on Tuvan overtone singing.

4 Today, the practice of höömij in Xinjiang has almost disappeared among the Mongols residing in this region. But it did indeed exist, as shown by the research of F. Mergežih, Z. Doržiraa and S. Bajanžargal published in the 1990s. The reasons for its decline are still unknown. In Mongolian and Siberian, Central Asian and Tibetan Studies, 43-44 | 2013.

5 The information contained in this definition of höömij is taken, in part, from the definition that I developed in January 2010 for the inscription file for Mongolian overtone singing on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the Unesco.

6 The playing time of a höömij melody rarely exceeds a minute. When learning, we start by performing a melody, marking it with breathing pauses. Subsequently, experienced singers most often perform it for just one breath.

7 Ž. Badraa supposes that harhiraa designates a particular category of crane, comparing the cries of this migratory bird to the vocal technique (1986, p. 18, cited by Desjacques 1992, p. 19). But A. Desjacques specifies that the most common term for this animal is togruu or togoruu (1992, p. 19, and Legrand & Legrand-Karkucinska 2007, p. 366). Despite this, he suggests translating harhiraa as “höömij crane” (ibid.). To get away from this ambiguity, I prefer to use the term “deep höömij”, closer to the way in which Mongolian höömijčid and musicians currently describe this “big voice” timbre. (buduun hooloj).

8 These modulation techniques mentioned as examples are not exclusive, there are many others.

9 The verb dangildah, danildah or dandildah designates the act of singing rhythmically to the syllables dan and gild. This would be like singing lalala onomatopoeia in French. Dangild being a syllabic ornamentation of the song, I therefore propose to translate dangildah höömij by “syllabic höömij”.

10 Trân Quang Hai has also greatly participated in making overtone singing known internationally, through his numerous discovery and initiation courses in this vocal technique.

11 Apart from compound terms, such as “sing/do/perform höömij”, there is no simple term in French to translate the act of höömijlöh. To lighten the text and vary these terms, I propose using the neologism “diphoner”, simplifying the expression “to sing overtone”.

12 Until now, this information has never been verified. Ž. Badraa also mentioned the idea that the Caatan practiced höömij, but it seems that he did not explore the question in depth (Badraa [1982] 1998, p. 46). A. Desjacques, who has already carried out some fieldwork among the Caatans, said he had never met a höömij in the Hövsgöl region (personal communication, summer 2010). For certain Mongolian musicians, including B. Odsüren, the Caatan höömij would be a fairly recent practice. Young people practice it occasionally, especially for tourists.

13 These are the archives of the Hovd Drama Theater (1965-2002), the archives of the Uliastaj Theater in Zavhan, the Central National Archives of Ulaanbaatar in the funds concerning the national opera (1950-1975 and 1980- 2002), and dramatic theater (1943-1971). This research has unfortunately not yet been completed with the archives of the provinces of Uvs and Bajan-Ölgij. This work on the writings concerning overtone singing produced under communism is in progress. Research would need to be extended to older sources to state with certainty the absence of written information on höömij before the 1950s. The period before the 1950s and the following decades reveal concert programs archived by theaters, featuring forward the first uses of overtone singing on stage.

14 Competitions which have become real institutions in the countryside to this day (Legrain, 2010 p. 66).

15 For more ethnomusicological information on cultural policy in Mongolia under the communist regime, cf. Pegg 2001a (chap. 4), Marsh 2009 (chaps. 2 & 3), Desjacques (2009) and Legrain (2009, 2011).

16 Of the Hotgojd ethnic group, Čimeddorž was born in Nömrög, in the province of Zavhan. Copyist, actor and singer in the choir of the Hovd theater, he would have learned the höömij of Cedee at the theater. He was the first to perform abroad at a festival in 1957 (Sandagžav 2010, p. 40).

17 According to testimonies recorded on 08/14/04, 09/15/05 and 08/13/09.

18 The first ethnographic compilations of traditional Mongolian music released abroad are: Mongol nepzene, 1967; Mongolia, 1970; Mongolian and Buryat songs, 1973; Instrumental Music of Mongolia / Vocal Music of Mongolia, 1977; Musical Voices of Asia: Mongolia, 1979; Music and songs of popular tradition, Mongolia, 1986; Mongolia: music and songs of Altai, 1986; Mongolia, vocal and instrumental music, 1989. Since the 1990s, the number of records devoted to Mongolia (abroad as well as in the country) has steadily increased.

19 The idea of ​​classifying overtone techniques, present among most höömijčid, appears today as an element of the höömij tradition. However, it is the musicologists Ž. Badraa and Cerendavaa, thanks to the filming of the film Mongol höömej (1983), which allegedly began to spread this idea among singers, to clarify and categorize the diversity of the practice. Cerendavaa’s seven kinds of höömij have also been presented previously by Pegg (1992, pp. 44-45).

20 The term hargia would be a variant of harhiraa in the western Halh dialect.

21 In chronological order of publications: Music and songs of popular tradition, Mongolia, 1986; Jargalant Altai. Xöömii and other vocal and instrumental music from Mongolia, 1996; Mongolia, Living Music of the Steppes, Instrumental Music and Song from Mongolia, 1997; Chandman’ Song, 2002; Tserendavaa and Tsogtgerel, overtone singing from Mongolian Altai, 2006; Tserendavaa and Tsogtgerel, Xoër Altai, Diphonic songs of Altai Mongol, 2008; Dörvön Berkh, Four Shagai Bones, Masters of Mongolian Overtone Singing, 2010.

22 For their scientific character, let us cite in particular: Mongol höömej de Ž. Badraa, 1983; The unusual steppes of Mongolia by H. Draper, 1994; Masters of overtone singing by J.-F. Castell, 2010.

23 According to the testimonies of the two brothers recorded respectively on 04/21/07 and 09/10/10.

24 This rivalry is said to have begun after the first Tuva and Mongolian höömijčid entered the system of touring and record production. This discourse is present among professional höömijčid or teachers, but is rarely found in the countryside. The interest in this authorship would seem to be only the concern of competing stage musicians.

25 Pegg reports that before 1910, the Kazakh population did not exceed the scale of a village in the province of Bajan-Ölgij (1991, p. 72). Since that time the number has only increased, according to the National Statistics Committee of Mongolia (2011, pp. 56-57).

26 According to his testimony recorded on 09/21/10.

27 Ž. Badraa played a major role in the study of traditional music from Mongolia during the communist period. He did not always share the ideas of the Party and sometimes tried to maintain a certain objective outlook in his work (Marsh 2009, pp. 97-99). Despite this, he contributed to highlighting the practice of höömij of the Halh, by encouraging the höömijčid of this group more than the others, by designating Čandman’ (populated district of Halh) as a cradle of the tradition through his film Mongol höömej and by gradually establishing series of höömij courses in Ulaanbaatar, with halh teachers only, such as Cerendavaa, Ganbold, then Odsüren which he introduced to the University. This analysis appeared crystal clear through the speeches of most of my informants heard in the field since 2004.

28 In Tuva, the institutionalization of höömij teaching also began in 1992 and 1993 (Süzükei 2009, p. 9).

29 I had the opportunity to spend a year in an overtone singing class at this university, thanks to an EGIDE scholarship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2006-2007. This allowed me to closely observe Odsüren’s teaching.

30 According to Odsüren, it is natural to imitate the sounds around us.

31 Archival recordings kept at the National Radio of Mongolia dating from the 1950s and 1960s show that höömij singers at that time used only one overtone technique for a given melody, the whistled höömij (isgeree höömij).

32 We also find these foundations (the multiple links between singing and nature, nature as a source of inspiration) at the center of education and the attention paid to the voice in rural Mongolia (Legrain 2010, 2011) .

33 This notion of hybridity of music is found in the works of Pegg 2001a, Marsh 2009 and Legrain 2009.