Khoomei, hoolin chor, "harmony of the throat", or Mongolian throat singing, is a particular variety of overtone singing practiced by the Mongolians in Mongolia, in Inner Mongolia (China), and in the Tuva Republic (Russia). Since 2009, it's inscribed on the UNESCO Immaterial Cultural Heritage List, under the name of "Mongolian art singing, khoomei".
The art of Mongolian throat singing calls on an ancestral vocal technique based on a pure sound (drone) on which, thanks to the placement of the lips or the tongue, harmonics (more than 40) are added to form a melody in two or three voices.
In Mongolia, many breeders of the Western provinces know how to practice this art that is mainly a male's activity (women nowadays only begin to practice). The development of this vocal art in Mongolia is supposed to be bound to the geographic characteristics of the country. In effects, the huge, open stretches of Mongolia allow the sounds to cover a great distance. Ethno-musicologists who study throat singing noticed that khoomei was part of pastoral animist culture still practiced today. Singers often go far in the countryside, searching for the right environment for overtone singing.
According to the animist vision of the world, each element of nature has a spirituality identified by its shape or location, as well as by the sounds it gives out. Originally, khoomei was supposed to be the way humans have found to mimic the sounds of nature, in its whole spirituality. In this part of Asia, we can also find several musical instruments whose sounds also mimic nature's ones: animals, wind, water, etc.
We propose you to attend a demonstration of this ancestral art by a Mongolian singer who'll explain to you the basics and first techniques.