Such khoomeizhis like Khunashtar-ool Oorzhak are born only once in a hundred years

   Dina Oyun,, 'Khoomei' journal, translated by Heda Jindrak
10 September 2012

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Such khoomeizhis like Khunashtar-ool Oorzhak are born only once in a hundred yearsSeptember 11, is the 80th birthday of Khunashtar-ool Surun-oolovich Oorzhak, a recognized Tuvan performer of Tuvan original art form - throat-singing. His name is included in the State Book of Republic Tyva "People of merit of Tuva in XX Century".

Khunashtar-ool Oorzhak was born in 1932 in Mungash-Ak village of Barun-Khemchik district. After having served in the Soviet Army, he returned to his native Mungash-Ak, and then moved to Sut-Khol kozhuun with his family. For many years, Khunashtar-ool Surun-oolovich worked as a sheep-herder. When herding his sheep in a valley, Oorzhak, just like many other herders, sang various melodies and composed his own. His singing attracted the attention of other herders and milk-maids. At that time, Khunashtar-ool was 35 years old.

Culture workers of the district informed Kyzyl, that in the "Aldan-Maadyr" kolkhoz, there is a talented master of throat-singing in the sygyt and kargyraa styles. A science worker from TNIIYaLI came over, and made tape-recordings of Khunashtar-ool Oorzhak. Before half a year passed, he was famous throughout the republic.

In the '80's, he performed in the International festival "Raduga-81", and toured in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Paris, and Baghdad as well as in many other places in the world.

Khunashtar-ool Surun-oolovich showed the beauty Tuvan of khoomei to the whole world. "Such a khoomeizhi is born only once in a hundred years", - people said about him.

In 1994, in "Khoomei" journal, an article was published about the khoomeizhi, written after his performance at the First International Festival of Throat-Singing, which took place in kyzyl in 1992,

the entire issue was dedicated to the memory of the master of throat-singing, who left this life too soon.

"Since my childhood, I have learned singing in the sygyt and kargyraa styles. I loved to listen to the singing of Oorzhak Boldun. He was an excellent khoomeizhi. Currently I can throat-sing in five styles: khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, borbannadyr and ezengileer. Sygyt and borbannadyr originated in khoomei, kargyraa is from the song of the starling, and ezengi is related to kargyraa.

In each of these styles, it is possible to sing in several voices. For example: a master of khoomei style can sing in three notes, and a master of sygyt style can sing in three or two notes. There are different types: 1) long (smooth, melodious), 2)wide (spacious) , and 3) chest voice.

It is also possible to throat-sing without opening one's nose and mouth: 1) imitating mooing, 2) lullabies, and 3) nomadic.

I perform all five styles in their pure form. Therefore one of my obligations is to teach throat-singing to children. Even our veterans, masters of throat-singing Ak-ool Kara-Sal, Maxim Dakpai and Sanchy Kyzyl-ool performed using only one or two styles. Now it is time to teach our young talents throat-singing in three to five styles. Some khoomeizhis sing the melody short and low. That is incorrect. The reason is simple: they did not learn the special methods, and their voice is not fully formed. Of course, it is a great consolation that the growing generation does not forget, and continues the folk traditions, and sings in the sygyt, kargyraa and khoomei styles.

I would wish their performances to strictly follow the folk melodic traditions. There are achievements, but it is sad to watch sygyt and khoomei to begin more and more resemble pop or disco music; they appear frivolous, when they really should be long, calm and deep.

Where did this music come from? From veteran performers or from the past? No. It is all from young people's disco. In out times, for some reason nobody notices, but it is very hurtful. Real throat-singing can't be compared to anything else, it has its own melody. When the smooth, gentle melody of throat-singing sounds, it captures and absorbs both the performer and the audience. This music forces one to grieve, mourn, think and feel joy at the same time.

Dear friends, brothers and sisters, I challenge you: turn back, remember our beautiful melodies, do not forget them! It is of course good to strive for something new, contemporary, but to lose our national treasures, we lose our face. That is why the most important aspect in training new throat-singing performers is the problem of teachers - masters of the highest standards. Teachers without good schooling may even damage the young voices, and build them incorrectly. if we do not think seriously right now about the fate of the art of throat-singing , the day is not far off that we'll see that we are going in the wrong direction.

It is possible that abroad they do not notice the difference, and it will be interesting for them to listen to such khoomei, but let us preserve our real Tuvan throat-singing. It seems to me that at this time we need centers which would help us to preserve the strong and deep, correct throat-singing.

I have some advice for beginner performers. Of course, very much depends on talent. But it is not good to rely only on one's own natural gift. It is not good to do everything at one: at first, one has to thoroughly learn to breathe in the air correctly, how to use the lungs so that they would not be injured, because a throat-singer has to be able to breathe in and out correctly for a long time, as well as to have immense patience, love of work and high demands to himself.

It is not possible to force children to learn under any circumstances. A child should be able, first of all, to be sensitive to the music by listening to it. When you try to teach a child to sing by force, the child's throat may get sore and swollen, and the child will fall ill. It is also not possible to sing into a wind and when there is noise, because if you try to sing louder than the noise, the stress load on the throat is too much and your voice can be ruined. One has to avoid drinking cold water, carbonated water, ice-cream, and such. But milk, raw egg, fatty products, and, even maybe tea with lemon are very useful. If your throat gets sore, streptocid will help.

There are even girl throat-singers here. If you ask about my attitude to them, I will say: it is positive, I support them. There is nothing bad or shameful in it, it is a voice - from nature, from mother. There is a legend that in the past, it was precisely women and not men who were throat-singers. It may be true. But as years went by, times have changed, and gradually the role of women became more humble, they became of no account.

And then women stopped throat-singing. But now there are women-ministers, presidents, so why should not there be female masters of throat-singing? Personally, I give them consultations. What can I say, girls' voices have special inimitable beauty of their own. With time, as female performing mastery develops, why should not there be a female throat-singing ensemble "Daughters of Tuva" (Tyva Kyzy).

It would be a comfort if the radio, as an example for young people, an example to imitate, broadcast throat-singing of such excellent master performers as Sat Manchakai, Ak-ool Kara-Sal Maxim Dakpai, or Oorzhak Khunashtar-ool. Their beautiful melodies are only fro delicate and light voices. But if you try to imitate ensembles, that perform nowadays,, you will waste a great amount of strength, and you will not produce a beautiful, elegant, graceful melody." (January 1993.)

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