Posts Tagged ‘Inuit Singing’
On of my favorite records from the 70′s is the Persuasions’ “We Still Ain’t Got No Band.” I’m a sucker for a capella singing. This is in line with my fascination with the many ways that human beings can create music from their own bodies, without the aid of instruments.A few weeks ago I checked out one of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors concerts. I had heard of one of the acts, Barbatuques from Brazil and had been wanting to catch them. They were being presented within the larger umbrella of the International Body Music Festival (The Americas) which is the brain -or should we say body- child of Keith Terry, a drummer, dancer, singer and all around body music aficionado. His own group the Slammin All-Body Band turned in an exciting and polished pop performance. Also on hand (pun intended) was Derique McGee who elegantly represented down home hambone. My own proclivities had me focusing on Barbatuques, but I was truly knocked out by the first act, the Inuit cousins Lucie Idlout and and Celina Kalluk, demonstrating traditional katatjaq singing. Even though I zoomed in a close as anyone could, it was still impossible to tell exactly how these two women produced the sounds they did. (For more of their performance, click here)
Barbatuques did not disappoint, as a matter of fact on repeated viewing, which inevitably happens during the editing process, I grew to respect the discipline required behind the almost casual feel of the choreography. I also interviewed Fernando Barba, the founder of the group who gave me some background on how Barbatuques started. He stressed the organic way the group evolved, from the simple curiosity of how to make music with just the body, but then went on to explain that the various members also do workshops, and not just for musicians; sometimes they act as therapists. He described how wonderful it was to work with handicapped people, and to show them ways to express themselves that they had never known before. He also said that he can identify the individual sounds of the bodies of everyone in his troupe. I believe him.
Here comes my rant: These days it seems we throw the term “throat singing” around a bit loosely. It can get confusing. After all, Mongolian and Tuvan overtone singing (the technique of singing more than one note simultaneously) is called throat singing. But as far as I can hear, the Inuit singing technique does not deal with overtones. Rather, it is about vocalising on both the inhaled and exhaled breath. Yet it is referred to as throat singing. Personally I’d rather just call one overtone singing, and call the other Inuit singing (or two-way singing?).
That said, Tanya Tagaq visited us in the summer, and she was a trip, as you’ll see from our interview.
She also appears in a fantastic short film called “Tungijuq” in which she also contributes to the soundtrack. It concerns itself with the cycle of life and death from an Inuit perspective, and it is not for the squeamish…or prudish. Be on the lookout for it, as of this writing it is just about to hit the film festival circuit.