Friday, May 27, 2011

Throat-Singing & Women

Throat-singing, or multinote singing and toning, is not just for men. In the cultures where throat-singing seems to have originated, women traditionally do some forms of throat-singing, too.

In Mongolia and Tuva women do not do all the forms of throat-singing. Some forms require a deep voice, for example. But then most men do not seem to do all the forms. One man may do several forms (if he's really into it), but most specialize in one form.

No one knows when throat-singing started, but it is interesting to note that at least some of the Inuit, or Eskimos, practiced a form of throat-singing, done only by women. 

Are they practicing an ancient form that they developed before they left Asia, or did they develop it on their own. No one knows.

Although throat-singing is associated with the vast region of Siberia, Mongolia and Tuva, Tibetan Buddhist  monks carried a form of it back to Tibet, where they developed their own very deep style that is hard even for many men and impossible for most women.

But the point of throat-singing is the harmonics. Old tales tell of the calming power of throat-singing. And harmonics exist in other forms of singing, such as the traditional Bulgarian folk-singing style practiced by the group Angelite, a women's choir.

And singer-songwriter Sheila Chandra has pointed out that the music of India and Ireland have some of the same qualities. Listening to her recordings, you can hear the harmonics. I'll bet she would be (perhaps is) good at some forms of throat-singing.

You don't have to be great at throat-singing to experience that calming effect. Women and men can practice throat-singing as a form of meditation. It's fun to do while driving, because no one can hear you (when you're alone in the car), so you don't have to worry about how you sound.

So the answer is Yes, women can do throat-singing and can have fun and benefit from it, too. Try it!