Tuvan Throat Singers


Years ago, when I was studying Mongolian music, I bought tickets to see Huun Huur Tu. Shows how much I know—Huun Huur Tu is a Tuvan band, not Mongolian. In fact, while Tuvans do incorporate some of Mongolian culture into their own, they’re of Turkic background, and live in Russia. I clearly didn’t do my research.

Seeing Huun Huur Tu was a blessing in disguise for this blossoming Mongolia-phile. Their music may not have directly related back to my studies at the time, no, but it was a transformative concert that I remember in amazing detail five years later. Huun Huur Tu perform classic Tuvan music that dates back centuries, but updated for a modern global audience. They’re known for their masterful throat singing, a type of guttural drone that, upon closer listening, sounds like a songbird in spring. Throat singing, also called overtone chanting, is a remarkable talent that is popular in not just Tuva but also Mongolia and Tibet. The singer is able to split his voice into one our more melodic pitches over a basic droning pitch. With the combination of this display of cultural and artistic heritage and the rumbling drums, the Tuvan jaw harp, the lute, and horsehead fiddle, you’ll be transported to the rolling plains of the Steppe. If you close your eyes while listening to Huun Huur Tu, Central Asia in all its beauty—the green hills, the soft wind, the wild horses—will be brought straight to you. Huun Huur Tu casts a spell with their instruments. Catch them at Harris Center on April 17 and discover the magic of Tuva. For more information, see here.

What: Huun Huur Tu—The Tuvan Throat Singers
When: Thursday, April 17, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Where: Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway, Folsom
Cost: $25-$39