Tyva Kyzy concert
The fact that they come from a faraway land is clear straight away by their exotic garments and unusual instruments. That their music doesn’t sound familiar from the first moment is also not surprising. But as soon as they start to sing the unsuspecting listener is taken by one surprise after another.
In Tuva, their Central Asian motherland, exists a singing tradition that uses the voice abilities in the most peculiar way. By special technique of amplifying and suppressing certain overtonal frequencies appears an illusion of two voices coming from one mouth. Moreover, these voices sometimes follow different melodical lines. In the neighboring Mongolia and Khakassia they also sing in a similar way, but nowhere it is so refined as in Tuva.
By definition khoomei is a domain of men. But times change and even in Tuva women break the traditional role separation. Despite their big respect for the ancient shamanistic tradition Tyva Kyzy are everything but a museum piece. With a refined ensemble play on string and bow instruments, with subtle addition of multivoicing to the singing parts they make their tradition tastier for untrained ears. The most extreme khoomei styles - like sharply high sygyt and rumbling kargyraa – are carefully measured and combined with ballads sung with less exotic voice range. But also here their love for the nomadic way of life remains central.
The women of Tyva Kyzy are convincing not only due to their singing and playing techniques or the ability to synchronically start off a fast galloping rhythm with one nod only. It is their playful and light approach, that shows a considerable contrast to the still compulsory manner shown by their male colleagues bring the Tuvan tradition to stage.
Ton Maas. Volkskrant, NL 2012