Radik Tyulyush is a world-renowned throat singer. If the concept of throat singing sounds unfamiliar to you, then you are in for a great musical discovery, all the way from the depths of Inner Asia. Here, in the small Republic of Tuva near Mongolia, every other person knows about the unusual skill. Last week the London based cultural project Dash Arts brought to us the world renowned expert in this singing technique – Radik Tyulyush – and he was here to impress even the most unimpressionable of ears.
Throat singing, or overtone singing as it is sometimes known, does not really conform to your typical idea of the art. The rich low vibrations produced by a throat singer are very different from anything you might have heard before. Practised across Siberia, Mongolia and Tibet since ancient times, it is usually very low in pitch, with genres varying from meditative ritual chants to jolly national festival songs. As a type of singing that developed amongst the nomadic peoples of the Asian steppes, its themes usually dwell on the freedom of a land yet unburdened by railways and dense infrastructure. Traditionally seen as a very male skill, throat singing can also sometimes be done by women and requires years of practice to master: because instead of one note, a throat singer like Radik can produce up to 5 musical tones at once. The resulting sound is this very characteristic splitting of a singer’s voice into several pitches, something you would have never have thought a single human mouth could produce. Radik himself has been practising the art for many years and has since become well known amongst those interested in World Music in the West – it is in England rather than in his native Tuva that his first solo album “Tuva: Spirits of my Land” was recorded in 2005. He has also been awarded ВВС-3 Awards for World Music as part of his collaboration with the “Tyva” musical collective from 2000-2004. As a member of several bands in Tuva in the past, he is currently involved in the local rock band Khuun-Khuur-tu working with a few western musicians who share his passion for ethnic music.
This evening, where Radik was accompanied by Lu Edwards of the 70s London punk rock band The Damned and the team of organisers from Dash Arts, marked a great collaboration between cultures. Accompanied by entrancing footage of the limitless steppes of Tuva so remote from anything that can be called civilization, one was submerged into both the aural and visual world of the nomadic peoples in the heart of Asia – and Dash Arts’ cultural mission was once again accomplished. Since the launch of the project in 2005 its range of events has varied from new theatre and music to dance and art. As a project set off to change the way we see the world, Dash Arts brings rare and groundbreaking performances from across the globe. Yet with such truly ambitious goals the project is not here to disappoint. Its current focus on post-Soviet states, of which Tuva is a part, is already promising an intriguing and refreshing experience. We are looking forward to Dash Arts’ next treat: the innovative ethno-chaos music from Dakha Brakha, the Ukrainian band from the barricades of Maidan, whose style is a sensational combination of folk motifs, Asian percussion and cellos. This week has brought to London a musician of very rare and impressive talent indeed.
For more from Dash Arts visit http://www.dasharts.org.uk/current.html