Season 1, End-of-Year Bonus

Nature’s Voice: Tuvan Throat Singing

From the mountains of Central Asia comes a musical form that borrows extensively from Nature. In this episode, we talk to Tuvan vocalist and composer, Saylyk Ommun, about Tuvan throat singing and its links with the natural world and modern genres like rock.

This episode was chosen as one of the “100 Outstanding Podcasts From 2021” by Bello Collective, one of the most influential voices in podcasting.

Reviewer Arielle Nissenblatt said: “In less than thirty minutes, I was transported to a place I’ve never heard of, and learned of music and traditions that I’d never been exposed to previously. This episode so beautifully mixes audio with music while telling a story and celebrating a community of people.”

Time Markers (min:sec)

  • 00:43 – Sample of Tuvan throat singing
  • 01:05 – Sasha’s first memory of Tuvan music
  • 01:26 – Who is Saylyk Ommun?
  • 01:56 – Saylyk singing “Çavıdak”
  • 02:30 – What the episode’s about
  • 03:47 – Saylyk’s childhood
  • 04:24 – Saylyk’s joins Yat-Kha
  • 06:40 – Tuvan throat singing and nature
  • 08:26 – Women practicing throat singing today
  • 09:21 – Throat singing listening exercise
  • 10:03 – What is timbre?
  • 11:01 – Description of throat singing styles
  • 11:24 – Kargyraa style
  • 15:17 – Xoomei style
  • 16:08 – Sygyt style
  • 17:03 – Borbangnadyr
  • 17:29 – Ezenggileer
  • 17:48 – Xoomei style with both techniques at once
  • 18:05 – Throat singing is sculpting sound and its scientific explanations
  • 18:34 – Saylyk sings “Ezir-Kara”
  • 18:55 – The rich and complex use of timbre in Tuvan music
  • 20:24 – Saylyk discusses Tuvan folk songs and her grandmother’s singing
  • 21:09 – Saylyk sings a folk song her grandmother sang to her
  • 22:09 – Lets think of Nature in new ways

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Reading List

“About Tuvan Throat Singing.” Alash,

Department of Communications and Public Affairs, Western University. “Researchers Solve Mystery of Tuvan Throat Singing.” Media Relations, 11 Mar. 2020,


Levin, Theodore Craig, and Valentina Süzükei. Where Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond. Indiana University Press, 2019.

Levin, Theodore, and Valentina Süzükei. “Timbre-Centered Listening in the Soundscape of Tuva.” The Oxford Handbook of Timbre, 2018, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190637224.013.15.

Smithsonian Folkways. Alash Demonstrate Throat-Singing Styles [Interview Video]. YouTube, YouTube, 1 Sept. 2017,

Süzükei, Valentina. “Fundamental Research on Musical Culture of Tuva in the Twentieth Century Ready for Publishing.” Tuva Online, 2 May 2007,

“Throat Singing: A Unique Vocalization from Three Cultures.” Smithsonian Folkways Recordings,

“Tyva Kyzy — Interview Tumat Choduraa.” YouTube, YouTube, 6 Mar. 2012,

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