Inuit throat singing

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Inuit throat singing or katajjaq, also known as (and commonly confused with) the generic term overtone singing[citation needed], is a form of musical performance uniquely found among the Inuit. (There used to be a similar style, Rekuhkara, practiced in Hokkaidō, but that has since died out.) Unlike the throat singers in other regions of the world, particularly Tibet, Mongolia and Tuva, the Inuit performers are usually women who sing only duets in a kind of entertaining contest to see who can outlast the other. However, at least one notable performer, Tanya Tagaq, performs throat singing as a solo artist and as a collaborator with non-throat singing musicians such as Björk. The musical duo Tudjaat performed a mixture of traditional throat singing and pop music.

Contents

New World terms

The name for throat singing in Canada varies with the geography:

History

Originally, katajjaq was a form of entertainment among Inuit women while men were away on hunting trips, and it was a regarded more as a type of vocal or breathing game in the Inuit culture rather than a form of music.[3]

Performance

Two women face each other usually in a standing position and holding each other's arms. Sometimes they will do some kind of dance movements while singing (e.g., balancing from right to left). One singer leads by setting a short rhythmic pattern, which she repeats leaving brief silent intervals between each repetition. The other singer fills in the gap with another rhythmic pattern. The sounds used include voiced sounds as well as unvoiced ones, both through inhalation or exhalation.[4] The first to run out of breath or be unable to maintain the pace of the other singer will start to laugh or simply stop and will thus lose the game. It generally lasts between one and three minutes. The winner is the singer who beats the largest number of people.[5]

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