Facts History Science

The Mongolian Throat singing


The human body is a pretty amazing thing, and we underuse so many parts of it. It’s not just our brains that are wasted these days; they say that we don’t utilize our vocal chords fully. But, imagine if we did, how many incredible sounds and variants we would be able to unlock. Imagine how many stadiums you could sell out as a pop star who had multiple different singing abilities!

Well, you can stop imagining, because we’ve actually found a unique ability that many people seem to possess. It’s called Mongolian throat singing (also known as Tuvan throat singing), and, as you might expect, it was popularised in the mountains of Mongolia. It’s a vocal ability that is tapped into by people using their vocal chord beyond what is normally the case. We’re going to look closer at the strange phenomenon, and whether you’re able to do it yourself!

What is it?

Mongolian throat singing is a variant of overtone singing and is most commonly found in Mongolia and Siberia. The amazing thing about it is that the “singer” produces numerous different pitches simultaneously, utilizing vocal chords many of us never knew we had! The history of the technique stretches back to male herders. The open landscape of the country allows sound to travel and bounce, and this makes it perfect for this kind of throat singing. Often the Mongolians who practiced the art would climb mountains or visit rivers to ensure they got just the right environment for the sound.

Different types

You might not know it, but there are many different types of Mongolian throat singing that are practiced. So, in some cases, there are three separate styles: khoomei, sygyt, and kargyraa. However, some people believe that there are actually five styles; the three mentioned, with the addition of borbangnadyr and ezengileer. These categories also have subsections as well, making Tuvan throat singing a much more complex art form than we initially thought. Some of these are harsher and use a more chesty sound, while others are much softer and easier on the ear. The different types of throat singing are used on different occasions, and there has been an influx in female Tuvan throat singers in recent years.

What does it sound like?

Honestly, it’s one of the weirdest things we’ve heard in a long while. It’s kind of that strange combination of haunting, robotic, and ethereal. If you’ve never heard Mongolian throat singing before, we suggest checking it out on YouTube right now. It’s pretty remarkable – and some of these guys are excellent musicians as well, as an added bonus. We can’t really fully explain to you just how strange the sound is, so you have to make sure you hear it for yourself to make a judgment.

Mongolian throat singing is one of the most curious and interesting things we’ve come across in a long time. There is so much talent and ability involved in this, and it shows a whole new side of approaching singing and music. If you’ve never experienced this amazing phenomenon, now is the time to do so, just don’t think you can mimic it easily!

About the author

Rebecca Walton

Rebecca has always been fascinated with the business and tech world, having grown up with parents in the industry. She has a real passion for science - particularly space and the unknown realms that surround the planet! Rebecca has been writing for different publications for nearly 6 years and is now an editor at Pangaea Express.