The investigation of Tuvan throat singing khorekteer accounts for more that a century. For the first time khorekteer was recorded by investigator P. Ostrovskikh in Eastern Tuva in 1864.  

  • 1897 P.E. Ostrovskikh

  • 1897 E.K. Yakovlev

  • 1897 G.E. Grumm-Grzhimailo

  • 1914 Douglas Carruthers

  • 1927 E.V. Gippius

  • Mid 30s First professional record of Tuvan solo double-voiced singing on gramophone disks under supervision of E.V. Gippius

  • 1934 Release of a series of gramophone disks with classical samples of the styles of throat singing khorekteer (khoomei, kargyraa, ezengileer, sygyt, borbannadyr), songs yrlar, and instrumental folk tunes on igil.

  • 1945 Beginning of folk studies in Tuva. Tuvan Scientific-Research Institute for Language, Literature and History (TNIIYaLI).

  • 1956 m. Munzuk (first publication of folk melodies)

  • 1973 Supplemented publication of “Tyva ulustun yrlary (Tuvan folk songs)

  • 1964 A.N. Aksenov Monograph “Tuvan folk music” edited by E.V. Gippius became a landmark event in Tuvan folk studies.

  • 1975 V.T. Maslov, B.P. Chernov  The mechanism of the formation of second source of sound oscillations was established

  • 1980 S.I. Vainshtein Article “Musical Phenomenon born in the steppes”

  • 1995 Z.K. Kyrgys, Anat Keidor, Anthony Jahn  Endoscopic experiment (Roosevelt Hospital, New-York State)



P.E. Ostrovskikh

He wrote that of a particular originality is the art of so-called khoomeileer kizhi (khomiler-kizhi) — singers performing the style khoomei (those who sing with the throat).  Producing guttural sounds typical for many Asiatic peoples, “the singer, at the background of them, creates with his throat highly characteristic melodies, as of a flute; in doing so, he accompanies himself on a wooden topshuluur”. The account of P. Ostrovskikh contains the first data that considerably supplemented the existing conceptions about the ethnic culture of Tuvans. The merit of Ostrovskikh lies in the fact that he, along with other questions of their history and ethnography, considers musical art as an important part of the spiritual culture of a people.  His works have not lost their relevance up to the present day. 

A short account of the trip to the Todzha region of the Uryankhai Region and the importance of the Uryankhai land for southern Siberia” (Journal of the Russian Geographical Society, 1898-1899).  The full diary of the Uryankhai trip, with numerous drawings and photographs and a description of the entire ethnographic collection brought from the Uryankhai land (at present in the Berlin Museum of Ethnic Studies) was, at that time, presented to the Russian Geographical Society, which had provided a considerable portion of the finances for the trip, but because of the significant cost of publication, it was not published. 


E.K. Yakovlev

In a published scientific account he reports that “an extraordinary impression made by singing without words cannot be expressed with words. This singing is called “kumeyler” (khoomeileer- Z.K) and is composed of a whole range of wheezes.  A singer inhales as much air as his lungs can hold and then begins producing from deep within his entrails strange rumbling husky sounds, the continuity and duration of which fully depends on his ability to control the diaphragm.  Then comes a new, deep inhalation and a continuation of the mysterious sounds, accompanied on the two-stringed topshuluurum — an instrument that consists of a long neck and a body with a hollow sounding board covered with a bladder — until they are interrupted by the singer unexpectedly for a listener without any tonic or rhythmic resolution, so that the term ‘melody’ cannot be applied to his composition of mysterious sounds”.


A.V. Anokhin


One of the initiators for the recording of Tuvan songs on phonograph was the well-known collector of local lore, ethnographer, pedagogue, composer, collector and propagandist of musical folklore of Turkic and Mongolian-speaking peoples, A.V. Anokhin (1874-193) who conducted investigations among Tuvans in 1910.

He noted: “This kind of throat singing is by far more simple. It has a strict definiteness, such a definiteness that  can be easily brought within the laws of existing music. And finally, this singing is not a wheeze in which it is difficult to define the height of the sound.  The sounds are not produced with an open free throat but a slightly pressed one, the height of the sound being quite clear”.

Then Anokhin notes that throat singing often makes an unfavorable impression upon the listener who is not familiar with it and who has heard it for the first time. But with time he begins to like this singing and it even has a calming effect on the nerves. “This singing is, undoubtedly, pleasant for the  Asiatic ear. Such double-voiced singing khoomei (there are also other names for it) is specific for Altaians, Khakassians, and Tuvans”. According to the observations of Anokhin “Of all Turkic tribes, Soyots (Tuvans - Z.K.) are the tribe that sing the most... 95% Soyots of sing. Song among Soyots is expressed by the word ‘yr’. Its melody is more developed than that of Kachintsy and Sagaits. In the art of Soyots there is no foreign influence, the melodies are original.

E.V. Guppius


The first post-revolutionary musical records of Tuvan folk songs were made in 1927 by E.V. Gippius and Z.V. Evald from the voices of Tuvan students at the Institute of the Peoples of the North and Siberia in Leningrad.

A.N. Aksenov


A.N. Aksenov was the first to reproduce on a high scientific level the structure of khorekteer singing and that of folk tunes on the traditional instruments igil, byzaanchy, and khomus.


S.I. Vanshtein


Also of interest is an article of S.I. Vainshtein published in 1981 connected with the problems of the ethnogenesis of Tuvans.  Without taking on questions of musicology, the investigator conveyed the spirit of Tuvan music and gave a complete and bright portrayal of khorekteer performance. His field materials from Central Tuva and his meetings with his informant O. Aldyn-ool in 1954 served as a basis for his article.  S.I. Vainshtein writes: “it was like a duet of unusual musical instruments but performed ... without instruments, with the voice of one soloist on the lonely central-asian steppe, performing for himself but maybe for me too. A quarter of a century has passed but this episode remains, perhaps, the most remarkable in the long train of my souvenirs from trips around Siberia”.


В.Т. Маслов и Б.П. Чернов

The mechanism of sound-formation in solo double-voice was established in 1975.

As the authors affirm, “the whistle hole makes high frequency oscillations which then resonate in the mouth cavity, forming the sounds of different pitches. The larynx of a Tuvan singer who sings in a double-voiced manner represents a double sound generator, in which the pitch of the lower tone is formed by the vocal folds, while the pitch of the whistle tone is formed by the narrow entrance to the larynx (nozzle) and the resonating cavities of the pharynx and mouth.

On this basis, they made a general conclusion about direct links between Tuvan singing and that of Bashkirians and Mongolians which is hardly acceptable.


  • When considered in a totality of timbres, texts, methods of performance, melodies, and styles Tuvan throat singing considerably differs from similar forms of musicianship of other related ethnic groups. Though the singing of those peoples have some elements in common, this similarity seems to by circumstantial and preconditioned by common character of their geographical situation and cultural exchange among them.

  • The performance of throat singing among the above mentioned Turko-Mongolian peoples involves clavicular breathing, i.e., the upper part of lungs. Single voice with periodic double-voice is formed due to changes in the resonators of the mouth cavity. An insufficient quantity of inhaled air transforms into melody through a hoarse bass voice and a peculiar timbre coloring.

Z.K. Kyrgys,

Anat Keidor,

Anthony Jahn

According to the data of experiments held in Roosevelt Hospital (USA) in 1995, Tuvan khorekteer is so specific which does not allow us to make anywhere near correct correlation with any other known forms of solo double-voice. The experiments were conducted in the following areas: a physiological examination of the vocal chords, and peculiarities of the respiratory system and those of the system of resonators. This effect can be achieved only with a quite compact energetic satiation of thorax (the performer of khorekteer with pectoral muscles push a dense energetic substance out which resonates in the thorax). Therefore we have to do with a strong resistance to energetic saturation of the thorax that gives a distinct feeling of energetic density and resonating of the mass of the instrument-voice. We arrived at the important conclusion that young performers of Tuvan khorekteer singing must not begin singing before the age of 14 or 15, in order to allow the larynx to mature and the body and nervous system to become stronger so that training will not harm cerebration and the respiratory system.  Professional singers who work in institutions of culture and art for many years should be under the constant observation of physicians in order to monitor the functions of their lungs, larynx, and cerebrum.  The action of intensive vibration may cause certain changes in the functional state of different organs (blood pressure, heart activity, and the nervous system).


  • One should listen to it in the surrounding of steppes and mountains and then it starts speaking the same language.

  • One should take into consideration that Tuvan language is the one which played and still plays a historical role in the development of this musical form.


Khorekteer is an instrumental misicianship based on the imitation of the sounds of surrounding world. 


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