Regional Distribution of KHOREKTEER and its typology
Method of performance KHOREKTEER

The method of khorekteer itself is the basis for all archaic styles and therefore each  kind of melodic singing is  unthinkable  without introduction based on this method. 

Other traditional methods of performance whichrequire special professional skills



  • Dumchuktaar – nasal performance

  • Uyangylaar – performance in a doleful, pitiful manner

  • Damyraktaar –  imitation  of  the  sounds  of  a  brook

  • Sirlennedyr  tinkling

  • Byrlannadyr – singing used  for  ornamentation  of  solo  double-voice. 

They exist together with other styles as sub-styles and differ by subtle technical traits in performance. They do not force these styles out and become an integral part enriching their structure. 

Five  styles are  recognized in Tuvan  solo  double-voiced  singing.


These  are five styles: khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, ezengileer, and borbannadyr  each of which include many  sub-styles.




Resonance zone, drone

Character of breathing


Melody and musical-expressive specifics


Middle register

F, F sharp, G can be sung with and without words, chest and mouth resonators 

Basic (khorekteer), smooth breathing

=, \

Overtone melodic (8th-12th overtones)


Lower or middle register, mouth or partially nose resonator

Khorekteer, spasmodic rhythm, modulations, middle tension

=, \

Without and with melodization


High and tense

Constricted breathing, very tense

йо, й, йа can be alternated with text

Overtone melodic (8th-12th overtones), song melodic with vibrato


Low guttural sound, the open mouth resonates

Khorekteer, smooth breathing, open mouth, can be sung with text

а, =, \, э open

Drone with third turns, overtone melodic (6th-12th overtones, song melodic

Steppe kargyraa

Low, open, chest, soft, velvet timbre. Outward resonator 

Very long breathing

а, =, \, э open

Overtone or song melodic (6th-12thg overtones)


Middle register, vibration with lips

Smooth breathing, rhythmic pulsation as in ambling of a horse

а, =, и, \, э, ю, я with vibration

Quiet overtone melodic, high whistling timbre


F sharp, G, middle register, singing without words, mouth resonator

Middle in length breathing

=, \.

Nasal long sound


Folk terminology reflected the timbre of these styles, both as independent timbres and in comparison with other means of sound-extraction.


Play mp3 khoomey stile



A bright sound, by its timbre, of a humming middle tessitura, is designated in tales khoomei.

Khooledir khoomeileerge cher sirgeini bergen, “during the humming of khoomei, the earth trembled”. 

According to our observations the style khoomei  can  be  considered  an  initial  or  basic  style. Khoomeizhis  of  old  and  young  generations  say  that  khoomei  is  the  father  of a forefather of khorekteer. The  majority  of  musicians  prefer  this  style  because  of  its relatively  convenient  sound-extraction  in the middle  register. Deep  sounds  of  khoomei, especially  in  lower  register, resemble  the  unison  of  oboe  and  clarinet.

In  ergi  khoomei (old  khoomei), the  basic  ostinato  sound  is  more  deep  than  in the  borbannadyr  style  and  has a more  expressed  overtone  melody.

The sounds in khoomei  are  executed  with  closed  lips  as  pronouncing  the  consonant  “v”. This  style  is  intermediate  in  timbre  between  the  sounds  extracted  by schalmeis and trumpets. It  is  mostly  characterized  by  power, richness  in  tone, and melodiousness.

In  Tuvan  heroic  tales throat singing appears  as  a   firmly  established  musical  phenomenon. For  example, “a bogatyr (an  epic  hero)  performs  khoomei  with  the  force  of a thousand  people, his  singing  makes  the  earth  and  the  sky  shudder, and  brings  mountain  tops  crashing  down”. Though  the power of this  singing  is  exaggerated to the extreme, the  storyteller  describes  the  force  of  sound  emission  very  accurately. In connection with this  we  should  give  a delicate  remark  of  B.I. Tatarintsev  who  investigated the place and role of  throat  singing  in  Tuvan  epics. He  wrote: “The  traveling  hero’s  throat  singing  is  characterized  by  stock  epithets  of  one  type yndynnyg, yiangylyg, syrynnyg “doleful, plaintive, drawling”  which, apparently, characterize  the uneasy  emotional  state  of  a  hero”. The  researcher  gives  an  example  from  a  variant  of a lyric  tale  about  Khan-Khulyuk. After singing the hero’s “pining chest expands and his crowded thoughts broaden”. Thus, Tatarintsev was the first to note this function of throat singing: to pass time and make oneself comfortable on journey.

At  first  glance  it  seems  that  it  is  impossible  to  think  about  a  more  recent  origin  of the khoomei  style  in  comparison  to  other  styles  because  I  find  the same principle of articulation in all the styles  in  the  framework  of  the  given  traditional  musical  culture. However, if  we  delve  deeper  into  the  nature  of khoomei,  with  its  ways  of  intonation, the  assumption  the  recent  origin  of  khoomei  is  well  supported. The  style  of  khoomei, which holds a transitional position between ordinary and double-voiced singing often performs  a  utilitarian  function  as  a  lullaby  song  in  the  special  style  opei  khoomeii (lullaby  khoomei). When performing  this style the  performer  accompanies  his  singing  by  a  rocking  of  his  body  from  one  side  to  another. The  performer  uses  clavicular  breathing. He  sings  the  words  by  moving  his  lips  slightly. The  movements  of  his  lips  are  intermediate  between  speaking  and  singing. While  lulling  a  baby, the  performer  sings through his nose. There  are  scarcely  any  overtone  melodies  in  his  singing. Before  people  the  performer  sings  loudly, with  a  great  support  of the  diaphragm  and  with  a  distinct  pressure  of  pectoral  resonators  while  alone  in  the  yurt, lulling  a baby, the  performer  sings  quietly.

Play mp3 sygyt stile




For the designation of a high timbre, there existed the term of sygyt

cyyrladyr cygyrtyrga kok deer ayazyp turgan “during the piercing singing of sygyt, the blue sky became clearer”.

In the  sygyt  style,  overtones  are  produced  in  a high  whistling  timbre similar to that of the  piccolo in the same register. The  basic  ostinato  moves between the middle tones of the Great octave throughout the piece from la of the first octave to la of the third octave. In sygyt  style  the  vowels  are  not  articulated and the sounds, in  contrast  to  those in  other  styles, are  produced at  an  optimal  strain  of  respiratory  ways.

The  main  feature distinguishing  sygyt from  any  other  style  is in the technique of sound extraction: the  root  of  the  tongue  is  moved  forward  and  the melody  is  mostly  produced  by the vibration  of  the  uvula  and its approaching the soft palate. In  sygyt  style  the  uvula  is  the  main  organ  which  regulates the  stream  of  air. Double  voice  usually  appears  in  low  and  high  registers  simultaneously. When  one  voice  is  produced  the  overtones  are  absent. Typical  of the  sygyt  style  are  melodies  ascending  to  high  pitch  sounds. For  example, in kishteer performed by Tumat Gennady, one can hear a glissando ascending an octave up from the 10th and 12th overtones of the 2nd basic ostinato note. Additional overtone sounds  occur as a  tremolo between  two  sounds which also differentiates the  sygyt  style  from  other  styles.

Play mp3 kargyraa stile




A low sound was designated among people as kargyraa

kaargyraalaarga khayaa dash kaanayndyr bustup badip turgan, “during the singing of kargyraa, the sheer cliffs vibrated, rumbled, and fell down”.

The folk performers divide this style in sub-styles by  timbre  and  pitch. Khovu  kargyraazy (steppe kargyraazy) has a higher, lighter  and  softer  sound while  a lower, louder sound characterizes kozhagar kargyraazy(mountain or cave kargyraazy). The  main  form of the  kargyraa  style  is  singing  with  a  clear  logical semantic  connection  of sounds. It is based on ornamented melodies of wide breath. Timbre  contrast  and  register  amplitude  distinguish different  sub-styles. Among these sub-styles khovu kargyraazy (steppe kargyraa)  is one of the most popular sub-styles of kargyraa.

Khovu  kargyraazy is characterized by drawling, soft, and broad sound. This  style  is  performed  to  show  the  spaciousness  of  flat  steppes and mountains. An introduction  with  text  is usually sung. The  basic  ostinato  sound  is  produced  with a half-open  mouth. Overtones alternates with vowels. One of  the vowels а, э, =, \ corresponds  to  each  overtone.

            Dag kargyraazy (mountain kargyraa) is also popular. This style is more stern. It expresses the power of the mountains. The timbre is more dense, nasal, and dimly.  

            The third style is dumchuk  kargyraazy (nasal  kargyraa). A  characteristic  feature  of  this  sub-style  is  a  regular  release  of  air  with a sharp double  inhalation  and  exhalation  through the nose and  mouth. The powerful  vibration  has  a  positive  effect  on  performer’s  lungs and  body.  According to my informants singing in this way  makes  it  possible  to  relax  and  concentrate  oneself  spiritually. When  singing, the  performer  does  not  feel  any  disharmony. The frequency  range  of the produced  sound  is  quite  wide. The sound is more velvet-like, and softer due to the use of nose resonator. This  is a typical style of the traditional Mongun-Taiga performance  school.

Play mp3 borbannadyr stile


The borbannadyr  style  is  related  to the khoomei  style  in respect to intonation. A melodious  introduction using khorekteer  is  performed  with  the  same  position  of  lips (close  to  each  other)  as  with the  khoomei  style. Timbre  norm, intonization  with  falsetto  inflection, narrow modal scale with short stable formulae, and ostinato  strophe  rhythm  with  ornamentation  are  common  to  these  two  styles.  

The  mechanism  of  sound  extraction, especially  acoustic  manipulations,  rather  than the steady  melodious  turns  characteristic of the  khoomei  style is  a  more  important  point  in  borbannadyr  style. The coexistence  of  these  two  styles  can  be  explained  as a manifestation  of  the  features  of  an  early  folk  tradition  which  is  characterized  by  an organic  relationship  of  melodic  expression. During a period of singing the tempo increases and the melody becomes more complex, descending by  leaps  from  the twelfth to the seventh overtone, more  rarely  to  the eighth overtone. The  ostinato  sound  remains  intact  but  its  pitch  occasionally  oscillates  within  the three  middle  sounds  of  the Great octave.

            Contrary  to  khoomei, the melodious phrase of which is performed within one breath, the borbannadyr  style is  always  interrupted, with the process of breathing plays a lesser role for articulation. The  performer  of  this  style  usually  begins  by reciting  of  the  words  of  a  song typical  only  to the  borbannadyr  style. Here  is  an  example:


            Bolur-daa  bol, bolbas-daa  bol            Whether it comes out or itdoesn’t

            Borbannadyp  berein  shumna            I shall sing borbannadyr anyways


            In  rhythmical  respect  the  tune  is  more  schematic. This  is the  tendency  of  the  schematization  of the  borbannadyr  style  that  involves  outward  ostinato  repetition of musical turn. Similarities  in  the  techniques  of the   khoomei  and  borbannadyr  styles  makes  it  possible  to  pass  from  one  style  to  another. In the  khoomei  style  the lower voice  stops  on  a  sustained (ostinato)  sound  and  the  singer  can  select overtones (which  create  additional  melody, melodious  recitation  with  words  of  a  song)  from  this  sound  while  in the  borbannadyr  style  the  sound  seems  to  throw  away  rolling  sounds  without  words. The  tune  is  based  on an  intonization  approximate  to  onomatopoeia but this is, more likely, not a concrete but somewhat generalized imitation. Therefore, the  melodies  in  khoomei  style,  by  its  very  nature,  are  of  a  radically  different  kind  of  those  in  borbannadyr  style. What’s  more,  if  one  compares  the  peculiarities  of  the  timbres  of  styles of the above styles one  can  get  additional  idea  of  a  concrete  style  too.

            In  ensemble  performance of khoomei, kargyraa, and sygyt styles (except onomatopoeic – ezengileer and borbannadyr styles)  the  singers  seek  to  keep  to basic forms, producing  only  slight  additional  tones  which are mostly  ornamental. The  style  borbannadyr  is  traditionally  sung  individually. This  makes it possible  for  a  performer  of  this  style  to  introduce  some  individual  traits  in  the  form  of his rhythmical  intonization. This  style  is  among  the  main  independent  styles  because  it  has  its  own  structure,  a  separate  mechanism  of  sound  extraction, and a  characteristic  timbre  coloring. The  performance  of  this  style does not  require the use of other styles. With regards to  its  tessitura, register, rhythm, and  structure of melodies, borbannadyr  style  represents  quite an independent artistic phenomenon which  can  be  optionally  synthesized  in  order  to  decorate  the  melody  of other  styles. For  example, there are synthesized styles such as borbannadyr  of  sygyt, borbannadyr  of  kargyraa, or borbannadyr  of  khoomei. 

Play mp3 esengileer stile


Ezengileer also have  their  own  peculiarities of rhythm, timbre, and  intonation. Ezengileer  represents  an  independent  style of khorekteer. According  to  old  people, ezengileer  style  has  completely  retained  its  meaning  up  to today.

 The  style  itself, as  assumed  by  some  researchers,  seems to be  relatively  recent  in origin. The appearance of   this  style was possible not earlier than 1st millenium AD, that  is, in the time  when the appearance of stirrup in horse harness could  have  a  perceptible  influence  upon  Tuvan music.

It is believed that the ezengileer  style  was  formed later than the sygyt  style  but, undoubtedly, it was formed on its basis and in  a  constant  interaction.

            If  we compare ezengileer with sygyt it is not difficult to note that  the  performance  of  ezengileer  differs from sygyt by  its slow  singing  and  distinct  scancion. Another distinctive  feature  of the  ezengileer  style  is  the periodic release  of  air  through the  nose with a sharp double exhalation. The  sound-formation  of  styles  is  preconditioned  by  aesthetic  prerequisites, acoustic  peculiarities  of the means  of  sound  extraction, and timber. The  melodious  introduction  is  absent  in  ezengileer  style. Ezengileer style is represented a peculiar, independent phenomenon in function also and  its performance  is  connected  to  horse  riding. The  timbre  of  this  style  is  softer  than  that of the  sygyt  style. The  overtone  melodies  appear  usually  on  8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 13th  overtones  from  the  low ostinato sound. 

Play mp3 Oidupaa stile


In the  kargyraa  style  alone  one  can  count  more  that  five common freely interchanged motifs: khovu  kargyraazy (steppe  kargyraa), kashpal  kargyraazy (hill kargyraa), dag  kargyraazy (mountain  kargyraa), kozhagar  kargyraazy (mound  kargyraa), oidupaa  kargyraazy (kargyraa  of  the  singer  Oidupaa) and so on.

























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