Khoomii, aka overtone singing, aka throat singing, is a style of singing that is thought to have originated in southwestern Mongolia but is now sung across the country. Throat singing is not strictly unique to Mongolia and can be found among indigenous peoples throughout northern and central Asia, parts of Europe, and even in North America and Africa. There are two noteworthy components of Mongolian khoomii, one being a gravelly, deeper style of singing (kharkhiraa) and the other being the overtone whistling notes (isgeree). Below are two examples of Mongolian khoomii, as sung by Batzorig Vaanchig and an anonymous Mongolian female singer (if you know her name, please let me know!).
This style of singing is one that is rooted in history and tradition, but it has also branched out into more contemporary styles. One of the things I love seeing about Mongolian pop culture is how much they embrace and reinterpret their musical history into current trends. I’ll write more about this intersection of modern and historic in next week’s post.