The members of the ensemble chose the name Huun-Huur-Tu to underscore their attachment to the countryside from which they came. Both their name and there music is rooted in the relationship of humankind to the dramatic world of the south Siberian grasslands. Tuvans call their open countryside "huun-huur-tu" because they are awed by the beauty of its light.
The music for which Tuva is best known--throat-singing, or khöömei, is a vocal technique found in several Asian cultures. It allows the singer to produce two or more separate notes simultaneously, and to integrate melody and harmony. The centuries-old style of singing incorporates guttural growls, high-pitched barks, multi-toned drones and polyphonic complexity similar to the chanting of Tibetan monks.
The group features two master musicians, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Anatoly Kuular. Khovalyg is from a remote part of western Tuva. His great-grandfather was a famous throat-singer, recorded by musicologists from Moscow in the 1930s. He taught himself the technique when he was 12. Kuular also heard throat-singing as a child. He is a master of the khomus (Jew's harp). The other members of the group are Sayan Bapa, Alexander Bapa and Mergen Mongush who perform vocals and accompaniment on a variety of handmade stringed instruments, a frame drum, bells and rattle. Huun-Huur-Tu has recorded two albums, The Orphan's Lament and 60 Horses in my Head.
The Huun-Huur-Tu concert is the fourth performance of the Hamilton Performing Arts Series. The final performance in the series will be the National Theatre of the Deaf's presentation of Curiouser and Curiouser, Sunday, March 9.