Tuvan Throat Singing: Hoomey


MILLI FOLKLOR, no.134, pp.79-91, 2022 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.79-91
  • Keywords: Tuvan throat singing, hoomey, folklore, culture, shamanism
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Tuvans are today a Turkic people living in the autonomous Republic of Tuva, which is connected to the Russian Federation. The Republic of Tuva is located in the north of Mongolia in the South Siberia region. Apart from the Republic of Tuva, the Tuvans live in the Altai province of Mongolia's Bayan-Olgiy and Hubsugul and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The Republic of Tuva is located between the Sayan mountains in the north and the Tannu-ula mountain range in the south. Tuvans remained as an isolated society in the region where they lived due to the effect of geography. This feature of Tuva geography has been effective in the preservation of their culture. Every society has its own unique cultural characteristics. In this sense, the most important feature that increases the recognition of Tuvans in the world is Tuva throat singing, which is called hoomey. The main feature of the hoomey, which has many types, is that more than one sound can be heard clearly from the larynx at the same time. Tuvan throat singing is known by the name of hoomey, which is one of these different forms. There are five basic styles of hoomey, namely hoomey, sigit, kargiraa, borbannadir and ezengileer. The fact that the hoomey has various sub-styles is related to the fact that the voice coming out of the throat has different heights in the basic melodic formations. The emergence of different styles is explained by the difference of life style among nomads. According to this, nomadic shepherds perceived nature according to the living conditions of their region and performed hoomey music in different styles. Throat singing is the traditional music of Tuvan. There is a close relationship between hoomey and Tuvan culture. Tuvan culture and beliefs have a great influence on the formation of the hoomey. At this point, hoomey is associated with the ancient nomadic shepherd Tuvan. Nomadic shepherds are reminiscent of steppe life. There is humming, sound of water and wind, bleating and chirping of birds in nature in the vast steppes and taiga of Tuva. This polyphony resembles a melody. For Tuva's nomadic shepherds, this sound system has inspired a form of music that consists of a mixture of different sounds. Thus, Tuvan throat singing, called hooemey, emerged by imitating the sounds of nature. Hoomey has many practical uses in the Tuvan culture. One of the most important of these is the shepherds' performing hoomey during migration, which forms the basis of the hoomey-culture relationship. Except for nomadic activities, it is sung at weddings and funerals, certain holidays and festivals, and various sports competitions. Hoomey is also associated with traditional Tuvan beliefs. According to Tuva animism, every being has a soul. Tuva shamans developed certain rituals in order to communicate with nature spirits and used hoomey to influence the spirits in these rituals. In this study, hoomey has been examined together with the formation process of different styles. The main purpose of the study is to show the historical and cultural factors in the formation of the hoeme together with the effort to contribute to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the people of Tuva and to make it known to the wider audience.