The Love Song
An Inuit Throat Song
Inuit throat singing is the province of women. Two singers stand very close together, literally exchanging breath, singing in wide-ranging, wordless, onomatopoetic tones. The singing is in close syncopation, mimicking the close proximity of the singers. It is an open-throated sound, using glottal stops rather than the more closed throat overtone-rich style of Mongolian throat song. And, despite the wordlessness, the intent and topic of the songs is remarkably clear.
This song, The Love Song, is a contest. She who laughs first looses. I recorded the singers, Karen Panigoniak and Maria Illungiayok, in the traditional Inuit community of Arviat, in NW Hudson Bay. Karen and Maria studied Inuit throat song for over a decade. They are terrific performers.
This piece is being broadcast Valentine’s Day and throughout the week on Living on Earth. In following weeks more of Karen and Maria’s excellent work.