alt.culture.tuva FAQ Version 1.41 [1 of 1]

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Kerry Yackoboski

Dec 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/17/99
Archive-name: tuva-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1999/05/18
Version: 1.41

Anyone wishing to take a shot at improving this should go ahead and send
the edited section along to me <>. Thanks to
Bernard Greenberg [BSG] for his numerous additions and edits and to
Bernard Dubriel [BD], Alan Shrives [AS], Kevin Williams [KW], Albert
Kuvezin [AK], Dr Oliver Corff [OC], Mike Vande Bunt [MVB], Ralph
Leighton [RL], Masahiko Todoriki, and Alan Leighton.

Alt.culture.tuva FAQ Version 1.41 (May 18, 1999)

Table of Contents:

1: How can I get a copy of this Frequently Asked Questions list?
2. Are there any WWW sites for Tuva?
3: What is Tuva?
4: What is all the fuss about?
5: How can I contact X in Tuva?
6: What's this about two voices from one singer?
7: Where can I find out more? (Friends of Tuva)
8: Any recommended reading about Tuva?
9: Any recommended reading about Feynman?
10: Are audio recordings available?
11: Are there any video tapes about Tuva?
12: Does anyone still collect the old Tuvan stamps?
13: What can you tell me about travel to Tuva?
14: How can I learn to sing khoomei?
15: How did the "Tannu" get into "Tannu Tuva"?

Questions and Answers:

1: How can I get a copy of this Frequently Asked Questions list?
A: You're reading it, aren't you? :-) Save it! The FAQ is posted
monthly to the Usenet newsgroup alt.culture.tuva. The latest
version is also available online at the Friends of Tuva WWW site
(see below for the location).

2. Are there any WWW sites for Tuva?
A: Try the Friends of Tuva site at

This has all of the old Friends of Tuva Newsletters, along with all
kinds of neat stuff like the HTML version of this FAQ and numerous

Other recommended sites are:

Michael Connor's Tuvan rafting trip site at
featuring photos from a rafting trip to Tuva in the summer of 1995.

Connie Mueller-Goedecke's Tuva pages at
featuring extensive info on Sainkho, Biosintes, the Shaman
Exhibition, and electronic postcards from Tuva at

3: What is Tuva?
A: The Republic of Tuva is the former Tannu Tuva, a country in south
Siberia absorbed by the former USSR in 1944. Tuva was at one time
an oblast of Russia, and then the Tuvinskaya ASSR, and is now a
member of the Russian Federation.

Tuva is arguably in the centre of Asia, nestled just north of
Mongolia between the Sayan mountains in the north and the Tannu Ola
mountains in the south, with an area of 171,300 square kilometres,
somewhat larger than England and Wales. Tuva lies between 89
degrees and 100 degrees east longitude, and 49 and 53 degrees north

Tuva's population is 308,000 (about 64 percent Tuvan and about 32
percent Russian). The capital city of Kyzyl (pronounced stressing
the second syllable) (population 75,000) lies at the confluence
of two major forks of the Yenisei River.

Tuva was known under its Mongol name of Uriankhai until 1922 and
deserves interest for the fact that it was twice annexed by Russia
within 30 years without the world paying the slightest attention.
The first annexation came in 1914 when when Russia proclaimed Tuva a
protectorate of Russia, and the second time was in 1944 when the
People's Republic of Tuva was transformed into an administrative
unit of the USSR.

Since 1992 the Republic of Tuva has been a member of the Russian
Federation, but this does not imply a large degree of independence
from Russia. As one would expect of a Russian republic, the working
language in the capital and other larger centres is Russian, but in
the countryside and in less formal situations the working language
is Tuvan. The Tuvan language is closely related to certain ancient
languages (Old Oghuz and Old Uighur) and modern ones (Karagas and
Yakut). Tuvan belongs to the Uighur group of Turkic languages,
forming a special Old Oghuz subgroup with Old Oghuz, Old Uighur, and

The ethnic composition of the Tuvan people is complex, comprising
several Turkic groups, as well as Mongol, Samoyed, and Ket elements,
assimilated in a Turkic-speaking element. These ethnic traits
(Mongol, Samoyed, Ket elements) also apply to the language. There
are many Mongol loan words in Tuvan, and many words having to do
with modern Western culture has been borrowed from Russian. The
Turkic elements are common to the Tuvan, Altai, Khakas, and Karagas

4: What is all the fuss about?
A: In 1977 Nobel Laureate (Physics) and raconteur Richard Feynman asked
"What ever happened to Tannu Tuva?" One of his friends, Ralph
Leighton, helped Feynman turn their search for information on this
country into a real adventure, as explained in Leighton's book "Tuva
or Bust". Feynman's interest originated in the 1930's when Tuva, in
a philatelic orgy, issued many oddball stamps memorable for their
shapes (diamonds and triangles) as well as their scenery (men on
camels racing a train, a man on horseback with a dirigible above
him, and so on).

When they looked Tuva up in the atlas, they saw that the capital was
Kyzyl, and decided that any place with a name like that must be
interesting! They also soon found out that a monument near Kyzyl
marked the centre of Asia, and that some Tuvans sang with 2 voices -
one voice usually a lower drone and the second voice a high pitched
flute-like sound, both from the same person. This information
piqued their curiosity and things snowballed.

5: How can I contact X in Tuva?
A: If you have additional addresses to share, please send them in.

The Lyceum in Kyzyl can be reached at:
16 Lenina Street,
667001 Kyzyl, Republic of Tuva, Russian Federation
tel: (39422) 3-65-30

The Lyceum's students have made the first Tuvinian web-wite in
Russian at:

Khoomei scholar Dr. Zoya Kyrgys can be reached at:
Director, International Scientific Center "Khoomei,"
46 Shchetinkin-Kravchenko Street,
667000 Kyzyl, Republic of Tuva, Russian Federation
Fax: (7) 394-22 3-67-22.

Anyone in Kyzyl can be FAXed at:
Kyzyl Business Center:
011-7-39422 36722
Keep in mind that the recipient has to pay a fee to pick up the FAX.

6: What's this about two voices from one singer?
A: It's called ``khoomei'', or throat singing, and numerous CD's are
available. This is not unique to Tuva - singers come from Mongolia
as well, and the Tantric Gyuto Monks of Tibet (now living in India),
also practice this two-note singing in their chanting. They also
have several recordings available.

7: Where can I find out more (Friends of Tuva)?

A: Friends of Tuva is an organization headquartered in Tiburon,
California, founded and run by Ralph Leighton. It is a central
clearing-house for information about Tuva and Tuva-related

The FoT newsletter is no longer available by mail, but is available
only on the WWW at the FoT site (see elsewhere in this FAQ for the

FoT also has a variety of wonderful things for sale, including many
of the recordings and videos listed here (recordings, books, maps,
etc.). The goods are very reasonably priced, and anyone seeking to
learn more about current news related to Tuva would do well to
browse through the back issues of the newsletters available on the

Friends of Tuva can be reached at:

Friends of Tuva
Box 182,
Belvedere, CA 94920, USA
phone or FAX (415) 789-1177

8: Any recommended reading about Tuva?
A: Send your suggestions. Here's what I've found.

1 - Tuva or Bust!
Ralph Leighton.
W.W. Norton, 1991.

The canonical work. Describes Feynman and Leighton's
decade-long struggle to reach Tuva. Semi-related works are
``Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!'' and ``What Do You Care
What Other People Think?'', both by Richard Feynman (with Ralph

2 - Journey to Tuva

Otto Ma"nchen-Helfen, extensively annotated and translated from
German to English by Alan Leighton.
Ethnographics Press, University of Southern California, 1931/1992

Available from Friends of Tuva. A great book detailing the
visit of a Westerner in 1929. Contains an appendix about
present day Tuva and a map.

3 - Nomads of Eurasia
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
University of Washington Press, 1989.

This book accompanied the museum exhibit "Nomads: Masters of
the Eurasian Steppe" in 1989-1990. Great pictures and text.

4 - Nomads of South Siberia
Sevyan Vainshtein, translated by Michael Colenso
Cambridge University Press, 1980.

Wow. The detail is impressive as the author examines Tuvan
nomadic life.

5 - In Search of Genghis Khan
Tim Severin, Arrow Books, 1992.

The author joins a horseback expedition to trace the steps of
Genghis Khan from Mongolia to Europe in 1990. An intriguing
foray into the life of the modern Mongolian nomad, with many
details that may frighten prospective visitors to the region.

7 - The Peoples of the Soviet Far East
Walter Kolarz, published by Frederick Praeger of New York, 1954.

8 - The Tuvan Manual
John Krueger, available from the Mongolia Society, 322 Goodbody Hall
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.

An indispensable work that includes a primer on the area and
culture, lessons on how to read and speak Tuvan, a Tuvan to
English glossary, and several samples of Tuvan text. An
extremely valuable book that is worth double the price (about
$20). A word of caution; the only Tuvan I know to have seen the
book commented that "no one uses those words anymore".

9 - Ancient Traditions: Shamanism in Central Asia and the Americas
Edited by Gary Seaman and Jane S. Day.
Published by the Denver Museum of Natural History and the
University Press of Colorado, 1994.

Based on the proceedings from ``Nomads: Masters of the Eurasian
Steppe,'' Volume 4 of the Soviet-American academic symposia in
conjunction with the museum exhibitions. The one chapter
devoted to Tuvan shamanism is by Russian ethnographer Vera P.

10 - The Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed
Jasper Becker.
Hodder & Stoughton, 1992.
ISBN: 0-340-57978-1

Written by the Asia correspondent of the Guardian newspaper, who
visited Mongolia and surrounding countries several times in
1989-90. Includes are chapters on Buryatia and Tuva. Plenty of
personal observation as well as background history.

11 - The Last Disco In Outer Mongolia
Nick Middleton.
Onon, 1992.
ISBN: 1-85799-012-9

About the travel experiences of a British student who visited
Mongolia in 1987 and 1990. He observes the changes that have
taken place between his two visits.

12 - Recherche experimentale sur le chant diphonique
Hugo Zemp and Tran Quang Hai.
Cahier de Musique traditionnelle,
4,p27-68,Atelier d'ethnomusicologie,
Geneve, 1991.

The most thorough analysis of Tuvan, Tibetan, Mongol and Altai
styles. Plenty of sound spectra representing excerpts from a
variety of songs, including cuts from the Smithsonian Folkways CD. [BD]

13 - Structural, aerodynamic and spectral characteristics of imitated
Tibetan chanting.
Aliaa Ali Khir, M.D. and Diane M.Bless, Ph.D.
Proceedings of the 21st symposium of The Voice Foundation.
Philadelphia, June 1992.

A study on ``the underlying physiological adjustments of this
unique phonetary mode''. For those with high interests in
acoustic and physiological details. The subject under study was
an American male, not a Tibetan monk. The study suggests
aphonic patients may benefit from Tibetan chanting, as it
requires minimal mean flow rates. It quotes and agrees with
previous authors (Smith, Stevens, Tomlinson 1967), that Tibetan
style may be due to ``two modes of oscillations, one at the
normal frequency and another at some ``ill-defined'' low
frequency that synchronized to every pulse of the higher
frequency''. It rules out glottal fry as the source of the low
note, which I believe is an error. [BD]

14 - Sons multiphoniques aux instruments a vent
Michele Castellango
Rapport IRCAM, 34|82.
Paris, France.

Wind instruments, not just voices, can play multiple sounds.
The trombone, the flute, the oboe, bassoon and bass clarinet are
examined in that respect. Defined as : ``l'entretien d'un son
stable percu comme un accord'', multiphonic instrumental
emissions are compared to vocal overtone singing. ``Si l'on
renforce l'intensite de certaines harmoniques, ceux-ci peuvent
etre percu isolement et former une melodie independante. A un
instant donne, on percoit alors deux hauteurs. C'est le cas du
chant diphonique, de la guinbarde et de l'arc musical ou l'on a
dailleurs souvent deux ou trois melodies formantiques en

N.B In previous years, Michele Castellango and Trang Quang Hai
have worked together on a number of occasions, trying to pin
down the nature of biphonic singing. [BD]

14 - Theorie physiologique de la musique
Hermann von Helmholtz
Editions Jacques Gabay
Paris, 1990.

The Bible of acoustics and music, from the well known 19th
century Heidelberg university professor. First edition in
French: 1868.

When we sing overtones, we behave as Helmholtz resonators,
amplifying certain harmonics in the note we sing. We do so by
slightly changing the volume of air contained in our vocal tract
or by changing the surface of the aperture of our mouth.
Helmholtz shows us that in matters of resonance, there are no
other variables at play than volume of air and surface of

Following up on Helmhotz I hypothesized that whenever three
notes were distinctly heard in a given style (i.e. Kaigal-ool
Khovalyg singing in khoomei style) one was amplified using the
tongue as a means to vary the volume of air, one was amplified
using the aperture of the mouth. Both field observations of
professional Tuvan singers and personal practice seem to verify
this. [BD]

15 - Tuvan Folk Music
A.N. Aksenov
Asian Music IV, 1973

I've been unable to confirm the existence of this book, or even
find out what language it has been published in. It was listed
as one of several books being auctioned by a specialist in
antique books.

16 - The Choomij of Mongolia: a Spectral Analysis of Overtone Singing
R. Walcot
Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 2, 1974

17 - The Land In The Heart Of Asia
Vladimir Semenov and Marina Kilunovskaia
Bronze Horseman Literary Agency (1995)
70-52 Olcott Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375

$22, 112 pages, 72 color illustrations. Bronze Age, Neolithic,
and Scythian artifacts from excavations in Tuva.

18 - Unknown Mongolia: A Record of Travel and Exploration in
North-West Mongolia and Dzungaria
Douglas Carruthers
Hutchinson & Co., 1914.

``Unknown Mongolia'' is an enormous two-volume tome based on
British geographer Douglas Carruthers' 20-month journey and
mapping expedition through what is now Tuva and Mongolia. The
first volume is almost all about Tuva. Carruthers was
literally charting uncharted territory. The stated intent of
the journey was as a geographic expedition. Carruthers set out
to map the territory and investigate its geology, flora and
fauna. The result is a fascinating and highly informative
account, written in the somewhat overblown, erudite manner
typical of the aristocrats who were members of the Royal
Geographic Society.

Despite his understandably "Orientalist" approach, Carruthers
for the most part manages to avoid the judgmental condescension
of many other British explorers. His account of the indigenous
people and their ways of life is sensitive and respectful, and
his painstaking attention to detail is rendered more with
refreshing candor and wide-eyed wonder than with the bored
skepticism of some of the other British travel accounts of the
period. It's informative, entertaining, readable, and full of
vivid geographic and ethnographic detail. [Review by Brian

19 - Open Lands: Travels Through Russia's Once Forbidden Places
Mark Taplin
Steerforth Press, 1998, ISBN 1-883642-87-6

In 1992, when the doors to formerly forbidden areas of the
Soviet Union were opened, Taplin visited seven newly accessible
cities and regions. One chapter is devoted to Tuva; the
chapter is an interesting read, the highlight being his run-in
with Mongush Kenin-Lopsang. Taplin has an eye for detail and
provides generous descriptions of the situations he's
encountered; his Tuvan chapter doesn't include much on aspects
of Tuvan tradition or day-to-day life but does provide much
insight on the legacies of the Soviet system.

9: Any recommended reading about Feynman?
A: Send your suggestions. Here's what I've found.

1 - Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
Richard Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton
W.W. Norton, 1985. Paperback by Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-34668-7.

Another canonical work. Sometimes inspirational, sometimes
educational, always amusing. I can't praise this book highly
enough to do it justice.

2 - What Do *You* Care What Other People Think?
Richard Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton
W.W. Norton, 1988. Paperback by Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-34784-5.

In a way, "What Do You Care" fills in the holes that "Surely
You're Joking" left unexplored. Some stories are light hearted,
while others are somewhat tragic. The second half of the book
details Feynman's work with the Rogers Commission. Highly

3 - QED - The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
Richard Feynman
Princeton University Press, 1985.

Quantum electrodynamics explained for the generalist. Will the
reader understand modern physics after reading this book? No,
but not to worry (as explained on page 9). The clearest and
most concise explanation of the subject available.

4 - The Feynman Lectures on Physics
Richard Feynman, Robert Leighton, Matthew Sands
Addison-Wesley, 1963.

This legendary three-volume set established the precedent of
"Feynman talks, Leighton writes". Fascinating lectures
delivered with insight usually not presented to undergraduate

5 - Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
James Gleick
Pantheon Books, 1992. Paperback by Vintage/Random House,
1993, ISBN 0-679-74704-4.

Gleick is a thorough researcher; the bibliography is formidable.
His writing does not convey the same friendly charm of Feynman's
narrated stories, but the different viewpoint will be of
interest to the completist.

6 - No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman
Christopher Sykes
W.W. Norton, 1994.

Great book. Ralph Leighton describes it as a get-together at a
home where Feynman is the main topic of conversation, and
Feynman shows up to tell his version of events.

7 - SIX EASY PIECES: Essentials of Physics Explained by its Most
Brilliant Teacher
Richard P. Feynman
Addison-Wesley and the Caltech Archives, 1994.

Six Lectures from The Feynman Lectures on Physics, with
accompanying audio on CD or cassette.

8 - The Art of Richard P. Feynman : Images By a Curious Character
Compiled by Michelle Feynman
G+B Science Publishers SA, G+B Arts International
ISBN 2-88449-047-7

173 pages with 92 full page black and white images and 7 colour
plates by Feynman the artist. Accompanying the images are 57
pages of commentary and reminiscences, some of which has been
printed before (``But Is It Art?'' from ``Surely You're
Joking'') and some of which is new. Particularly interesting
are the contributions from the wonderful Albert Hibbs and from
Michelle Feynman. A great book for the enthusiast.

9 - The Beat of A Different Drum: The Life and Science of
Richard Feynman
Jagdish Mehra
Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1994
ISBN 0-19-853948-7 (cloth)

According to the book jacket, Feynman in 1980 requested that
Mehra ``do what he had already done for Heisenberg, Pauli, and
Dirac, that is write a definitive account of his life, science
and personality.'' Mehra, who had known Feynman personally for
30 years, readily agreed.

10 - Richard Feynman - A Life In Science
John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin
Dutton, published by the Penguin Group, 1997
ISBN 0-525-94124-X (hardcover)

The book attempts to capture both the essence of Feynman's
scientific works and the essence of his `curious character'
in one book, and succeeds to a good degree. The scientific
explanations are well-explained in an interesting manner, and
the anecdotes are always engaging. This may be of the most
interests to the reader who has not already enjoyed
other books featuring stories from Feynman's life, since there
is inevitably some duplication between books, but even the
seasoned reader will find something new here.

11 - Most of the Good Stuff - Memories of Richard Feynman
Laurie M. Brown and John S. Rigden, editors
American Institute of Physics, 1993
ISBN 0-88318-870-8 (hardcover)

One of the better books, this is a collection of reminiscences
and anecdotes from colleagues and friends, organized around the
impact he made through his scientific work, through his
teaching, and through his personality. Several of the pieces
appeared in the February 1989 issue of `Physics Today' but are
not reprinted elsewhere.

10: Are audio recordings available?

A: I'm glad you asked. Long gone are the days when Tuvan (and other
central Asian) music was difficult to find; the enthusiast now has a
wonderful array of offerings to choose from. Of course, not all of
these recordings are available in every store, but we've tried to
supply all the information needed to place a special order. of
course, if you're not certain of what you want, you can always ask
in Usenet newsgroup alt.culture.tuva.

1 - Tuva: Voices From The Center Of Asia.
Smithsonian Folkways CD SF 40017
Distributed by Rounder Records, Cambridge MA.

33 tracks, 41'50, featuring numerous performers recorded in Tuva
by Ted Levin, Eduard Alexeev, Zoya Kirgiz. Khoomei, jew's harp,
sigit, animal imitations. Excellent, scholarly, musicological
liner notes.

2 - Tuva: Voices from the Land of the Eagles
Pan Records CD 2005CD
P.O. Box 155, 2300 AD Leiden, Netherlands

11 tracks, 46'46, khomus, tyzani, igil, amirga, toshpular.
Features Kongar-ool Ondar, Kaigal-ool Khovalig, Gennadi Tumat,
all soloists of the folk ensemble Tuva. Recorded February 23,
1991. Excellent liner notes.

3 - Voix de l'Orient Sovietique
Inedit W 260008
Maison des Cultures Du Monde , Paris

Only one Khoomei track, but it is supposedly very good. Other
tracks from other Soviet (now CIS) central Asian republics. [I
don't have this one - Kerry]

4 - Mongolian Folk Music
Selected from the 1967 year's collection by Lajos Vargyas.
Hungaroton HCD 18013-14
[I don't have this one - Kerry]

5 - Mongolie- Musique vocale et instrumentale
Inedit W 460009
[I don't have this one - Kerry]

6 - Sainkho Namtchylak - Lost Rivers
Free Music Productions FMP CD 42
Postbox 100 227, 1000 Berlin 10, Germany

Solo voice. Avante garde singing, with some polyphonic singing.
13 tracks, 74'18.

7 - Sainkho Namtchylak - When the Sun Is Out You Don't See Stars
Free Music Productions FMP CD 38

With Peter Kowald (bass), Werner Ludi (saxes), Butch Morris
(cornet). 20 tracks, 72,50, less avante garde than Lost Rivers.

8 - Sainkho Namtchylak - Out Of Tuva
Cramworld/Crammed Discs CD CRAW6
Released 1993.
Recorded between 1986 and 1993 in Kyzyl, Moscow, Wuppertal,
Paris, and Brussels.

Mostly pop songs incorporating traditional folklore and some
traditional techniques, the liner notes explain that these are
recordings that Sainkho had made with no plans to release them.
Muscovite Artemy Troitsky thought that they should be released
and put them on this disk, along with three new songs.

The songs are generally less esoteric than other Sainkho works
and they are far more accessible to the casual listener. The
featured instrument is her voice, and the accompaniment varies
from somewhat bare percussion to a large orchestra to
synthesized washes. I like this disc more than the other
Sainkho ones I've heard, and if I were to recommend a first
Sainkho album to newcomers, this would be it.

As an added bonus, the insert artwork is pretty good; the cover
is a stunning photo of Sainkho's face and shoulders superimposed
in front of a bright blur of colour. The liner notes are good
but too brief; only some of the songs have accompanying notes
listing the details of the recording. 13 Tracks, total length

9 - Sainkho Namtchylak - Letters
Leo CD 190.

10- Tuva: Echoes from the Spirit World
Pan Records CD 2013CD

17 tracks, 61'38, khomus, tyzani, igil, amirga, toshpular,
dambiraa, bell, kengirge, byzaanchy, limbi, buree, savag, tung,
tenchak, khirilee. Features 11 performers, includes recordings
made on tour in 1992 as well as older recordings from Soviet
radio (1973, 1983, 1986). Superlative liner notes explaining
many ideas and terms.

11- Ozum (Sprouts): Young Voices of Ancient Tuva
Window to Europe CD sum 90 008
Jodenbreestraat 24, 1011 NK, Amsterdam, Netherlands

A Dutch-Russian release from Otkun Dostai, Oolak Ondar, and
Stanislav Iril, three young Tuvan musicians who have built on
the traditional style. A strong album that I really like.
Oolak Ondar (b. 1973) was the winner at the throat singing
symposium (1991, Kyzyl) in sygyt style. Khoomei, khomus,
acoustic guitar, and shaman drum. 13 tracks, 42'34.

12- Mongolian Songs
King Record Co CD KICC 5133
2-12-13 Otowa Bunkyo-ku Tokyo 112 Japan

Part of King's World Music Library, this is a Japanese import
with almost no English in the package. 7 performers, 19 songs,
54'52. The men's khoomei is very good, the women's takes some
getting used to.

13- Mongolian Epic Song (Zhangar)
King Record Co CD KICC 5136
2-12-13 Otowa Bunkyo-ku Tokyo 112 Japan

Male vocal with instrumental accompaniment. Short and long

14- Mongolian Morin Khuur Ci Bulag
King Record Co CD KICC 5135
Sentimental horse-head fiddle solos.

15- Morin Khuur Ci Bulag
JVC World Sounds, VICG-5212
More Sentimental horse-head fiddle solos.

16- Mongolie Ensemble Mandukhai
Playa Sound, PS 65115
Large variety with some khoomei.

17- Mongolie Chants Kazakh et tradition epique de l'Ouest
Ocora - Radio France, C 580051

25 songs, with tobsuur accompaniment, recorded in Mongolia in
1984 and 1990. Twenty songs of Kazakh music, some of it
actually danceable! Minimal khoomei, although the voices do
make good use of changing timbres. The final five songs are
labelled ``epic tradition of the West'' and the lyrics are
fragments of lengthy epic songs.

18- Huun-Huur-Tu: Sixty Horses In My Herd - Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva
Shanachie Records CD SH 64050 CD/MC
37 E. Clinton St., Newton NJ 40017

Master khoomigch Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and his new group, which
has toured all over the US. 12 tracks of all natures of
top-notch khoomei, other singing, igil (Tuvan viol) playing.
Its being studio-produced, which although lending a slight
inauthenticity, makes for an eminently listenable album. Decent
liner notes and text. [BSG]

19- Uzlyau: Guttural Singing of the People of the Sayan, Altai, and
Ural Mountains (1993)
PAN 2019CD (PAN Records Ethnic Series)

37 recordings from Russian archives form a catalog of all known
styles of overtone singing from Tuva (12), Altai (2), and
Baskhiria (23), collected, produced, (partially) recorded, and
documented in encyclopaedic, scholarly liner notes by Vyacheslav
Shchurov. Studio and field recordings, featuring master
khoomigch Oorzhak Khunashtaar-ool in some awesome 1977
performances recored by Radio Moscow. Some doshpuluur and
khomus, but almost all vocal. Some absolute knockout kargyraa.
A must. [BSG]

20- Tales of Tuva

Kira Van Deusen recites three Tuvan stories (in English) with
musical accompaniment by Kongar-ool Ondar, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg,
and Anatoli Kuular.

21- Shu-De: Voices from the Distant Steppe
Realworld/WOMAD Productions (Real World Records Ltd)
(In US): Carol 2339-2
Caroline Records, Inc
111 West 26th St.,
New York NY 10001

16 tracks by the Tuvan ensemble Shu-De (M. Mongush, L.
Oorzhak, N. Shoigu, B. Salchak, O. Kuular), including all
varieties of khoomei, igil, doshpuluur, & limbi (flute) playing,
plus a wide variety of styles from Buddhist Chant to Tuvan
tongue twisters to Western-style choral harmony. A shamanic
ritual ends out the CD. A magnificent kargyraa cut by Leonid
Oorzhak is a highlight. Eminently listenable. (Spring 1994).
Weak liner notes. [BSG]

22- Tuvinian Singers & Musicians: Khoomei: Throat-Singing from the
Center of Asia. Volume 21 of the World Network series, a
coproduction from WDR (West-deutscher Rundfunk - a major TV and
radio station in Germany) and World Network. Distributed in
Germany via Zweitausendeins Versand, Postfach, D-60381
Frankfurt. Order Number 55838.

16 tracks (total playing time: 64' 01"), partially recorded in
Cologne in April 1993 and in Tuva in September 1992. Performers
include Schaktar Schulban, a 10 year old boy, the 18 year-olds
Ondar Mongun-Ool and Bujan Dondak, and the Tuva Ensemble,
founded in 1988 by Gennadi Tumat, Oleg Kuular, Stas Danmaa and
Alexander Salchak.

This CD can be warmly recommended to all lovers of Tuvinian
music. The music presented is a well performed collection of
authentic vocal and instrumental pieces. Since all pieces are
strictly traditional this CD cannot be compared to the
performance by e.g. Sainkho. Track no. 9, performed by the
unusually young artist Schaktar Schulban, reveals the enormous
talent of this promising singer.

The CD is very interesting because next to the overview of
singing styles the listener is also introduced to a
representative spectrum of instrumental music. [OC]

23- Tuvinski Folklore
Melodiya Stereo 33 C60-14937-42
1981, Out of print.

This three LP set features a total of 65 tracks, most of which
are khoomei, and instrumental music. One entire disk (both
sides) is devoted to two tracks, each over 24 minutes long, of
byzanchi playing. There are also several tracks of story
telling, and a few of the musical numbers are repeated with
variations or in slightly different styles.

The Melodiya record that Feynman had is apparently unavailable,
although the vaults of recording agencies in the former USSR
have been opened to interested entrepreneurs. Latest reports
say that the masters have been lost.

24- Kronos Quartet: Night Prayers
Elektra Nonesuch CD 2 79346
Distributed by Warner Music.

One track on this CD, "Kongerei", features Kaigal-ool Khovalyg,
Anatoly Kuular, and Kongar-ool Ondar singing along to the
accompaniment of the Quartet (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello).
This new version is interesting in it's approach to a
traditional Tuvan song with modern Western instruments.

25- Yat-Kha
General Records GR 90-202 (Moscow), 1993

Albert Kuvezin (throat-singing and instruments yat-kha,
byzanchi, organs, khomus, percussion & gongs) and Ivan Sokolovski
(keyboards, computers, cello, drums & percussions, noises).
Kuvezin is a founding member of the group Huun-Huur-Tu, living
in Moscow, who specializes in his own style of kargyraa,
extremely low-pitched singing with artificial subharmonics. In
this hour of 13 tracks, he exploits this awesome and
rarely-heard technique, combining it with techno-pop backup
sounds (and a token amount of traditional singing/playing) to
produce a thoroughly unique, avant-garde offering which has the
power to grow on you. Deliberately obscure liner notes [BSG].

Here is some news from Yat-Kha from August of 1995:

Eki ergim eshter! (Hello dear friends)

I would like to inform you about some news of the Yat-Kha band.
We are right now recording a new album at the Global Mobile
studio in Helsinki under the roof (and rules) of Anu Laakkonen.
The album presents our new style: "Yenisei kargyrapunk". The
participating musicians in this projects are: Alexei/vocal,
tungur, igil; myself/kargyra & guitars; Evgeniy/percussions,
Kari/sound & drinks; Anu/sauna; Mikko/cooks & drinks;
Akym/phonecontrol. The CD will be released by Global Music
Centre soon. Start saving now! We will give the account
details later. [AK]

26- Huun-Huur-Tu (with Mergen Mongush): Orphan's Lament
Shanachie Records 64058

A work of well-produced art, contemporary offerings in
traditional Tuvan styles, not an ethnomusicological assay. Its
16 pieces in styles varying from unison Kargyraa chants to
political songs to khomus ("Jews' harp") solos provide a
tour-de-force of Tuvan styles designed for listening pleasure
and wonderment. Master khoomigch Kaigal-ool Khovalyg's deeply
touching igil (Tuvan viol) playing is (as on "60 Horses") a real
highlight of the album. His frequent vocal solos in all styles,
and those of the sweet-voiced Anatoli Kuular, joined by Mergen
Mongush for one sygyt cut, help place this album among the two
or three "must-have"'s for anyone who *enjoys* authentic Tuvan
music. [BSG]

27- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Geronimo, An American Legend
Columbia CD CK 57760

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, Anatoly Kuular, and Sayan Bapa sing and
play on six of the seventeen tracks. The Tuvans make a
significant contribution to the soundtrack and share writing
credits on some songs. This CD is not a "must-have" for the
traditionalist but is interesting. The CD seems to have a
higher Tuvan content than was actually heard in the movie.

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, Anatoly Kuular, and Sayan Bapa sing and
play on six of the seventeen tracks. The Tuvans make a
significant contribution to the soundtrack and share writing
credits on some songs. This CD is not a "must-have" for the
traditionalist but is interesting. The CD seems to have a
higher Tuvan content than was actually heard in the movie.

28- The ReR Quarterly, Volume 4, Number 1 (ReR 0401)

The ReR Quarterly is a sort of audio magazine dedicated to weird
and experimental music. The first track on this issue is
"Koongoortoog," whom we know today as Huun-Huur-Tu. Most of the
rest of the CD is significantly modernist abstract composition
or alienated rock music.

This old traditional song was recorded in 1991 in Moscow when
the Koongoortug band consisted of only Albert Kuvezin and
Alexander Bappa. On this song Mr. Kuvezin sang and played all
the instruments (yat-kha, fretless bass, drum machine, buddhist
percussion) except shell by Mr. Bappa. Arrangement was done by
Mr. Kuvezin. The studio time was purchased by Mr. Bappa.
This tape was given to Chris Cutler in London. The picture and
the information was mistakingly taken from the first CD of Huun
Huur Tu. ReR Megacorp is reachable at 74 Tulse Hill, London SW2
2PT, England, or distributed in the USA by Wayside Music, PO Box
8427, Silver Spring MD 20907. (Source: [AK], Alexei Saaia, Anu
Laakkonen, Akym (AAAA Club))

29- Whistling In the Temple: Harmonic Voices
Simone Records, 412 East Ellis Ave., Inglewood, CA 90302.
In the USA, call 1-800-300-3315 for info.

Most songs have overtone singing and other cultural references
such as instrumentation and source material which refer to Tuvan
lifestyle. It is a hybrid recording, but not in a pop type
manner such as Sainko. I did enjoy the music and gist of the
material immensely. [KW]

30- Jeff Lorber: West Side Stories
Polygram Records, distributed by Verve Records, 314 523 738-2.

Kongar-ool Ondar sings on one track, ``Tuva'', five minutes
long. He sings two themes (the old favourite, ``Alash River''
and another, about the Tuvan forests), and Lorber has built a
song around them. The music is not traditional, or a facsimile
(for example, the Kronos Quartet blended their instruments well
with the Tuvan themes on their Tuvan song) but is funky light
jazz played mainly on synthesizers. An added bonus: in the
liner notes Lorber mentions that he made his studio available to
Kongar-ool to record an album for release in Tuva.

31- Biosintez
Lava Productions.
23705 Vanowen St., suite 123,
West Hills, CA 91307, USA.
E-Mail: LAV...@AOL.COM

Tuvan music played on modern rock instruments. Unreviewed.

32- Kongar-ool Ondar - Echoes of Tuva, 1995.

This recording is a solo recording by Kongar-ool Ondar, made in
the picturesque old city hall of Pasadena, California. The
building's natural reverberance is used to great effect and
gives the recordings a very natural lively feel.

The recording opens with traditional songs done impeccably, but
it is the more modern-sounding songs that are most interesting.
Also striking is the prayer for Richard Feynman, a song
featuring only voice and drum.

The recording is available directly from Friends of Tuva, Box
182, Belvedere CA 94920.

33- The Legend of Tannu Uriangkhai
Published by The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, 4th
Floor, #5, Shu-Chow Road, Taipei, Republic of China.
Produced by the Typhoon Music Co, director Lee Hou-kou.

A book and CD combination in Chinese and English, with
references, the CD is excellent [Not reviewed by me - KY].

34- Khomus: Jew's Harp Music of the Turkic Peoples in the Urals,
Siberia, and Central Asia.
Pan Records CD PAN 2032CD
P.O. Box 155, 2300 AD Leiden, Netherlands
Phone: (+31-71)219479 fax: (+31-71)226869

While only one track (out of 33) is from Tuva, this is an
excellent survey of khomus music of the Turkic speaking peoples.
Excellent liner notes, including repeated mention of Tuva and a
Tuvan folk tale regarding the origin of the khomus. Very
listenable if you like khomus (very twangy if you don't like
khomus...) with most of the songs being complete, though fairly
short. Music is from Gorno-Altai, Kyrgyzstan, Tuva,
Bashkortostan, and Yakutia. There is surprising variety in the
music from this simple instrument.

Here are the details on the Tuvan track (#5): ``BAYAN KOL and
BISTING TYVA (Our Tuva). Also found on LP Melodiya 14937 #1 and
#10. Many folk musicians do not perform on the stage but rather
prefer to play in a natural environment, like the Tuvan herdsman
Khunashtaar-ool Oorzhak playing temir khomus''. Total time:
66'03. [MVB]

35- Khoomei 92 - WTE Tapes 004
Window to Europe
Jodenbreestraat 24, 1011 NK, Amsterdam, Netherlands
tel +31-20-6245747
fax +31-20-6203570

Though I have not heard this one myself it comes highly
recommended by a friend in Amsterdam. It is a tape (presumably
also on CD) from the first International Symposium on Throat
Singing in Kyzyl, June 1992. [MVB]

36- Planet Soup
Produced by Ellipsis Arts, 20 Lumber Rd., Roslyn, NY 11576,
(800) 788-6670, FAX: (516) 621-2750.

This illustrated book (48 pages) and three compact discs (or
cassette) includes one song (1:51 minutes), ``Genghis Blues:
The Ballad of Cher Shimjer (What You Talkin' About?)'' featuring
Paul Pena, (vocals, guitars, kargyraa vocals); Kongar-ool Ondar
(sygyt vocal, khomus) and; ``C.T.'' and Rusty Gunn (backing

There's also an interesting track by Bolot Bairyshev, from Altay
in Mongolia (this track is originally from ``Voice of Asia 2'').

37- Jon Rose: Violin Music For Supermarkets
Megaphone Records, Megaphone 016 (CD), released 1994.

Sainkho Namtchylak appears on track 11, ``Shopping In Tuva''

38- Yat-Kha: Yenisei-punk
Global Music Centre GMCD 9504, Finland, 1995.
Duration: 56:31
Contact: e-mail:, (Finnish) or (English)

TRACKS: Solun chaagai sovet churtum (Beautiful Soviet Country)
Karangailyg kara hovaa (In the endless black steppe)
Kaa-khem (Name of the river)
Kuu-la khashtyn baaryndan (At the foot of a mountain)
Kamgalanyr kuzhu-daa bar (We have protection force)
Irik chuduk (Rotten log)
Chashpy-khem (Name of a river)
Kadarchy (Shepherd boy)
Chok-la kizhi yry (Song of a poor lonely)
Een kurug kagban-na men I didn't leave my yurt empty)
Toorugtub taiga (Cedar taiga)

If Michael Gira would have been born in Tuva, this is how the
Swans would sound, I guess. All the instruments but the
electric guitar are ethnic Tuvan, but I have the impression
they're not as lively and diversified as with Huun-Huur-Tu.
Also, the throat singing is quite threatening in a monotonous
way, but not as breath-taking and crazy as with Huun-Huur-Tu.
Although many of the songs are about nature, this CD sounds very
dark and gloomy, hence the "punk" title; not the Sex Pistols
kind of punk, more like Joy Division.

Every song on its own is an impressive listening experience, but
maybe there isn't enough variation to make the whole CD
interesting enough. Luckily, some songs have accompanying extra

The last track is more than 10 minutes long, and is not really a
song, more the singer showing of his low throat voice, which
only rarely gets the "vacuum cleaner" sound effect. Conclusion:
good, but not essential exotica stuff. [Reviewed by Johan Dada Vis

39- Deep In the Heart of Tuva - Cowboy Music From the Wild East
Ellipsis Arts CD4080, ISBN 1-55961-324-6
64 page book, 60+ minute CD

This recent release comes with a well-produced booklet full of
information (interviews, khoomei details, liner notes, etc.)
and superb photos. The music is a sampler of a wide variety of
performers and styles. This release sets a new standard for
Tuvan music production.

40- Huun-Huur-Tu: If I'd Been Born An Eagle
Shanachie Records

"If I'd Been Born An Eagle" explores a possible past with the
addition of an end-blown flute, an instrument of other Turkic
mountain peoples, which may once have been played in Tuva. Once
you hear it along with the other Tuvan instruments, you'll
wonder why the Tuvans ever gave it up! This CD is a worthy
addition to the other two by HHT. [RL]

41- Huun-Huur-Tu and Angelite: Fly, Fly My Sadness

Recorded in Bulgaria with the women's choir Angelite (formerly
called Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares), this CD is definitely
meditative stuff --- not quite my style, but certainly an
interesting mixture of distinctive musical traditions. [RL]

42- Vershki da Koreshki
Al Sur CD ALCD 204, 1996.
15, rue des Goulvents, 92000 Nanterre, France,
Telephone (33) 01 41 20 90 50.

9 tracks, 56'08.

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, voice, khoomei, igil, khomus
Mola Sylla, vocals, kongoma, xalam, kalimba
Alexei Levin, accordian, piano, khomus, kongoma
Vladimir Volkov, double bass
Paco Diedhjou, sauruba

This album features one musician from Tuva, two from Senegal,
and two from Saint Petersburg. The musicians blend their styles
and genres to form an interesting and attractive result;
although similar experiments haven't always worked well in the
past, in this case it does.

The accordian and the double bass complement, rather than steer,
the other instruments. The addition of the rich sounding double
bass to Tuvan melodies is quite satisfying. The African and
Tuvan musical elements are not as disparate as one might expect;
this is more a testimony to the talents and to the calibre of
the musicians than to any similarities inherent in the cultures.

43- Chirgilchin: The Wolf and the Kid
Shanachie CD 64070
16 tracks, 1996.

Ondar Mongun-ool, throat-singer
Aidysmaa Kandan, singer
Tamdyn Aldar, instruments
Produced by Alexander Bapa

The 20-year old Tuvan performers sound great on this recording,
and some listeners will already know Mongun-Ool from a sygyt cut
on the World Network CD ``Choomeij: Throat-Singing From the
Center of Asia''. Mongun-Ool is one of the greatest
sygyt-singers, but he masters other styles as well. [Review by
Sami Jansson.]

44- Big Sky: Standing On This Earth
Skysong Productions, inc., SPCD1001, 1997
P.O. Box 11755, Minneapolis, MN, 55412
12 tracks, total time 55:57

Big Sky features alt.culture.tuva contributor Steve Sklar on
guitar and vocals, and on one song on this CD, "Siberia", he
uses his his formidable kargyraa and sygyt to great effect. Not
a Tuvan CD, but one with some Tuvan influence; it is mostly
upbeat (in outlook as well as tempo) pop/rock with a bright,
wide-open, spacious sound reminiscent of Tuva's wide open

Big Sky themselves are on the WWW at URL
and Steve Sklar has a khoomei page at URL

45- Ondar & Pena: Genghis Blues
TuvaMuch Records, 1997,
c/o Friends of Tuva
12 tracks, total time 53:54
Available from Friends of Tuva.

A collaboration between Tuva's Kongar-ol Ondar and occasional
alt.culture.tuva contributor Paul ``Earthquake'' Pena, this CD
successfully blends the traditions of Tuvan music with those of
American blues.

Several of the songs are traditional, but the original songs by
Pena are the attraction: the first track, ``What You Talkin'
About?'', is a killer and is worth the price of the CD by
itself. This Bo Diddley-style tour de force recounts how Pena
began his journey to Tuva and his journey into khoomei.

Other highlights are the notable ``Kargyraa Moan'', a song that
helped win Paul Pena first prize in the kargyraa competition at
the 1995 Khoomei Symposium in Kyzyl, as well as ``Tuva
Farewell'', Pena's thoughts and insights about his visit to (and
return from) Tuva.

46- Tuvan Folk Music: It's Probably Windy In Ovyur...
Long Arms Records & IMA-press, 1997, CDLA 9707
29 tracks, total time 60:58

This recording may be a landmark on the horizon of Tuvan music
in that it was recorded in Tuva (October-November 1995) by
Tuvans, for Tuvans. This is a collection of songs by musicians
from the Ovyur region (with the hope that compilations will be
forthcoming for other regions) featuring aspects of singing that
have been overlooked by foreign recordings, which have concerned
themselves primarily with the various forms of khoomei. Ovyur
is a region southwest of Kyzyl, bordering on Mongolia.

The music is wonderful and covers a wide range of styles;
ballads, galloping songs, laments, patriotic fighting songs...
and that's just the first four! Various instruments are used,
including igil, doshpulur, and khomus, along with the accordion,
but many songs are vocal solos, by both women and men. Words
cannot do the CD justice; the performances are all very natural
sounding and very clearly recorded. This sounds like a
performance sitting around the campfire or around the stove in
the yurt, with no echo or effects added. My favourite songs are
the ones with the soaring melodies and quiet accordion

The liner notes are primarily in Russian (I think; I can't see
any Tuvan) with some translation into English. The package and
insert are well-crafted with flashy graphic arts and photos.
Produced by Sainkho Namchylak and Otkun Dostai, this is a work
to be proud of, and I hope to see more recordings in this vein.

47- Kongar-ol Ondar: Back Tuva Future
Warner Brothers Records CD9 47131-2

11 tracks, 50'05. Wow! An interesting and adventurous
experiment bringing together Kongar-ol Ondar's music and
singing, recordings from Feynman and Leighton's drumming and
storytelling days, and some excellent western musicians
including Sam Bush, Randy Scruggs, and Victor Wooten. Some of
these tracks became instant favourites - the ones with the most
propelling beat actually sound vaguely reminiscent of some
Tuvan-Western fusion songs I heard on a cassette tape in a car
on the road to Teeli. Don't forget to look for the hidden

48- Huun-Huur-Tu: Where Young Grass Grows
Shanachie Records CD 66018

15 tracks, 45'05.
No review available yet.
1 Ezir-Kara
2 Anatoly On Horseback
3 Deke-Jo
4 Xöömeyimny Kagbasla Men (I will not abandon my xöömei)
5 Avam Churtu Dugayimny (Dugai, the land of my mother)
6 Dyngyldai
7 Highland Tune
8 Hayang (name of a hunter)
9 Barlyk River
10 Tarlaashkyn
11 Interlude: Sayan playing khomus with water in his mouth
12 Sarala
13 Sagla Khadyn Turula Boor (It's probably windy on Sagly steppe)
14 Ezertep-Le Bereyin Be (Do you want me to saddle you?)
15 Live Recording: Anatoly and Kaigal-ool riding horses in Eleges
while singing sygyt (Anatoly), kargyraa and xöömei (Kaigal-ool)

49- Tuva, Among the Spirits: Sound, Music, and Nature in Sakha and Tuva
Smithsonian Folkways CD SFW 40452

19 tracks, 49'00, featuring numerous performers recorded in Tuva
and Sakha by Ted Levin and Joel Gordon. Excellent music with
excellent scholarly, musicological liner notes. To be reviewed

50- Tarbagan: Tarbagan Rises On The Earth
BooxBox Wolrd Wide Music CD BWM-A801

14 tracks. Japanese release featuring Haruhiko Saga and
Masahiko Todoriki.

11: Are there any video tapes about Tuva?
A: Yes, there are. Many of these are available from Friends of Tuva.

1. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

A NOVA episode about Richard Feynman. It, as well as "Fun to
Imagine" and "Last Journey of a Genius" are about Feynman,
although the set of Tuva-heads and the set of Feynman-fans has a
large intersection. FoT has a scheme through which the first two
tapes may be rented in the USA; the third may be purchased. Last
winter the BBC aired a 2-part special on Feynman (sorry, no Tuva)
that was whittled down to one episode for broadcast in the USA
under the title "The Best Mind Since Einstein". The longer
English version is great.

2. They Who Know: Shamans of Tuva

A Belgian production in English featuring "45-snowy-I" Ondar

3. Tuva TV

Over 7 hours of broadcasts from Tuva TV, all in colour, with a
written guide to describe the action.

4. Tuvans Invade America

Alt.culture.tuva's own Jeff Cook had a large hand in this
informal documentary on the visit of 3 extraordinary Tuvan
performers to California for the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1,
1993. (90 minutes, videotape)

5. Lost Land of Tannu Tuva

Another famous PBS show, narrated by Hal Holbrook.

6. Throat Singing In Tuva

This 30-minute documentary from the Tuvan Ministry of Culture (in
English) features masters past, present, and future. Historical
footage from the 1950s shows Tuvans appearing in Moscow for the
first time; contemporary scenes show Kongar-ool Ondar (pre
shaved-head) and some of his students, including Bady-Dorzhu

7. Tuva - Shamans and Spirits

Tuva is the setting for the reemergence of ancient spiritual
traditions after their near extinction under Soviet communist
repression. From the capital of Kyzyl to isolated nomadic yurtas
in remote alpine mountains, the Tuvan people are rediscovering
their indigenous Shamanic and Buddhist rituals and healing arts.
A group from the West is invited to participate in the first
public forum and display of previously forbidden practices. A
good insight into Tuva's recovering shamanism after years of
Soviet repression as well as an interesting Tuva travelogue.

Produced in conjunction with the 1993 visit of Foundation for
Shamanic Studies members to Tuva, the documentary was completed
in 1994 but was not available to the general public (non-members
of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies) until 1996, which is a
shame; I would recommend this to all those interested in
spiritual life in modern Tuva.

The documentary is great. Filmed in Kyzyl, Todje, Chadaan, and
elsewhere, it is a mini-travelogue of Tuva that showcases various
landscapes of the country. I would highly recommend this for
anyone who wants to see for themselves what Tuva looks like
(albeit on TV).

The video interviews numerous practitioners and shows them at
work, explaining the significance of their dress or actions. The
video is as realistic and life-like as can be expected without
actually being there. The shamans are open and willing to share
their histories and their feelings about their work; a man who is
both a Buddhist monk and a shaman provides a unique insight on
Tuvan attitudes towards health and healing.

55 minutes VHS videotape, completed 1996.
$30US including tax, shipping, and handling within the USA.
Contact: Tom Anderson, PO Box 1119, Point Reyes, CA 94956, USA.
Fax (510) 649-9719, or call (510) 649-1485.

8. Tuva - Two Short Videos

Ben Lange ( has produced two short videos made
during his two visits to Tuva; one is a general video of little
more than 7 minutes about the beauty of Tuva, and the other is
about a winter ceremony by a female shaman (also little over 7

These videos have been shown at the Ethnographic Museum in
Antwerp, Belgium, since October, 1997, and they are available for
purchase from Oibibio, the new-age centre in Amsterdam. The
video is no available directly from the producer:
NGN produkties
O.Ph.(Flip) Nagler
Korsjespoortsteeg 16
1015 AR Amsterdam
tel: +31 (0)20 638 2633
fax: +31 (0)20 638 9199

The video format is PAL (NTSC can be arranged for North
Americans). The price is 40 NLG (Dutch Guilders): 30 for the
video and 10 postal charges. Currently, this would be about
US$20. People can obtain a tape by sending a money order to the
producer in Amsterdam, with the amount given above and with their
name and address. The tape will be mailed after receipt of the
money order. Eurocheques are also accepted.

12: Does anyone still collect the old Tuvan stamps?
A: Yes, there is a group of stamp collectors devoted to the old
diamond-shaped and triangular stamps of Tuva from the 1920's and
1930's. These stamps feature many fanciful images of people,
animals, machinery, and nature (sometimes all on the same stamp!).

You can contact them at the Tannu Touva Collectors Society:


In North America: Ken Simon, 513-6th Ave. S., Lake Worth, FL

In Europe: David Maddock, 49 Dinorben Ave., Fleet, Hants,
GU13 9SQ, UK

In Asia: Wilson Lin, No. 74 Section 1 Anhe Road, Annan
District, Taiwan City, Taiwan, 709 R.O.China

In Pacific: Bruce Grenville, P O Box 876, Auckland, New Zealand

TTCS member Eric Slone has produced The Tuva Files, a Windows and
Mac CD-ROM with philatelic information and other data. The
philatelic contents include high-resolution scans of Tuva's stamps
(early and modern issues), postal cancels, postal stationary,
covers, postcards, a collection of Tuvan philatelic literature
featuring Blekhman's postal history of Tuva (in English) and more.
The many other items of interest to Tuva-philes include Tuvan fonts,
a nearly-complete archive of all posts to alt.culture.tuva, the
contents of a few WWW sites, several maps, and more. Contact the
TTCS ( or Eric Slone ( for
more information.

13: What can you tell me about travel to Tuva?



Some flight information is available online at
This includes data on the fabled and feared Yak-40 jet airliners.

In Moscow in 1995 it was possible to purchase a ticket to Kyzyl
for about $150 US (cheaper than a flight from Moscow to Abakan,
which costs about $250 US). As of February, 1998, the asking
price according to Victor Akiphen is $500 US for the return

The entity that used to be Aeroflot doesn't exist any more, and
several smaller (more regional) airlines are filling in the
holes; some even lease their planes from Aeroflot. The Aeroflot
in Kyzyl is a different company than the one in Moscow, and
that's still a different company from the one in Montreal.

Yak airlines flies once a week to and from Kyzyl, from Moscow.
There are stops both ways in Omsk, lasting about 1.5 hours.
Route 727 flies from Moscow to Kyzyl on Saturdays. Route 728
returns from Kyzyl to Moscow on Sundays. The quoted price is
$148.00 each way (please note: in general, in Russia and the
former Soviet Union, there is no such thing as a ``round trip
rate''. Round trip is simply twice the one-way rate.

The Yak Flight Director, Victor Akiphen(r?), is a nice guy, a
mountain climber, and speaks some English. He can be reached in
Moscow at 151-66-92 or 151-89-86, or by fax at 956-16-13, and
will be happy to provide further info and assistance. By the
way, Yak's planes are OK, and the service is pretty decent by
Russian standards. If you contact Victor, please give him Steve
Sklar's regards.

As of November 1997, there were weekly flights from Moscow to
Kyzyl on Sundays, leaving Vnukovo Airport (take Bus #511 from
Metro Station "Yugo-Zapadnaya"), at 21:45 (9:45pm) on "Yak
Service" flight IB 727, arriving in Kyzyl at 08:15 Monday
mornings. Flights from Kyzyl to Moscow are on Mondays at 12:25
pm ("Yak Service" flight IB 728), arriving in Moscow at 14:45
(2:25pm) Monday afternoons. This is presumably the flight that
previously departed Moscow Saturdays (listed above) and stopped
at Omsk enroute to Kyzyl.

As of April, 1999, Yak Service from Moscow Vnukovo to Kyzyl is
now non-stop. Current cost is supposedly 1500 roubles (cheap
like borscht!). Flights are still Sunday evening to Kyzyl,
Monday morning to Moscow.

Other flights are still available via Abakan.
Khakkasia Airlines fly as follows to Moscow Domodedevo:

Moscow to Abakan Wed, Fri, Sun, dep. 22:55, arr. 07:25 1450 roubles
Abakan to Kyzyl Mon, Wed, Fri, dep. 07:05, arr. 08:00 250 roubles

Kyzyl to Abakan Mon, Wed, Fri, dep. 08:40, arr. 09:30 250 roubles
Abakan to Moscow Wed, Fri, dep. 09:30, arr. 10:20 1450 roubles
Sun, dep. 19:30, arr. 20:25 1450 roubles


In Moscow, use the blue Aeroflot transit busses to go from any
airport to the central Aerovokzal (Airstation) where you can
either change to another bus to another airport, or get on the
Metro (nearest is 'Aerport' station on the 'V. I. Lenin' - pale
green - line). The Aerovokzal is next to the Aeroflot hotel.

Busses to and from Vnukovo cost 12 roubles plus 3 roubles for
luggage, take 70 minutes and leave hourly between 06:10 and

Busses to and from Sheremetevo cost 12 roubles, 3 roubles for
luggage, take 45 minutes and leave every hour between 07:15 and

Busses to and from Domodedevo take 1 hour 40 minutes, cost 18
roubles plus 5 roubles for bags and leave hourly between 06:30
and 22:30.


From Novosibirsk, trains head south to Abakan where there are
frequent buses to Kyzyl. The bus between Abakan and Kyzyl takes
about 7 hours and costs 85 roubles (as of April, 1999). Some
prefer the daytime bus, not the overnight, to arrive in Tuva
overland, and later leaving by air to get the morning bird's eye
view. Be warned, the bus ride looks long and challenging.


Bring lots of new bills. Outside of Moscow and a few other large,
western Russian cities, they don't accept American Express. Or
Visa. Or traveller's checks. Or anything. You must have 1990 or
newer dollars, preferably very new, and they must be unwrinkled,
untorn and unmarked if you don't want difficulties.

Although the exchange rate in Kyzyl is theoretically higher than in
Moscow, exchange your money in Moscow. Kyzyl's banks may have no
roubles to exchange. The exchange rate on the street in Moscow is
better than that in the bank in Kyzyl or via official channels in
Moscow, but be careful.

As of the summer of 1998, there is an ATM in Kyzyl - in one bank
only, for now. It is in a main street backyard establishment (ask
for it, in front of OVIR and Bank of Tuva). It works with Visa


Buy your maps in your home country, or in Moscow. Topographical
maps are hard to come by in Tuva. When you meet people along the
road and in villages, you will be proud to show off with your
1:1 000 000 scale map from the US Defence Mapping Agency.

The Lonely Planet guidebook for Russia is has seven pages on Tuva
(seven among 1200) but they are useful and include a map of Kyzyl.

Some experienced travellers are now leading tours into Tuva. We
can not give first-hand recommendations for anyone, but we will
not list anyone who has not already travelled into Tuva.

Gary Wintz
626 Santa Monica Bl.
Santa Monica CA 90401

Sasha Lebedev
An independent guide who has worked with Catapult Adventures for 6


You don't need to have Kyzyl listed on your visa any more, but it is
advisable and will generate less hassle.

There is a classical process to obtain a visa in order to travel
freely through all Russia. The classical process makes it almost
impossible to travel there independently and without personal
invitation. The Lonely Planet guide for Russia has a section on
visas. This section is very complicated but details the best
(quickest) way to get a visa - this has worked for some
correspondents but be warned that there is some question as to
whether this approach is completely legal.

Patience and flexibility are the greatest of virtues. Practice the
mantra ``we will wait, and we will see''.

14: How can I learn to sing khoomei?
A: It's not easy; the best singers begin their training before they can
walk. However, it's not impossible to learn later.

- Dan Bennett has volunteered his advice, reproduced below.

- Steve Sklar has some online instructions at

- I also recommend an excellent pamphlet, "Khoomei - How To's and
Why's" by Michael Emory, PO Box 648, Westbury, NY, USA, 11590.
Michael's illustrations, while not exactly helpful, are fantastic.
His text is quite useful.

- Teachers are available for seminars or workshops in North America.
Paul Pena and Steve Sklar are both reachable online and are
willing to travel to teach.

The absolute best advice was offered by Ralph Leighton, namely,
listen to masters and imitate.

How to Sing Khoomei (by Dan Bennett,

Khoomei is easiest for men. I *have* heard a recording of a Mongolian
Kazakh women singing khoomei, but it's simply not so easy or
spectacular, because of the higher pitch of the female voice.
(Sainkho Namchylak can sing khoomei too.)

1. Sing a steady note while saying "aah" (to start with). Pitch it in
the middle of your range, where you can give it plenty of energy,
i.e. - Sing it loudly.

2. Aim to make the sound as bright - not to say *brash* - as you can.
The more energy there is in the harmonics, the louder and clearer
they'll be when you start singing khoomei. Practise this for a

3. OK, with this as a basis for the sound generation, you've got to
arrange your mouth to become a highly resonant acoustic filter. My
style (self-taught, but verified for me by a professional
Mongolian khoomei singer I had a lesson with in Ulaanbaatar) is as

Divide the mouth into two similar-sized compartments by raising
your tongue so that it meets the roof of your mouth, a bit like
you're saying "L". Spread your tongue a bit so that it makes a
seal all the way round. At this point, you won't be able to pass
air through your mouth. Then (my technique), break the seal on the
left (or right) side of the mouth, simply to provide a route for
the air to get through.

Then (here's the most difficult bit to describe over the net - or
even in person, for that matter!), push your lips forward a bit,
and by carefully (and intuitively) adjusting the position of your
lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw, etc, you can sing Mongolian khoomei!

Put it this way: the *aim* of the khoomei singer ("khoomigch") is
to emphasize ONE of the harmonics which are already present in the
sound generated by the throat. This is achieved because he is
forming a resonant cavity, which (a) is tuned to the chosen
harmonic (overtone), and (b) has a high resonance, or "Q" factor.
By adjusting the geometry and tension of your mouth you can choose
which harmonic you're emphasizing, and thus sing a tune.

15: How did the "Tannu" get into "Tannu Tuva"?
A: Several Mongolians and the band Ozum were asked about the word
"Tannu"; they did not know the word or its source. Mongolians and
Tuvans both answered "it may not be Tannu, it must be Tangdy".
They opined that it must be a Tuvan term; it is certainly not
Mongolian. Their guess is that Tangdy is the word printed on some
maps as "Tannu-Ola" (in Tuvan dictionaries this appears as "Tangdy
cyny" or "Tangdy-Uula"). As you may know, tangdy (ta"ng"dy) means
"high mountain" or "taiga surrounded by high mountain" in Tuvan.

Here is some supporting information, mainly from a book by S. A.
Shoizhelov (Natsov), Tuvinskaya Narodnaya Respublika, Moscow 1930.
(Written in Oct. 1929).

Tuva was indeed called "Tang-nu Wulianghai". The Czarist Russians
called Tuva "Uryanhai". P. 29-30 of the above mentioned book
talks about a "Russo-Uryanhai regional meeting", in which, of
course, a resolution was passed. This meeting was after, and
supposedly in response to, the February Revolution. (Note: Which
year was that? 1915?) The meeting was held in Byelotsarsk, and
was convened by the Immigrants' Administration (Pereselencheskogo

Article One of this resolution refers to "Tannu-Uryanh[a]i",
obviously a corruption or Russianization of "Tang-nu Wulianghai".

Once the Russians decided to call the Tuvans "Tuvans" and not
"Uryanhais", then it was a natural step for them to quit calling
the place "Tannu-Uryanhai" and call it "Tannu-Tuva" instead.

In his discussion of the first meeting of the Party in Tuva, Natsov
refers to the "Tannu-Tuva", but then afterwards it is always simply
"Tuva". At the founding of the nominally independent state, it was
called the Tannu-Tuvan People's Republic, but that soon afterward,
in just a few years, the "Tannu" was dropped.

As we all know, the first Tuvan postage stamps, issued in 1926,
have "Ta Ty" for Tangdy Tyva on them. The next issue, from 1927,
has just "Tyva".

[Heroic answers provided by Masahiko Todoriki and Alan Leighton.]

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