"Tagaq's concerts serve as acts of resistance"
September 9, 2020 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Inuit throat singing is different from other throat singing performances you may have heard. It's primarily performed by women, often in pairs, closely facing each other, usually without musical accompaniment. It can frequently be seen on the Inuktitut language children's program Anaana's Tent where Celina Kalluk comes to sing with the show's host Riit. Other examples can be found on the Ubuweb site (though it's really not the same without the visuals).

For people who are more used to Mongolian or Tuvan style throat singing, you may enjoy this video which combines them. Here's a solo performance by Tanya Tagaq (more on Tanya from 60 Minutes). [prev]
posted by jessamyn (15 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Very cool videos of an amazing tradition. I was not aware that this was an Inuit tradition. Throat singing is fascinating and I think very hard to capture the experience on video. When witnessed in person it is incredibly compelling and now I'm wondering where I could witness this.
posted by meinvt at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2020

I was lucky enough to see Tanya Tagaq perform live at an outdoor concert and it was so powerful—made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What a great post! Thank you jessamyn.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is something I hope I am able to hear in person some day.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2020

Oh man, throat singing is awesome and Tanya Tagaq is awesome. I like her music even more the darker it gets. I feel this note from Robert Christgau's review of the 2019 EP Toothsayer: "This is music that mourns the end of the world. She wants it to disturb us, and it should."
posted by Mothlight at 8:04 PM on September 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don’t remember the name(s) of the group/performers, but I have attended a live performance of this style of throat singing and can confirm that it is absolutely amazing.

Should you ever find the opportunity to go, go!
posted by AxelT at 8:27 PM on September 9, 2020

At the swearing-in ceremony for Justin Trudeau back in 2015, two 11 year old girls performed, and later appeared on CBC Radio. Their giggles in between songs give me life.
posted by lookoutbelow at 8:33 PM on September 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Tanya Tagaq is a national treasure.

I saw her a few years ago at the Calgary Folk Festival on the second stage (John K Samson on the main stage at the same time apparently told his crowd to leave and go check her out instead). It was one of the most singular musical experiences I've ever had; she's so small and unassuming until she starts tearing out a song and then she feels like a literal force of nature; it was a lovely afternoon but halfway through her set I honestly looked up expecting to see a thunderstorm rolling in.

In a more mainstream musical style, Iqaluit's The Jerry Cans have a few good tracks featuring throat singing. This performance is from the 2018 Junos (Canadian equivalent of Grammys); they were asked who they wanted to collaborate with or what they wanted to do on stage, and they decided to spend their budget on bringing more artists from the North down to Vancouver to play together.
posted by Superilla at 9:43 PM on September 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Their giggles in between songs give me life.

I've seen a bunch of Inuit throat singing (not Tagaq, sadly) and I have heard that when they perform in pairs like that they make it a game to see who can make the other laugh first.
posted by aclevername at 4:28 AM on September 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the making your opponent laugh is the important part.
posted by scruss at 6:30 AM on September 10, 2020

She also did a great one-hour show at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage last year.
posted by amk at 8:52 AM on September 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Please note this is a post made as part of MeFi's Fundraising Month. Read more about this project here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:46 AM on September 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Inuit throat singing is SO COOL. I got made aware of its existence through the Norwegian pop group Keiino, who enlisted Charlotte Qamaniq to do some throat singing on a track of their debut album.

Charlotte herself is part of an music group that blends Inuit throat singing with dance beats. They’re called Silla and Rise, and my favorite track of theirs is Qallupilluk - it’s about a murderous Inuit mermaid. Very very good stuff.
posted by angeline at 11:51 AM on September 10, 2020

Wonderful. Tanya Tagaq also wrote the fantastic ‘Split Tooth’, very worth reading (CW: sexual assault/abuse). So talented.
posted by soy bean at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2020

I was lucky enough to see Tanya Tagaq perform live at an outdoor concert and it was so powerful—made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Same here!

Saw Tagaq with Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory in a performance that fused her throat singing with Uaajeerneq.

It was one of those performances where you emerge squinting in the light going "I'm not exactly clear on what's in my head right now, but I know what I just saw and heard was incredible."

Check out Retribution

Hah. And in an odd coincidence, I think the last time I saw jessamyn was at a meetup right after seeing this show. I think I might have described it as "Just. Wow." or something equally insightful.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:43 PM on September 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don't understand how these women can do this for more than a minute and more than once without going completely hoarse! It is such an incredible vocal style.

And thanks for the very very excellent fundraising post jessamyn! I learned a ton just from these few videos.
posted by GuyZero at 5:37 PM on September 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

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