My cell phone's tiny crappy camera works!
Last night Arjan and I had dessert (Toffee Bar for me, Chocolate Pie for her) and a drink (coffee for me, red wine for her) at the ABC Cafe. We finished up our dessert just a few minutes before Alash performed.
Alash is a throat singing band from Tuva, a republic in the southern reaches of Russian Siberia. It had been mongolian or russian or both. There's a bit of a history on Wikipedia. Throat singing is a method of singing where the singer controls the air from the lungs to the mouth and lips using the throat like an instrument - mostly sounding like a flute. At the same time the singer is singing or humming through the throat . There's a Wikipedia article on overtone singing which is the same thing.
There's a lot of magical harmony and the four performers worked well together making it sound as though there were 8 or 12 people performing.
My friend Steve from Small World Music (and Ithaca Blog) described Tuva as a place where the people are mostly cowboys. These cowboys raise and oversee horses and yaks. When they bed down at camp for the night they sing. They've done this for generations and it is a style learned from a young age. Steve mentioned a movie called "Genghis Blues" about an aging blues singer from San Francisco who stumbles onto Tuvan music and goes to Tuva to learn and sing, "The Story of a Blind Blues Musician's Journey To The Lost Land of Tuva".
I'm sure the Tuvans don't think they are lost. It was amazing to see them sing and to think that they came from so very far away and from a time that was all but forgotten. If noone would have visited Tuva their tradition would have stayed hidden forever perhaps. We are lucky here in Tompkins County to be able to have such visitors in our towns.