This doesn’t sound familiar

As I’ve said before, my involvement with WordFest has already introduced me to a variety of new books, new authors, and new ideas; no doubt my main reason for said involvement.  Why three weeks ago I wasn’t even familiar with Franklin, the backpack-wearing turtle, but fast forward to today, and I’m pretty sure I’ve now heard of, and am well versed in, everything.  Take for example…Inuit throat singing? Okay, maybe not everything.

Last week, I mentioned Tanya Tagaq, Inuit throat singer and featured artist at WordFest 2011.  Now, to be honest, when I first heard about this act, I didn’t really know anything about throat singing.  I figured it was singing, and I figured it used one’s throat, but then doesn’t all singing?  Not one to be content in my ignorance, I did a little research about this musical sensation.

Inuit throat singing produces sounds and melodies, through inhalation and exhalation, forcing sounds up from the diaphragm.  Of course this still might sound a little like normal singing, but throat singing doesn’t use the mouth to produce different sounds; or so is my understanding.

While throat singing is done in different places around the world, the tradition of Inuit throat singing is unique, in that it is usually only performed by women, and usually in duets.  Two women stand, facing each other and holding each other’s arms.  The two then go back and forth, almost like a game of Simon, matching sounds and creating a unique and almost hypnotic song.  What started as a form of entertainment for Inuit women has turned into a world-renowned art.

WordFest is fortunate to have one of the genre’s biggest stars, Tanya Tagaq, taking part in ‘Word of Mouth’ on Thursday, October 13th at the Vertigo Theatre.  Tanya was born in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and has been described as “the Jimi Hendrix of Inuit Throat Singing.”  Her unique, solo styling has been featured on Bjork’s 2004 album Medulla and she has performed all over the world, introducing millions to her innovative and groundbreaking music.

As for me, my education through WordFest continues!


What: Word of Mouth
               Featuring: Tanya Davis, Kaie Kellough, Tanya Tagaq, and Richard Wagamese 

Where: Vertigo Theatre Center, Playhouse

When: Thursday, October 13. 09:30PM-11:00PM 

– Bryan
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Filed under 2011 Festival Blog, Behind the Scenes

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