Inuit Throat-Singing: A Gutteral Game Gets a Cultural Resurgence
“It’s a friendly competition between girls, something they would do while the men were out hunting,” said Kathy in at interview at the conference. Karin added: ”It’s part of Inuit culture. It’s an oral tradition, it’s something that can’t be written down, it has to be learned from someone else,.”
A “game” of throat-singing begins with two women facing each other, standing close and sometimes holding each other’s arms. One begins to sing, while the other follows. The game can last up to a few minutes, and ends when one loses her breath, laughs, or breaks concentration in any way. Some sources, such as Pulaarvik Kablu Friendership Centre, cite that it was once practiced with their lips practically touching, the women using their opponent’s mouth cavity as a sound resonator.
For more of the rich cultural history of Canada’s Inuit throat-singing, keep reading on Atlas Obscura…