Alash Ensemble

Apr 6, 2018

The Tuvan way of making music is based on appreciation of complex sounds with multiple layers. Whereas the western cellist aims to produce a focused, pure tone, the Tuvan igil playe enjoys breaking the tone into a spray of sounds and textures.

Absolute pitch is less important than richness of texture. Multiple sonorities are heard together as an inseparable whole. This idea may be illustrated by an anecdote about a respected Tuvan musician who was demonstrating the igil, a bowed instrument with two strings tuned a fifth apart. When asked to play each string separately, he refused, saying it wouldn’t make any sense. The only meaningful sound was the combination of the two pitches played together.