Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Canadian Music Heritage Collection (1980)

"This recording presents the katadjait or throat songs, of the women of Povungituk, a village on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Katadjait are duets performed by women who stand close together to produce guttural vocal sounds through voice manipulation and breathing techniques. In some communities katadjait have texts with intelligible meanings; elsewhere 'meaningless' syllables are used. The women perform standing face to face"

Eskimo women's music is wonderful for so many different reasons. The arctic is a place of such stark contrast, and this music is the most basic and instinctual that I know of. It is some of the most casual music that I have ever heard, and it is also so evidently female in nature. The "songs" are sung by two women, breathing and chanting into each other's faces, until one of them cracks up. Each track on this record ends with giggling and laughing. It's obviously done as a form of play, and a way to keep warm!

It's the most evident, and extreme example of playful feminine music that I know of. Much of the world's music seems to descend from a seemingly patriarchal tradition. I don't necessarily mean controlled or performed by men, but containing traditionally male attributes - the construction of complicated machines or systems of producing incredibly specific sounds - the idea of practice & perfection of the minutia of creating these sounds, and critical examination of musical performance.

I'm not saying that I don't like these things! I just find these sounds so refreshing and exciting because of their beautiful sense of playfulness!

I was introduced to this record in a world music class that I took while on a semester exchange at Otis/Parsons in 1991. The instructor made cassettes of her record collection which we checked out of the library. I made my own mixtapes from these cassettes, which I still listen to from time to time. I was introduced to so much amazing stuff in that class! I was so happy to come across this record a number of years later at a store in Texas while on tour.

1 comment:

  1. Haven't this in over 12 years and it's still one of my favorite records.