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Spellbinding' throat singers coming to NAC

ELLENBURG DEPOT - The culture and music of Tuva will be brought to Northern Adirondack Central School next week.

Tuva, situated at the southern edge of Siberia, is home to Alash, a throat-singing quartet that combines traditional Tuvan music with modern influences.

Throat-singing, known as "x mei" in Tuvan, is the ability to vocally produce more than one sound at a time.

"They try to achieve more of those overtones that the human voice naturally produces," said Brian Baker, a music teacher at NAC elementary school. "So, when you listen to it, you actually hear two sounds at the same time."

Alash also brings traditional Tuvan instruments into their concerts.

"They have drums and they have several styles of string instruments," Baker said. "They're very different than anything you've ever seen. They're all handmade, exquisitely carved."

Baker, who first heard Alash in Burlington, Vt., last year, made contact with the band and will be bringing them to the area Feb. 23-25.

"I was amazed just at what I was watching and listening to," Baker said of the concert. "It's so different. I wanted to share that with the community where I teach." "I just couldn't believe the level of quiet in the auditorium," he added. "It was just this [magical] effect they had on the audience."

As a music teacher, Baker knew Alash would fit will with the New York State curriculum on world music. He has been doing research on the Tuvan culture to help them better understand the history behind throat-singing.

"It's really connected to nature," he explained. "They try to emulate the sound from nature. Like the bubbling streams or the clouds rolling by."

"It's their way of communicating with nature," Baker added.

During Alash's stay, they will be hosting workshops with the students during Baker's music classes.

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