Ayarkhaan is a female vocal group from Sakha (Yakutia), established in 2002 by khomus music player Albina Degtyareva. For years, Ayarkhaan has been a leader in the revival and preservation of the traditional music of Yakutia. The music draws on the powers of nature and the ancient traditions and wisdom of the Yakut people.
Albina Degtyareva,Yuliana Krivoshapkina, and Olga Podluzhnaya, despite their Russian-sounding names, are Asiatic in appearance and this speaks to the great diversity of people among the Sakha. Ayarkhaan has likewise mastered the glottal ensemble singing style one might associate with Russian or Bulgarian female choruses. They sing in the style "d'ieretii," characteristic head-voiced overtones, which results in a unique decorating "counterpoint" to the main thing melody lines. Using voice and khomus these artists can imitate horses, wind, cries of seagulls and many others natural sounds.
Ayarkhaan is a group of specialists in the art of the playing the khomus, a metal instrument that fits in the mouth and functions like a Jew's harp; it is regarded as the national instrument of the Sakha. The khomus differs from the Jew’s harp in several respects. While a conventional Jew's harp is quiet, limited in range and in the amount of control even a good player can muster over the pitch, the khomus is loud, strikingly expansive in range and Ayarkhaan can produce sounds over three octaves. The group is also able to harmonize it in a sense that's chorally conceived yet almost electronic sounding in effect.
Ayarkhaan's performances on the khomus, an instrument that was said to have been made by gods and possessed a magical voice, are inspired by a tradition that has been handed down for centuries but also reflects modern musical thinking. Throughout the Russian Federation scholars, critics and concert-goers alike have hailed Ayarkhaan as the vanguard sound of the Yakut khomus, an instrument whose tonal versatility and acoustic resonance is at once capable of evoking the sound of a cello, a saxophone or an electric guitar, while occupying a sonic space that is ancient, transcendent and utterly unique.
Albina Degtyareva - voice, khomus
Yuliana Krivoshapkina - voice, khomus
Olga Podluzhnaya - voice, khomus
Source: World Music Central
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