Sed's Khoomei page

Learn Sygyt

Sygyt is another Khoomei technique. Here are some audio samples of my attempts with sygyt, followed by texts I found on the internet, with which I learned sygyt. To listen to good sygyt, go to the links. You will find very nice sygyt samples on other websites (especially on

My sygyt over time

At the beginning, the overtone is weak. My voice is poor in harmonics and not strong. In fact, it is just my "normal" voice, it is not the khoomei voice. If you plan to do sygyt, you need a voice with much more harmonics than your normal voice. This is the khoomei voice, which requires constriction in the throat and in the abdomen. The air will come out with more pressure, and the voice will be richer in harmonics, so that when you filter some of them to emphasize a specific one (this is the goal of sygyt), you still have a loud sound coming out of your mouth.

One month later, we can hear improvements, both in strength of harmonics and voice quality. But I think that at this point I put too much pressure on my voice. It is difficult to find the right pressure level required to have a strong sygyt. If you put too much pressure, the audience will notice it. Your voice will sound forced and not natural. The point is to put as few pressure as possible to have a strong and loud sygyt.

The third example was done three months later. Some improvements in steadiness of the tone can be noticed. The overtone is a bit more present.

The last sygyt example is what I could achieve seven months after my first attempts at sygyt. Some improvements remain to be done, both in steadiness and quality. It still sounds a bit forced sometimes.

To conclude, I propose a little khoomei example (sorry for the bad quality of the recording), done 2,5 years after beginning this journey in the khoomei world. The harmonics are not filtered with the sygyt technique (the tongue touching the palate), but only with the khoomei one (you control the shape of the mouth, the position of the tongue, of the lips, of the throat; but the tip of the tongue remains more or less to its resting position, it never touches the palate). You hear in this example the importance of the khoomei voice. Using a khoomei technique to filter harmonics on a normal voice (ie. not a khoomei voice) won't give good results.

A first text

This text comes from here.


Relax the muscles of your
jaw and lips. Keep your mouth open with about one centimeter between
your upper and lower teeth.
(Dan Bennett adds: you may need to stiffen
the muscles in your lips and tongue later on when you're working on
the quality and pitch of the resonance.)


Place the tip of your
tongue against the roof of your mouth, as if pronouncing the letter
"L". Slide the point of contact slightly away from the roots of your
top teeth. Press the tip of your tongue quite firmly against the roof
of your mouth.
In Japanese, we don't use the "L"-sound at all. (The
closest sound we have is like ["L" + "R"]/2. That's why we can't tell "L"
and "R" apart.) If you have "L" in your native language, at least
this part of the instructions is well understood!.


The characteristic
sound of throat-singing actually comes from strong harmonic resonance
in the mouth, which is achieved by establishing a resonant chamber.
This resonator is made up of the roof of your mouth and your tongue.
Keep the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth as described
in the previous step. Then drop the main body of your tongue to increase
the volume above it. The sides of your tongue should touch your side
teeth (molars), forming a seal. Make the capsule round and airtight
so that you can't breath through your mouth.


Make a small vent-hole
between one (or both) side(s) of the root of your tongue and the roof
of your mouth (or your side- teeth). In other words, a small portion
of the contact zone between the tongue and the roof of the mouth (or
side-teeth) is now opened. The air goes through the vent and passes
by some of your grinding teeth. If you hold your nose now, you'll
be able to breathe through this vent only.
Keep this vent hole as
small as possible. If you breathe now, you will hear a sound like
"hu" of the English word "human", with "pink noise" instead of your voice.
Your oral cavity has just become an "instrument" for throat-singing.


The melody part of throat-singing is produced by changing the
volume of the resonant chamber. To do this, move the central part
of your tongue up and down without detaching the side parts of your
tongue from the roof of the mouth (or side-teeth), except of course
for the vent hole you made in the previous step. Don't collapse the
chamber completely: you just make it flatter or rounder.
Try to change
the volume as mentioned above while making the "hu"- noise (pink noise)
constantly. You will hear the pitch of
the noise changing.
(Dan Bennett
adds: the volume of air in front of the tongue is also involved in
resonance. This means that some styles of throat-singing rely on the
position of the lips for adjusting the pitch of the melody.)



While maintaining
the shape of the mouth as described in the previous steps, try to
vocalize the sound "oooo" (the vowel in "cool"). If all's well, you'll
hear a flute-like sound. The waveform of this sound is close to a
sine curve which is produced at the resonant frequency of the chamber
in your mouth. A voice consists of many kinds of pure sine-wave at
different, but related frequencies. These are the harmonics of your
voice. The aim of throat-singing is to emphasize chosen harmonics
by tuning the resonance in your mouth. In this case, the sound should
have a tone more than one octave higher than your "oooo".
You must
be very careful not to miss the flute-like sound you made beyond the
"oooo" voice. On your first attempt, the flute-
like sound will be
heard very weakly. Most people actually succeed in making this sound
on their first attempt, but cannot discern if it appears or not!
Try to change the volume of the resonant chamber and the shape of your
lips very carefuly to seek the proper resonance point. You will find
several resonances at different musical pitches. You can play music
using these sound.

There are some helpful hints in the next step.


If you couldn't make the flute-like
sound, there are two possible causes. They are very important because
they are directly connected with the way to improve your throat-singing.
Firstly, your mouth chamber may not have a proper shape or volume
for resonance. Change them carefully according to the instructions
in STEP 5. Slow and careful changing of the chamber will help you
to find the resonance. Try to change the shape of the front of your
mouth too.
Secondly, it's quite possible that your vocal "oooo" doesn't
contain sufficiently strong harmonics that can resonate in your mouth.
(Is your "oooo" very soft and calm?) Beginners sometimes give up before
getting the hang of this.
The sound wave which resonates in your mouth
has quite a high frequency. Thus all you have to do is vocalize an
"oooo"-sound which contains sufficient high-frequency sound energy.
I don't mean that you vocalize "oooo" one octave higher! I mean that
you should vocalize with as bright a throat-sound as possible. (If
Louis Armstrong had tried throat-singing, he'd have been successful!)
To get the proper "oooo" sound, imagine the following situation: when
you're practising throat-singing, some one comes up to you angrily
shouting "Be quiet, man!" and strangles you. Naturally, you keep practising.
This would result in a strong, bright tone from your throat. You got
it! You are "oooo"-ing with an ideal voice sound.
Once you've got
this voice with rich high-frequency components, the volume of the
"oooo" itself may be reduced. This helps the flute-like sound to be
heard more clearly. In this case, the voice which is kept while throat-singing
sounds like a drawn-out "we" in English, or "oui" in French, which
is written in Japanse as the letters shown in the background of our

A second text

I don't remember where I found this text.

How to Sing Khoomei (by Dan Bennett, )

Khoomei is easiest for men. I *have* heard a recording of a Mongolian
Kazakh women singing khoomei, but it's simply not so easy or spectacular,
because of the higher pitch of the female voice. (Sainkho Namchylak can
sing khoomei too.)

1. Sing a steady note while saying "aah" (to start with). Pitch it in the
middle of your range, where you can give it plenty of energy, i.e. - Sing
it loudly.

2. Aim to make the sound as bright - not to say *brash* - as you can. The
more energy there is in the harmonics, the louder and clearer they'll be
when you start singing khoomei. Practise this for a while.

3. OK, with this as a basis for the sound generation, you've got to arrange
your mouth to become a highly resonant acoustic filter. My style
(self-taught, but verified for me by a professional Mongolian khoomei
singer I had a lesson with in Ulaanbaatar) is as follows:

Divide the mouth into two similar-sized compartments by raising your tongue
so that it meets the roof of your mouth, a bit like you're saying "L".
Spread your tongue a bit so that it makes a seal all the way round. At this
point, you won't be able to pass air through your mouth. Then (my
technique), break the seal on the left (or right) side of the mouth, simply
to provide a route for the air to get through.

Then (here's the most difficult bit to describe over the net - or even in
person, for that matter!), push your lips forward a bit, and by carefully
(and intuitively) adjusting the position of your lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw,
etc, you can sing Mongolian khoomei!

Put it this way: the *aim* of the khoomei singer ("khoomigch") is to
emphasize ONE of the harmonics which are already present in the sound
generated by the throat. This is achieved because he is forming a resonant
cavity, which (a) is tuned to the chosen harmonic (overtone), and (b) has a
high resonance, or "Q" factor. By adjusting the geometry and tension of
your mouth you can choose which harmonic you're emphasizing, and thus sing
a tune.

Some khoomei techniques may damage your voice when badly practiced, which may especially be the case when you start. Don't pratice too much or too loud. If you have a sore throat after practicing khoomei, I highly urge you to consult a physician.

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Creation time: around february 2003.
Last update: Wed, 08 Jun 2005 11:20:46 +0200
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