Saruwatari Ayumi (junglemonkee) wrote,
Saruwatari Ayumi

If It's Not a Workday, Is It Still Vacation?

I woke up Friday morning with a blinding headache, like I'd slept with my head at right angles to my body and stuff cat fur up my nostrils. I took miracle drugs, but no miracle was forthcoming. pirateguillermo ended up driving me to work, and then coming and picking me up for lunch. We'd had a tiff before work, and having lunch together was the perfect antidote. I dropped him at his office and on the way back to my office I heard an advert for a concert of Tuvan throat singing and didjeridu music being given at Cayuga Vault in Santa Cruz - Friday night. The group was called Karashay and is made up of Stephen Kent, a didjeridu player, and Chirgilchin, the current champion throat singers of Tuva.

Tuvan throat singing can't really be described in words. The singers make several different noises, from a very low, growly, froggy sound to a high whistle, issue from their throats simultaneously. I've seen it in documentaries, and now I've seen it in person and I still don't understand how it's done, but it's amazing.

The low, froggy singing is called kargyraa and sounds most like didjeridu music, but the combination was amazing. The audience looked like a cross section of Santa Cruz public radio listeners and for the most part were quiet and well-behaved.

The sole exception was a man I had noticed when we first came in. He looked like Dumbledore wearing cargo pants and a thermal shirt. He wore little square granny glasses and a beatific smile on his face. He floated through the place smiling and nodding at people without seeming to actually see them. At the end of each song, rather than clapping in the usual fashion, this man would raise his hands above his head and paw at the air like kittens paw at their mothers while nursing, and then wave his hands back and forth rapidly. At the intermission, everyone got out of their seats and walked around the tiny space, getting drinks, stretching their legs, etc. This man walked to the back wall and began slowly waving his arms in vaguely t'ai-chi sorts of gestures, ending with one arm held over his head and the other stretched out in front of him. His eyes were closed and he had a pleasant smile on his face, and he stayed in that position for some minutes - long enough for several people to walk by him, nodding their heads to each other and commenting on him as thought he were a piece of art.

In the middle of the second set, as everyone else was applauding, the man's air-pawing and waving led to him actually standing up. In a venue whose standing-room-only audience couldn't have been much more than one hundred people, it stopped the show cold. Once standing, he began to speak in a way that reminded me of the part of Kind Hearts and Coronets where Louis Mazzini, disguised as the Bishop of Matabililand, speaks Matabili for a befuddled Parson Dascoygne. The sounds were gutteral and repetitive, but could very well have been some language I don't know.

The musicians on the stage were quiet for as long as the man was speaking, and the people in the audience seemed to be holding their breath. Everyone seemed to be thinking "somebody do something," but the man wasn't agitated or rude. He was just...speaking. For all I know, he was speaking to the Tuvan singers in their native language, because when we was finished they all smiled broadly and nodded to him as though they had received something from his communication. Then they launched into their next number without further ado.

The best part of all of it is that it has inspired pirateguillermo to dust off his didj and play it again, and to put some beeswax on mine so he can teach the Baby Goddess, who's dying to learn.

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