G.Bukhu blew the coaches and audience away with his incredible performance, but it was the 35-year-old’s throat singing ability that really stunned them. But just what is Mongolian throat singing and how do you do it?
Turns out it isn’t easy, as G.Bukhu explained. “Mongolian throat singing is really hard to learn,” he said, adding he has been learning for 20 years. “You have to learn with a proper teacher, otherwise you [could] damage your vocal chords. It’s really, really hard work to learn throat singing.”
“I’m singing two notes at the same time,” he confirmed. “It’s like a magical thing happening. You create from your throat — you can sing two notes at the same time from your mouth but you’re actually mimicking bird sounds and river sounds and mountain, forest and winds. [It’s] all from nature.”
Mongolians are one of the last nomadic cultures around the world and it makes sense that nature would be such a huge inspiration for the music G.Bukhu creates. It is believed that some nomadic people even use throat singing to communicate with both the natural and supernatural worlds.
The technique requires activating and manipulating different muscles in the mouth, chest and throat in a variety of combinations in order to activate the chambers of the vocal tract with airflow from the stomach and chest. “It’s all your muscles,” confirmed G.Bukhu.
“There are a couple of rules,” Bukhu explained. “Firstly, you have to adjust your throat — up, middle and bottom.” He clarified that to sing higher notes, you tighten the throat and for lower notes, you loosen it. This typically produces a low, guttural tone as a base, and a higher harmonising sound.
“You have to control two notes at the same time,” G.Bukhu said. There are several different specific sounds that can be produced, and all require precise movements of the lips, tongue and jaw.
As G.Bukhu says, this style of singing necessitates a great deal of muscle training and practice to build up to being able to do it. But, Bukhu added with enough training and practice: “Everyone can do [it]. Everyone has exactly the same throat!”
The end result is powerful and captivating. The coaches were stunned as they listened to G.Bukhu perform. “It was like a heavenly experience,” Boy George enthused. “I could literally spend the whole day meditating, listening to what you just did… It was so beautiful. That was just incredible to watch.”
Guy Sebastian, who secured Bukhu on his team, was left with his mind whirling about collaboration possibilities. “I am so inspired,” he admitted. “It opens up so many creative opportunities… He’s the real deal.
“We’ve got an elite musician who can do something no one else here can do.”