INCREDIBLE VOCAL & JEW’S HARP WOMAN TRIO FROM YAKUTIA / SIBERIA
Albina Degtyareva – voice, khomus
Yuliana Krivoshapkina – voice, khomus
Olga Podluzhnaya – voice, khomus
Ayarkhaan is a long-established female vocal group from Sakha established in 2002 by khomus music player Albina Degtyareva.
The level of musicianship of the trio is extremely high. For years, Ayarkhaan have been leaders 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 to create an atmosphere of timeless encounter between Man and the Universe.
Despite the Russian-sounding names, all three are Asiatic in appearance and this speaks for 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 comprise unique decorating “counterpoint” to the sounding by the main thing melodious line. Musicians can depict with the aid of the voice and khomus jumps horses, noise wind, cries 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. However, the khomus is different 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 get sounds out of it ranging over about 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 possess 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.