The Throat Singing Renaissance


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Video by Ross Karre


Hans-Henrik Suersaq Poulsen and Tiffany Ayalik during the 2014 DISKOTEK SESSSIONS in Oqaatsut.

Throat singing has traditionally been done by two women, while the men were out hunting. The sounds they make are interpretations of nature; rivers, northern lights, dogs, mosquitos, seagulls, wind etc. as well as songs to soothe babies  carried on their backs. Inuit throat singing or katajjaq is a form of musical performance uniquely found among the Inuit. Today there is a growing interest in it among the youth. Throat singing was banned by christian missionaries between 1930s till 1960s, as they saw it as a demonic and sexual act. But in the beginning of the 70s, an Anglican Church leader named Isa Koperqualuk, made four women  throat sing the songs they had known since their early childhood in the church and recorded them. This is believed to be the main reason why it was possible to initiate a katajjaqs (thorat singing) revival.

Throat singing or Katatjaq is an Inuit musical tradition from Northern Canada specifically from Nunavik and south Baffin regions. Aisa Kopequaluk and the women helped revive throat singing are from Puvirnituq, Nunavik in Canada.

Text: Hans-Henrik Suersaq Poulsen