Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
Shodekeh & Ian Hesford
Tuvan throat singing
Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program Team
photo credit: RaRah Photo
One of the world’s oldest and most striking vocal traditions is xöömei (throat singing), from the Republic of Tuva, nestled on the northern border of Mongolia in central Asia. Throat singing is an ancient style of overtone singing in which a single vocalist produces multiple pitches simultaneously, skillfully shaping a melody from harmonic tones arrayed over a continuous low drone. The sound instantly embeds itself in the mind of its listeners. Deep, droning, and at times hypnotic, it is an utterly unforgettable vocal art that resembles nothing in Western vocal music.
Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero is a Baltimore-based beatboxer and vocal percussionist widely respected for exploring new musical collaborations. He has trained for six years with Alash, an internationally renowned trio of young, innovative Tuvan throat singers. Shodekeh’s efforts have been recognized in Tuva, where he was invited as a guest of the Ministry of Culture. For the past year, Shodekeh has shared the techniques and musical texts that he has learned from Alash with Ian Hesford, a Baltimore musician hoping to apply these lessons with his band Telesma.
For Shodekeh, as a vocal artist, expanding his repertoire to include throat singing is a natural progression in his efforts to expand the boundaries of the human voice. “I’m just following my passion,” he says. “The more I trust the journey, the more I find myself closer to a passionate mission.”
Shodekeh and Ian will demonstrate Tuvan throat singing at the National Folk Festival with special guest Bady-Dorzhu Ondar of Alash.