Monday, October 16, 2006

Arthur Miles--Throat Singer Extrordinaire

I first experienced Tibetan throat singing at a demonstration in college, and was amazed at its hypnotic, spiritual nature. A few years later, I was exposed to a very different type of throat singing from Tuva by a fine documentary called Genghis Blues, about blues singer Paul Pena who learned the style and performed in Tuva in front of the native singers. Throat singing, no matter the style differences or nationalities it comes from, is simply a vocal technique which, using different parts of the throat, allow a singer to perform more than one note at a time, sometimes as many as six distinct notes at once. I had never thought about it as anything but a foreign, traditional technique.

Saturday I was told about Arthur Miles, a Texas cowboy singer who had, apparantly, developed his own style independently of any influence. Beyond two tracks recorded in 1928, I have been able to find essentially no information on this singer, but the sound is haunting. From chilling words to a fine yodel line to the wavering, windy throat sounds, I've never heard anything quite like it. Listen to these two mp3 tracks: Lonely Cowboy 1 and Lonely Cowboy 2 and read the site they are linked from which gives more information on throat singing in general. Wow...that's all I can