Mongolian overtone singing (höömii) and Mongolian wrestling songs (tsols) are vocal styles that evoke physical and mental strength in the vocalist through the accessing of nature. The phrase “höömii-tsol-thinking computer” conveys my end-goal while composing, performing, and researching for my original composition strong.mng. I wanted to create a work in which the computer would be informed by the performance methods and philosophies employed during Mongolian höömii and tsols.
Strong.mng is a 25-minute production for dancer, live digital illustrator, and overtone singer with a laptop computer serving as both a fixed and interactive responsive musical instrument. The music draws upon themes from höömii and tsols through the lens of virtual fieldwork, which was the research method I used to inform strong.mng. Through the composing and performing of strong.mng, I arrived at the following three-part hypothesis: firstly, the development of a robust symbiotic relationship between höömii, tsols, and today’s electronic music technology may transform the technological devices used into agents of deep ecology and bodily interconnectedness. Secondly, this transformation may metamorphose the performer into a more courageous being who is strengthened both physically and mentally by the Mongolian belief that, when performing höömii and tsols, the musician is drawn into kinship with nature. Lastly, I believe some computer music is restrained in its potential by techno-somatic discreteness as well as anthropocentrism, and that applying philosophies from höömii and tsols can help move computer music more towards a physically embodying means of sonification; one that is also akin with the natural world.
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