Friday 23 February 2018

Throat singing is castaway's choice

Simon McBurney chose Mongolian throat singing as one of his Desert Island Discs
Simon McBurney chose Mongolian throat singing as one of his Desert Island Discs

Mongolian throat singing is not a regular on radio playlists but its guttural grunts and squawks got an airing on Desert Island Discs courtesy of Rev star Simon McBurney.

The actor and theatre director, who plays the creepy Archdeacon Robert in the BBC sitcom, picked the unusual track for the latest edition of the Radio 4 show.

Throat singer Veronika Oucholin's track I Light The Fire is meant to reflect the sounds of Arctic Mongolia and its native creatures including wild dogs and birds.

McBurney, whose father was an archaeologist and academic, is the inspiration behind the award-winning theatre company Complicite.

He told host Kirsty Young: "On the edges of this world I think we can still hear something of our deep past.

"I understood through my father that in Neolithic times human beings felt that they were part of the world of animals and the echoes of that time, the vestiges, can still be heard today which is why I've chosen this piece which is from the Chukchi people in the far north-eastern part of Mongolia in the Arctic and something of the past and of nature is present in the voice of this 12-year-old girl".

Throat singing, also known as overtone singing, is thought to have originated in Mongolia and allows the singer to amplify sounds by changing the shape of their mouth and throat.

The track is far removed from the more mainstream popular choices on the long-running show which includes favourites like The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Nimrod from Sir Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations and Beethoven's Symphony No 9 in D minor.

But castaways are given free rein over their choices and do not even have to pick music, with the infamous "leg over" cricket commentary and ensuing fits of laughter between commentators Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew during a Test match between England and the West Indies in 1991 one of the more unorthodox choices.

Other popular non-musical choices included excerpts from speeches by Winston Churchill and interviews from Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

Press Association

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