German & Claudia Khatylaev* ‎– Arctic Spirit

Borealia ‎– Bo 101
CD, Gatefold


1 Les Esprits Célestes 5:03
2 Une Histoire Epique 4:19
3 Galop 2:15
4 La Voix Du Chamane 3:41
5 L’appel Des Ancêtres 3:37
6 Notre Terre Natale 3:31
7 Mon Cheval 1:42
8 Mitteke 2:20
9 Chant De La Passion 4:19
10 Les Trois Visions 6:07
11 L’oiseau Sacré 2:17
12 Après Le Mariage 2:41
13 A La Déesse Mère 4:02
14 Les Saisons 6:47
15 Le Renne Du Chasseur 2:28
16 Nostalgie 2:56
17 L’esprit Qui Se Cache En Nous 2:13
18 La Boisson D’abondance 2:39



from liner notes:

Voices, Jew’s harp and animal noises − German & Claudia Khatylaev
Kyryympa, bas tantsyr, düngür, aïaan − German Khatylaev
Küpsüür, aïaan − Claudia Khatylaeva
Children’s chorus − Aytalyna Everstova, Varya Ivanova, Valeriya Novgorodova, Prokopi Khoyutanov, Leonid Imeev

All song lyrics belong to the traditional repertoire of the Sakha people
Recorded and mixed in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) by Bert Jickty

Landscape and animal photos − Emilie Maj
Artists photos − M. Dubrovskaya, V. Bayev, E. G. Arbugayeva, N. Dyakonov
Booklet − Emilie Maj
English translation − David Parry
Graphic design − Christophe Boula & Emilie Maj

Made in European Union by Borealia
115 rue Oberkampf
75011 Paris

Tracklist (English translation):
1 − Celestial Spirits
2 − An Epic Story
3 − Gallop
4 − Voice Of The Shaman
5 − Primordial Sound
6 − Our Native Land
7 − My Horse
8 − Mitteke
9 − Passion Song
10 − The Three Visions
11 − The Sacred Bird
12 − After The Wedding
13 − To The Mother Goddess
14 − The Seasons
15 − The Hunter’s Reindeer
16 − Homesickness
17 − The Spirit That Hides Within
18 − The Cup Of Plenty

Since they met in 1987 German and Claudia have barely left one another’s side. United by a love of Sakha culture, they have reconstructed traditional instruments and collected melodies and vocal techniques from old people they have met over the years on their visits to far-flung villages. In doing so they have become important figures in the revival of Sakha culture.
Now known the world over, they bring an ethno-folk colouring to melodies born in the oral traditions and animist beliefs of the Sakha people. Their nostalgia for a life at one with nature has seen them incorporate into their music birdsong and the sounds of the taiga and arctic tundra.
German and Claudia’s musical legacy is already secure. Imbued with the knowledge of their ancestors and conscious of their duty to pass it on, they instruct the younger generation in singing and playing the Jews’s harp and kyryympa. Their pupils now travel the world and ensure the survival of the music.

• Their instruments
To German and Claudia their musical instruments are extensions of the wildlife of the taiga. The strings of the kyryympa let out a whinnying sound. From the Jew’s harp rises the song of a thousand birds. Drums clatter like the hooves of a herd of reindeer.

• The Jew’s harp that talks and sings
In Sakha music the Jew’s harp, or khomous, is king. A simple metal frame with a vibrating tongue that is held between the musician’s lips, its reverberations express his emotions and innermost thoughts. It is said that young men used to declare their love using the Jew’s harp, for it allowed them to suggest words without having to utter them. Today it is the national instrument of the Sakha Republic, and every household proudly possesses one. The Sakha say that it talks like a person and sings like a bird. In the hands of German and Claudia the Jew’s harp becomes a seagull’s shriek or an eagle’s cry, a puff of wind or a galloping horse.

• Drums and other instruments
The drum (düngür) was not originally considered a musical instrument. It was the symbolic horse that carried the shaman towards the spirits of nature. Though their drums have never seen ritual use, German and Claudia still sought the blessing of a shaman before playing them on stage. Other instruments are used to evoke natural sounds: the dzhargha,
a carved staff whose percussion is used to bring on rain; the reindeer-hoof rattle used by herdsmen to summon their reindeer; the aïaan, a great birchwood horn used by hunters to imitate the stag’s bellow; the elusive scraping of snow-sheep horns that evokes the republic’s northern mountains.

• The Horse’s-Head Fiddle
From their tours of the outer reaches of Yakutia, German and Claudia bring back ancient melodies and lyrics that they work gradually into their repertoire. It was on these trips that they rediscovered the Sakha kyryympa, a stringed instrument close to the Mongol morin khur, that was still played a few old people. They have woven it into their music as a melodic counterpoint to the rhythms and harmonics of the Jew’s harp. While some claim that the word kyryympa derives from the Russian skripka meaning ‘violin’, German thinks it comes rather from kyl, the horsehair from which its strings are made.

• Throat singing, head voice
Claudia’s singing technique is based on rapid alternations of chest and head singing peppered with percussive glottal stops (kylyhakh), palatal clicks (tangalaï yryata, literally ‘song of the palate’), and, occasionally, a type of throat singing known as khabargha yryata. Claudia uses both the basic Sakha vocal styles: dieretti, which allies the rhythmic sounds and harmonics of the throat, and degeren, which combines khabargha and tangalaï yryata. Every musicologist who has tried to notate Sakha traditional song has found it impossible to transcribe
its countless intonations. As an improviser Claudia is never dictated to by a musical score.