Saturday, June 21, 2008

America's got Mongolian throat music

Because I was missing Britian's Got Talent so much, we watched a little bit of America's Got Talent - with British judges. It's not nearly as good - and I keep watching it trying to figure out why.

Partly, I think it's poor chairing. The Hoff is just a bit too chaotic, he votes before he's supposed to vote, he speaks out of turn. The panel is supposed to have a rotating chair, but Hoff seems to think he's always chairing. On Britain's Got Talent, it worked. When Piers was chairing, Piers chaired. When Amanda was chairing, the other two followed her lead. And when Simon Cowell chaired, of course, he was in control.

I haven't been to an American business meeting in many, many years. I do know they're different. I know they have a different rhythm. From what I hear, there's more "get down to business" and less of the introductory weather related chit-chat that occurs in almost every British business meeting. (It doesn't last long, don't worry.)

Some time ago my friend Vol-K was over on business, and she asked me and another ex-pat what she should expect for her very first business meeting. We told her about the chit-chat. Later she said she was grateful for the advice as she felt herself getting impatient during the blather phase.

But what about American chairing? Are Americans less likely to follow the lead of the chair? Or is it just a David Hasselhoff thing?


One of the acts last night on America's Got Talent was a guy who played the banjo and did the Mongolian throat singing thing. He didn't make it too far. He was amiable, but rubbish. It was really worse than it sounds. And banjo + throat singing doesn't seem like a good combo on paper. But I could sort of peer through this particular artist's crapness to see that maybe banjo and whistle-tube singing could work. Just not with that guy.

When I was Amsterdam a number of years ago, not touring the red light district and not smoking myself into a daze at the "coffee shops" but visiting museums and viewing Dutch masters I came across a troupe of Mongolian throat singers. They were busking underneath an archway that lead to the National Gallery of the Netherlands (or some similar type museum). It was pretty darn amazing. I was entranced.

I bought a CD with a fistful of Euros. Then I had a little buyer's remorse. What if it was crap? What if that archway provided them was some sort of amazing acoustics that didn't translate to CD?

Anyway, I listened to it at home. Let me say this - it doesn't exactly have a great beat and it isn't easy to dance to, but it's cool in a weird sort of way.

The throat singing guy last night made me want to see if I could dig out the CD and by the fates, it happened to be the second CD in the giant stack of un-put-away CDs just sitting by the stereo. So I played it again - yeah, it was pretty cool.

Buddy thought so, too. He was transfixed and stomped his feet and wanted to get closer to the speakers.

The band was Altai Hangai and here they are with Barrelhouse.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

There's a documentary that you might like-

I never got around to seeing it but friends told me it was great and I dig the soundtrack-