Robert Beahrs

Grant Type

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Pittsburgh, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9505

Approve Date

October 4, 2017

Project Title

Beahrs, Dr. Robert O., U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid filmmaking on 'Tuning Voices, Taming Souls: Nomadic Sound Worlds of the Sayan-Altai Mountains' - Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Tuning Voices, Taming Souls traces the voices of animals, spirits, and nature in the inherited cosmologies of Tyvan nomadic hunter-pastoralists living in the Sayan-Altai Mountains of Russia and Western Mongolia. Composed of six short stand-alone ethnographic films, the project explores the sounded spiritual genealogies of postcolonial nomadic world-making. Drawing on multiperspectival film techniques, soundscapes, and interviews, this project shows how Tyvan concepts such as music, play, emotion, and domestication are understood in relation to voices of ancestors and local spirit-masters. Moreover, the power of these voices is invoked and activated through sound-making rituals–coaxing, calling, throat-singing, musical instrument playing, shamanizing, and storytelling during everyday herding and hunting activities. A collaboration between an outsider (an American ethnomusicologist) and an insider (a Tyvan anthropologist), Tuning Voices, Taming Souls presents new perspectives on the postcolonial reverberations of nature, culture, and sound for nomadic communities living in one isolated corner of post-Soviet Inner Asia.


Beahrs, Robert O.  2019. “Tuning a Throat Song in Inner Asia: On the Nature of Vocal Gifts with People’s Xöömeizhi of the Tyva Republic Valeriy Mongush (b. 1953)” In The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, ed. Nina Eidsheim and Katherine Meizel, 315–344. New York: Oxford University Press.

Beahrs, Robert O. 2021. “Gifts of the Sygytchy-Sons: Tethering Melodies to Land, Kin, and Life Energy at the Khöömei Ovaa, Tyva Republic.” Asian Music, 52 (2).

Beahrs, Robert O., et al.  2021. Introduction to “Transregional Politics of Throat-Singing as Cultural Heritage in Inner and Central Asia, a special issue.” Asian Music, 52(2).