The Simpsons Movie and Inuit Throat Singing

We brought our kids to see The Simpsons Movie this past weekend. It was like watching a decent, extra long episode, that looked wonderful (much better than on a TV screen). I wouldn’t say it’s a movie you have to go out and see. But if you’re a Simpsons fan, you’ll probably enjoy seeing it on the big screen.

There was one scene (and I’ll try not to say too much about the movie in case you want to see it yourself) in which Homer has reached an all-time low. He happens upon a Medicine Woman who engages him in Inuit Throat Singing. Through the singing, Homer is supposed to have an epiphany (definition: “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure”*) about his life.

It was fun to watch, but actually, Inuit Throat Singing wasn’t normally used to help people find themselves. Rather, it was used primarily by Inuit woman as a game to amuse children and to help pass the time in the winter while the men were away for long periods of time hunting.

The most common way it is done is that two women face each other. They put their arms on each other’s arms. They take turns “singing”. The singing is really a throaty sound – which involves the breath, sounds that come out of the throat and the regular voice. Some of the sounds that are made are meaningless and some are actual words.

Below you can hear an example of Inuit Throat Singing.

The video of the Inuit Throat Singing is mesmerizing. I don’t know if the process leads to having an epiphany, but it seems to have a meditative quality to it.

Many thanks to Clint Cora Leung at Free Spirit Gallery for allowing me to post his video. Clint sells contemporary Canadian aboriginal art on his site.

*Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2007 at 6:08 pm and is filed under Canada, Countries & Cultures, Games Around the World, Inuit, Inuit Throat Singing, Inuktitut, Languages, Movies, TV & The Internet, The Simpsons, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “The Simpsons Movie and Inuit Throat Singing”

  1. Monique Says:

    I like Tuvan throat singing much better. I love the whistling sound of it – called “sygyt” which means “whistle”. You can see one here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY1pcEtHI_w and many others on YouTube by typing “Tuvan throat singing YouTube” You can also find more information by typing “Khoomei” or “Xoomei”, tutorials if you want to give a try, like (http://www.busker-kibbutznik.org/khoomei/HOW-TO/crashcourse.html) and others. I practice (though “try” would be a more acurate word) in my car and I love it. In my car because the whistling sounds better, and because if I try Kargyraa – very deep sounds – at home, I fear my neighbors would think I brought a cow in my apartment!

  2. Wysiwya Says:

    You could actually hear Tuvan throat singing in the back ground as Homer and the woman were doing Inuit throat singing.

  3. Nienke Says:

    At monique: Inuit throat singing is more of a game rather than real singing, so comparing it to a singing style wouldn’t be in it’s place.

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