Where Rivers and Mountains Sing

Where Rivers and Mountains Sing

Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond, New Edition
Theodore Levin, with Valentina Süzükei
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04471-6
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:


Winner, 2007 ASCAP Deems Taylor Bela Bartok Award for Ethnomusicology

Where Rivers and Mountains Sing takes readers on a journey through the rich sonic world of inner Asia, where the elemental energies of wind, water, and echo, the ubiquitous presence of birds and animals, and the legendary feats of heroes have inspired a remarkable art and technology of sound-making among nomadic pastoralists. As performers from Tuva and other parts of inner Asia have responded to the growing worldwide popularity of their music, Levin follows them to the West, detailing their efforts to nourish global connections while preserving the power and poignancy of their music traditions. Includes access to supplemental video clips and music clips.

Author Bio

Theodore Levin is Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music at Dartmouth College and author of The Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York) and editor (with Saida Daukeyeva, and Elmira Köchümkulova) of The Music of Central Asia.

Valentina Süzükei is Senior Academic Officer of the Tuvan Institute for Humanities Research in Kyzyl, Tuva. She is author of three books on Tuvan music, including The Musical Culture of Tuva in the Twentieth Century (in Russian).


“No other writer could extract such a melange of philosophy, acoustics, and aesthetics from one man's vocalization over a running stream—or report with such canny insight on how that individual must negotiate his life as a 'star' in the West.”
 — Michael Church, BBC World Service

“Thanks to his wonderful innate taste, his tremendous linguistic skills, and his curiosity and passion to share what he discovers, Ted Levin has given us a window into a world of traditional music we might never otherwise know.”
 — Yo-Yo Ma

“A vivid picture of music in inner Asia today—both the ancient traditions and the way they're rubbing up against the modern world. . . . After reading this immensely readable and thought-provoking book, you'll never listen to throat singing the same way again.”
 — Simon Broughton, editor, Songlines and Rough Guide to World Music

“Entertaining, fascinating, and well written, it depicts important issues in the globalization of indigenous music.”
 — Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, Georgetown University

“This is a perceptive book and a comfortable ready...Levin beautifully presents his central ideas regarding the spiritual and ecological music making Inner Asia with enchanting and captivating storytelling. A welcome addition to reading this text is the supplemental on-line music/video, which includes musical examples illustrating the stories and futher draws readers into the telling of his story. These audiovisual examples not only function to help in understanding the book itself but are useful for class teaching of Inner Asian music.”
 — Asian Music

“This is a complex, informationally-dense book that fits well into recent trends toward aural phenomena.”
 — Nina Fales

“Always readable, with issues and ideas presented in an immediate style, rich in personal vignettes and ethnographic detail, and brought to life by the fabulous audio/visual supplement material that is available on-line, Where Rivers and Mountains Sing is a gift for teachers and students.”
 — Ethnomusicology

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

On Language and Pronunciation
Dramatis Personae

1. Finding the Field
Road Warriors
Reinventing Tuva

2. The World Is Alive with the Music of Sound
Musical Offerings
In a Cave
Natural Reverb


3. Listening the Tuvan Way
Timbre-Centered Music
Throat-Singing: The Ideal Timbral Art

4. Sound Mimesis
Mimesis and the Power of Representation
Hunters: The Earliest Sound Technologists?
Ludic Mimesis
Sound Mimesis and Spiritual Landscape
Sound Mimesis as Narrative
The Mimesis of Mimesis
Mimesis as Cultural Memory

5. Music, Sound, and Animals
Animal Spirits
Signaling and Singing to Animals
Listening to Animals
Animals in Music
"Animal Style" Art and Music

6. An Animist View of the World
Huun-Huur-Tu at Home
Epic Dreams
Shamans and Champagne
The Spirit of Manas
Women Are Not Supposed to Do This
The Ondar Phenomenon

Postlude: Appropriation and Its Discontents

Accessing Audio Files
Accessing Video Files