What is Kattajaq? Otherwise known as ‘throat singing’ among Inuit, it’s known as a traditional friendly musical competition typically done by two women. The human voice is used as an instrument to create resonant harmonies in this guttural style of singing, where women sing multiple notes simultaneously and in tandem as a type of contest; when one person laughs or runs out of breath, the other has ‘won’. Inuit throat singing can imitate wind, water, animal sounds and other everyday sounds.
Originally, katajjaq was done for many reasons. Kattajaq was a form of entertainment among Inuit women while men were away on hunting trips or when mothers used to sing babies to sleep in the amauti.
According to Inuit legend, the first throat singers weren’t Inuit or even human, but rather small birds with human-like features called Tunirtuaruit. “It was hard to see them because they were very shy or afraid of human people and they would live in abandoned snow houses, or homes, and often you would see families of them.
Throat-singing was banned by local priests claiming it was “satanic”, and would often punish Inuit, and in some areas throat signing nearly died out. However, younger generations of Inuit were steadfast in it is renewal and revival.