Baker Smith_Unleashed

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Winter 1971. It's dark outside. A silhouette of a man stands on my front porch ringing the doorbell. His shadow is interrupted by the bevels of the glass door. He calls out to me; he wants to talk to my parents. I stand motionless, staring at his fractured image. At last, my dad breaks this standoff by letting Mr. Fractal Face into our home. As my dad ushers Mr. Fractal Face into the family room, we continue to stare at each other.

It turns out that Mr. Fractal Face is a door-to-door salesman for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. My people are unfamiliar with the Britannica but Mr. Fractal Face's pitch is very convincing and my parents wind up buying the entire series. The Britannica was the internet of the '70s. But I digress. My parents leave the room in pursuit of a checkbook, leaving me with Mr. Fractal Face. Awkward silence. Child and stranger stare at each other. Finally, Mr. Fractal Face breaks the silence by asking me my name in his vocal impersonation of Donald Duck. Nonplussed, I answer in my own impersonation of Donald Duck. Mr. Fractal Face is surprised, but not nearly as surprised as I am. I had never done impersonations and suddenly I had a perfect Donald Duck voice at age 7.

Instantly, my life changed. I spent my days wandering the house imitating any sound I came into contact with. My parents grew weary of me only answering them as them as a blender or a pop can being opened then poured into a glass.

Summer 2005. It's been years since my encounter with Mr. Fractal Face, yet my obsession with sounds/music still lives. Presently, my obsession has led me to try and conquer the didgeridoo and Tuvan throat singing. While I'm not an expert in either, I have become quite proficient at the latter.

Tuva was a tiny country in South Siberia that was absorbed by the former USSR in 1944. Tuvans were a nomadic people and incredible horsemen. Their folk music, like all folk music, concerns itself with cultural plight. For those of you unfamiliar with the Tuvan sound, think of a didgeridoo with harmonic overtones. It's magical! After a lifetime of repeated attempts at every conceivable musical instrument, I found that throat singing is something I understand.

The first thing you must understand about Tuvan throat singing is it has less to do with your throat and more to do with your testicles. What I mean to say is that throat singing requires knowledge of one's self down to the cellular level, and for us guys that means "our boys." You see, throat singing requires careful, subtle manipulation of both tongue and vocal chords working in conjunction. So, for the curious, I have devised an exercise that will help you on the path to becoming a better Tuvan throat singer and possibly a better person. This is not a scientifically proven exercise nor was it derived from a pagan ritual; rather, this is something of my own invention.

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