Based on Birds from the Broadway musical Flahooley, this version was recorded live in Bucharest, Romania. Note: playtime includes voice introduction. (Moisés Vivanco - 6:51)
Recorded in 1961
|Review and Analysis of Chuncho by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
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|As one would expect, Chuncho! is the most impressive of the surviving selections. Performed in a fascinatingly intricate, almost seven minute version, it is considerably longer than the Capitol Records version of 1953 (on Inca Taqui). The performance on this recording shows tremendous artistic growth since the original version ("Birds") ten years earlier (1951). By 1961, "Chuncho!" had evolved into a staggering display of vocal exotica. Performed to Moisés' guitar accompaniment there is a stark fascination to this performance enhanced by echo devices and bizarre Sumacian vocalism. All the effects from the Capitol recording are here -- cries, growls, wails, insect noises, grunts, wind and bird effects and more. And to answer the question undoubtedly on reader's minds, yes she does indeed do the "triple-voice" trill although in this case it is pitched at high E rather than the A above that - as it is on the recording. Even so, it is a remarkable effect and as Yma has admitted herself, it was one that did not always happen. One can hear the stunned silence of the audience before they begin to applaud. "Chuncho" became a prototype of a form of singing not further developed until the late 1970s, early 1980s and the experimentation of Yoko Ono. Yoko's fascination with recording the widest spectrum of human sound was continued with various twists by such new-wave artists as Lene Lovich, Nina Hagen, and the un-classifiable Diamanda Galas. All derive, however, from Yma’s original conception of Chuncho! There is a marked difference, however, between the ideas and music of Sumac and those of Lovich, Hagen and Galas. In a manner of speaking, Yma represented the Romantic Period of this type of musical expression while Lovitch, Hagen and Galas represent more modern concepts. All strive for the same result - the exploration of the possibilities of human sound and imitation.
This virtuostic performance from the Russian tour shows why international audiences were reverential in their attitude towards Yma. It is frightening in its vocal brilliance and imagination. Yma was anything but a static performer when it came to her Incan songs and her pre-occupation with impromptu singing led to the expansion and refinement of many pieces. Also contributing to her success in Russia was the fact that these pieces had not been in use for years and so Yma was able to approach them with fresh inspiration.