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Review, Analysis and Recordings Containing
Tumpa!
Tumpa! Monophonic Duophonic
Earthquake!  (Moisés Vivanco, Les Baxter - 3:16)
Recorded in 1950

Review and Analysis of Tumpa! by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
Read more on the Legacy of the Diva Web site!
"One of the most popular numbers in Yma Sumac's repertoire is an exciting vocal interpretation of that terrifying phenomenon - the earthquake.  Earthquakes, responsible for squeezing and shoving the Andes high into the sky through eons of time, plagued the ancient Incas and still plague their descendants.  Yma Sumac's voice here rumbles deeply as the earth shakes, then soars into flight like a covey of frightened birds."  (Liner notes from 1956 re-pressing)

During the 1950's, "Tumpa!" was one of Yma's most popular pieces and was invariably singled out for mention in reviews.  Pure program music, it is "..a wordless study in realism, where the voice takes on the character of the things it describes."  (Maurice Leonard, Records and Recording)  It is unfortunate that by 1953, the song had been re-arranged; diluted of its exotic flavor and become a weak-kneed dance number.  By the 1960's Russian tour it had been further diluted and bore even less resemblance to the original.  Even in this present, original program-music format, it strongly resembles the Ch-cha-cha.  But here at least, it is still heavily exotic - not only in the odd juxtaposition of musical and singing styles, but also the wonderful, colorful orchestration.

This is the first example of Yma's "growl."  It is also one of the pieces Les Baxter found so maddening in trying to get Yma to sing the same way twice.  Because of these problems, and the massive editing that followed, the rhythmic structure of the song is unbalanced with unintentional, uneven measures.  None the less, taken on its own, this recording is a perfected gem of singing over three full octaves.

Like "Ataypura" (High Andes), "Tumpa!" is in sections.  Section A is an introductory recitative.  Subtlety is discarded for deliberate shock tactics as Yma furiously growls deep in the chest register.  The effect is as startling as the height which Yma takes her resonant growl - to A in the staff.  Not only can she sustain the growl for these phrases, but she has the technical freedom to indulge in Jazz-like ornaments which she ripples through.  She is also able to effortlessly switch from growled tones to more normal, belted chest voice.

For this effect, Yma growels deep in her throat and vibrates the throat tissues.  There is a secret to her success with this effect.  After each growled phrase that lies dangerously high, Yma uses a descending glissando figure.  This simple figure allows the larynx and muscles to relax naturally after the tension necessary for such a vocal trick.  The glissando is a releasing action that allows Yma to quickly relax and re-set her voice in a more normal position, ready for the next bit of singing.  Thus, despite the risk involved in such a gutteral and percusive effect, by using the simple glissando she is assured of regaining the necessary, natural relaxation of the larynx.  Because of this no damage was ever inflicted to her voice despite the strenuousness of the effect.

Section B is sung in a well-rounded, mixed chest register which Yma introduces with a wonderful passage of syncopation.  Rhythm is of prime importance in this piece and Yma's intimate manner of leaning on and caressing certain beats and notes speaks of an instinctive command of rhythmic and tonal liberties.  There are some unique vocal colorations and accents, including the rapid oscillation of her vibrato on the final note of this section (a low F#) which sounds like a smoky trill.  She does this by keeping her mouth almost closed while increasing the vibrato.

Section C is the depiction of the erupting of the volcano; her voice emulating its eruption through three octaves.  The beginning of this section brings Yma well into the middle register where the voice is clean, clear and excellently focussed.  Subtle rhythmical leanings and colors abound in this part and a loving manner of shaping the phrases born of instinct.  After the main melody Yma treats the listener to one of the most glorious vocal ascents ever recorded.  Within five short measures, Yma rises from the low, contralto F# to the coloratura soprano F#, three-octaves above.  Aside from the height Yma reaches, the remarkable thing about this passage is that throughout the three octaves, not one note is unattractive or loses its focus or sheen.  The poise of Yma's singing belies the fact that this had to be pieced together.  That is why astute listeners will notice the irregular measures.  Whether it was spliced together or not, the notes are real and the climactic high F# is sustained with surprising ease, beauty and vocal intensity.

The second half of "Tumpa!" offers a vocal depiction of frightened animals and birds.  It is here that Yma offers more examples of her pecked-at, bird-like high staccati - similar to those in "Ataypura" (High Andes) The tessitura holds no fear for the singer who rapidly tosses off high Es and F#s with great force and abandon.  Contrasting the elaborate high coloratura are the many effects introduced octaves lower.  These include various jazz-based effects, quarter-tones, open chest-voice calls, syllables like "chum! chum!" and "Wa-ba-ba-ba-ba," grace note approaches, and intentional register breaks.  The song ends abruptly with another call done in vibrant chest voice.

Tumpa!  is included on the following releases
Download-only version of Yma Sumac's first (Voice of the Xtabay) and third Inca Taqui albums, probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These are the same tracks that can be found on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay. The exact country of origin is u . . . 2011 Australia
catalog no: SSL-3266
This is one of several transcription LP (16" vinyl format) that we've seen and this one has six of the original eight Voice of the Xtabay tracks on one side with the last two on the second side, followed by an unrelated suite of four orchestral pieces called Caucasian Moods. This recording was . . . 1950 United States
catalog no: AMR536
Another collection featuring tracks from Yma Sumac's various Capitol Records releases of the '50s. This release is available only as a download. 2010 United Kingdom
catalog no: ASIN: B002B2LZWC
Another collection of download only tracks that includes several of Yma Sumac's early South American recordings along with her later cuts from Capitol Records. Interestingly, the makers of this release chose to use English translations for some of the songs but the track listing shown here has been . . . 2008 United Kingdom
Download-only version of selections from Yma Sumac's Voice of the Xtabay, Legend of the Sun Virgin and Inca Taqui. probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These tracks are included on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay and Legend of the Sun Virgin b . . . 2013 Australia
Download-only version of the original eight track release of Yma Sumac's Voice of the Xtabay, probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These are the same tracks that can be found on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay but with the English translations . . . 2011 Australia
catalog no: CP 052
Single from Voice of the Xtabay 1950 New Zealand
catalog no: 15650
One of several 78 RPM singles from France on the Telefunken label. 1950 France
catalog no: CD-244
This was Yma Sumac's first album after arriving in the United States in 1946. Before that, she recorded a number of sides in Argentina in 1943. 1950 United States
catalog no: CD-244
This album, which was recorded in 1950, is a reissue of Yma Sumac's debut album. The original pressings did not have the wood grained border around the cover art as seen on this later reissue. By the time this one was made, 78s were falling out of favor so that this pressing is rather rare today. 1952 United States
catalog no: CD-244
This album, which was recorded in 1950, is a Canadian reissue of Yma Sumac's debut album. Unusual in that it has an embossed leatherette cover without cover art. 1952 Canada
catalog no: CDF-244
This is one of the early pressings of Yma Sumac's first U.S. album and was released right after the 78 set. 1950 United States
catalog no: CDF-224
One of several unusual Voice of the Xtabay pressings without any front cover photo. On this version, the track listing and credits are also on the front with the inside cover containing the notes and the back of the box being plain. 1952 Canada
catalog no: EAP2-684
Part 2 of set from Norway has tracks from both Voice of the Xtabay (1950) and Inca Taqui (1953) so is actually a compilation rather than an original reissue. 1956 Norway
catalog no: EBF-244
Reissue of first album, b/w back cover photo. 1952 United States
catalog no: H-244
Reissue of first album, color back cover photo.  The first edition pressings in this format such as this one do not have the woodgrained border as have later pressings. 1952 United States
catalog no: H-244
Reissue of first album, with wood-grained border and b/w back cover photo. This release, as with many European pressings, has the cover art and wood grained border printed together and unlike many others, it does not have the High Fidelity logo on the cover below the Capitol logo. 1952 France
catalog no: LCA 244
Reissue of Yma Sumac's 1950 recording.  This is one of the few pressings to have a plain cover without a photo.  Instead, it has white and dark blue text on a light blue background. 1952 Germany
catalog no: H-244
Import reissue of first album embossed burgundy cover, white print logo, black print title without cover art of any kind.  Has color back photo, probably dates to the first 10" LP reissues. 1952 Canada
catalog no: LCA 244
Reissue of Yma Sumac's 1950 recording. Another release from Germany has the same catalog number but does not have the cover art that this release has. 1952 Germany
catalog no: LC.6522
Import reissue of first album Blue cover, white print logo, black print title without cover art of any kind 1953 United Kingdom
catalog no: H-244
Import reissue of first album burgundy cover with gold embossed text, without cover art of any kind.  Has B/W back photo, probably dates to a later 10" LP reissue. 1953 Canada
catalog no: LC.6522
This pressing was actually manufactured in the U.K. but was made specifically for the South African market.  It differs from the U.K. release in that it has liner notes and the South African "Seal of Guarantee / Waarborgseël" along with some slight differences on layout. 1953 South Africa
catalog no: L-244
Later reissue of first album, with woodgrained border and b/w back cover photo 1954 United States
catalog no: L-244
Reissue of first album from New Zealand.  Mfg. by His Master's Voice (N.Z.) Ltd. 1954 New Zealand
catalog no: UV092
Recent 10" LP release of Yma's first album with the original eight tracks. 2003 Italy
catalog no: L-244
Brazilian pressing of Voice of the Xtabay has liner notes, label and sleeve text in Portuguese. Yma Sumac was very popular in Brazil and performed a number of concerts there through the years but the album pressings are only now starting to appear outside the country. As with most South American pre . . . 1952 Brazil
catalog no: 2 C 054-80 293
12" LP compilation from France, has small color cover photo from Mambo photo session.  This was volume 10 in a series of albums by popular artists. 1976 France
catalog no: ST-26 498
12" LP compilation from Spain.  Manel Domínguez-Navarro, who wrote the liner notes, is a regular visitor to this site and is also an Yma Sumac fan. 1982 Spain
catalog no: PC-34250
Comedy LP with a studio (not live) track by Yma Sumac. Although most of the tracks on this album were from his TV show, Yma Sumac's appearance on the show was not available so the studio recording from Voice of the Xtabay was used. 1976 United States
catalog no: W-684
This is the first 12" LP reissue of Yma Sumac's phenominal 1950 premier album and includes all the tracks from her third album, Inca Taqui to fill the larger capacity of the 12" LP format. 1955 United States
catalog no: REG 2007
This unusual 12" LP reissue from England of Yma Sumac's first album, recorded in 1950, has original eight tracks only - it does not include the Inca Taqui tracks as other 12" LPs.  The cover shows a closeup photo of flowers without a photo of Yma Sumac.  The back is fairly plain with title . . . 1956 United Kingdom
catalog no: 5C 038-85488 (T-684)
LP containing sixteen tracks from Voice of the Xtabay (1950) and Inca Taqui (1953) from Holland. Similar in most repects to the U.S. releases except in catalog number and logo details. It was released on the EMI Records Holland sub-label. Inner sleeve features an artist rendering of the Capitol Reco . . . 1956 Netherlands
catalog no: W-684
Reissue of first album, B/W back cover photo, this is a later pressing without the inset of the Inca Taqui cover art that graced the original release in this format.  Although not the very first, this is one of the earlier 12" LP releases and shares the catalog number with original 12" pr . . . 1963 United States
catalog no: DW 684
Reissue of first album, Duophonic simulated stereo, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1963 United States
catalog no: DW-684
Duophonic (simulated stereo) LP from Canada is virtually identical to U.S. pressings other than the tiny Made in Canada notations on the sleeve and disk label. 1963 Canada
catalog no: SLEM-323
One of the few known pressings from Mexico, this 12" LP is in the simulated stereo Duophonic format. 1972 México
catalog no: SUA 14 729
Supraphon version with plain back (track listing only) and no cover title.  This album is basically a reissue of Voice of the Xtabay but with one song less on each side. 1965 Czech Republic
catalog no: DV 6150
Gramophon record club version with cover title and liner notes. This album is basically a reissue of Voice of the Xtabay but with one song less on each side. 1965 Czech Republic
catalog no: 7243 8 317161 3
Double LP Compilation from Greece features tracks from Voice of the Xtabay, Mambo! and Legend of the Jivaro 1971 Greece
catalog no: BYD77004
27 track compilation featuring pre-1955 material along with several 1943 Argentina Session tracks. Good selection of material but the booklet contains many inaccuracies over the usual. For example, her name was spelled as Ymma throughout when that spelling was used only on one obscure release from t . . . 2008 United Kingdom
catalog no: ASIN: B00004UZVZ
Little is known about this compact disc but it is apparently a collection that contains both Yma Sumac's music and that of other performers. 1993 France
catalog no: VSD-5789
Comedy CD with a studio (not live) track by Yma Sumac.  Although most of the tracks on this CD were from his TV show, Yma Sumac's appearance on the show was not available so the studio recording from Voice of the Xtabay was used. 1996 United States
catalog no: SOW 90201
Compact Disc compilation from Holland, which is the first time that any of the early 1943 tracks from Argentina have been heard on a CD release outside South America. There is lots of ambiguity in this CD's country of origin (it indicates that it was made in Portugal in some places and The Netherlan . . . 2002 Netherlands
catalog no: 2711402146
Unusual Compact Disc collection from Greece, apparently available for only a single day as a promotional by a weekly newspaper. Packaged in a long DVD-type sleeve. 2008 Greece
catalog no: CD-12 532
Part of a series of public domain CD releases from Promo Sound, formerly listed here is being in Italy but their business headquarters are in Ireland. 1996 Ireland
catalog no: ASIN: B001P5MG6A
Collection from the United Kingdom features tracks ranging from Yma Sumac earliest material from 1943 to 1954 at the height of her career. Includes tracks from Voice of the Xtabay (1950), Legend of the Sun Virgin (1952), Inca Taqui (1953) and Mambo! (1954) and also included are her two singles from . . . 2009 United Kingdom
catalog no: 796 642-1
Contains Voice of the Xtabay and half of Mambo!, volume one of two 1991 France
Collection to be released on January 17th, 2005, although the country of origin is somewhat vague. It seems to show up primarily on sites in France but was more likely made in Italy. 2005 France
catalog no: CD-367
Compact disc compilation. 1995 Italy
catalog no: CD 367
Part of a series of public domain CD releases from Promo Sound, formerly listed here is being in Italy but their business headquarters are in Ireland. 1997 Ireland
catalog no: CD 31507
Another compilation featuring selections from Yma Sumac's first four Capitol Records albums. This release is part of the Entertainers of the World series. Although the country origin is not stated anywhere on the packaging inside or out, the publisher is located in Ireland. This release does not hav . . . 2009 Ireland
catalog no: CD 72 435-21 434-2-9
Compilation 2000 United States
catalog no: Promo
Compilation Promotional edition, Mfg. by Imperial Tape Company 2000 United States
catalog no: EMI-RE-020 428
Contains early 1943 Argentina Session material, along with later Capitol Records tracks 1996 Perú
catalog no: OLFC 032
Compact Disc compilation from Italy. 2003 Italy
catalog no: CDP-7-91 217-2
Reissue of first album, first CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1987 United States
Promotional copy of 1996 Right Stuff CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1996 United States
catalog no: 0777-7-91 217-2-4
Reissue of first album, second CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1996 United States
catalog no: 8374292
EMI Rarities reissue of first album with Inca Taqui tracks and bonus track with original unedited cover art 1999 France
catalog no: 23351
76 Hits and Rarities from the goddess of Exotica. More details and track for this September 2012 collection coming soon. 2012 United Kingdom
Although this double CD has the tracks in a different order, it is basically the CD version of the LP, The Very Best of Yma Sumac, and is one of the few known pressings from Greece. 2003 Greece
catalog no: GSS 5482
This 3-CD set advertised as being from Holland but package and disk printing indicate it was made in Portugal. Released in March 2008 and contains 47 tracks, this boxed set contains three standard jewel cases all with the same cover art and no booklet or notes. The box cover is shown. 2008 Portugal
catalog no: 118734
Anthologie 1950-1959 Compact Disc set of Yma Sumac's containing all of Yma Sumac's 1950's Capitol Records original release catalog. Probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These tracks are included on legitimate releases of all the original albums. 2013 France
catalog no: BLUE102CD
Double CD collection features remastered tracks from the 1943 Argentina Session along with those from the Capitol Records years. 2005 United Kingdom
Yet another compilation CD with the title of Queen of Exotica making three with that title. This one, which is a 2-CD set, combines four of Yma Sumac's '50s albums. 2005 United Kingdom
catalog no: 0777 7 99701 2 4
Two-CD reissue of Voice of the Xtabay (original eight tracks only), Mambo and Legend of the Jivaro, in one jewel case. Manufactured in Holland for EMI Germany. 1992 Germany
catalog no: B00006IWIC
Two CD set containing the entire Mambo! and Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection CDs, probably as individual CDs in a slipsleeve. 2002 France
catalog no: FE 020537
Contains early 1943 Argentina Session material, along with later Capitol Records tracks 1996 Perú
catalog no: LL1084
An apparently legitimate DVD release, or at least a professional release, of Secret of the Incas from Spain in the PAL/Region 2 format. It will not play on standard U.S. DVD player. In English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish subtitles, includes an interactive menu with . . . 2012 Spain
catalog no: CEC 309
An apparently legitimate DVD release, or at least a professional release, of Secret of the Incas from Italy in the PAL/Region 2 format. It will not play on standard U.S. DVD players. Excellent quality and vivid color. In English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Di . . . 2013 Italy
This was Yma Sumac's first Hollywood film, copies of which exist in the Archives in English, Spanish, Italian and German but it has not been professionally released on video tape or DVD in the United States although there are several European releases in the PAL format. In our opinion, this is the b . . . 1954 United States
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