Éva Kanalas, singer, and her Ojanna Sonic Theatre, Budapest, Hungary

My name is Éva Kanalas.
I was born in 1970 in Békéscsaba, a provincial town in South-East Hungary.
I have felt a deep enthusiasm for singing ever since my childhood. I am a lover of Hungarian folk songs since my age of 14. In the beginning I was listening to archive records from the "clean well". Later, the folk singers of villages became my masters and mentors, whom I met during my colleting field-work in Transylvania (in Kalotaszeg, Hétfalu, Gyimes and Mezőség areas). From 1987 I travel like an obsessed fanatic to Hungarian-dwelled Transylvanian villages to have the luck to listen to the masterpieces of our national treasure live.
"She is one of the instinctive and rare gifted ones who live their talent, the faculty and unlearnable knowledge that always provides an extraordinary experience regarding the artistic effect with a curious self confidence.
This singer's exeptionally original artistic and musical concept is ready to enter the musical life of Hungary and the world as a real rarity.
Kanalas was born to be a singer, and with the kind of initiation that is more and more scarce in the Hungarian singing culture.
The ringing of her voice, the flexibility and mood of her manner of singing, the spiritual content that she so naturally transmits in her concerts is bound to a great culture spreading as far as the Pacific Ocean, to the sonic world of the so-called Steppe culture, that in old times was rather determinative in Hungarian instrumental and singing culture, too."

(György Szabados, pianist, composer)

My sense of vocation was greatly helped by the huge song collection collected by Pál Péter Domokos and my commitment to save this cultural heritage. I collected the folk songs mainly in Southern and Székely1 Csángó2 settlements in order to sing later in my homeland about the clear human sentiments through these poetic masterpieces.
In 1991, I was granted the Young Master of Folk Arts title of honour in folk song category. I was a couple of times compiled into Dance House Festival LP-s with my solo songs and with songs in which Géza Fábri accompanied me on the koboz3 (1990., 1991., 1992.).
The song and koboz pairing brought a new colour into the music life of dance houses. Its novelty hid in that we produced a rather authentic and in the same time modern sound with a never so far heard folk song material.
As a result of all that, we recorded and issued two tapes on our own: Ha folyóvíz volnék (If I Were River-water) (1991.) and Addig megyek a víz mellett (I'll Walk In The Banks of Waters Until) (1994.).
Out of the compiled songs of these tapes, the Dutch Pan Records issued a CD with the title of Túl a vízen (Across The Water) in December, 1999 which are promoted in lots of countries worldwide.
I had the opportunity to introduce through these sorted songs that part of the folk song treasure of Hungarian folk music that bears the most parallel features with Eastern music. I sang them in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and Yugoslavia.
However, the deepest impression on my singer career was that I had the opportunity to travel to far lands from where the Hungarians are suggested to left for Europe once upon a time.
I could collect in the Altai mountains, in Tuva and in Bashkiria the songs of people living there, and I myself as well sang Hungarian songs to them.
I studied the figuration of songs and the singing techniques used to produce them, and most of all, the living process of creation that leads to the formation of melodies and lyrics when the singer manifests itself on the spur of the moment.
This expedition took place in 1996, and in the same year I began to work with György Szabados jazz composer-pianist. The handwoven world of improvization and the ancient world concept hidden in every corner of the Altai mountains prompted me to start experimenting with my voice. I used various breathing techniques, those for example the Siberian shamans and Canadian Eskimos use singing ritual songs.
I began to use my voice as an instrument and singing in a language that knows no linguistic barriers, that everyone can as well understand in this world, since the ancient knowledge, the ancient language, the communication through sounds is concealed in every person.
Later I met István Somogyi, a theater director, and accompanied by his shaman drumming, the improvization of sounds already composed into melodies erupted out of me with an elementary power (Ojanna - Erdei liturgia, that is: Ojanna5 - Forest Liturgy) CD, MC, 1999.).
After this, I lived for a while in an entirely contrasted culture in Amsterdam.
Currently, I am collecting again in some regions where Hungarian is spoken as mother tongue: in Transylvania (Erdély), in Moldova among the Csángó Hungarians and in my land of birth, in the Hungarian Alföld (Pusta), since the most important pillar of my songs and of the melodies emerging from improvization is the Hungarian folk song, and within this, the song tradition of Hungarians living beyond the Carpathians.
In 1999, I established the Ojanna Sonic Theater that creates a ritual medium in which the human voice appears as a musical instrument, where song is born in the heat of the moment out of the unarticulated speech through the samanic singing to the Hungarian folk songs while creating a new, living rite. The Hungarian folk songs, archaic prayers, healing rhymed sayings, nursery dittys once operated the Hungarian tradition and culture not separated but rather as a whole, and always adapted to the surrounding world.
These relics are able to keep it going by opening themselves and give a consistent picture on the culture that strengthened and is strengthening not merely the existence of the dwellers of the Carpathian Basin.
In June of 2001 I got invited to the 3rd Theatric World Olympics, more precisely, to Anatoly Vasilev's School of Dramatic Arts, where I was singing my program titled "Knitted eyebrows of Scytha", scoring an enermous success with this kind of world of sound and the community-forming power of the song.
I had the same experience in Komi Republic, too, where I took part in the Theatric Festival of Finno-Ugrian Peoples in 2000 and in 2001 as the guest o the lady PM of Komi Republic.
In 2002, I sang in concerts in Syria and in Jordan, where the chador-covered women and harsh-eyed men of the Arabic world accompanied my songs, during the whole concert, applauding and with bright eyes. At the moment I know many thousands of Hungarian folk songs - laments, ballads, barrack- and soldiers' songs, love songs, match-making songs, funeral hymns, dirges, nursery rhymes, children's songs, ditties, and archaic prayers.
These songs are, of course, in many case merely melody and lyric variants.
Wherever I was in the world: in Tuva, in the Altai, in Komi Republic, Bashkiria, Turkey or Syria, and whatever kind of people I met - Chanties, Manysies, Maris, Tatars, Uzbekhs, (Red) Indians - I found that all these nations sang a parallel and very closely related melodies to our folk songs.
Kanalas Éva
September 11. 2002.

1Székely (say-kayi): Hungarian group of people living in Transylvania (recently belonging to Romania)
2Csángó (chung-go): Hungarian group of people living in Moldavia (Romania), beyond the Carpathians
3Koboz: a Hungarian kind of lute
4Táltos (tull-tosh): Hungarian shaman
5Ojanna: pronounced as oyan-nah

Downloadable songs

RealAudio format (smaller file, rather poor quality - for reference only) MP3 format (bigger file, near CD quality - well, at least that of an MC)

From the Túl a vízen (Across The Water) CD
The cover of the CD
Duna vize, Tisza vize Danube's Water, Tissa's Water Duna vize, Tisza vize
Kerek erdő, kerek mező Round Forest, Round Field Kerek erdő, kerek mező
Nincs Pusztina békerítve Pusztina Is Not Fenced Nincs Pusztina békerítve
Törökország messze vagyon Turkey Is Far Away Törökország messze vagyon
Zöld az erdő The Forest Is Green Zöld az erdő

From the Ojanna - Forest Liturgy CD
The cover of the CD
Fohász Supplication Fohász
Hallgasd meg énekünk Listen to Our Song Hallgasd meg énekünk (part)
Kavicsos Gravelled Song Kavicsos
Madárdal Bird Song Madárdal
A szent kövek előtt In Front of The Holy Rocks A szent kövek előtt

Note: the songs are here with the permission and courtesy of the copyright owner.

e-mail: kanalas.eva@freemail.hu