Interview with Tserendavaa Autumn 1994, Chandman Sum Khovd Aimag Mongolia


Chris Johnston travelled with me to Mongolia in 1994 and I introduced him to Tserendavaa in his village ger. Chris interviewed Tserendavaa and Steve Teers of DiVa Pictures filmed the whole thing. This is a translation that was made by Chrystyna Chabros. Some of the words were not clearly audible and have been left blank underlined. For any comments plea contact me at


Khöömii is a remarkable art. It requires strength, endurance (perseverance) and to be “hardened” (i.e. to be in training) to the same extent as a sport does. It teaches one to overcome difficulties and to enjoy the results of one’s work. People who do not respect the difficulties and do not attach importance to overcoming them cannot become Khöömii singers.


Khöömii has been passed down from early times in Mongolia through many hundreds of years, 300 years as part of the Mongolian Epic singing tradition.


Chandman Sum has a history of Khöömii going back 1500 years. The tradition was passed down by elders __________ until 1902.

There were apparently many varieties of Khöömii at different times in the past. There are considered to be five varieties at the present time, which were past down by the old masters.


I will demonstrate the five types which my teacher Makhanchuluu taught me. (you can hear these on the Jargalant Altai CD)

At first, learners generally cough and have sore throats.


Throat (Pharyngeal) or Khooloin Khöömii

Palatal or Tagnain Khöömii

Windpipe of Bagalzuuryn Khöömii

Chest or Tseejnii Khöömii

Nasal or Khamryn Khöömii

(Tserendavaa comments on nasal Khöömii but it is not clear enough to translate)


When one is learning, one should go outside into the fresh air in the midst of nature and the majestic mountains. When Khöömii mingles with the sound of the wind it sounds more beautiful. This will put one in the correct mood _______.


I will show you how one practices (he shows an exercise not a style which you can hear and see on the who’s who of Khöömii video).


Whistling and Khöömii probably both originated as a way of expressing wonder at the beauty of the world and expressing human feelings and joy. There are two kinds of whistling which I will show you. Lip or Uruul isgeree (sings on example). Then there is tooth or Shüdnii isgeree, which is very similar to Khöömii (sings an example)


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