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Arc (Amina 2002)

Michael Ormiston

A 5th Century BC “bowed harp” found in a Scythian grave on the Central Asian steppes points to the likely origin of bowed instruments. Arc features Michael Ormiston playing music inspired by his journeys in the lands of some of the descendants of this ancient instrument.


The Morin Khuur is a two stringed “Horse head fiddle” from Mongolia.

The Kobyz is a small Turkic “ladle shaped” two stringed fiddle with “shamanic” origins.

The Esraj is a metal stringed fiddle (imagine a small vertical bowed sitar) from Bengal.


The original compositions, improvisations, and traditional arrangements of Mongolian and Tuvan traditional melodies found on Arc also feature Mongolian Khöömii (overtone) singing, a method of singing two or more notes at the same 

 time!, “E - Bowed” electric guitar, a bowed & rubbed fishing line, bowed cymbals, gongs, frame drums and jaw’s harp.


1. Traces & Remembrance 10’33’’

            pt1 - improvised fragment of a Mongolian long song (Urtyn Duu) about the boundless space of the Mongolian

                    Steppes. Played on the Morin Khuur.

            pt2 - Kongurei. A Tuvan melody taught to me by the Tuvan throat singing group, Huun Huur Tu. Arranged for  

                    Morin Khuur, Jew’s Harp & drum.

2. Inland Sea  11’04’’

            pt1 - Source - Bowed, rubbed & processed nylon fishing line. pt2 - Fable - E-Bowed Telecaster, Hungarian

                     zither and voice.

3. Mountain Journey 15’32’’

            pt1 - Salkhi (wind) - Breath and Morin khuur harmonics.

            pt2 - Us (water) - long song fragment. Morin Khuur & water (field recording Buyant river, Khovd, Mongolia).

            pt3 - Bii (body/dance) - arrangement of a Mongolian dance melody on Morin Khuur & drum.

            pt4 - Uul (mountain) - Arrangement of Dorvon Uul a Mongolian melody for Morin Khuurs, Fender Telecaster,

                     harmony khöömii singing & drums.

4. Rubruck’s Karakorum Dance 4’28’’

            In celebration of William of Rubruck’s arrival at Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia.

            Arranged for Kobyz, frame drums, khöömii, copper bells & rams horn.

5. Alaap Twenty Three 13’25

            An improvisation played on an “Esraj” inspired by Indian Classical music and accompanied by Tambura, gongs,

            & bowed cymbal.


All instruments & pieces played, arranged and composed by Michael Ormiston ©2000


Thanks to Jeff Higley and Candida Valentino for their help and inspiration.


Dedicated to my daughter Amina


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