Music of Mongolia (Various Artist) : Buda records 92951-2 (recorded june August 1993)

This CD has three khmii tracks, one a solo featuring the six styles of Gereltsogt, the other two being part of praise songs. The CD also features a rare field recording of song that makes a mother camel cry! Some extracts of rare epics, as well as some rare Kazakh recordings.


1. Praise of Gengis Khan


Khurelbaatar (vocals and morin xuur), Davaatav (vocals and tobsuur) Shinebajar (vocals and tobsuur). Three amateur musicians, recorded in the region of Tchoibalsan, during a naadam which took place 300 km cast of Ulan‑Bator. Since perestroika and the liberalization of Mongolia, the cult of Gengis Khan is fully growing in the country. Singers use various xoomij (diphonic singing) techniques.


"Gengis Khan, the son of Tenguer khan (Tenguer or Tengri, is the name of the deified sky.),

and of a worried mother, has four beloved brothers, ministers wise and experienced,

two childhood friends Moukhlai and Boorc, thousands of victorious soldiers, nine genius

counsellors presiding over all his victories, and a faithful wife

Bogd Gengis Khan, venerated khan of all Mongolia had a good horse faithful to his master,

children loved by their close relations from the region of the Kherlen and Onon rivers

which water the steppes.

Through his words full of teachings and his actions always heroic

Gengis always sacrificed himself for his motherland, and never spared himself

At the turn of the century we glorify Gengis Khan

and hope that new generations will still revere his memory."


2. Praise of the Altai and Khangai


Gerelsogt (vocals, aman xuur, morin xuur) Tuvsingjargal (vocals, tobsuur), Tuvsinbatar (vocals, morin xuur). Recorded in Ulan‑Bator. These three professional musicians mostly work in Ulan‑Bator.


"...High immaculate mountain tops stand against the sky one after the other

Clear rivers and underground sources flow rapidly

Animals and birds are many,

and huge is the richness in the mountains of Altai and Khangai..."


3. The black horse ‑ legend of X X Namzil


Tserindoj (vocals, morin xuur). Recorded in Ulan Bator. Professional musician Tserindorj is the vice‑president of the morin xuur players association and one of the best specialists of this instrument. This song tells the story of X X Namzil and his winged horse Zonon Xar. When his mount was killed by a jealous woman,

this hero made the first morin xuur with his horse's skull, skin and hair.


"...After a long search for his master the horse encountered a woman who looked friendly

But the wretched woman decided to kill the good horse when she understood he belonged to X X Namzil

The servant got her knife and cut his wings

The horse did not know he had met an enemy...


4. Zhangar epic ‑ excerpt


Tserindod (vocals, aman xuur, tobsuur). Recorded in Ulan‑Bator. The Mongolian epic repertoire (tuul/lger), which is now rarer and rarer, comprises about ten works; the most famous are the Geseer epic (which the Mongols share with the Tibetans or Mandhus) and the Zhangar epic, an excerpt of which is presented here.


"...When the world saw the birth of its various religions, in the land of khan Taxai Zunui it also saw the birth of Zhangar,

grandson of khan Tansag Bembee, son of khan Uizen Aldar,

At the age of two, he lost his country, devastated by a monster and he remained alone

At the age of 88, he conquered ten countries of the East.

Forty khans of these countries fell under his domination.

He could tell all the events or the past 99 years and foretell all the events of the future 99 years.

In his kingdom, there was neither winter nor heatwave.

And he reigned with his wife, a sixteen years old beauty


5. Xmij Gerelsogt: (vocals, morin xuur). Recorded in Uan‑Bator. Gerelsotgt demonstrates the various diphonic singing styles. He is a professional musician and his five or six years old son already practices xmij under his father's direction.


"Mongols have six xmij (diphonic singing) techniques: nasal, pharyngal, thoracic, abdominal, narrative, and isgerex xmij, also known as 'the voice of nasal flute (Tran Quang Hai, in Musiques du Monde ‑ Guide pedagogique, Published by J.M. Fuzeau, Courlay, France 1993.)


6. Urtyn duu


Recorded in the Gobi Midlands, in the south of Mandalgobi.


The Gobi Midlands are considered the land of urtyn duu ‑ the long song. This amateur singer was recorded during one of the small naadams that take place all over the Mongolian steppe during the month of`July. A remarkable feature of the urtyn duu, or long song (as opposed to the short song, bogino duu) is its ornaments, so complex that the lyrics are sometimes hard to understand. Melismatic ornaments such as portamento gulsuulax) or falsetto (uranqai) combine with a rich variety of note ornaments, known by the generic name of timeglel (Nakagawa Shin, A study of Urtiin Duu ‑ Its Melismatic Elements and Musical Form, in Musical Voices of Asia. Report of Asian Traditional Performing Arts 1978, Heibonsha Ltd Publishers, Tokyo,1980.) The slow majestuous ornaments seem to spring naturally from the vastness ofthe steppe or desert landscapes.


7. Urtyn duu


Ioutbaten Boiourgtslooun (vocals) and her father (morin xuur). Recorded in the Gobi Midlands, south of Mandalgobi.


This young female singer is about fifteen years old. She intends to become a professional singer. She lives in Mandalgobi, a small town in the north of Gobi, but was recorded in front of her grand parents yurt, in the heart of the Gobi Midlands.


8. Song for the milking of a she‑camel


Alimbi Tsedev (vocals) and Ioutbaten Boiourgstlooun's father (morin x uur). Recorded in the Gobi Midlands, 200 km south of Mandalgobi.


The Mongols have retained the art of communicating with animals. Alimbi Tsedev sings here a wordless melody, in a form very similar to that of the urtyn duu. She sings to convince a she‑camel to feed a young orphan camel. The impact of the song is so powerful that after a few minutes the she‑camel starts crying.


9. Dembee


Recorded in the surroundings of Zuumnod.


The two partners sing while they play dembee, a finger game in which one must guess the number of fingers his adversary opens out. The loser must drink a big cup of fermented mare milk at one gulp. This very popular game gives rise to competitions broadcast on television. This recording took place during a friendly meeting in a yurt.


10. Dance Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑Olgij.


A male dance. The morin xuur is also played solo.


11. Court music


Ts Purevkhun (morin xuur) N.Jambaljarrits (limbe), Batnasan (joocin), B. Altanzul (xuucir), Narangel (Yataga) Ts. Tsuluuntsetseg (Sanza). Recorded in Ulan‑Bator.


The Mongol and Chinese fought and invaded each other for centuries Inner Mongolia is part of the Popular Republic of China and more and more Han people go and settle there. These warlike relations have not hindered cultural exchanges. This orchestra which comprises both Chinese and Mongol instruments, play music similar to that once played by Jong Tsai, a famous Mongolian musician in the Chinese Qin court


12. Limbe solo


N.Jambaljants (limbe). Recorded in Ulan‑Bator.


This transverse flute used to be made of bamboo. This, unfortunately, is a plastic one. It is played with a beautiful continuous breath technique.


13. Lamaic ritual ‑ excerpt


Community of the Dasgimpeliin Hiid Lamaic monastery (vocals, labali/dun, xengereg, xonxo, cymbals). Recorded in Mandalgobi.


In the XVIIIth century, Tibetan missionaries converted masses of Mongols to Lamaism, although shamanism did not disappear. Since the liberalization of the Mongolian society following the USSR dismemberment, monastic communities, which had become very rare since the end of the twenties, reappeared in many places. The Lamas chant in Tibetan, the sacred language of Lamaic Buddhism.




The Kazakhs, a Turkic, Sunni Muslim people, amounted to about five percent of the population a decade ago. The economic difficulties of Mongolia, as well as the independence and the relative prosperity of Kazakhstan caused an emigration difficult to estimate number wise.


14. Song


X.(vocals and dombra). Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑Olgij. This Kazakh bard was passing by a yurt where we were filming. He did not fail the nomadic reputation of his people: as soon as he finished singing, he got on his horse and left before anyone had time to ask his name.


"To start my song and respect its style, it is difficult

and once started, to present it to my audience, it is difficult,

To take a dombra and start singing, it is not easy

and when I sing; to know what my audience think, it is not easy.

I cannot sing on order, but when I sing Im like a galloping horse.

I do not sing like a poet I cannot say no when people want to hear me.


15. Ky


Jumajan Uli Seit (dombra). Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑Olgij. The ky are instrumental pieces which are either especially composed or adapted from existing songs. They are played here by professional musicians.




Bedel Uli Aigan (dombra). Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑Olgij.


17. Qobuz solo


Diuvmipjdiart Tsevooravdan (qobuz). Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑Olgij.


The peculiarity of this musician is that he is an Uriankhai Mongol (a Mongol ethnical group from the west) who plays Kazakh music professionally.


18. Sibizgi solo


Kumakhan Uli Kelek (sibizgi). Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑olgij.


This musician uses a vocal drone.


19. Quartet


Diuvmipjdart Tsevooravdan (Qobuz), Kumakhan Uli Kelek (sibizgi), Jumaja Uli Seit (dombra), Bedel Ui Aigan (dombra).

Recorded in the Altai, in the region of Bajan‑Olgi.


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