Le Chant des Steppes by Talyn Duulal (group) Label Bleu LBLC 2523 (released 1995)

Another CD to show the Talents of Khöömii singer Ganbold. He performs four styles of Khöömii on five tracks including simultaneously playing the Tömör Khuur (jaw’s harp) and Khöömii! There is some great female long and short song singing. The rest of the CD features traditional and “composed contemporary traditional” instrumentals played on the Morin Khuur, Yatag. and Yoochin.


1. Altain Magtall (3.46) The Altai is both the name given to the great mountainous chain of the West, as well as to the Master‑Spirit who reigns over this immense place. It is important to address him a pastoral praise full of admiration in his honour, so that he may deign to grant prey to

unlucky hunters


2. Setgeld Shingesen Gov (6.09) (The Gobi Has Absorbed My Thoughts). The beauty of the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia ‑ with its mountains, its steppe, its sand dunes, its colours ‑ is the focus of this pastoral praise.


3. Uyakhan Zambativiin Nar (3.54) As a message of universal peace, this song is a reminder that all of humanity lives under the same sun


4. Temeen Teshee (3.01) (The Running of the Camel). The different gaits of the horses and camels often constitute a source of inspiration for musical pieces with sprightly rhythms. Living mostly in the southern plains and on the western plateaus, the camel, which begins to run offers the musician a superb pretext for a musical composition based on its gait and its characteristic tears.


5. Tomor Khuur, Xoomii (2.48) (Variation with harp and diaphonic chants). The diaphonic vocal techniques in Mongolia come from the Altai Mountains, as does the playing of the iron harp. In the diaphonic chants, the singer emits at the same time a vocal humming and a laryngeal whistling. It is said that this type of singing was inspired by the sound produced by nature, such as the wind of the steppe, the rushing of the mountains' rivers, the birds' songs. The playing becomes more complex as the musician adds to the harp different styles of diaphonic chants.


6. Yantaivan Googoo (2.16) (The Beautiful Yantaivan). In the past, before the spouses met, the issue of the dowry to the future daughter‑in law's family had to be settled. In the meantime, they dreamt of one other by picturing each other in their thoughts.


7. Tsagaan Sar, Khokh Torgom Tsamts (2.47) (The White Month, followed by The Blue Silk Shirt). Two melodies of popular songs are linked here, with themes dear in the hearts of Mongolians: ‑a) The period surrounding the New Year, called “the White Month” because of the major consummation of “white food” (dairy products and sheep's tail) at this time; ‑b) Silk, coming from the cities, a valuable and honorary gift that is offered to fiancees.


8. Khoomi (3.43) (Diaphonic chants) Accompanying himself with the Ekhil viol, the singer presents four types of diaphonic chants, in free progression: Khargiralt (“in the manner of the black crane”), Bagalzauurlin (“of the throat”), Tseejnii (“of the chest”), Khamriiu (“of the nose”).


9. Morin Tovorgoon (2.55) (The Horse's Gallop). With an evocation of the great spaces of the infinite steppe, the instrumentalist sets about imitating the different gaits of his horse as well as its whinnying.


10. Gandii Mod, Khotgoidyn Unaga (3.30) (Birchwood, the Khotgoid Foal). Two melodies of very well‑known songs come together in this piece. The first has as its theme the love of a mother who waits impatiently for the return of her child. The second venerates all the qualities of an exceptional foal, winner of all the races, and who is the pride of his owner.


11. Sartai Khurni Khatiraa (1.57) (The Rapid Trot of the Brown Horse with the White Frontal Star). This musical evocation, with a specific rhythm of the rapid trot of the horse's gait, helps to highlight the unique playing of this instrument, where the left hand subtly modulates the strings being plucked by the right hand.


12. Sunjidmaa (4.22) (the name of a young woman). How to separate after having been promised to one another since childhood? This song, tinged with nostalgia, expresses this feeling of heartbreak experienced by lovers when they must leave each other at the crossroads of their lives.


13. Jalam Khar (2.24) (The Black Messenger). Among the long distance horse races organized in July across the country, the one which regroups the ambling horses is particularly appreciated. In fact, the horse that ambles naturally is the preferred horse of the Mongolians, who must travel in the steppe. Its gait comfortably cradles the rider. This is the reason why it has become one of the very popular themes in the musical repertory of the Morin Khuur


14. Kherleng1iin Bariyaa (3.17) The melody of a very popular long chant about the picturesque landscape afforded by the Kherelin in the west‑centre region of Mongolia. A young woman, seated in contemplation of the meanderings of the river, thinks of her older brother who is far away.


15. Khuren Mor' (2.18) (The Brown Horse) This song's theme is widely known among the Zakhtchin Mongolians who live in the West. The love felt for his horse is paralleled with that of nature, his best friend and his loved one.


16. Jiijuu Khot (2.37) Originating in the plains of Inner Mongolia, in China, this song relates the story of a beautiful young woman who sings exquisitely while working on her sewing. She recalls a good young man whom she met in the past.


17. Ardyn Duuny Nairuulga (3.10) (Composition with Popular Melodies). Often, the professional musicians like to compose by combining several melodies from popular songs; this allows, among other things, to reveal in a relatively short amount of time the many facets of the high level of mastery needed to play the instrument.


18. Khavryn Shuvuud Irlee (4.22) The return of the migrating birds announces the end of winter and spring's rebirth. All of nature is in celebration and joy warms the heart.


Alain Desjacques. March 1995.


Return to Mongolian CD main page


Taravjavyn Ganbold Diaphonic chant. He was a student of the great master Sundui

Batchulunii Sarantuya Long chant and short chant. She was a student of the diva Norovbanzad.

Dashjaviin Tsogbadrakh Horse‑Viol . Former student of the virtuoso Jamyan.

Tserendondoviin Tserenkhorloo Oblong Cithara . One of the best citharists of the moment.

Gombliin Nansalmaa Trapezoid Cithara. Recently received the high distinction of Best Musician of “1994” from the Mongolian Ministry of culture.


The group Talyn‑Duulal brings together top‑level Mongolian professional artists who have already been awarded great national and international distinctions. These artists live for the most part in the capital Oulan Bator, but have emerged from extremely diverse regions. Their repertory consists essentially of chants and popular music taken from all across the country, as well as personalized adaptations and compositions, in the traditional style, by contemporary composers. The music that they propose for our listening pleasure is representative of a movement that could be called "new traditional music". This music ushers forth a revival of the already extremely ancient musical tradition. Through this music the soul of the Mongolian people is reflected: nomadic pastors who live in perfect symbiosis with nature and domestics animals. The different gaits of the horses and camels offer a source of rhythmic musical inspiration, while the contemplation of the magnificent landscapes releases profound internal emotions, images of a simple and pastoral life.


The Mongolian Voices


All throughout its evolution, Mongolian music has conceded a large place to the voice, as testify the countless number of songs, the diversity of vocal types and the particularity of the vocal techniques employed. The songs are often, but not necessarily, accompanied by one of several musical instruments.

Diaphonic Chants ‑ Khoomi

This vocal acrobatics consists in the emitting of a hum from which a harmonic line will rise to constitute the melody of the piece.  Few Mongolians know how to do this, but one finds examples in their neighbours of Touva. Depending on the vocal or facial resonators selected, different aspects of diaphonic chants are brought out : that of  “the throat”, “the nose”, “The chest” ... The  position of the tongue plays an important  role in the selection of the harmonies.

The Khailaka Emission

 Close to the diaphonic chants, this vocal technique employs a husky tone, coming from the back of the throat, in a low‑pitched register. It is exclusively reserved for epic songs and the song of praise to the Altai. Often, the singers combine the diaphonic chants starting from this emission that uses few degrees in a recitative mode.

Urtyn Duu ‑ Long Chant

This kind of singing offers long ornamental and vocal developments with large intervals. A large range is absolutely necessary to perform the long chant, which can extend into more than three octaves, with frequent passages into the head voice. The songs' texts serve in a way as a pretext for the long vocal ornamentations that develop from a few syllables of words.

Bogino Duu ‑ Short Chant

In contrast to the long chant, the short chant is syllabic: this means that each syllable corresponds to a degree (or note); this does not exclude embellishments in places. The rhythm plays an important part and the text becomes primordial.

The Musical Instruments


The Horse‑Viol Morin‑Khuur

The principal instrument of the Mongols, the Morin‑Khuur accompanies song and dance. According to the legend, this instrument is said to come from a magic horse who died a tragic death. That is the reason why, in his memory, the neck ends with a horse head. The resonating chamber, in trapezoid shape, once covered with skin, is today made with a wooden sounding board, pierced with two sound holes. The two strings are made of strands of horsehair.

The Viol Ekhil

Widely used only in the mountainous region of the Altai, in the West, the viol Ekhil (litt.“superior language”) accompanies dance, but also the diaphonic chants. Of an older construction than the Morin‑Khuur, the viol Ekhil resembles it in its trapezoid form and its resonating chamber. The strings, made of horses hair strands, are here inverted and tuned in fifths.

The Harp Tomor‑Khuur

 This iron harp is played in the western region of Mongolia. Played cliaphonically, it participates in the songs of praise to the Altai and in a recent union with the diaphonic chants. Its repertory is composed principally of melodies from popular songs.

The Oblong Cithara Yatga

This instrument is a member of the great family of Asian citharas which includes the Japanese Koto, the Korean Kayageum, the Chinese Tcheng, the Vietnamese Dan Tranh, etc... When the Yatga is played in solo, its repertory consists primarily of adaptations of melodies of popular songs. The Mongols, who abandoned the fabrication of this instrument for an extended period of time, play Kayageum citharas imported from Korea.

The Trapezoid Cithara Yootchin

A linguistic variation of the Chinese term Yang Ch'in (litt.“overseas cithara”), the Yootchin, in trapezoid form, is of foreign origin, probably from the Middle East. The metallic strings are tripled and cross Over 3 two rows of small bridges; they are struck with light and flexible felt‑covered hammers Tsoshiur.


            Return to Mongolian CD main page