Tengis Songs of the Darkhad people by Chichgedin oianga (Group of the valley) Col CD 111 (Colophon Records 2001)


This CD features mainly short songs ably sung by Oyünshimeg and accompanied by a morin khuur and/or an accordian. Sodnom Baatar sings his khöömii on the three magtaals present on the CD.


From the liner notes


This recording presents the musical practise of the Darkhads of the village Rintchinlkhumbe. The “Chichgedin oianga” literally the "Group of the valley", interprets styles belonging to Mongolian populations as a whole but, except where indicated, the repertoire is principally Darkhad. They sometimes incorporate into their repertoire songs from directly neighbouring populations: the Khotgoids and the Tsataans who make a living from rearing reindeer in the mountains ranging along the Russian border.


The short songs are indeed short. The melodies are built on pentatonic scales One of the regular practises of the Darkhads is to use these melodies to improvise new lyrics, This is their opportunity to put to music a witticism or a mockery about a new element of their environment or human entourage. Observation and subtle use of language are two highly prized qualities throughout Mongolia. Long songs are of a more solemn style. Each syllable is drawn out, shaped, reformed and vocalized for the sheer pleasure of it. Once the text is written down it rarely represents more than a few sentences. Pauses for breath are sparse and symbolically charged: the singer relives Mongolians use the same word to express both life and breath. The horse hurdygurdy (mörin khüür) must follow the meanders of the voice without ever anticipating on it. Unlike long and short songs, songs of praise are characterized by an abundance of words. As their name suggests, they are sung in praise of a place, or of the actions of the daily lives of the nomadic shepherds. They are generally accompanied by the hurdy‑gurdy. The bards (tüülitch) are aging and this style is seldom adopted by young people who prefer the short songs better adapted to the rhythm of modern life. Mongolian popular songs are more recent and are sung throughout Mongolia. They are based on a verse/chorus structure, which closely resembles that of our popular songs.


1. Darkhadi Magtal:  song in praise of the Darkbad people


          “It is in the country of the Darkhad that the flower of the lake grows...

           Let's adore her song, let the hurdy‑gurdy play, let's pluck her strings...

           I look to the cast, there spreads a treasure of nature.

           To the west, you'll see graceful gazelles graze.

           This country is the greatest treasure and keeps the world in harmony”


2. Olin Khalzan davaa: short song


           “What emotion to remember and sing about childhood haunts.

             Do you remember the fifteen great ovoo?

             They watch over the pass, which leads to our pastures…”


   The ovoo is a monument of piled up stones or intertwining tree trunks, which indicates the presence of spirits or commemorates an important event.


3. Khoyee, khoyee, khoyee: short song


             “Tomee, man of wisdom, is forgotten, but not so the melody of his song...”


4. Elstein Ganga: short song .


            “My country is decorated with sand.

              I see this distant mirage as my herd wanders far away, becoming whiter and whiter…”


5. Orgil khangain magtal: song in praise of the Orgil Mountains


           “The very names of these mountains are a gentle poem

             Listen to the grace and beauty of the country where I was born

             Hear therein my praise for the Orgil Mountains…”


6. Ambaindaa otchinow: short song                                                   


             “Is it possible to go out onto the brown and misty taiga without stopping to drink at thespring of this virtuous friend…”                                     


7. Orgöön n'orsnoo medsengui: short song


              “Because the steps of the great blue sky spread out above my head,

               I have not noticed the new grass of the pasture.

               Because he conversed endlessly, I did not realize I had arrived…”


8. Yamar L’amrag gekhev: short song


              “The fog lingers over the summit of the Taiga.

                Will you ever manage to tell her of your love?

                The smoker slumbers... how will he tell her of his love?…”


9. Talbaï charag: long song


               “We all live in this vast yellow expanse of land. Words spoken together cannot be false…”


10. Khürgani aya: melody of the lambs


11. Bogd Durijingaravin magtal: song of praise for the sacred mountains of Duniingaravin.


12. Tosooroo Chüürsan tovog: long song


             “Tovog, tempest of dust. Arsaï rams into my side. My Emt, tempest of dust.

               Arsaï surges into the valley. My Tovog who blows in gusts, Arsaï has covered us with stones…”


       Tovog and Emt are the names of winds and Arsaï is the name of a torrent flowing down from the mountains to the west of the village


13. Aligartnaa: popular Mongolian song


              “He puts the blue khadag on the arms of the young Aligarmaa.

               With Altansukh, she ties the path of her life.

               Altansukh has gone to fight in the war.

               She has been waiting thirteen years now….”


     The Khadag is a blue material consecrated by the Buddhist monks.


14. Samgaldaï: Tsataan melody


15. Delteï tsenkher: long Khotgoid song


              “I see the undulations of your blue mane.

               What makes you suffer?

               Oh, river Delger, why are you strangling me?…”


16. Khangain magtal: song of praise for the Khangai mountains


17. Mörni aya: melody of the horses. The movements of the herd on the steppe are set to music.


18. Zöölöingin arin mod: short song


     A kilometer outside the village, on a rocky promontory named “Zöölöng” the Darkhads have erected an ovoo made of branches.


             “Behind Zöölöng, the trees crisscross like the winds... his weathered and tender face often changes….”


19. Altain magtal: song of praise for the Altai Mountains.


20. Büdarmaar, Büdarmaar salikh: long song


      In winter there blows an icy wind which the Darkhads name Büdarmaar. Over the past two years, many animals have died in the blizzards provoked by these  



21. Samgaldaï Tsataan song


            “Samgaldaï, the northern mountain is a jewel engraved and decorated with stones,

              but the man who does not see it this way would probably say that it is just a coarse cliff….”


22. Siilen Böör: popular Mongolian song


         “Before the sun slowly finishes its journey across a clement, clear sky,

          the daughter of the southern neighbour, she who is named Siilen Böör, will be accompanied.

          This slim princess had never dreamed she would leave like this….


Musicians: Donsolmaa Oyünshimeg (vocals) Sodnom Baatar (‑horse hurdy‑gurdy and vocals : 1, 5, 6, 11, 16, 19), Dorj Tchimbat (accordion


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