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Music is an integral part of Mongolian culture. Among the unique contributions of Mongolia to the world's musical culture are the long songs, overtone singing and morin khuur, the horse-headed fiddle. The music of Mongolia is also rich with varieties related to the various ethnic groups of the country: Oirats, Hotogoid, Tuvans, Darhad, Buryats, Tsaatan, Dariganga, Uzemchins, Barga, Kazakhs and Khalha.
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.
The Culture of Mongolia has been heavily influenced by the Mongol nomadic way of life.
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia. Its area is roughly equivalent with the historical territory of Outer Mongolia, and that term is sometimes used to refer to the current state. It is sandwiched between Russia to the north and China to the south, where it neighbours the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, although only 37 kilometres (23 mi) separates them.
Besides the traditional music, Western classical music and ballet flourished during the MPR. Among the most popular forms of modern music in Mongolia are Western pop and rock genres and the mass songs, which are written by modern authors in a form of folk songs.
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European. Western culture has its roots in Greco-Roman culture from before 800 B.C.E..
Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.
Ballet is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology. It has been globally influential and has defined the foundational techniques used in many other dance genres and cultures. Ballet has been taught in various schools around the world, which have historically incorporated their own cultures and as a result, the art has evolved in a number of distinct ways. See glossary of ballet.
Overtone singing, known as höömij (throat), is a singing technique also found in the general Central Asian area. This type of singing is considered more as a type of instrument. It involves different ways of breathing: producing two distinctively audible pitches at the same time, one being a whistle like sound and the other being a drone base. The sound is a result of locked breathes in the chest.
In Mongolia, the most famous throat-singers include Khalkhas like Gereltsogt and Sundui.
"Long songs" (Urtyin duu) are one of the main formats of Mongolian music. The most distinguishing feature is that each syllable of text is extended for a long duration; a four-minute song may only consist of ten words. Other features are a slow tempo, wide intervals and no fixed rhythm. The richer and longer hold a singer has, the more appreciated the singer. Lyrical themes vary depending on context; they can be philosophical, religious, romance, or celebratory, and often use horses as a symbol or theme repeated throughout the song. Eastern Mongols typically use a morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) as accompaniment, sometimes with a type of indigenous flute named limbe. Oirat groups of the Western Mongols typically sing long songs unaccompanied or accompanied with the igil.
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. These feral populations are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior.
The morin khuur, also known as the horsehead fiddle, is a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation. The morin khuur is one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity identified by UNESCO.
The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.
In neighboring China's autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, 15 notated chapters of the court music of the last Mongolian Great Khan Ligdan (1588-1634) was found in a temple near the ruins of his palace Chagan Haote (Ochirt Tsagan Khot). It was already known that the Qing Dynasty of China greatly valued Mongol court music and made it an integral part of its royal ceremonies, especially at feasts.
Inner Mongolia or Nei Mongol, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region or Nei Mongol Autonomous Region (NMAR), is one of the autonomous regions of the People's Republic of China, located in the north of the country. Its border includes most of the length of China's border with Mongolia. The rest of the Sino–Mongolian border coincides with part of the international border of the Xinjiang autonomous region and the entirety of the international border of Gansu province and a small section of China's border with Russia. Its capital is Hohhot; other major cities include Baotou, Chifeng, and Ordos.
Ligdan Khutugtu Khan was the last khan of the Northern Yuan dynasty based in Mongolia as well as the last in the Borjigin clan of Mongol Khans who ruled the Mongols from Chakhar. His unpopular reign generated violent opposition due to his harsh restrictions over the Mongols. His alliance with Ming dynasty of China, sponsorship of Tibetan Buddhism in Chakhar and reorganization of Mongolian political divisions were ineffective when the Qing dynasty became the major power in East Asia.
Largely unknown outside of Mongolia, there is a thriving popular music scene centred in the city of Ulaanbaatar. Actually, this is a mixture of various kinds of popular music. It is often subdivided into pop, Rock, hip hop and alternative (consisting of alternative rock and heavy metal). The pop scene includes boy bands like Camerton, Nomin Talst and Motive, girl groups like SweetYmotion, Kiwi, 3 ohin and Lipstick and solo artists like Sarantuya, Serchmaa, Delgermörön, Bold, BX and the renowned Ariunaa, the alternative scene bands like Nisvanis, Night train, Magnolian, and The Lemons, the rock scene rock-n-roll like the Pilots and Soyol Erdene, folk rock like Altan Urag and hard rock bands like Haranga, Hurd and Niciton, and there are also some techno bands like Khar Sarnai. A few of the younger Mongolian popular artists are becoming increasingly well established internationally, mostly notably, the young female singer Nominjin (singing in 8 languages in a variety of genres) and Amarkhuu Borkhuu, a star of the Russian pop music.
Hip hop/Rap has gained considerable popularity in Mongolia. From the early 1990s, Mongolian teenagers and youngsters formed dancing groups with anywhere between three and thirty members that started to compete in national tournaments. This was the beginning of the Mongolian hip hop movement. For some reason single rappers had never “made it” into the Mongolian hip hop scene. Although, the Mongolian-Swedish rapper Battulga Munkhbayar, also known as The yellow Eminem and 50 öre, has made it to the big stages in Sweden because of his unique rap style. He wasn't so successful as a pickpocket on the streets of Bangkok, though, being arrested there for thieving a Slovak tourist's wallet in 2019.
Early bands include Har Tas and MC Boys. The later two groups represented the beginning of rap in Mongolia. Their songs mostly stressed on social issues, philosophy and rebellious ideas. A later generation consisted of bands like Dain Ba Enkh, 2 Khüü, Erkh-Chölöö, Lumino, Mon-Ta-Rap, Ice Top, Odko, Gee, Quiza, B.A.T and URMC. They continued with similar messages as their predecessors, but also came to include “soft” touches in their songs, which faced with strong resistance from hard core rap fans but welcomed by the general public.
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There is also a long established and distinctive "Mongolian pop" genre that occupies the same place on the musical spectrum as Japanese Enka music or Western soft-pop-oriented folk music or country music. Classic singers from the late 20th and early 21st centuries include Vandan and Dulamsüren, Batsükh, Tömörkhuyag and Egschiglen. Some of the repeatedly heard lyrical themes are very distinctive for Mongolia: heartfelt tributes to the songwriter's mother, for example, or paeans to great horses.
Mongolian popular folk music is not considered world music in the west and was long generally unavailable outside Mongolia, but can now be downloaded from various Mongolian websites. It may be filed under the designation Zohioliin Duu (Зохиoлын Дyy) (schlagers). In the Mongolian language, duu means song; and the genitive word zohioliin derives from the noun for a literary composition. A typical zohioliin duu may include three four-line stanzas and a refrain. The lyrics of zohioliin duu, like those of Mongolian folk poetry, tend to be alliterative. Often, the lines of a zohioliin duu share not only initial letters, but also initial syllables.
Mongolia features a rich tradition of classical music and ballet. The classical music owes its prosperity in the 2nd half of the 20th century to a patronage of then Socialist government that favoured Western and Russian/Soviet classical arts to Western pop culture. In addition, the Mongolian composers developed a rich diversity of national symphony and ballet.
The horse-head fiddle, or morin khuur, is a distinctively Mongolian instrument and is seen as a symbol of the country. The instrument has two strings. There is some controversy regarding the traditional carving of a horse on the upper end of the pegbox. Some scholars believe that this is proof that the instrument was originally a shamanistic instrument. The staffs of shamans have a horse similarly carved on top; the horse is a much-revered animal in Mongolia.
Other instruments used in Mongolian traditional music include shants (a three-stringed, long-necked, strummed lute similar to the Chinese sanxian or Japanese shamisen), yoochin (a dulcimer similar to the Chinese yangqin), khuuchir (a bowed spike-fiddle), yatga (a plucked zither related to the Chinese guzheng), everburee (a folk oboe), khel khuur (Jew's harp), tobshuur (a plucked lute), ikh khuur (bass morin khuur), and bishhuur (a pipe similar in sound to a clarinet).
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Kyrgyz music is nomadic and rural, and is closely related to Turkmen and Kazakh folk forms. Kyrgyz folk music is characterized by the use of long, sustained pitches, with Russian elements also prominent.
An igil is a two-stringed Tuvan musical instrument, played by bowing the strings.. The neck and lute-shaped sound box are usually made of a solid piece of pine or larch. The top of the sound box may be covered with skin or a thin wooden plate. The strings, and those of the bow, are traditionally made of hair from a horse's tail, but may also be made of nylon. Like the morin khuur of Mongolia, the igil typically features a carved horse's head at the top of the neck above the tuning pegs, and both instruments are known as the horsehead fiddle.
Buryatia is a part of the Russian Federation. One of the country's main instruments is a two-stringed horse-head fiddle called a morin khuur. This is a similar instrument to that found across the region. Other elements of Buryat music, such as the use of fourths both in tuning instruments and in songs, and pentatonic scales, reveal similarities to music from Siberia and Eastern Asia. There traditionally was no polyphony, instead voices and instruments performed the same melody in unison but varied in timing and ornamentation.
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of China, with traditions related to Tuvan music and Mongolian music. Popular musicians including the yangqin player Urna Chahar-Tugchi, formerly of Robert Zollitsch’s Gaoshan Liushui, a world music ensemble. The singer-songwriter Tengger has been well known throughout China since his 1986 hit "I am a Mongolian" ; he has since formed a band called Blue Wolf.
The music of Central Asia is as vast and unique as the many cultures and peoples who inhabit the region. Principal instrument types are two- or three-stringed lutes, the necks either fretted or fretless; fiddles made of horsehair; flutes, mostly open at both ends and either end-blown or side-blown; and jew harps, mostly metal. Percussion instruments include frame drums, tambourines, and kettledrums. Instrumental polyphony is achieved primarily by lutes and fiddles.
The long song is one of the central elements of the traditional music of Mongolia. This genre is called "Long song" not only because the songs are long, but also because each syllable of text is extended for a long duration. A four-minute song may only consist of ten words. Certain long songs such as Uvgin shuvuu khoyor, also known as Jargaltain delger has a length of up to 3 hours if to sing in full length with complete 32 stanzas. Lyrical themes vary depending on context; they can be philosophical, religious, romantic, or celebratory, and often use horses as a symbol or theme repeated throughout the song. Eastern Mongols typically use a Morin khuur as accompaniment, sometimes with a type of indigenous flute, called limbe. Oirat groups of the Western Mongols traditionally sing long songs unaccompanied or accompanied with the Igil.
The xiqin was a bowed string musical instrument. It is perhaps the original member of the huqin family of Chinese and Mongolian bowed string instruments; thus, the Erhu and Morin khuur and all similar fiddle instruments may be said to be derived from the xiqin. The xiqin had two silk strings and was held vertically.
Egschiglen are a Mongolian folk band, formed in Ulan Bator in 1991. In English, Egschiglen means "Beautiful Melody", and they are one of very few traditional Mongolian bands to have become internationally popular.
Namgar is a 4-piece music group that performs traditional Buryat and Mongolian music.
Hanggai Band (杭盖乐队) is an Inner Mongolian folk music group who specialize in a blend of Mongolian folk music and more modern styles such as punk rock. Their songs incorporate traditional folk lyrics as well as original compositions, and are sung in Mongolian and Mandarin.
Altan Urag is a Mongolian folk rock band. Formed in 2002, the band's musical style combines traditional Mongolian and contemporary influences.
This is a discography of the Mongolian heavy metal band Hurd.
Soyol Erdene is the first rock band of Mongolia.
Biyelgee or Bii, is a unique form of dance, originated from the nomadic way of life. It has often been labelled in English by Chinese troupes as Mongolian bowl dancing.
Myagmarsürengiin Dorjdagva ; 1986) is a Long song singer from Mongolia and a long song researcher at the International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations (IISNC), an international institution established upon the initiative and support of UNESCO in 1998.
The Hu is a Mongolian heavy metal band formed in 2016. With traditional Mongolian instrumentation, including the Morin khuur, and Mongolian throat singing, the band calls their style of music "hunnu rock", hu being a Mongolian root word for "human". Their producer's name is Dashdondog Bayarmagnai, a.k.a. "Dashka".
Nine Treasures is a Chinese folk metal group with members mostly from the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. Founded in 2010, the group combines traditional Mongolian music with heavy metal, notably using traditional instruments and overtone singing techniques.