Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Fond Look at Mongolian Music

Mongolia was one of the satellite republics that was under communism strongly allied to the former USSR. It is landlocked and has forbidding climate. since 1924, it was a communist republic closely patterned after the USSR in domestic and foreign policy.

With the fall of communism, there was a resurgence of Mongolian patriotic feeling. Some people wanted to translate fifty years of publishing from the Cyrillic alphabet to the traditional Mongolian form of writing. it was then discovered that the alphabet introduced by the Russians was very well suited to the Mongolian language. As a result, the initial plans to expunge Russian influence were considerably modified.

Mongolia is most famous for the ability of some singers to sing two notes simultaneously. Mongolian throat singing seems to me to have a raspy "throaty" quality that I can not pretend to enjoy. It does sometimes sound pleasing when mixed into "folk rock'

A lot of pop music in Mongolia sounds like canned generic pop that could just as well be shmaltzy Japanese music. I never leap into a new genre of music without a bridge. Folk rock does the job for me very well. A Mongolian rock video that shows lots of horses (their national drink is fermented horse milk) and majestic landscapes is far more likely to sound indigenous than a video set in a night club.

One of my favourite Mongolian folk rock groups is Altan Urag. It is played on traditional Mongolian instruments and at times seems more like a sort of classical music mixed in with rock.
I am including a video of theirs called "Requiem."

One positive side of nationalistic feeling is when people find what is unique and rewarding in their own culture and share it with the rest of the world. When such national pride meets You tube and the internet, the world is the richer for it. I am pleased to share Mongolian music with my readership. I hope my readers will check it out on their own.
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