Mongolia

Mongolia Monday- Contemporary Music, Part 1

This is the first in an on-going series about one of the many delightful and unexpected discoveries that I’ve made since I’ve started going to Mongolia-

I was channel-surfing one evening when I was staying at the Narantuul Hotel in Ulaanbaatar during my 2006 trip and came across a music video channel. That’s where my introduction to the music scene in Mongolia began. Most of what is available for sale through outlets like Amazon are traditional “folk” music CDs, particularly performances of khoomi (throat-singing) and long song (in which female singers greatly elongate the notes). One could be left with the impression that Mongolian music consists only of these “indigenous” forms. One couldn’t be more wrong.

Great cultural synthesizers that they are, the Mongols seem to have picked up a number of western popular music idioms within five years of the changeover from socialism to parliamentary democracy and capitalism. In rapid succession that evening and on subsequent trips, I watched boy bands, rap groups, rock groups, neo-folk groups and a variety of male and female soloists. I found myself trying to scribble down names in Mongolian cyrillic. The first group that really grabbed me, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows the music scene there, was Nomin Talst. This last trip I “discovered” The Lemons, A Sound, A Capella and Pilots. Poking around on YouTube, which has hundreds of Mongol music videos, unearthed superb soloists like Ganaa (who was, and I guess still is, with one of the first successful boy bands, Camerton) and a woman who has an extraordinary voice, Maraljingoo. Here they are in a duet. I’ve  never been able to figure out the plot in this one. (Any Mongols reading this want to help me out?)

Here’s a solo video by Maraljingoo:

And one from Ganaa:

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a way to buy any of this music via downloads. I purchased a few CDs when I was in UB in July and a Mongol friend brought back a stack last month from a list that I gave her. Otherwise, I have a 100 song playlist on YouTube and listen to a Mongol Facebook friend’s internet radio station here. His 32,000 song selection really runs the gamut from old-style vocalists to hard rock and everything in between.

I really enjoy listening to Mongol pop music while I work on paintings and drawings with Mongol subject matter!

5 replies »

  1. the first one is for a play – the title translates to “Visa for Love” – like you have to get a visa to go to a country I guess you need one to love. “you look was lovable; your wish was too pure” “the sole that went on a date was not wrong; the shirt that got wet never dried”

    Even in pro-communist time we still had lot of music – many were soft rock. In 80’s & 90’s rock were great. you should check Haranga; Hurd; Niciton. those were pre 2000. you can’t assume that modern Mongolian music was just developed in past 5 years.

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  2. No, I knew Mongolian music, traditional and popular, has been around for a long time. But the explosion of Western-style pop and rock music started after the change from socialism in the early 1990s, I thought.

    I listen to the three groups you’ve mentioned on Tsahim internet radio, http://www.tsahimradio.com/, which is run by a Mongol graphic designer who lives in Ohio. It’s been great for hearing a wide variety of music, from khoomi to Janntsanarov to Sarantuya to A Sound. Haranga is probably my favorite of the three. I love their version of “Long Way Round”.

    I’ve had to put together what I’ve learned from lots of bits and pieces. There’s some info on Wikipedia, but not enough. Please feel free to post any other comments or information that you have. I would really appreciate it since I think that Mongolian music deserves to be much better known.

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  3. oh I know not too many info on Mongolia; thanks for the link Susan – the tsahimradio keeps stopping; maybe it is my connection. Is there a sorting for different type of music? i.e. POP folder?; traditional Folder; that would be good. FYI. to him
    I am not a big fan of Camerton but they have two good songs:
    1. let me love you or I wanna love you

    2. Sweet 18 (or 18 years old)

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  4. Saruul, I will send him a message and ask him.

    I like some of Camerton, the songs that aren’t too hip-hop. I do like the solo albums that Gana, Ebe and Mede put out. I’d like to get a couple of Bold’s.

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  5. Ganbold says that he thinks the problem is with your connection and that he only has the one channel right now, so you can’t do folders. But he says that he might set up more in the future with different types of music.

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