Gigs, dance, art

March 21st, 2009: Chi Bulag – Epi – Byambajargal Gombodorj – Nanjid Sengedorj


Some traditional music from Mongolia. That was a treat because of my general interest in music from Asia and because that area was a blind spot for me. I’m still far from knowledgeable, but it was a delightful start, featuring the .

The three musicians from Mongolia came on stage first, but started by performing in turn. Enkh Jargal aka Epi played the Morin Khuur, the horse-headed two string fiddle that seems to be a mainstay of Mongolian music; most impressive was his diphonic singing though, especially the highest notes that I had actually heard before but didn’t even imagine were an actual voice. That sound was really arresting, but that was quickly dispelled by the use he made of both his voice and fiddle. Really beautiful and interesting music. Byambajargal Gombodorj performed in the long song style, long phrases going through a wide range of pitch and modulation. Again beautiful stuff there, but at times her voice was too pure for me; not very often though, and I fully realized how good she is when a voice was a little drowned out later when they played together. Nanjid Sengedorj too performed in the diphonic style, but in a very different way, and also sang while playing a flute at the same time. His music maybe lacked the force of Epi’s, but had a steady elementally evocative quality that was just as convincing. He also briefly played a small lute at the very end, but it was a bit lost in the whole.

Then Chi Bulang played alone for a while, using three different sizes of Morin Khuur. There’s no question he has achieved an impressive mastery of his instrument, and some of his flowing melodies were almost earworms, but in a good way. His music flows naturally in what seems so natural and effortless it can only come from years of hard work. Nonetheless the very perfection made it a bit too impressive, and I still liked Epi better for that reason. Finally he was joined by the three others for the end of the show, and that brought together the different elements very nicely for the most part, except that I felt the long song made more sense on its own of with a more subdued fiddle accompaniment.

The bottom line is that this great show only reinforced my interest in traditional music from Asia, but I still don’t know where I can hear more in my area. I really need to figure that out, the sooner the better.


March 25, 2009 - Posted by | Music | , , , , ,


  1. hi, i just watched the video on you tube from Home about planet earth. While watching i heard music from gombodorj byambajargal at the begining of the video. This music touched me to the core Absolutely spiritual and beautiful voice. I cannot find the name of the song or the song itself in full anywhere can someone please please help and foward any details to thank you.

    Comment by mark | June 6, 2009 | Reply

  2. There’s a link to iTunes on the movie’s page, so I guess finding the soundtrack should be getting easier soon.

    That particular concert was timed for the release of a CD called “Mongolia. Songs and Morin Khuur”, and she sings four tracks on this record, so if you like her voice it’s probably worth checking out. The French radio show behind both is called Couleurs du monde, and the Ocora label is part of the same station.

    The venue (Théatre de la ville) chose the lineup, so they probably have more information as well.

    Comment by counterfnord | June 8, 2009 | Reply

  3. Thank you for info, i will have a look.

    Comment by mark | June 8, 2009 | Reply

  4. A couple more things I could dig out:
    Take a look here for a of video (bottom one). The whole blog is highly recommended (by me that is, which isn’t saying much). Leaving a comment there may be more fruitful than here.
    She might have been part of the Tumen Ekh Ensemble at some point, but my utter lack of knowledge of the language prevents me from being certain.
    Oh, and for serious requests, i.e. if someone is looking for booking info or can actually help with distribution, or are with some kind of media, contact me for indirect but reliable contact info. If you’re just looking for free downloads, don’t bother.

    Comment by counterfnord | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  5. hi
    im so fascinated from that kind of music but i cant refer
    the genre of this music. can you describe for me the genre
    so i can look for more of this kind

    Comment by avi | August 27, 2009 | Reply

    • I don’t know much about Mongolian music, but I’ve read that the diphonic singing style is called Khoomii, and the long song style is called Urtin duu.

      The Mongolian Music blog is a very good place to visit if you’re interested in this. Unlike me, they know what they’re writing about.

      Comment by counterfnord | August 28, 2009 | Reply

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