Thursday, 15 February 2007

Khoomei Sweet Khoomei

Thursday 15th February
My attempts to track down some traditional music have been a bit half hearted in the two and a half months I've been here in Mongolia. I've heard a few traditional singers at Christmas parties, but other than my visit to an instrument maker's shop last week the rest of my time I have been somewhat culturally delinquent. At last I have rectified the situation, thanks to my friend Bulgaa who texted me this afternoon to ask if I was free this evening. Would it be okay for him to call around to my apartment with his friend Chuluun?

Chuluun is originally from Inner Mongolia and plays the Morin Khuur and is a Khoomei singer. He arrived at my home with the distinctive, roughly bar-bell shaped Morin Khuur softcase on his shoulder. I've heard the Morin Khuur played and I've heard throat-singing before - Bela Fleck and the KLF have both recorded with the unearthly tri-tone singing. Words fail me to describe the experience of hearing the music sung in my living room. I'm hoping to hear Chuluun play tomorrow so I will try and find something to write worthy of his art.

In the meantime, here's Chuluun with his instrument, and also in mid-Khoomei playing the banjo. I had hoped to possibly post the first picture on the web of Khoomei being sung to the banjo, but then I Googled and confirmed that there's nothing new in cyberspace - here's the Myspace page of Arjopa, a Khoomei singer in Germany who plays an old English zither banjo.