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This is Mongolian ensemble Egschiglen’s fourth album and the third to feature Amartuvshin’s fine Khöömii (Throat Singing). Amartuvshin comes from Chandman District in Western Mongolia, arguably the birthplace of Khöömii. His powerful singing retains much of the traditional styles of older singers such as Tserendavaa; however the influence of Tuvan Khöömei can be heard in the low Khargiraa (sub harmonic) style particularly on their renamed version of Huun Huur Tu’s classic ‘Kungurei’. Amartuvshin sings lyrics in Khailakh (a tense compressed guttural voice) or Khargiraa styles with the amazing non-verbal high melodic
GEREG ~ music by Egschiglen
overtone style being featured on half a dozen cuts. His mastery enables him to sing the dizzyingly heights of the 16th harmonic and to adapt to unfamiliar musical settings. The one drawback is that his Khöömii can get lost in some of the overly dense arrangements.


1. Hunnu is a song from the 'deep past' of Mongolia - and a homage to the Huns who founded their legendary empire in the 3rd century BC between Lake Baikal, the Altai Mountains, the Chingan range and China, the first nomad empire of Central Asia consisting of 25 peoples. China tried to protect itself against the raids of the "barbarians of the north", as the Chinese farmers called the Huns disparagingly, by building the Great Wall. The empire of fearless nomad horsemen disintegrated after the death of their king Attila in 453 AD.

2. Goviin Magtaal : Paeans or songs of praise (magtaal) are sung to pay tribute to nature in itself, the spirits of nature or the Lamaistic gods or to praise individual mountains, rivers, animals or heroes. It is mainly camel-driving nomads who live in the Gobi Desert, so this paean is sung to the Gobi in the rhythm of the camel's footsteps. "From the blue gleaming steppe you come to visit us in the Gobi. When you visit us in the Gobi, you are cordially invited to our yurt. The doors of our white yurt are always open. With best wishes we invite you: take a seat on the north side of the yurt (place of honour), and the genial Gobi girl will entertain you with freshly brewed tea with camel's milk. Visit us in the Gobi, the home of countless herds - the fabulous Gobi."

3. Duuren Zaan : This composition is based on a myth about the legendary wrestler Duuren Zaan, a young man of the people who was killed by the people of the prince because he had defeated the prince's wrestlers. Earlier the wrestling competitions were arranged by princes, high state officials and religious dignitaries, they had their best fighters compete against each other, not uncommonly with fatal consequences. State and church, represented by their wrestlers, often carried out a power struggle. The church often won ...

4. Aisui Hulugiin Tuvurguun: "The echoing hoofs of the approaching horses", as the title of this piece is translated, is an anthem to the Naadam festival which is celebrated in Mongolia in the middle of July. Its roots go back to the time of the Huns and Genghis Khan. The three warlike 'basic sports' are the focus of the festival: wrestling, archery and horse racing. During the spectacular horse race which takes place over several days, hundreds of riders start well outside Ulan Bator and chase like a cloud of dust through the steppe up to the competition area, followed at break­neck speed by spectators in jeeps who can afford to watch the race from as close up as possible. The festival begins when the six to twelve-year old boys and girls climb into the saddles in order to take the horses into the race as jockeys. The first five winners are given a prize and awarded with a song of praise (moriny tsol). Successful horses can reach astronomical prices when sold - the breeding and the training of the animals are a science in themselves in which the experiences of the nomads and warriors over the centuries are passed down.

5. Jaran Zagaan Aduu: The sad old song of the Tuva people from the northwest tells the story of the time of the Manchu rulers in Mongolia (1691-1911). All men between 18 and 60 were liable to military service, many of them were drafted from the Manchurian central power, and hardly any returned: "Of sixty white horse herds / where are the best, my brothers / Of six regions of our country / Where are half of the people, my sister?"

6. Meeneg : Sun, moon and the endless starry sky have also always exerted their magical fascination on the Mongolian people. Shamanistic practices are also closely connected with the heavenly bodies here. The Buryat people from the northeast of Mongolia are the only ones who practice a round dance (yoohor) which describes the circle of the sun's orbit. It is accompanied by sung strophes which are improvised by individual singers and are answered in the chorus by all dancers. "Meeneg" is a love song and is widespread in the west of Buryatia in particular; in the eastern part it was banned by the Buddhist lamas and may be heard only at weddings.

7. Nutgiin Zamd : Amra, the khöömii virtuoso in the ensemble, comes from Chandman Sum in west Mongolia, the birthplace of overtone singing. Here the khöömii traditions go back more than 1,500 years, and from generation to generation the five most important khöömii variants are passed down. Khöömii is much more than 'just' the art of overtone singing. In Mongolia khöömii is also seen as a spiritual and magical art form which requires power, endurance, perseverance and comprehensive training - almost like a sport. Khöömii teaches the people to overcome difficulties and to enjoy the results of their work. People who do not respect difficulties or are not interested in overcoming them cannot become khöömii singers. In "Nutgiin Zarnd" Amra describes his (spiritual) journey home.

8. Huurhun Haluin : This ritual farewell song of parents for the bride is a traditional Mongolian long song (urtyn duu). It consists of three basic forms: extended long song, general long song and abbreviated long song (besreg). The verses of the besreg are short and its musical structure is less complex so that the lyrics - in this case advice to the bride to follow the words of the parents respectfully to maintain friendship with the new sisters - can be understood better: "Your beautiful beige-coloured horse has a gentle character, but you still have to be careful when saddling. The customs are different in the foreign country. Wait until you get used to these."

9. Adagio from the Ballet “Uran Has” : During the socialist period (1924 - 92) European art forms like classical music, opera and ballet came to Mongolia, and traditional Mongolian songs and dance melodies were Europeanised. Revolutionary lyrics were often combined with traditional melodies adapted in such a manner as they were seen as a symbol of the "new music for a new time". Jamyangiin Chuluun (1928 - 96), whose ballet "Uran Has" from 1973 was the basis for the Mongolian ballet school, received the state award in 1966 and later various other awards for his contribution to the development of classical music and ballet.
The ih Nur musician Uugan dedicates this composition to his friend Peter Lindi, with whom he built his Mongolian bass violin which can be heard for the first time on this recording.

10. Byan Hishig daa Lam : The band improvises on a humorous folksong, the title is the name of the protagonist.

11. Udelt : A short song like the Darhad from the northwest of Mongolia sing: the lyrics tell the story of a painful farewell.

12. Shigshergiin Ai : The melodies and rhythms of many short songs imitate noises, movements and the character of animals, especially horses. The gaits of a horse in particular are described meticulously and translated into music: walk, trot, gallop, amble etc. This song of the Dörvöd traces the amble of the fine brown horse and the sound of the harness magnificently decorated with silver work.

13. Chamagaa Gelgui Yahav : A short song of the Dörvöd people in the west of Mongolia: "Of sixty thousand sheep / The red ones are the best / Of a hundred thousand boys / You are my only sweetheart". Short songs (bogino duu) are very popular in northwest Mongolia, they are sung at casual meetings. The singer improvises his (often satirical) lyrics about everyday events, embarrassing behaviour, difficult relationships - or like in this song - about love.

14 Zezegtei Harmai : is a besreg duu, an abbreviated long song of the Darhad who live in the forested Taiga regions and breed yaks or reindeer. It describes the beauty of this region around the Harmai river and traces the contours of the mountains, valleys and steppes.

15. Bonus Track : For a while the band have pitched their yurt in the rural Bavarian area of Röthenbach an der Pegnitz, where they can hear unfamiliar sounds which they readily pick up and turn into music with a humorous wink - and when it is a Franconian peasant song.

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