I don’t know what nomadic spirit entailed in the past, as I am not familiar with it.
Talking about contemporary nomadic spirit, since we have been nomadizing and on the move, I should think that we are more accommodating and tolerant in terms of our perspective and understanding. Even though we might have been cut off from the traditional way of life and settled in cities, there is still such a “thing” hidden in our hearts.
I hope we will be able to understand and speak each other’s dialects in the future. What makes nomadic music is precisely the fusion of arts from diverse sources.
What do you think are the major characteristics of Western Mongolian music?
Apart from epics, traditional Western Mongolian music includes urtiin duu (long songs) and bogino duu (short songs). Most urtiin duu are melancholic with abrupt high and low notes, a feature that has much to do with their living environment and terrain. Most urtiin duu express yearnings for family members and friends afar.
We have a tradition at my birthplace. At family reunion banquets, people choose different songs for the people they wish to pay tribute to, according to their age or generation. They cannot sing at will. There are many customs; they are all ways for people to express their feelings.
You once made a documentary about a granny in Xinjiang who plays tovshuur (a two-stringed lute). Could you please tell us more about it?
I filmed the granny because I had never seen anyone play and deliver emotions like her. I found it incredible. I decided to make an album for her, so I did some interviews. I just wanted to chat with her and record her daily life.
She lived in a bungalow and cooked for her great-grandchildren every day. She told me her childhood stories and how people lived back then. She also recalled the occasions on which traditional instruments like tovshuur would be used. I found her stories fascinating.
In the past, when music was played, everyone present must stand up and dance. Those who couldn’t dance would be tied up. That is something that we cannot understand anymore, but it was how things were, befitting the environment at the time. I found it interesting.
Trailer of the documentary Tovshur 12
What is your perspective on traditional music?
In the beginning, I thought traditional music was nothing more than symbolic. But gradually, I came to appreciate that traditional music has something much deeper than the simple sound it produces.
Pop music has a direction; it targets some sentiments, such as love or sadness. Traditional music, in contrast, is not directed at any specific sentiment; it is comprehensive, and it has a lifetime benefit for you. When you sing traditional songs, you are being healed subtly. I think this is the greatest value of traditional music.
We cannot say that there is no bond between traditional music and us or that we can be separated from it. It is embedded in every step we take in our lives. This is how I understand traditional music.
Interviewer: Yalagch (Ilchi)
Editor: Hao Huiming
Type setting: Yundan
English Translator: Yang Ran
English Editor: Uradyn E. Bulag* Copyright © NomadRelays. All rights reserved.The copyright of the material on this site (including without limitation the text, artwork, photographs, images, music, audio material, video material and audio-visual material) is owned by NomadRelays. You may request permission to use the copyright materials on this site by email to email@example.com