The musical steppes of Mongolia

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  • Alain Desjacques, a well-known ethnomusicologist, takes us on a pilgrimmage to find and record the best traditional musicians and singers on the steppes of Mongolia. Desjacques had spent time in Mongolia before and had learned the language. Thus he was welcomed and given access to domestic life, with its closely knit families and intergenerational living. Set against stunning vistas of the rugged terrain, the film captures not only the music, but the richly textured details of daily life - hospitality customs, food preparation, games, caring for the herds. It is a portrait of a people who live almost entirely off their animals - horses, yaks, camels, and sheep - with little contact with the outside world. Travelling by horseback, truck and foot, Desjacques tracks down the most revered diphonic musicians. The diphonic sound combines a base drone with a melodic upper register. We hear part of an epic song which takes the singer seven days to perform, completely from memory. The venerable flutist, Narantsogt, performs inside his yurt, producing diphonic sounds that mimic nature. His daughter serves the customary salted tea and yak yogourt fermented in a goat skin bag. The Musical Steppes of Mongolia provides a unique view of a rapidly disappearing culture.


  • Title from resource description page (viewed May 24, 2011).
  • Previously released as DVD.
  • This edition in English.
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