Musical Artists of Mongolia
Because of their nomadic lifestyle, before the more recent influx of people to large cities such as Ulaanbator, music was something valued and played within families and clans - most families had a morin khuur. Most of the Mongolian musicians I have highlighted in this section are modern musicians - they have all helped to keep the musical tradition in Mongolia alive, by adding new and sometime "western" elements to their music, and so bringing some of the traditional style of Mongolia to the eye of the world. Since some knowledge of traditional music and lyrics to long songs were lost or changed during the Chinese communist reign, I have chosen not to highlight any strictly pop/rock artists, because their influence and inspiration came from outside Mongolia, not from the heart of the country. Also, you will notice that all of the artists are relatively recent - it is practically impossible to find the original artists of the long songs, because many of them were written way beyond living memory, and before the written word was common.
EGSHIGLEN: Egshiglen is a Mongolian folk band whose name means "beautiful melody". The band was originally formed by graduates of Ulaanbaatar's Conservatory of Music. Egshiglen uses only traditional folk instruments, and plays song types such as traditional epic and shamanistic odes, and incorporates khoomii singing. Egshiglen is one of the few traditional or folk bands in Mongolia to have gained popularity outside of the country. Their influence has helped spark and interest and educate people of the beauty of Mongolia's traditional music, and hopefully help preserve it into the future.
ALTAI-HANGAI: Altai-Hangai is a band that was started in 1993. They get their name from the Altai mountains and the Hangai steppes of Mongolia. Altai-Hangai started out with playing Mongolian traditional music, and have recently added some jazz fusion to their sound. They are a good example of how Mongolian artists are introducing the new, but still embracing the old. Below is an example of a more fusion-type piece. To hear some Altai-Hangai traditional music, click here or go to the home page.
OLEG KUULAR: Oleg Kuular was the first Tuvan (a Mongolian ethic group) to perform in the United states. Kuular trained under the legendary khoomii singer Kara-sai Ak-ool. As the first khoomii singer to perform in the United States, Kuular had a unique opportunity to be the first representative of his country's music, and as a khoomii singer, gave people a taste of an ancient Mongolian tradition. That's something that people in the US were not going to find anywhere else, and so Kuular could share some of Mongolia's values with the rest of the world.
CHANDMAN ERDENE: This trio is a group of Mongolians whose song "My Three Precious" was a chart topper in China a couple of years ago. As Mongolians living in China, they wanted to write a song that reflected traditional Mongolian values, like family, nature and animals, and incorporated other elements of traditional Mongolian music. I think the fact that their song was such a huge hit in China is important, because of the number of Mongolians who are living in China, either in Inner Mongolia, or to find work. It means that Mongolian's voices are really being heard in popular music, even when singing about centuries-old traditions and values - they still strike a chord today in people's hearts.