Traditional music & songs

Traditional music & songs

Morin khuur

The most popular instruments are the “Morin khuur” –Morin Khuur ( horse-head fiddle ). It is a square fiddle with the long, straight handle curved at the tip and topped with the carving of a horse's head. It is said to represent the movement and sounds of a horse. Every Mongolian family strives to have a morin khuur in their ger even though they are hand-made and fairly expensive instruments. In the beginning, it was simply a ladle for airag on which strings were strung. At that time the instruments were called “Shanagan Khuur” (shanaga is ladle or dipper). Later the sounds and board took the form of a trapeze and the master carvers who made these popular instruments began to decorate them with whimsical figures. Then the head of a horse, an animal greatly loved by all Mongolians, appeared on the neck, and the name was changed to morin khuur. Twelve animals are carved on the neck in accordance with twelve years cycle of the lunar calendar. The morin khuur has two strings and bow made from the hair of the horse's tail. At the top of the morin huur's neck is a horse's head, but here too, there are 5 other animals –horse, camel, cow, sheep and goat, Mongolian symbols of wealth and plenty. The morin huur is most suitable to accompany the traditional long and short songs and Mongolian classical dance bielgee. Last year our president declared ‘Morin huur is our state instrument” so government founded Horse headed fiddle orchestra. In 13 century, Mongolia had those kinds of famous orchestra. Usually, Mongolians use the horse-headed fiddle; Naadam, Tsagaan Sar, wedding, and other big ceremonies.

It has ancient origins and is purely a Mongolian musical instrument.

Once upon a time, there was a poor man. He had a wonderful steed. The horse was a special one; it was faster than the bird and could instantaneously cover great distances. But one day he found his horse dead near his ger. So his heartbroken, he began to make a fiddle from his horse's bones, tendons, and hair. Then he fixed the horse's head to the handle and overcome with grief, lay his own head on it to unite himself spiritually to his dead friend. So he started to play the Morin huur describing his beloved steed's steps, gallop, hurdle, trotting, and neighing. Thus goes the ancient legend of the villains about the origin of the morin huur.


Long song

This song is originated in nomadic life and unlimited steppe. Long song is the oldest form of melody. The singer vocalizes amazingly long while modulating the vowels. This type of song, often melancholic, recalls the solitude of the nomad and the immensity of the steppe.

Short song: A more recent form, is quick and lively, often humorous in character. It is themes are love, the home country, horses, and women. Technically less trying than the long song, it is still very much part of everyday Mongol life.



Siphonic song (overtone singing )Khoomii: It is the most spectacular and probably the oldest form. Known as khoomii in Mongolian, it's a vocal technique by which a single performer can produce two or even three separate lines simultaneously. the notes are continued and low made by forcing air through a constricted throat and a series of harmonies made by the tongue which, rolled under the palate, gauges the breath, producing sounds remarkably similar to those of a flute. The vocal imitation of the flute and the Jew's harp was traditionally the exclusive province of men. Khoomii is linked to shamanism and is characterizes by the production of sounds imitating those of nature; the soft noise of the wind cascades and rivers and birds songs are just a few.

Epic songs: Their remarkable epics are those of Geser and Jangar which are transmitted by bards in a sung versified form sometimes accompanied by a morin huur, tovshuur, and by khoomii throat song.

Ode (Magtaal): is another form of song that continued to play an important role in Mongol life? It is poetic praise, an epic-like hymn with its origins in shamanistic poetry. Dedicated to the scared mountains to a powerful wrestler, or to a victories horse, it is performed at all the important events of nomadic life. No naadam worthy of its name would be without a magtaal.



Our classical traditional dance is bielgee, in particular to the people western Mongolia. It is performed to the music of Mongolian national musical instruments, such as the morin khuur (horse headed fiddle) and yochin. It is performed in a ger in the circle of people, in other, in other words, in limited small space, before the hearth, so the dancers make partially no use of their rhythmic movements express various aspects of their identities, such as sex, tribe, and ethnic group. Plastic movements of the dancer‘s hands and horse express everything in the dance.

Beilgee is a descriptive dance, actually a pantomime, with the dancer acting several scenes from everyday life of herders, such as milking the cow, cooking, hunting, etc.

The first part of Bielgee dance, called the Elkhendeg, is ritually solemn, with the dancer slowly spreading his arms, gracefully waving his hands and moving his shoulders. In the second part called the joroo mori, the character of the dance suddenly changes. The body rhythmically swaying, the dancer's movements become light and challenging, in imitation of the gait of a horse.