The Herders Of Mongun Taiga

Transmission date: June 1989

Photo by Markus Siemens on Unsplash

Tuva lies at the very centre of Asia between southern Siberia and Mongolia. It became an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1944.

The nomadic sheep and yak herders of the Mongun-Taiga district (S.W. Tuva) cultivate no crops and dwell in felt tents called yurts.

Much of the traditional way of life is retained within the modern state farming system, including the highly developed and famous form of biphonic singing found here and across the border in Mongolia. There are various styles of this ‘two-tone’ vocal technique, whereby a singer produces two notes simultaneously; a low drone note and a high harmonic which can be altered by changing the shape of the mouth cavity. Songs can be accompanied on the igil—2 stringed fiddle; the byzaanchi—fiddle; the doshpulur—lute or unaccompanied as in the first two songs here.

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