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Music & singing


Music is an important part of Mongolian culture. This is particularly the case in the countryside as families and friends will sing and play music together as a past time. A visitor to a countryside ger will often be coaxed into a song. Mongolians sing to their animals, sing about the environment, sing about nomadic lifestyles and sing about their patriotism.

Khoomi singing is a traditional form of song which comes from deep in the throat. Well trained voices are able to produce a whole range of sounds at once. The different combinations of sounds are said to represent the different landscapes within Mongolia. Urtyn Duu or Long Songs are another form of vocal music, so called because of their length. Some famous singers have been able to memorise 20,000 verses. Most of the songs relate to stories about love or the countryside and are apparently best sung on horseback galloping crossing the steppe.

The most traditional of instruments is the morin huur or horse head fiddle. With two strings made from horse hair and a carved horse head it is most often used to accompany singing. Legend suggests the sounds produced are similar to those of the nomad’s animals. The other instrument most often played is the Yatga (similar to a sitar). Music is often played at traditional and religious gatherings such as weddings.