Sky songs from the Altai Mountains in Mongolia
This 76-year-old singer comes from the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia. As a young child, she learned the traditional sky songs of her homeland from her mother. The nomads sing these songs to call their animals and to frighten away an occasional wolf. Lkhundev is the last person who has truly mastered these long songs from the Altai Mountains. A delegation from UNESCO entrusted her with the task of preserving these songs. Lkhundev has been a living cultural legacy ever since.
The Mongolian people love to sing, not only in their yurts, but also in dialogue with nature. Very special forms of making music and unique techniques of singing arose in the context of this dialogue with nature: music for the sky, for the animals, mountains, lakes and flowers.
„We human beings belong to a small folk: we need help from others, and we need security and trust. First and foremost, we trust the blue sky. Women’s urtiin duu singing arose as a powerful dialogue with the holy blue sky in the solitude and in the overwhelming noble stillness of the Gobi Desert. Tis aloneness in the great expanse triggered a yearning and brought forth unique forms of making music, also for songs while socializing in the yurts. We humans live with and from the animals, and making music for animals is an integral part of the cultural survival strategies of the world’s greatest nomadic culture. Mongolia’s national instrument is the morin khur (horse-head violin), which produces a soft sound that even bring tears into the eyes of a mother camel, thus assuring the survival of a camel foal that she had rejected.“
(Photo: Anita Walter)