Introductions: Who is Dimitri and what is Mongol Music Archive?

 

Picture of DimitriMy name is Dimitri Staszewski.

I consider myself a recording engineer, producer, and adventurer. I will be spending the next nine months recording herders performing traditional music in Mongolia and adding those recordings to my website mongolmusicarchive.com as part of my Fulbright mtvU fellowship.

The goal of Mongol Music Archive is to capture everyday uses of traditional music in the daily lives of Mongolian herders. As a general shift from nomadic to industrial and urban lifestyles occurs in Mongolia, it is important to capture these moments and performances because they exhibit something staged performances by professional musicians cannot. Herders sing about actions they carry out on a daily basis, the environment they inhabit, and use songs as tools to calm and train their animals. While traditional music will exist in Mongolia with or without the prevalence of nomadic herding, preserving examples of herders performing music carries weight because of the deep-seated place herding culture holds as a part of individual and national Mongolian identities.

herding

This website is a culmination of the work I started during the spring of 2013. After capturing around 30 recordings during an SIT Study Abroad semester, I came back to school the following year and started mongolmusicarchive.com as my undergraduate thesis. During my senior year, I applied for a Fulbright to come back to Mongolia and continue the project. I was rejected. Faced with feeling the need to take a break from recording music, what I focused on in college at Loyola University New Orleans, and the prospect of getting a “real job” I decided to move to southwestern Colorado and learn to wrangle horses on a dude ranch. After the season ended I used the money I had made at the ranch to explore Thailand and Laos. Unable to shake inspiration, I applied for a Fulbright-mtvU fellowship this time.

Ger at SunsetEarlier this year I moved to Lander, Wyoming where I worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and waited for a decision on the fellowship. Luckily this time I was accepted, and I’ve been in Mongolia for about a week now.

I recount the past year and a half as my introduction because I think it’s important to truly know who is behind this project. I’m not an ethnomusicologist or someone who aspires to work in academia. I’m no longer someone who sees himself sitting behind a mixing board for the rest of his life. I’m someone who has a bunch of jumbled interests, who has been deeply inspired by Mongolian music and culture, and wants to use the skills I have to share an incredibly specific topic with a broad audience. This is the grandest adventure I have ever embarked on and I’m excited and honored to share my experiences with whoever is willing to listen.

If you have any questions, ideas, or just want to say hello feel free to email me at dimitri.staszewski@fulbrightmail.org. To see some of the other projects I’ve been a part of, visit my personal website itsdimitri.com. Check out my Instagram to get frequent posts about this project @dimitri.photo.

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