Mouth harps, desert sunrises, and camel polo

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I showed up in Dalanzagad, the state center in Ömnögovi (south Govi) province, with the phone number of one person who I was told “might know musicians in the area.” That contact ended up telling us about a local music school, which we drove to and walked into unannounced. After my friend and translator Baagii explained my project, the teacher promptly stopped his lesson and furiously started making phone calls to several local musicians. The three musicians he introduced us to ended up leading us to another eight performers. We left the Gobi with close to fifty recordings.

The process of recording in the Mongolian countryside never ceases to amaze me.

Some highlights from the trip were watching several games of camel polo, waking up early to watch the sunrise, and meeting a woman named Khuukhenkhuu who was able to play two different types of mouth harps and made a camel cry by singing to it. Those videos and more will be coming soon.

I’m currently preparing for a two-week trip to Bayankhongor in central Mongolia. I still have unedited videos from the Gobi as I set out to go capture more. I wanted to at least share some photos from the trip before heading to Bayankhongor.

The next, and final, three months of this grant are going to be incredibly busy. I’m excited, and nervous, to try and leave Mongolia feeling that I have done this project justice.

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