Mongolians have a rich, magnificent history. They once were an overwhelming military force with fearless warriors on horseback. They've made unique arts and crafts and also have incomparable singing skills. For years, many modern Mongolians have been trying to rediscover the traditional Mongol music and recover past glory. Now in Beijing, a young, five-member band made up of Mongol and Han Chinese musicians is exploring the past.
For music fans in Beijing and elsewhere, the Midi Modern Music Festival is one of the best outdoor venues to hear the coolest bands from around China and beyond. "Hanggai" has been creating new Mongol music for two years and this is their first live stage performance.
Dressed in traditional Mongolian costumes, playing Mongol instruments and singing folk songs, they try to transport audiences back to the original place of the music they make - a place they call "Hanggai".
Three of the five musicians are from Inner Mongolia. Vocalist Ilchi is also a song writer. Baiyin and Xijir are masters of the most renowned Mongol instrument, the Igil, as well as guitar and bass. Drummer Chen Kun and guitarist Xu Jingchen are both Han, but they are also Mongolian Tobshuur and percussion experts.
The band tries to rediscover the real essence of Mongol music and how it can survive in the modern world. They've traveled to Inner Mongolia to look for answers. Standing on the grasslands like a real "Hanggai" and living with locals, they find inspiration and more importantly, they find "Khoomii", an ancient Mongolian throat singing technique more than 2,300 years old. Ancient Mongolians made music by sending out two or even three tones out of their throats at the same time.
Under the instruction of Aodusrong, the chairman of the Mongolian Khoomii Association, Ilchi improved his understanding of Mongol music. His talent is shared by only a few dozen other musicians in the world and has earned "Hanggai" wide acclaim.
Hanggai's original folk songs have proved popular among fans, but they want to achieve more. They hope to combine modern music with traditional in a form of world music written by themselves.
The members of Hanggai say that even though they live in a big city, their hearts always belong on the grasslands. They're hoping their music will touch the hearts of listeners, like the culture, beauty and history of Mongolia has touched them.
(CCTV October 28, 2005)