Mongolian folk long songs is a unique singing genre with distinctive nomadic and regional features. It expresses Mongolian people’s perception about history, culture, folklores, customs, morality, philosophy and art, using their own unique language. La Surong, the great master of Mongolian folk long songs, introduced like this: In Mongolian language, long songs are called “Urtyn duu”, meaning long melodies as opposed to short songs, denoting the long duration of its tunes as well as its long history.According to historical researches, folk long songs had existed more than one thousand years ago, when the Mongolian tribes began to take shape.
As one of the forms of Mongolian folk songs, Mongolian folk songs had existed when the Mongolian tribes began to form. The melodies slowly extend long, giving out meditational feelings and broadended imagination. It has only a few lyrics but accompanied by various long, changeable and decorative melodies. “Ruogula” (meaning virating or decorative note in Mongolian language) is especially distinctive, because it has a few lyrics accompanied by long tunes, with resounding and leisurely melodies. It is suitable for telling tales as well as for expressing emotions. The lyrics are usually divided into two parts, with two sentences in each part. They mostly tell about the grasslands, flocks and herds, blue sky, white clouds, rivers and lakes, etc. Mongolian folk long songs are considered to be the “living fossile of patoral music”. It expresses Mongolian people’s perception about history, culture, folklores, morality, philosophy and art, using unique singing forms of distinctive nomadic culture. Mongolian folk long songs are closely related to the grasslands and the nomadic life style of the Mongolian people. It bears the long history of the Mongolians and displays their productive life, spirit and personality.
At the same time, Mongolian folk long songs is also a cross-border culture, with Mongolia and China’s Inner Mongolia as the main distribition areas. The success enrollment of Mongolian folk long songs into the World Heritage is a sufficient proof of its artistic value as a cultural heritage. In May 2006, Mongolian folk long songs was selected as one of China’s first batch of intangible cultural heritages.
History and Development
When it was as early as over one thousand years ago, ancestors of the Mongolians migrated from mountains and forests along the banks of Ergun River and onto the Mongolian plateau. Their way of production accordingly turned from hunting to stock raising. Long songs were formed and developed since then. For quite a long period of time, it took the dominant position of Mongolian folk songs, replaced hunting songs, finally formed a typical style of Mongolian music, and affected other forms of Mongolian music. Long songs can be said to reflect features of Mongolian nomadic culture, link closely together Mongolian people’s language, literature, history, religion, mentality, world view, ecological view, view of life and customs, and run throughout Mongolian people’s history and social life.
By listening carefelly to a long song, you will feel like standing on the vast grassland and feeling the nature around you. It is a highly unified realm of nature and human being. If one person sings the lead, and three to five people joined the chorus by singing the low pitch, it will form solemn, magnificent and imposing melodies.
The living environment of the Mongolian people has always been vast and sparsely populated areas, together with their unique life style, enable them to think and express love in their own unique way. Folk long songs came into being and was developed under the force of love. Therefore, folk long songs express the essence and connotation of love at any moment.
Long songs are the symbol of the Mongolians, like the music flowing in their blood. It is an honest confession of the Mongolian souls. Zhao Songguang, China’s famous musicologist, said that the utmost charm of Mongolian folk long song is its closeness with nature, or you can say that it itself is a beautiful scroll painting. The long songs came into being during the changing course of Mongolians’ way of production from hunting to stock raising, when human being’s attitude towards nature turned from simlpy taking to feeding. It is the result of the harmonious co-existence of human being and nature, as well as an arousal of people’s consciousness to protect nature.
During the long course of hisotory, Mongolians have created their own splendid civilizations, among which their nomadic culture is the most distinctive. Mongolian folk long songs can be considered as an evergreen tree in their nomadic culture. Each artistic form has its own suitable stage and audience. The profound, long and slow rhythm of the long songs defines its performing stage and audience. Therefore, they are mainly popular in pastoral areas. It is said that there will definitely be long songs when there are grasslands and herdsmen.