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Samantha is a recording artist & writer based in Nürnberg, Germany (by way of California).

Mongolia's Singing Nomads

Mongolia's Singing Nomads

I came across this gorgeous video of a Mongolian herder singing to his herd and had to share it.

Dmitry Staszweksi was a student and aspiring ethnomusicologist when he went to Mongolia film a project about the country’s nomadic culture, one of the world's largest and last surviving nomadic populations. Herders singing to their animals is part of the oral tradition that, like with many indigenous cultures, is fading away. Listen to how soaring his voice is.

The Mongol people raise 5 species of livestock known as the 5 muzzles: horses, cows or yaks, sheep, goats and camels. They are true outbackers, surviving the harshest of winters among the steppes.

I was particularly struck by the authenticity of not only this video, but a series of others he was able to film during in his time with a nomadic family in the Mongolian countryside. His field recordings are beautiful. Digging deeper into his Vimeo channel is an intimate performance by the herder’s sister playing a traditional song on guitar and a fascinating moment with a throat singer playing his topshur, which I have yet to witness in real life. If you've seen the Oscar-winning documentary Genghis Blues about a blind blues musician, Paul Pena, who travels to Tuva (the northern region of Mongolia) to compete in a throat-singing competition, you can get the idea.

This falls into the area of music endangerment which I'm so interested in after traveling and seeing so many indigenous cultures being co-opted by globalization.It looks as though the film A Thousand Candles is finished and will actually be premiering at the 2015 Mongolian Film Festival. Really excited to see this film!

Photos by Michael Chu

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