In 1997, UNESCO passed the ‘Declaration on the Representative Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. In April, 2000, UNESCO activated its selecting mechanism. It was a strategy to encourage governments, non-official governmental organizations and local communities to recognize, safeguard and pass on their oral and intangible cultural heritage through granting them with international honor. On May 18th, 2001, UNESCO announced the first representative list of 19 masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Kun Opera was on the list. On November 7th, Guqin music was proclaimed among the masterpieces of the 28 representatives of the Oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity. On November 25th of 2005, the third representative list of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was proclaimed, the Art of the Xinjiang Uyghur Muqam and the Mongolian Folk Long-Song were on the list.
The Mongolian Folk Long-Song--Everlasting Rhythms of the Soul of grasslands
“The Mongolian folk long-song is a rhythm of soul; it is the music that is truly safe from being polluted.”
“Being a kind of folk song of the grasslands, Mongolian folk long-song is in fact an oral cultural legacy. It won’t be more adequate to call it a living-fossil of Mongolian music.”
“The Mongolian is a people of music, and Mongolian folk long-song the music closest to nature. It never needs any applause; it was born in grasslands, rivers and mountains. It is a product of nature; it was sung for cows and goats pasturing on grasslands, birds flying in the sky and horses running on the grassland. Human beings and nature are one. The melodies can assist those ewes that have abandoned their lambkins to re-feed; it can even make those stubborn camels cry.……”
--by La-Su-Rong----the singing king of Mongolian folk long-Song
Mongolian nomads employ the unique characteristics of their language to describe their understanding on history, culture, customs, morals, philosophy, religions and arts; this is how and where the Mongolian folk long-song was born. In addition to the language, Mongolians draw inspirations from the nomadic culture and regional culture to express the wisdom and emotions belonging to Mongolian people beautifully with a unique singing style.
Mongolian folk long-song is a cultural product of the nomads living in Mongolia and in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Republic. It was invented during the course of livestock-tending and is to be performed for pasturing occasions and traditional festivals. The melody is famous for it gentle and slow flowing with rubato tempo. Singers of the Mongolian folk long-song usually perform according to their personal understanding and experiences on life. The various forms of rhythms are thus determined by individual performers. As an art that relies on orally passing-on strategy, the different styles of Mongolian folk long-song are thus rendered in accordance with the context where it is performed and who the performers are.
The basic themes of Mongolian folk long-song include nomadic song, home-missing melody, paeans, hymeneal and dithyramb. The lyrics are mostly on grasslands, horses, camels, cows, lambs, blue sky, white clouds, rivers, and lakes. Embedded in such a simple and unadorned voice are all kinds of emotional expressions belonging to Mongolian, including the praise for natural world, the love for one’s parents, the admiration of life, the yearning for love, and the understandings on arts.
The long-song’s melody of is slow and gentle, its frame of mind wide and open, its tempo free, and its text short and tone long. Moreover, the unique cadence is rendered through a delicate integration of different forms of the rhythm, including rhythm of the narrative language, rhythm of the lyrical long syllables and rhythm of the descriptive ornamental notes, as a result, the inner feelings and the outer reality are blended harmoniously.
Another unique characteristic of the long-song is the rich ornamentation associated with the melody, including the fore-acciaccatura, the after-acciaccatura, portamento, echo, and so on. Furthermore, there is a melodious ornamentation rendered through a special vocal technique called “Nugula” in Mongolian language. The name ‘Nugula’ refers to the complex movement made through mouth and fauces when enunciating in order to render a vibrato-like sound. Thus, it is fair to say that Nugula plays a major role in rendering the unique style for Mongolian folk long-song. It also helps to a great extent in making the long-song filled with distinguishing features of nomadic culture.
The Representative Mongolian Instrument—Morin Khuur
The two-stringed fiddle Morin Khuur is a prominent music instrument; it is recognized alongside of the Mongolian folk long-song as the treasures of Mongolian grasslands. It was famous for a carved horse-head at its extremity. According to the legend, this particular instrument was invented and expanded among Mongolian communities in the 12th century. In 2003, Morin Khuur was on the list of (Mongolian) representative of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity of UNESCO. It is mainly played in solo fashion but sometimes serves as the accompanying instrument of folk-song and telling-and-singing (rap-like) music. It is an instrument suitable for performing long and gentle melody for its outstanding features in presenting the tenderness and delicacy of the lyrics.
Ala-Tan-Qi- Qi-Ge (1955~)
--A national treasure of Mongolian folk long-song and a singer with a sound of nature
Gifted with clear and gentle voice and
born in a place where the vast grasslands
inspire her with the long-song,
she then stores it deep in heart……
Ala-Tan-Qi-Qi-Ge is a renowned Mongolian mezzo soprano. Her timbre is natural and clear, her voice range wide, and her singing euphemistic and free. She has been singing on stage for more than forty years. During the course of forty years, she always makes as much as effort in exploring the music and traveling around to collect folk songs, striving for interpreting Mongolian folk long-song profoundly and to excel the art of singing to its utmost. The famous poet Qi-Mu-Rong once described her in the follow way: It is like listening to the deep heart of Mongolian people when listening to her voice. The powerful and yet gentle touching feeling from her singing is unforgettable.’
Ala –Tan- Qi- Qi- Ge is a first-class singer to this day. In 2004, she represented the Inner Mongolia to give a live performance for the “Declaration for the Mongolian folk long-song to be safeguarded as the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity of UNESCO”. As a result, the long-song was proclaimed on the list of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In the following year, she was invited as the mentor of the graduate students of Normal University of the Inner Mongolian, and thus became the first mentor of the Chinese of the graduate students of the art of long-song. She has received countless awards for performing the long-song.
--The first professional singer to perform Mongolian folk long-song publicly in Beijing.
Growing up in a homeland that is abundant with folk music, Zha-Ge-Da-Su-Rong not only excels his talent in singing since childhood but also gets to learn and gather many local folk songs while growing up. He has been learning the long-song from some predecessors for a long time, acquainting himself with several long-song singers and many nameless nomadic folk song singers. Such precious experiences and personal connection with folk songs together help him to develop a performing style of his own and further become an outstanding representative figure for the Ci-lin-guole Style School of the Mongolian folk long-song. He received several awards in 2004, including the “Best Singer of Mongolian Folk Long-Song” in the West Folk Song Competition held by CCTV, the golden award of “the Folk Song Solo Group of the Aboriginal Ecology”, and the golden award of “the Multiple-parts Folk Song Group of the Aboriginal Ecology”. In 2006, he and his students held a thematic concert in the Chinese Musical College. Through the concert, he was able to resume the performing of the ten songs of “Qoor In Duu” (songs of complex tone) passing down by Ha-Zha-Bu, and to re-set the light to safeguard, display and pass on the Mongolian old songs.
About Wang Sen-di, the Producer,
Wang Sen-di is a graduate of the National Taiwan University of Arts. Intensely devoted to popularizing classical Chinese music, Wang has produced several album collections including \"Gu-zheng Melody - Praising and Reciting in the Name of Buddha\", \"Buddhist melody played by Guzheng series\", \"Crystal music series\" and \"Solar Music series\", all of which are renowned worldwide. He works enthusiastically collecting and recording classical Chinese music as well as teaching classical Chinese music in a number of schools.
About Wu Judy Chin-tai, the Producer
Wu Judy Chin-tai, Director of International Music production at Wind Music, is also a music producer and composer. She has won Golden Melody Awards for “My Ocean” (Best Music Producer, 2001) and “Colors of Childhood” (Best Children’s Album, 2004). In 2006 she was nominated in the Best Producer category for “Holding Ina’s Hand – the beauty of Tabalong Music”, an album which won Best National Folk Album and Best Vocal Album for the Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe.
After studying music in the US, Wu returned to Taiwan and has worked at Wind Music ever since. Involved in producing numerous albums related to the cultures and natural scenes of Taiwan, she has recently devoted her time to focusing on new Folk songs as well as on various unique instruments. She produced a series of albums of Ocarina performances and created a trend that has motivated over a million people in Taiwan to learn this instrument. In 2006 the album “Over the Way”, produced for Huang Europa, garnered widespread public recognition and positive feedback for its innovate approach to original folk music.
About Kavichandran Alexander, the Recording Engineer:
Kavichandran Alexander, a Tamil from Ceylon with broad western education, who has great interest in preserving genuine ethnic music, tries to overcome recording difficulties while keeping the original quality of the music intact by using double-tract recordings. He was the winner of the World Music Award at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards. In \"The Absolute Sound\" his products are described as \"the best we are pursuing.\" For the recordings of Solar Music series, he chose an old church in Northern California for its acoustic richness. Always sticking to his beliefs, Kavi established a very popular record company of his own-Waterlily Acoustics. In order to capture and show the magic of music to people, he insists on analogy techniques and vacuum tubes electronics for music recording. The high standard he demands in producing and recording makes him in his field and has won him praise from the Western world.