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Performing Arts

Urtiin duu

Long song


Urtiin duu singer Dolgorjar

Only the horse-headed fiddle usually accompanies this song.

Reasons for selection

Among various types of Mongolian arts since older days, Mongolian long songs should be specially stressed. The reason is that it is unspeakably linked and very peculiar. The long songs and horse-headed fiddle are wonderful cultural heritage and pride of the Mongol nation.

Area where performed

The geographical differences within the country are reflected in the Urtiin duu of the eastern, western, northern (Borjigon)and southern (Bayanbaraat)dialects.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Poetry

Essential elements of the performing art

Urtiin duu is one of the richest and most treasured of the ancient arts of the Mongols. Certain patterns of ornamentation, such as portamento, trill-like yodels, and passages of great melismatic complexity characterize it. The tonal range of such songs is unusual for a male singer - as much as three octaves, including high tones sung in falsetto. The most remarkable features of Urtiin duu are the ornamental melismatic passages. The more these are used, the more the melodic lines expand and contract in a free rhythm, drawing a delicate curved line of its own. The longer and wider these vocalizations are, and the more intricate the ornamentation, the greater the appreciation shown by the listeners. The song is sung in a full and powerful voice, and decorative effects of the music. In performance, the singer concentrates not so much on communicating the contents of the text as on singing the melody skillfully in a free, melismatic style.

Urtiin duu is sung to begin a festival or to end one, e.g. the songs such as Durtmal Saihan (Poignant Beauty), Ovgon shuvuu (An Old Man and a Bird)and Uyahan Zambuutiviin Naran (The Sun of the Complacent World), or at the commencement of a horse race, for example Tumen Eh (First Among Thousands).

The eastern style is characterized by a wide range and slow tempo, while in the northern style the melodies move faster and in more complicated forms. In the western dialect, the vocal range is somewhat narrower and the tempo faster in comparison with the eastern; compared with the northern style, elaborate melodic configurations are few. There are some examples however, which use an extremely wide vocal range and sophisticated melismatic ornamentation.

Publication and textual documentation

Dorjdagva. J.
1970 Urtiin duu.

Zagdsuren. U.
1975 Mongol duunii sudlaliin tovch toim.

Sampildendev. Kh., Jtskovskya, K.
1984 Mongol ardiin urtiin duu.

Audio documentation

already available

Visual documentation

already available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

State Ensemble of the Folk Song and Dance, Society for the Urtiin duu, Mongolian National Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Ulaanbaatar.

Data provider

Executive Director
Mongolian National Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage
Address: Baga toiruu 22, Ulaanbaatar 46, P. O. Box 46/660, Mongolia