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July, 2009

Morin khuur Concert

What do people say in Mongolia when they greet each other?
How do the winds smell out in the limitless prairies?
How deep blue is the color of Mongolian sky?
And what kind of sound do they hear in the winds?

On May 29, there was a concert of Morin Khuur at Yoyokaku. We really enjoyed the performance of Mr. Tatsuya Okabayashi.
Tatsuya's wife is expecting a second baby pretty soon, so Tatsuya brought his first daughter together with him. The girl Miharu, 2 years old, was the star of the day. She refused to leave her Dad's knees and stayed there during the whole concert, and when the audience clapped their hands, how her face shined proudly!

Later, one of the guests said to me.
Because of the girl's existence, the atmosphere changed. It was not like a precise Classic concert. It was a folk music, with children, adults, young and old, even with cows and horses. It was a warm, heart-healing music of the earth. It was so natural. The sound was like winds.

So please see the photos of the day.

Tatsuya Okabayashi and Miharu
The instrument
Decoration of the stage was a paper lantern, made by Masateru Mikami.
I made this simple light myself.
Poster of the concert
Mongolian food was prepared for the guests.
Another horse by Mikami
Tatsuya Okabayashi
Mr.Takahiko Kuga, who planned this concert, thanked the audience.

Well, did you also hear the sound of morin khuur?
Tatsuya's Хөөмий (Khöömii), the sound of the throat, which is two sounds at the same time, one is low base, and the other is like a whistle which is made with the mouth open. Strange music, it was! The audience were quite charmed.

Just to make sure, I put the explanation of the instrument from wikipedia.
Thank you for your joining the concert.See you next month.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The morin khuur (Mongolian: морин хуур) is a Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. The full Classical Mongolian name for the morin khuur is morin-u toloɣai tai quɣur (Which in modern Khalkh cyrillic is Морины толгойтой хуур) meaning fiddle with horse's head. It is known in Chinese as matouqin ((Chinese: 馬頭琴). It produces a sound which is poetically described as expansive and unrestrained, like a wild horse neighing, or like a breeze in the grasslands. It is the most important musical instrument of the Mongolian people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.

The instrument consists of a wooden-framed sound box to which two strings are attached. It is held nearly upright with the sound box in the musician's lap or between the musician's legs. The strings are made from hairs from horses' tails, strung parallel, and run over a wooden bridge on the body up a long neck to the two tuning pegs in the scroll, which is always carved into the form of a horse's head.

The bow is loosely strung with horse hair coated with larch or cedarwood resin, and is held from underneath with the right hand. The underhand grip enables the hand to tighten the loose hair of the bow, allowing very fine control of the instrument's timbre.

The larger of the two strings (the "male" string) has 130 hairs from a stallion's tail, while the "female" string has 105 hairs from a mare's tail. Traditionally, the strings were tuned a fifth apart, though in modern music they are more often tuned a fourth apart. The strings are stopped either by pinching them in the joints of the index and middle fingers, or by pinching them between the nail of the little finger and the pad of the ring finger.

Traditionally, the frame would have been covered with camel, goat, or sheep skin, in which case a small opening would be left in back, but in modern times, an all-wood sound box is more common, in a style similar to European stringed instruments, including the carved f-holes.

Morin khuur vary in form depending on region. The Instruments from central Mongolia tend to have larger bodies and thus possess more volume than the smaller-bodied instruments of Inner Mongolia. Morin khuurs (matouqin) built deeper in China also tend to be of poorer quality construction than their northern cousins. In Tuva the morin khuur is sometimes used in place of the igil.

The morin khuur is one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity identified by UNESCO.

Among the Chinese, the matouqin is one of several instruments in the huqin ("foreign instrument") family which also includes the erhu.

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Yours, Harumi Okochi

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