Morinkhuur: The Mongolian Horse Fiddle
The Morin Khuur (horse-head fiddle) is the instrument most associated with Mongolian traditions and culture. Mor(in) means horse. When Mongolians were entirely a nomadic nation, the horse was almost their only means of transport, as well as man"s best friend. Many songs and poems were written extolling the horse.
There are a number of legends about how the Morin Khuur was first created, all based on a man"s love for a dead horse. So central was (and still is) the horse to Mongolian culture, that the head of the horse was placed on top of the nation"s principal musical instrument, and its tail hair is used for the two strings and for the bow.
Much of the canon of Mongolian performance art (song, dance, drama, stories, even blessings) is inseparably entwined with the music of the Morin Khuur. But it is not simply a traditional instrument; its special sound contributes much to the quality of modern music. For hundreds of years the instrument itself changed little until the twentieth century, when there were developments to playing technique and even to the Morin Khuur`s construction.
More and more people are visiting Mongolia. As culture becomes more globalized, we hope this book will help foreigners learn to play the Morin Khuur and spread the word about Mongolia `s national instrument throughout the world.