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A man with a donkey cart beside Lake Karakul in China

© ALEX SIEVERS

Why the Silk Road?
The historic Silk Road trade network provides a namesake-worthy metaphor for the Silk Road Project’s vision of connecting artists and audiences around the world. Yo-Yo Ma has called these routes, which resulted in the first global exchange of scientific and cultural traditions, the “Internet of antiquity.” The Silk Road Project takes inspiration from this age-old tradition of cross-cultural exchange.


Urtiin duu (Longsong)

© DONG WON-KIM


Urtiin duu (longsong)

orig. Mongolia  Urtiin duu is a long folk song that originated among the nomadic herders of Mongolia's grassy plains 2,000 years ago. The musical form holds an honored place in Mongolian history and ritual tradition. It is typically performed at festivals and important events, such as weddings, births, the blessing of new homes and the branding of young cattle.

The long, lyrical chant contains 32 verses and is characterized by a wide octave range, frequently falsetto, and a profusion of vocal effects and embellishments. While there are regional differences in the form, it generally features rising and falling melodies and complex rhythms. The singer is often accompanied by the morin khuur, or "horse fiddle."


Urtiin duu performers
Khongorzul Ganbaatar


Other vocal traditions
Mugham


Other Mongolian instruments
Morin khuur