ANDA UNION p1
To book ANDA UNION to appear at your event contact:
e: Dr JOHN BARROW
m: +44(0)7968 13 17 37
Line-up / band names - instruments played and vocals
Nars – morin huur, tobshuur, hoomei, ikil, guitar
Urgen - morin huur, hoomei
Chinggeltu – bass morin huur
Saikhannakhaa - morin huur, tobshuur, hoomei
Uni - morin hur, tobshuur, hoomei
Urgen - drums
Chinggel - moadin chor
Biligbaatar – urtyn duu
Tsetsegmaa – urtyn duu
morin huur (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morin_khuur)
tobshuur (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topshur)
ikil or igil (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igil)
bass morin huur
moadin chor (Mongolian flute)
[ The morin huur, also known as horsehead fiddle, is a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation. The morin huur is one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity identified by UNESCO. ]
urtyn duu or in English, long song (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_song)
hoomei or throat singing
Nars grew up in a village 2 hours from Ar Horchin a town 880km northeast of the capital Hohhot. His family were traditionally herders. He grew up with living with his grandparents and spent summers on the grasslands living in a yurt. His grandfather is a musician, who plays many instruments including the accordion, morin huur, and other 3 stringed fiddles, and became his teacher and mentor from an early age. He went to primary school with Urgen who lived in a village nearby. At age 12, he boarded at music college in the city of Chifeng where he shared a room with Chinggel, and met Monkhjayaa and Uni. After graduating, all five of them went to Hohhot and joined the Inner Mongolia Music and Dance Troupe where they met Saikhannakhaa, Otgonbayar and Bataar. In 2001, they banded together to start Anda Union. Today, Nars also runs a music school teaching morin huur, tobshuur and hoomei to young people, a visit to his house is greeted with over 20 students practicing the Morin Hor. His parents have now moved to Hohhot to help him run the school and they all live together in a house filled with students, beds and instruments
Urgen grew up in a village two hours from Ar Horchin, close to Nars. They are childhood friends. He lived with his parents and two brothers in a traditional herders’ lifestyle. As a little boy, his job was to take the sheep into the fields to graze. When he was 10, his older brother, Bagana, who was a musician, was killed by a drunk driver. Urgen was already a budding musician but this tragic loss spurred Urgen on to become a top performer, striving to fulfil his brother’s dream. He went to school in Ar Horchin with Nars where he met Uni, then went onto Chifeng Music College and onto Hohhot to join the Inner Mongolia Music and Dance Troupe. He is married to Toya, who is a children’s TV presenter for Mongol TV, and they have a baby girl. They live in a flat in Hohhot in the same complex as Monkhjayaa.
Uni grew up around Ar Horchin and met Nars and Urgen at comprehensive school. He learned music from a young age. His father was a councillor in the local communist government. He studied music at Chifeng Music College with Nars, Urgen, Chinggel and Monkhjayaa. He went to Hohhot to work with Inner Mongolia Music and Dance Troupe and was a founder of Anda Union. He lives in Hohhot with his wife who is a dancer.
Chinggel grew up in Ongniud Qi, in the same region as Monkhjayaa. His family are herders. He went to Music College in Chifeng where he studied morin huur, but now plays mainly flute. He is one of only 4 musicians in Inner Mongolia who can play the moadin chor. Today, his passion for the moadin chor has led him to start making these reed flutes as well as Mongolian metal flutes. He loves to drive his large Yamaha motorbike through the streets of Hohhot. He has an older sister who is a dancer.
Saikhannakhaa is from Tongliao and spent holidays on the grasslands with her grandparents, close to Tongliao in eastern Inner Mongolia. She learned music from a young age from her paternal grandparents. She won a prize as the most talented female morin huur player and was invited to join the Inner Mongolia Song and Dance Troupe where she became the first professional female musician. Today she runs a very successful Mongolian bar in Hohhot with her mother, father and uncle. She has a younger brother who is also a musician. Her father once managed the art school and is a painter. Her mother trained as a dancer and actress. She has recently married a dancer from the Inner Mongolia Music and Dance Troupe.
Hadanbaatar is the drummer of the band. He grew up near Ordos City in the grasslands, his parents were nomadic herders. The Ordos people are a large ethnic group within the Mongol population. The mausoleum of Genghis Khan is close to Ordos City. He joined the Inner Mongolia Music and Dance Troupe where he met the rest of Anda Union. He lives in Hohhot with his wife who is a singer. He has recently started a small business with a friend making traditional hand made Mongolian drums
Tsetsegmaa is a long-song singer and tours with Anda Union. A Buriat, she grew up near Hulun Buir in the northwest of Inner Mongolia near the border of Russia and Outer Mongolia. Hulun Buir is one of the remotest areas of the region and home to both Ewenke and Buriat people. She works within the Inner Mongolia Music and Dance Troupe as a solo long-song singer. She has won many prizes and awards for her astounding voice. She has written a number of very beautiful Buriat songs which she perfoms with Anda Union. She is based in Hohhot and has one sister.
Biligbaatar is a long-song singer and tours regularly with Anda Union. He grew up in Hexigten. His mother, younger brother, brother’s wife and daughter, all live in the grasslands and herd the family livestock. Billigbatar is an expert horseman. He learnt long-song from his mother when he was a child, his talent was honed in the beauty of the grasslands and he is a long-song gold medallist. He is based in Hohhot with his wife who is also a singer.
Dateline Thu 1 Mar 2018
ANDA UNION - 2018 UK TOUR GIGLIST
Dates, venues and box office tel nos. Plus, where available, box office links.
Some of this information is not available at the moment as venues update their programmes - please come back later, or call the tel no given.
We 16 NOTTINGHAM NG7 2RD Nottingham Lakeside Arts 0115 846 7777
Th 17 LEWES BN7 1XS The Con Club 01273 606312
Fr 18 SOUTHAMPTON SO17 1BJ Turner Sims 023 8059 5151
Sa 19 SETTLE BD24 9DZ Settle Victoria Hall 01729 825718
Su 20 GATESHEAD NE8 2JR Sage Gateshead 0191 443 4661
We 23 ULVERSTON LA12 7LZ Coronation Hall 01229 587140
Th 24 GLASGOW G11 5PU Cottier Theatre 0844 415 5221
Fr 25 CARSPHAIRN DG7 3TJ Knockengorroch World Ceilidh 01644 460662
Sa 26 STIRLING FK8 1DE The Tolbooth 01786 274000
Su 27 INVERNESS IV3 5SA Eden Court Theatre 01463 234 234
Tu 29 STORNOWAY HS1 2DS An Lanntair Arts Centre 01851 708480
Th 31 SEALL at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Isle of Skye 01471 844207
Fr 1 LOCKERBIE DG11 2ES Town Hall Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival 01387 253383
Sa 2 NEWTON STEWART DG8 6EQ McMillan Hall Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival 01387 253383
Tu 5 EDINBURGH EH8 9JG The Queen's Hall 0131 668 2019
We 6 LONDON N1 9AG Kings Place 0207 520 1490
Fr 8 ALDERSHOT GU11 3JD West End Centre 01252 330040
Sa 9 YORK Y01 9TL National Centre for Early Music film screening 11am 01904 658338
Sat 9 LEEDS LS1 6NU Howard Assembly Rooms 0844 848 2720
Mo 11 NORWICH NR2 4PG Norwich Arts Centre 01603 660352
We 13 DOLGELLAU LL40 1PY Ty Siamus 01341 421800
Th 14 LIVERPOOL L1 9BP Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 0151 709 3789
Fr 15 BURY BL9 0BW The Met Arts Centre 0161 761 2216
Sa 16 OXFORD OX2 6BG St Barnabas Church 07494 356665
Su 17 BATH BA2 6AA Widcombe Social Club 07880 703518
Tu 19 PENZANCE TR18 4BU Acorn Arts 01726 879500
We 20 TORRINGTON EX38 8HQ The Plough Arts Centre 01805 624 624
Th 21 EXETER EX4 3LS Exeter Phoenix 01392 667080
Anda Union’s thoroughly addictive combination of Mongolian musical styles is a reflection of their roots. Hailing from differing ethnic nomadic cultures the ten strong band unite tribal and music traditions from all over Inner Mongolia in China. Anda Union bring a wide range of musical instruments and vocal styles together in a fusion that Genghis Khan himself would have been proud of. Keenly aware of the threat to the
Grasslands and their age old Mongolian culture, Anda Union are driven by their fight for the survival of this endangered way of life, by keeping the essence of the music alive. Formed 12 years ago in 2000 they have influenced a generation of young Mongolians in Inner Mongolia as traditional music flourishes in the capital. Nars says, “Most of the band members have been playing together since childhood. As adults, we studied professional vocals and instruments together. We are like a family. ten years ago, Anda Union was forged and we haven’t looked back.”
Anda Union were all trained in traditional Mongolian music from a young age, many coming from musical families. They are part of a musical movement that is finding inspiration in old and forgotten songs, drawing on a repertoire of magical music that had all but disappeared during China’s recent tumultuous past. As a group they hold on to the essence of Mongolian music whilst creating a form of music that is new. A soloist would traditionally perform many of the instruments Anda Union play, and Mongolian musicians have tended to concentrate on a particular musical technique. Anda Union combine different traditions and styles of music from all over Inner and Outer Mongolia, developing an innovation previously unheard of. The very existence of a music group like Anda Union is new to Inner Mongolia:
Mongols have a strong musical tradition that is passed from generation to generation. The morin huur, or horse head fiddle, pays homage to the most important animal in the Mongol culture; almost all houses have one hanging in the hallway.
The group describe themselves as music gatherers, digging deep into Mongol traditions and unearthing forgotten music. They are on a mission to stimulate their culture and reengage young Mongols, many of who no longer to speak their own language. Saikhannakhaa is fighting to reverse this trend by opening a bar in the capital Hohhot, where she will promote music. “I found an old golden wheel with half its spokes broken in an old dusty shop. It looks like a wheel that once turned the warrior carts of the great Mongol armies. I will hang this wheel in my bar as a warning to Mongolian people that our culture is broken and needs to be mended.”
Hadanbaatar, the drummer adds,” young Mongolians like us now understand how important our culture is but maybe the next generation won’t care and we have to prevent this from happening”.
Anda means a blood brother or sister. For Mongolians an Anda is more important than a birth brother as you choose a person to become an Anda, a life long blood brother. Anda Union is a brotherhood of Andas.
Nars, Uni, Chinggel, Saikhannakhaa
Mechanics of throat singing
To understand how throat singing works, one must first understand some basic sound and singing physics. Sound is a wave of moving air. When people speak or sing, the sound is created when the air flowing into or out of the lungs is disturbed by the larynx, or voice box. The vocal folds open and close to produce these oscillating waves which create sound. The vocal tract is a tube through which sound travels and reaches the outside. This tube will resonate at certain frequencies. When people speak or sing, this is what is heard. In throat singing, an overtone, or harmonic, is generated above the fundamental resonating frequency.
Throat singers produce their harmonics through a process called biofeedback. This means they raise and lower the fundamental frequency until they get maximum resonance on the harmonics sounding above, like moving a ladder up and down to achieve a desired height. They achieve this by controlling the manner in which the vocal folds open and close. When throat singing, the singer keeps the folds open for a shorter period and closed for longer. The abrupt closure puts greater energy into the upper harmonics, resulting in a clearer sound.
In addition to controlling the rate at which the vocal folds open and close, throat singers also manipulate the fundamental frequency through moving their jaws forward, and narrowing or protruding their lips.
As to actual pitch manipulation, there are four basic ways by which this is achieved. First, the tip of the tongue remains behind the teeth while the midtongue actually rises. The lips can also be opened slightly. This method is commonly used in the Isgre style, discussed later. Secondly, moving the tongue forward can assist in manipulating pitch. The third method involves the throat itself. For lower harmonics, the base of the tongue moves to the rear of the throat. For mid to high harmonics, the base of the tongue moves forward until there is space in the vallecula, which is the space between the rear of the tongue and the epiglottis. Finally, a throat singer can manipulate pitch by simply widening the mouth in very precise increments, giving the effect of shortening the vocal tract. This is the easiest for one to experiment with and experience. The slightest opening or closing of the mouth can literally raise or lower a pitch. One can try humming a pitch, then very slowly open one's mouth to an “oo” sound, then “oh”, “ee” and “ah” and see what happens to the pitch. Listen carefully and there should be a noticeable change in the overtones above the note that is being hummed/sung.
Styles of Throat Singing used by Anda Union
The most popular style of throat singing is known as Khomeii. Khomeii is traditionally a softer sounding style, with the fundamental (or drone) usually in the low-mid to midrange of the singer’s normal voice. In this style, usually 2 or 3 harmonics can be heard between one and two octaves above the fundamental. In Khomeii, the stomach is fairly relaxed, and there is less tension on the larynx than in other styles... Pitch is manipulated through a combination of lip and throat movement, like manipulating vowels (ee, ay, ah, oh, oo), and moving the tongue or jaw. Singing in this style gives the impression of wind swirling among rocks.
Isgre has a midrange fundamental and is characterized by strong, flute-like or rather piercing harmonics, reminiscent of whistling - " isgre " means "whistling". Also described as an imitation of the gentle breezes of summer or the songs of birds. To perform Isgre, the tongue rises and seals around the gums, just behind the teeth. A small hole is left back behind the molars, either on the left or right side. The sound is then directed between the teeth to the front of the mouth. The lips form a bell like shape, usually with an “ee” vowel, and the sound is directed through this small opening. Pitch is manipulated exactly the same way as in khomeii style.
The more deep sounding style of throat singing is known as Kargyraa (pronounced Kargi-ra). Kargyraa has a deep, almost growling sound to it and is technically related to Tibetan Buddhist chant and has some similarities with vocal fry. It uses both the vocal and the vestibular folds simultaneously, creating two sources of sound. By constricting the larynx, the vestibular folds are vibrated to produce an undertone exactly half the frequency of the fundamental produced by the vocal folds, and the mouth cavity is shaped, just like the manipulation of vowels, to select harmonics of both the fundamental and the undertone, producing from four to six pitches simultaneously.
Acrobatic trills that are reminiscent of birds and traveling brooks. This is achieved by the quivering of the lips lightly and rapidly.
A pulsating style, attempting to mimic the rhythms of horseback riding. It is named after the Tuvan word for stirrup, ezengi.
This is merely a mixture of sygyt and kargyraa. Both styles are sung at once, creating an unusual sound of low undertones mixed with the high Isgre whistle. It has also been described as the "chirping of crickets."
Urtyn duu (Long Song)
Urtyn duu, or long song’s name is derived not from the length of the songs but rather the long notes which are held. Often a song has very few words, one 3 minutes long might only have 10 words. The main feature of the long song is the prolonged, tenuto notes with deeply modulated vibrato on the vowels. These majestic vibrating notes called shuranhai give the song profound philosophical, meditational character and they often depict the spacious mountain valleys and the tranquility of the Mongolian soul. 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." Urtyn Duu dates back over 2000 years and evolved in the Grasslands as the Mongolians tended their sheep and was used to sing to the animals to call and to calm them. Mongolian music records and maps the landscape of their land, not merely in words, but in the rising and falling of notes corresponding to the flow of the land itself. The long song singer can call up the landscape of distant places and transport us to the vast grasslands and the power of nature.
Biligbaatar comes from the Heshigten grasslands and sings in the style of this region having learnt from his mother as a child. Likewise Tsetsegmaa learnt from her mother and the style she uses is Buriat, a tribe that lives in Hulun Buir near the Russian border.
UNESCO declared the Mongolian Long Song one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.