"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mongolia, A Report from the Field: The People You Meet in the Darndest Paces, Part Three


We are just finishing breakfast at the Chinngis Khan statue restaurant, when suddenly Yusuf looks and acts as if he’s just seen Elvis. 

He has, in a way.  The Mongolian version of Elvis.

I ask what’s up and he whispers so softly I can’t make out a word.   He comes around the table and whispers, “That’s the most famous musician in Mongolia.”

Seated a couple tables away is a cheerful looking man named Dr. Jantsannorov Natsag, who is arguably the most popular musician/composer in the land.   He stands and shakes hands with various people, who obviously have arrived to join him for breakfast.   If this man isn’t the real Jantsannorov, but a look-alike, he certainly is treated like a celebrity by the others.

Yusuf almost has a panic attack as I go on a stealth photo mission.

Featured in many of Jantsannorov more than 300 compositions is the Mongolian mohrin khuur, or horse head fiddle, a string instrument with two strings and a bow.  Traditionally, both the strings of and bow used horse hairs, and generally preferred the hair of white horses for its better quality.   He has composed music for ballets, symphonies, soundtracks for more than 30 films, and so on.

Jantsannorov’s most popular composition, Yusuf tells me  later in the vehicle as he brings up a You Tube video, is White Stupa.   I was expecting something like Chinese music which sounds atonal to the Western ear, but the music is lovely and I listen with closed eyes as it plays.

Display of horse head fiddles on display in downtown Ulaanbaatar.

To listen to Jantsannorov's music:


  1. That is some beautiful music. Your blog always has something interesting and different.

  2. Were we together? Or was I alone? When I began to photograph the horse head fiddles you show that are at the Ulaanbaatar State Department Store? I had already photographed them and posted a photo thereof .. one you commented on .. and after your comment wanted more photos of them. When you said the most popular musician in Mongolia .. like you .. I thought of a rock and roll 'Elvis' singer and rocker. You have to know and appreciate that Russia and this part of the world are decades and centuries or even millenniums ahead of us in so many ways culturally. Nice to be back checking in here. Cap and Patti still recovering a little bit from the re-entry back home to the U.S.

    1. I was alone. Rather, with Yusuf and Aigii.

    2. Milleniums ahead? Well, they've been at it longer.

  3. Beautiful and very relaxing.....going to google and see if I can find more.

  4. Truly beautiful music ... how nice that you saw the musician in person! Very serene listening. Hugs. Patti

  5. Incredible and you met the musician. Did I say, incredible?