Urtin duu - long songThis vocal genre is characterised by long, slow and richly ornamented melodies with wide intervals and rhythmical variation.
These songs are sung in verses without a real refrain and performed with a full voice and a tonal range of up to three octaves. Although the breathing is free, pauses for breath should be limited as far as possible to avoid interrupting the ornamentation. The richer the singer's voice and the longer he can hold it, the more attention and recognition he can gain from his audience.
Mongolian horsemen sing these long songs during slow, solitary rides through the open steppes of Mongolia. The repertoire of these songs expresses the freedom and vastness of the Mongolian landscape, as well as the seasonal cycles and ceremonies of everyday life. They form an integral part of the celebrations held in the yurts and are subject to strict rules of performance. There are three main types of long song: Extended songs with uninterrupted, highly ornamented, flowing melodic lines containing long passages of falsetto; the standard songs that are shorter, less ornamented and without falsetto; and the shortened songs with short verses, refrains and rising and falling melodic lines.
Bogin duu - short songShort songs are strophic, syllabic, metrical and unadorned. They are never used for celebrations as they are spontaneously improvised and of a satirical nature. They often take the form of a dialogue about friends and events, or a story about love, daily life or animals, particular horses.
Tuuli - heroic epicsMongolian epics tell about fierce battles fought between good and evil, and are very poetic. The recital of epics has always been connected with rituals and is believed to have magical powers. It was intended to have a positive effect on natural spirits and to banish evil spirits. Epics were generally sung in the round felt tents of shepherds while they looked for winter quarters, before hunts or battles, or to cure infertility or sickness.
Magtaal - song of praiseSongs of praise (magtaal) are sung to honour the lamaistic gods and natural spirits, heroes or individual animals. Epic texts also praise the mountains, the rivers and nature in general. This is an ancient tradition that is still practised today by the people of the Altai region of Western Mongolia.