Long song

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The Long drawn song (Mongolian: Уртын дуу, Urtyn duu) is a central element of the traditional music of Mongolia. This genre is called "Long song" not because the songs are long (even if some of them are), but because each syllable of text is extended for a long duration. A four-minute song may only consist of ten words. Lyrical themes vary depending on context; they can be philosophical, religious, romantic, or celebratory, and often use horses as a symbol or theme repeated throughout the song. Eastern Mongols typically use a Morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) as accompaniment, sometimes with a type of indigenous flute, called limbe. Oirat groups of the Western Mongols traditionally sing long songs unaccompanied or accompanied with the Igil.

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.

Three major styles are identified in long songs: besreg urtiin duu ("mini long song"), urtiin duu and aizam urtiin duu ("majestic long songs"). Again, the styles reflect the way of the performance of the shuranhai and other techniques rather than the sizes of the songs.

UNESCO declared the Mongolian Long Song one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.

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