Modern Mongolian Music and What It Means for the Rest of Us

Image courtesy of Claus Bunk

Speaking of China and my someday-in-the-future dream vacation to Mongolia, here’s a modern folk-rock band, Hanggai, who merges an ethnic Mongolian sound with both current and antique instruments and sensibilities.

In the NY Times video (here), frontman Ilchi talks about how many people assume that China is a monoculture, not the complex mix of languages, religions, landscapes, and ethnicities that it is in actuality. Hanggai see their music as a response to the dominant Chinese paradigm, keeping traditions alive while adapting them and maintaining their relevance in the modern age.

I’m not a romantic. I’m a writer, but I’m not into saving manual typewriters or bemoaning the slow decline of the printed book. I’m all for forward momentum. But I’m also keenly aware of how loud and domineering our Western culture is. It’s spreading over the globe, suffocating traditional cultures with its seductive aura: “Come with us. We’re progress, democracy, convenience, self-actualization, rugged individualism. We’re right and you’re wrong, so join us.” Globalization may be good for some things, but the end result is beginning to look like one huge planetary strip mall. We’ve already seen the results of our “food” globally. Do we really need to wait to see what else disappears?

So in remaining true to their roots and incorporating the realities of their present and future, Hanggai perfectly embodies what’s necessary as we move forward in a world where isolation is a distant memory. This is the task before all of us. What do we take and what do we ignore? What do we pass on to our children? What is meaningful in our lives and how do we protect it against the onslaught of everything else?

For me, going Primal was a huge step in the right direction. I may have trouble with things like marrow and liver, but I feel it’s important to try and move in that direction. To eat like our great-grandparents ate, to eat food our bodies need and crave. By eating less within the Industrialized Food Complex (IFC), we tell all those wealthy folks at Monsanto, Nabisco, General Foods, and the like that their vote doesn’t matter in our lives. That we’re perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves, thank you very much. And while I’m certain there will be some rebellion down the line (I can see it now: “Mom, Dad. I’m a vegetarian!”), I’m hoping to instill in my daughter the idea that she has to take care of herself in this big, loud world.

I’m really bummed about certain things I can’t pass down to her. Dancing for one. Sewing and hunting for others. But as a family, we have a lot to share: camping, hiking, mountain biking, cooking, mushroom hunting, swimming, guitar strumming, etc. I figure we can all learn certain things together as we go or she can explore them on her own.

What traditions do you carry with you? What would you like to learn? Has going Paleo/Primal reconnected you to your roots?

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2 Responses to “Modern Mongolian Music and What It Means for the Rest of Us”

  1. I love this post for a thousand reasons. I didn’t know Mongolia had a rock scene, for one. So thank you for introducing me. I can’t say that paleo in particular has gotten me in touch with my traditions, although now you have me thinking about Irish stews and meat dishes.
    I’m a sucker for tradition, although I’ve adopted the Mexican culture as my own. Hmmm… lengua?

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