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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tips on how to play a khel khuur?


So, I have these two khel khuurs: a khulsan khuur (bamboo harp) and a tumur khuur (metal harp). Since I have no musical talent or skills whatsoever, I thought this was the easiest instrument for me to learn. Well, it's not so easy learning how to play them (at least, for me). The khulsan khuur is easier though, but the other one sounds like a pathetic piece of rusty metal (it's not its fault, it's mine, I know....). Plus, my brain hurts every time I try to play it. So, any pointers and tips on learning to play a khel khuur?
There is an article here (in Mongolian) written by the musicologist J.Chuluuntsetseg, where she mentions khel khuurs made of bone. Singer Yavgaan (from Temuzhin) played a khel khuur made of camel bone. Just thought it was interesting....

6 comments:

rowan hartsuiker said...

Nice post, you did not mention harps on your blog yet!

I always was fascinated by mouth harps, I'm playing them for long time already!

In Mongolia they have tömör khuur and amaan khuur (I think amaan khuur is more commonly used than khel khuur? But it's the same after all).

Not much tips to give to play tömör khuur, just experiment. Techniqually it will develop in time, goes automatic.

But amaan khuur is different, needs certain technique to create sound. You should hold the harp firmly with your left hand, and the arm of this hand should be horizontally against your face.
The arm you use to pull the string should stay still, only work from your wrist. You should pull the string not directly forward, nor directly to left or right, but just a little to the front/right.

Difficult to explain!!!! Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8D-VCMoSlQ This is friend from France, (he did fieldrecordings from Mongolia 2007)! He is good amaan khuur player.

By the way, modern amaan khuur are made of wood. Traditionally they were made of bone, but now very rare.

jngl said...

Me too, I love harps, they kinda make me wonder how a small thing like that can make such cool sounds.

I would like to clarify one thing though: Khel (tongue) khuur and aman (mouth) khuur are the generic names for the mouth/jaw harp. I prefer using khel khuur because aman khuur is also used to refer to harmonica, so it is confusing. The khulsan khuur (wood/bamboo harp) is more traditional since it is more ancient, it was more commonly played by girls.

If I have the time and patience, I will try to translate the article by the Mongolian musicologist which is pretty good.

Yeah, I've seen this French guy before, in a different vid, too bad you can't see clearly how he plays.

Arrrgh, I hope one day I will learn
Thanks

Sam C=' said...

Hi Jngl and Rowan,

here you can see some more precise helps to hold an play stringed jawharps :
http://guimbarde.free.fr/02.html#traction
you can play mongolian xulsan xuur quite the same way. The main point is to quickly release the string to let the tongue vibrate.
Jngl, it's in french, but I can send some more info or a better vid if needed. You'll find my email on my webpage.
In mongolia as in other countries, sometime jawharps are scrappy... I own some rusty pieces of metal, really hard to make them sing, and not the most efficient to begin :-)
I began to make some bone jawharps... 2 unsucessfull tries, and the third might be the right one, with cow bone...

Bayartaï !
Sam

jngl said...

Hi, Sam
Thanks for the link. I speak French, so no problem, I can read it. Good luck making a bone jaw harp. :-) I would be interested to know if you succeed.

ibeam23@yahoo.com said...

I have a Tuvan khomus which I am learning to play. There is a very instructional video up on YOUTUBE about playing. It's on BUGOTAK's page.

jngl said...

Thanks , I'll check it out