Soundscape 01 for Morin Khuur and Saxophone


Sam Boon (composer-saxophonist) recording ‘Soundscape 01 for morin khuur and saxophone’ Niddrie, Australia 17 December 2013. Photo: C.Pleteshner

Our first musical collaboration, a multi-layered improvisation, explores the sonic interplay between Mongolian strings (morin khuur) and wind (saxophone). It is important to note here that we have not set out to reproduce what skilled traditional Mongolian musicians already do very well. Instead, we have chosen to extend the improvisational boundaries of our own musical training and interests, into the echoes of what each of us experiences and expresses musically as ‘Mongolian-ness’. It is from the mindful interplay of our musical differences—within such spaciousness—that our improvisations unfold, and our soundscapes take their shape.

From an array of other options, as the visual centrepiece for the video, one photograph from the collection stood out as a visual compliment to the evocative sonorities of the soundscape. Photo-journalistic in style, this image serves as a visual anchor to important representations of contemporary Mongolian society and culture.

A decade ago was a particularly turbulent time in early post-socialist Mongolian history. The Soviets had withdrawn their financial and infrastructure support of now-democratic Mongolia. The hospitals, the animal herding collectives, the roads and schools were all by now in disrepair and decay. Paid work was very difficult to find, and a series of unseasonably cold ‘zhud’ winters further diminished the numbers of livestock (sheep, goats, camels and horses) on which Mongolian people had traditionally relied.

And so it was, from this location, that Mongolian people began to greet the next wave of outsiders. Globalisation had appeared on the horizon and was fast galloping towards their cultural front door.

Morin khuur, You Tube concept/photography: Catherine Pleteshner
Saxophone, sound design/audio engineering: Sam Boon

Recorded in Melbourne (Australia): 17 December 2013
YouTube Video PhotoLocation: Main entrance to Amarbayasgalant Khiiid, Selenge Aimag Mongolia. PhotoDate: mid-afternoon 26 August 2004

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