Morin Khuur (in Mongolian,
хуур), Ikil (Western Mongolia) and Ma Tao Qin (in Mandarin
Bowed > Chordophone.
Mongolia > Inner-Mongolia (China) > Far East Asia.
Bb - F.
Scale Length .
Source: A friend of David Di Santo, Mongolia.
Description: The Morin Khuur is a bowed chordophone
having two strings. It is also known by other alternate names, the
names are Ikil or Ma Ta Qin in Mandarin Chinese. In China during
the Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1901) the ma tau chin likely has
originated from the same instrument. In the Chinese system of
classification this khuur belongs to the huqin branch of the
silk-instrument family. The khuur is one of the main instruments
played for the "long song" or "epic song". A connection the naming
is found in the Ikil which is the Western Mongolian name for the
Khuur. The morin khuur is also played in the neighboring Buryat
Republic which lies to the east of Tuva.
Techniques: The Morin Khuur is played in an upright
position similar to that of a cello. The similarities end in the
fingering techniques used to play the instruments. Unlike a cello
the on the left string or the first string of the instrument, the
musician holds his finger nail on the string and applies very
nimble pressure in which allows for vibrato and applied acoustic
effects during performance. On the cello the musician places their
fingers directly onto the string in which touches the fingerboard.
Rhythmic techniques for this instrument include the simulation of
Typically the morin-khuur is usually constructed of wood, from body,
neck, head stock and tuning pegs. Although double skin frame body is
found on some morin-khuurs. The head stock is carved in the theme of
a horses head with a serpents face. From the head stock where the
serpents mouth is located the two strings travel across the bridge
to the tail peace. In which the strings are actually held underneath
tail piece rather then at the tail its self. The strings represent
the fangs of the serpent. Several influences as borrowed from violin
luthiers include the use of a sound-post and f-holes as ornamental
sound holes. Details of this specimen are quite intricate including
the additional outlay of the animals featured in the Chinese Zodiac
including the rooster, rat pig, serpent or snake. The artwork on the
Morin Khuur is also influenced by a shared heritage of Tibetan
Buddhism. The pair of strings are called “Narin” and “Bhuddin”. In
Mongolian the word “narin” means “thick” and “bhuddin” means “thin”.
The Bhuddin or thicker strings has a count of 130 individually
selected strands from a mares tale. The thinner strands of hair
amount to approximately 105 individual strands selected from a
note about my two specimens: My first morin khuur is likely
from Inner Mongolia and it was acquired from Clarion Music in San
Francisco USA. A sticker from the manufacturer showed the same
sticker that was present on a dizi flute that is also in my
collection. My second specimen is hand made in Mongolia and brought
back by a friend of a friend of mine.