CHASING THE SINGERS: THE TRANSITION OF LONG-SONG (URTYN DUU) IN POST-SOCIALIST MONGOLIA
Provine, Robert C.
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Long-song (Urtyn duu) is a prominent Mongolian traditional folk song genre that survived throughout the socialist period (1921-1990) and throughout the political transformation of Mongolia from socialism to democratic capitalism after the Soviet Union was dismantled and terminated its aid to Mongolia in 1990. This dissertation, based on research conducted from 2006 to 2010, presents and investigates the traces of singers' stories and memories of their lives, songs, and singing, through the lens of the discourse on change and continuity in, and as, folk tradition. During the socialist period, this genre was first considered backward, and was then subtly transformed into an urban national style, with the formation of a boundary between professionalism and amateurism among long-song singers and with selective performance of certain songs and styles. This boundary was associated with politics and ideology and might be thought to have ended when the society entered its post-socialist period. However, the long-song genre continued to play a political role, with different kinds of political meaning one the one hand and only slight musical modification on the other. It was now used to present a more nostalgic and authentic new Mongolian identity in the post-socialist free market. Through my investigation, I argue that the historical transition of Mongolia encompassed not merely political or economic shifts, but also a deeper transformation that resulted in new cultural forms. Long-song provides a good case study of the complicated process of this cultural change.