Kh. Erdenetsetseg & J. CURTET

Teachers : Johanni Curtet & Erdenetsetseg Khenmedekh


To learn about and discover
– the practice and repertoire of Mongolian long song (urtyn duu),
– the vocal technique of the long song and its many ornaments,
– the unmeasured, melismatic and ornamented singing technique of Mongolian poetry.


The Mongolian people cultivate highly distinctive vocal forms, whose techniques and ornamentation often evoke nature. To plunge you into this universe, we propose to introduce you to one of the most emblematic Mongolian vocal techniques: long singing (urtyn duu), whose melismatic beauty and virtuoso, stretched-out melodies remind us of the contours of the Mongolian landscape. Using poetry with a philosophical and spiritual meaning, the singer switches from chest voice to head voice for the duration of a stanza, linking glissandi with laryngeal tremulations. So many techniques to learn through text, pentatonic melismas and a meeting with one of Mongolia’s greatest voices, Erdenetsetseg Khenmedekh.

Unlike khöömii (diphonic singing), practised by just a few hundred individuals and very well known abroad, this is a vocal technique that is widespread throughout Mongolia and Inner Mongolia (China), shared by several ethnic groups, whose performance varies from one region to another, depending on who is singing it and whether you are facing the steppe, the mountains or the desert.

This type of singing is called “long” because the melodies trail slowly from one syllable to the next, sometimes passing in the space of a breath through a variety of vocal techniques and ornaments: rapid passages from chest voice to head voice, glissandi, laryngeal tremulations, glottal accents, powerful then light and airy nuances, all unmeasured. It can be sung a cappella or accompanied by a horse fiddle (morin khuur) or a bamboo transverse flute (limbe) played with circular breathing. The instrumentalist follows and supports the singing.

With sacred, symbolic or philosophical themes, it is traditionally sung at wakes, weddings, ceremonies to cut a child’s hair for the first time; at the Naadam festival to accompany the lute or encourage horses and riders at the start of the race; or at state ceremonies. In these contexts, there may be just one person singing as an entire congregation.

Erdenetsetseg’s approach is rooted in a family tradition from the Gobi desert and enriched by contact with a wide range of creative experiences in traditional, classical and ethno-rock music.

To help you discover the practice of long urtyn duu singing, she will be offering :

  • exercises suitable for novices and experienced musicians alike.
  • learning the basics, through the Mongolian warm-up and working on certain ornamental techniques
  • learning a long song.

Assisted by Johanni Curtet, who will provide an ethnomusicological perspective to complement the Mongolian diphonic singing lessons that have been offered as part of the curriculum for the last three years, this new workshop will open a window onto one of the best-known vocal techniques in Mongolia and one that is rarely represented in the West, making it one of the first long song workshops in Europe.


Open to all, no basic pre-requisites (18 years and over).




Born in 1972 in Mandalgovi in Mongolia’s Dundgovi province, she grew up in a family of traditional singers. She was immersed in the long-song tradition from an early age. Erdenetsetseg began formal training in this vocal technique with Chuluuntsetseg in 2000 at the University of Arts and Culture in Ulaanbaatar. For many years, she was a singer with the Mongolian National Academic Ensemble of Music and Dance, and a singer with Altan Urag, a pioneering Mongolian ethno-rock group. A long-singing singer for three generations, she has devoted herself to research into the rare and ancient aspects of her practice, with a view to restoring and passing on the repertoire. An excellent teacher, she is one of Mongolia’s greatest voices of her generation.


Shanztai duunuud (self-produced, 2015, Ulaanbaatar)
Once upon a time in Mongolia (self-produced, 2010, Ulaanbaatar)
Mongol, film soundtrack, (self-produced, 2010, Ulan Bator)
Nation, (self-produced, 2010, Ulaanbaatar)
Blood (self-produced, 2009, Ulaanbaatar)
Hypnotism (self-production, 2008, Ulaanbaatar)
Made in Altan Urag, (self-produced, 2006, Ulaanbaatar)
Unaga töröv, A foal’s been born, (self-produced, 2004, Ulaanbaatar)


International tours, Bolshoi Theatre in Russia, UNESCO headquarters, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, Plenitude World Music Festival, several film soundtracks (Khadak, Mongol, Marco Polo). Anthology of Mongolian Khöömii” tour with Routes Nomades in 2016 (Opéra de Rennes, Opéra de Lille, Musée des Confluences, Alhambra-Geneva, Festival Harmonie des steppes…).

Video link:


Born in 1981, year of cock in Décines-Charpieu, and resides in Rennes, Johanni Curtet is a musician, overtone singer and ethnomusicologist. He learnt classical guitar with Jean-Loup Gautret (La Flèche Music School) and Hervé Merlin (Conservatoire of Rennes) while training himself in the chamber music with the guitar quartet Merienda. Following this, he turned into the musical practices of orality, influencing his play from Asia and Africa.

For 10 years, Johanni immersed himself in studying musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Rennes 2, and specialized in the khöömii (Mongolian overtone singing). Since 2004, he has won several scholarships such as Aegis, International Foundation Nadia & Lili Boulanger, Cultural Aires International Doctoral College in Brittany, American Center for Mongolian Studies and Assistance for Fieldwork of the French Society for Ethnomusicology that allowed him to conduct his research in Mongolia and learn the Mongolian language and culture.

First initiated by Tran Quang Hai, he learnt khöömii from Tserendavaa Dashdorj in the mountainous steppes of the Altai and then Odsuren Baatar at the University of Culture and Arts in Ulaanbaatar.

Artistic director of Routes Nomads Association, Johanni organizes and produces the concert tours of Mongolian overtone singing, and accompanies his master Tserendavaa and his son Tsogtgerel on stage at many festivals.
The African influence in his music comes from his long stay in Cameroon. By participating as a trainer and organizer of the first two editions of Voice of Sahel Festival in Garoua, Cameroon and N’Djamena, Chad (Trans-Saharan Azalaï program initiated by CulturesFrance), Johanni shared music stage with Camel Zekri, Yacouba Moumouni, Alpha Barry, Mounira Mitchala, and also many local musicians from Cameroon (South Team, Douala, bards of North Cameroon) and Chad.
This crossroad of culture he experienced is synthesized in the compositions of Meïkhâneh, a trio in which he plays and continues training himself. Johanni’s play has a major influence of Thierry Robin, with whom he attended two master classes organized by DROM in 2013 and 2014.

Johanni teaches khöömii at the cultural and educational institutions as University of Rennes 2, Théâtre de la Ville, Kreiz Breizh Akademi (DROM), The Philharmonie de Paris and Centre for the Heritage of Instrument-Making; for festivals as Les Orientales or Les Suds à Arles; and for various associations and groups of amateur overtone singers (Tortue Écarlate) or runs individual courses in Rennes.
In the study of khöömii, Johanni focuses on the origin, history, spectacularization, heritagization and transmission of this vocal technique in Mongolia. His researches are accessible through his PhD dissertation entitled The transmission of höömij, an art of vocal timber: the ethnomusicology and history of Mongolian overtone singing (2013, University of Rennes 2), and several academic articles he wrote.

In 2009, at the request of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, he participated in the elaboration of the khöömii nomination for its inscription on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2014, he taught Mongolian language grammar, Mongolian culture and civilization at INALCO, the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris.


  • Best of Khukh Mongol Folk Art Ensemble (self-production)
  • Khukh Mongol, Minii nutag (LC 12455, 2004, 5Special)
  • Khukh Mongol, Chinggis Khaan (self-production, 2002, Germany)
  • Une Anthologie du khöömii mongol, (2017, Buda Musique/Routes Nomades)


  • Voyage en Diphonie, de J.-F. Castell (2018, Les Films du rocher)

Texts: Johanni Curtet
Copyright photos: © Sh. Nomindari