Michael Schindhelm | CHANT OF THE STEPPES

Chant of the Steppes

800 years after Venice’s Marco Polo travelled the greatest empire of all time from the court of Kublai Khan, Mongolia has yet to reveal its secret. The steppes have been populated by Chinese, Turks and Europeans, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Jews. Their traces have long since been scattered, their voices swallowed into emptiness. The magic of the Gobi Desert, however, remains. It is a surface upon which is projected the fantasy of an ancient culture, still unfamiliar to the West. Gestures and voices from Mongolia’s golden age, the reign of Genghis Khan, haunt the region. Now, the Gobi Desert has become a concert hall for musical discovery. It has drawn musicians from different traditions and nations here. Invited by the international “Roaring Hoofs” festival, they encounter the mysterious world of the Mongolians. Can music be a key to their secret?

The last traces of this lost culture are found in nomadic chants, songs of the steppes, overtone singing. Michael Schindhelm has sought these traces out in the Southern Gobi.

Broadcast on arte (France/Germany), 3Sat (Germany), and Schweizer Fernsehen (Switzerland).
Switzerland/Germany 2003, 59 min, Documentary with subtitles.

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