sensation of speed

If there is one thing Mongolians crave, it is by far the intoxicating feeling one gets with the wind in their hair, charging furiously across the plains. Around Ulaan Baatar, from where I write this brief tidbit of an article, the steppe seems endless. From the train window, one sees Mongolians racing, fleeing, moving as fast as they can on horses or motorcycles. A basic physics principle states that a given object’s speed can only exist in relative comparison to another; i.e., we can only ‘move’ if we know what we are ‘moving to or from’. Here, where the vastness of the land dwarfs any human, one can only hope that he or she will open throttle far enough to feel something…
A charming encounter in a local music store with a guitar class found me exchanging smiles, tunes and cultures with a few Mongolians. Thanks to the internet, everyone had already been generously soaked in Western pop culture, recognizing hits from Eric Clapton, The Beatles, with one girl idolizing Avril Lavigne and another, at the piano, asking me to play her some Yann Tiersen!

I inquired about traditional Mongolian music and their good-hearted teacher played me what he called a ‘nomadic Mongol song about the strength of galloping horses’. Originally written for the morin khuur, the piece used mostly pentatonic scales and was thusly easily transferred to guitar. Quite epic.

The computer I am using right now has no speakers or headphones… I’d love to post the song he played for me, but I can’t be totally certain. Here’s a video of one whose fingers look like they are moving in the same way!