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Hanggai is a Mongolian folk / world music band from Beijing.

General information about HangGai

Hanggai 11.jpg

HangGai by Yoshito Katori, August 27th, 2005 in Shanghai

English Name HangGai
Chinese Name 杭盖 / Háng gài
Genre Mongolian Folk, Folk
Origin / Present city Beijing / Beijing
Founded in 2004
This is an artist which could be a band, musical project, solo musician or any other kind of music collective. For a more precise definition, see Category:Artists.

Band members

Vocals, Throat singing (Khoomei) & tobshuur player: Ilchi 伊立奇 (since 2004) / Vocals & Percussions: Hurchhu 胡日查 since 2007 / Vocals & Guitars: 义拉拉塔(胜利) since 2008 (ex-Big Wheel) / Throat singing (Khoomei) & Morin khuur player: 巴图巴根 since 2007 / Guitars & three-string: 艾伦 since 2011 / Drums & Percussions: 也尔布洛.乌拉孜汗 (since 2012) / Bass: 钮鑫 (since 2010)warning.pngString representation "Vocals, Throat … 钮鑫 (since 2010)" is too long.

Former band members

Drums: Li Zhongtao 李中涛 since 2008 (ex-Tongue 1997-1999) / Drums: Boyinjaya / Morin khuur player: Gugjilt / Plucked instrumentalist: Boldoo / Guitars & three-string: Xu Jingchen 徐京晨 (since 2004)

Detailed Lineup

Vocalist and tobshuur player Ilchi (Yi Lin Qi) (ex-T9) is from central Inner Mongolia's Xilingol

Drummer Boyinjaya is from northeastern Inner Mongolia's Hulunbuir

Morin khuur player Gugjilt comes from eastern Inner Mongolia's Horqin

Plucked instrumentalist Boldoo is from southwestern Inner Mongolia's Ordos

Vocalist Hurchhu is from the Haixi Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province.



Hanggai, an ancient Mongol word. The meaning is, one place has the blue sky , white cloud , grassland , river , mountain and woods. HangGai bang is made up of 5 young musicians form different areas of China; it is a band that throws oneself into the Mongolian music. The Mongols and the Han nationality form the musicians.

The musical instrument includes the horse-headed instrument, Tu-Pu-Shuo-Er (a kind of old plucked instrument in Mongolia), guitar, bass, and so on, Perhaps should count as that kind of peculiar " musical instrument " –Hu Mai-The singing laws that send out two even three pieces of sound with the throat at the same time.

Through merging and developing the traditional music from different areas of Mongolia, the music of Hanggai band is changing direction in the oldest form from the most modern form. For Hanggai band, through go in for rock music and underground culture for a long timing, there is no difference between these two forms. "Do the Mongolians growing up in city miss their grassland?" In fact, this question belongs to all contemporary, those children beginning to miss the root.

Sometimes, people will mention the previous of the band, it once criticized, roared, having published the disc of the new metal style, but that goes over, Hanggai, it is today and the future.

China is a country of nations: Fifty-five different minority groups inhabit a wide range of the country’s geography. For many of these groups, music is the way in which their cultural survival is ensured. While China’s capital may seem like a strange place for a Mongolian folk revival, Hanggai, a five-piece folk outfit composed of ethnic Mongolians, is captivating Beijing’s rock-heavy music scene with their brand of traditional Mongolian music with a contemporary feel.

Traditional Mongolian music is based in the rhythms and sounds of horseback riding, wherein lie the roots of its culture. Hanggai combines primarily traditional instruments – the morin khuur, or horse-head fiddle, and the tobshuur (two-stringed lute) – with a throat singing technique (hoomei) that has been handed down over the course of more than two millennia and elicits the rolling plains of the Mongolian grasslands. Indeed, the band’s name is an ancient word that refers to a heavenly combination of the best of the Mongolian landscape – big blue skies, mountains, rivers, trees. A tasteful addition of modern flavour is the result of the group’s time in Beijing’s rock underground in a variety of bands and is balanced by their commitment to preserving the traditions of Mongolian music through regular musical pilgrimages to Inner Mongolia.

Hanggai has been called “one of the more soulful groups in town” by one of Beijing’s major media outlets, and is leading the charge of a small collection of folk musicians bringing traditional music into the urban scene. The band has performed to audiences of thousands at the massive Gegentala Inner Mongolian Rock Festival (Aug 05) and at Beijing’s Midi Music Festival (Oct 05); in support of (and in jam sessions with) Norwegian group Poing and Nettwerk Records folk artist Abigail Washburn’s November 2005 tour of China; and in venues around the country. The group’s self-produced and self-distributed release is a surprising listen: Recorded primarily with one microphone, its sales – only off the stage at Hanggai shows – represent a desire on behalf of Beijing audiences for a return to the roots.

HangGai are being called the pioneers of “Chinagrass”.[1]

Short Biography

Taken from Wacken band pages:

Chinese youths discover their musical roots: Hanggai draw inspiration from the ample and rich musical sources from the Steppe of inner Mongolia. China has not always had a fine sense of hearing for its minorities, for the older generations the Cultural Revolution was not all that long ago. Still, this huge land is in a state of upheaval, and young musicians are newly discovering their sense of tradition.

When the punk-rocker from Peking, Ilchi heard throat singing for the first time, he was firmly decided to discover more of his Mongolian heritage. He travelled there, met two traditional musicians named Hugejiltu and Bagen, and soon after Hanggai was born. Founded in Peking but dedicated to traditional Mongolian songs, Hanggais rambling, indisputably brilliant music has found many fans.

Since 2009 the band have also been very successful abroad, the summer tour lead them to big festivals such as Roskilde, Lowlands, Sfinks, Womad and Sziget where they left enthused crowds in their wake. In October they performed an official Showcase at Womex.

Hanggai’s music is based on traditional music from the Grassland. It is played predominantly on the double sided lute and the “horse-head” violin, sung in Mongolian, also with the technique of the overtone singing. Both of the western producers, Matteo Scumaci and Robin Haller, were very modest with their work. The arrangements are carefully constructed and don’t infringe on the sound structure of songs from the Grassland. Moreover the overtone singing does not turn into artistic voice acrobatics.

Hanggai sing about mongolian Robin Hoods and mix throat singing with elements of rock. They dress like men from the Steppe, although they live in the buzzing metropolis of Peking. Of course, embodying contradictions comes naturally to ethnic minorities in China – only this time it’s different.

With their natural voices, elegantly arranged songs, first-class produced album and the oddly familiar melodies, Hanggai have successfully breached the gap from folk phenomenon to crossover pioneers – and without losing their souls. Made from – and meant for- the wide open lands of Mongolia, this music will make you homesick for a place you’ve never been.



On May 1st, 2004, Beijing punk band T9 renames and reforms itself as HangGai band with the following lineup: Yi Li Qi(Vo), 徐京晨(G), Bai Yin(G&Matouqin), 劉石揚(B)and 陳昆(Dr), playing Mongolian folk music. The meaning & translation of HangGai is forest. The band combines traditional Mongolian instruments with traditional rock instruments, such as bass and guitar. On My 22nd, they performed in the 路尚 bar. On May 28th, they rocked the Nameless Highland. On June 20th, they performed in the 九宵倶楽部 during the French Music Festival (法国音楽節). On November 7th, they performed in the Yugong Yishan. On December 8th, they rocked the Yugong Yishan during the "In memorial of John Lennon" gig.

Asked on how the band came together, Ilchi explains to MTV Iggy:

I started Hanggai back in 2004 with Xu Jingchen as a crossover band which blends world music and rock and roll. We started out with a rock band format and added traditional Mongolian instruments — such as horse head fiddle and Mongolian melodies. This didn’t last too long; The sound wasn’t right. I thought the band members didn’t know enough about the roots of Mongolian music and we couldn’t find a way to combine guitar, bass, and drums into the music. So for a while we gave up and used traditional instruments instead.

We picked out songs from different areas of Inner Mongolia and started adapting them. This took forever. It was really hard. But through it we found a way to blend a guitar into the folk songs. Also, we designed a percussion set ourselves. The biggest difference from a normal drum set is we don’t use a snare or hi-hat. We’re still tweaking our drums. After that, we worked an electric guitar and bass in too. We’ve made a lot of good changes in the past two years, and it’s paid off; People seem pretty crazy about us.[2]


Hanggai in 2005, photo: Democn

In 2005, the lineup consisted of Yi Li Qi (Vo), 徐京晨(G), Bai Yin(G&Matouqin), 希吉爾(B) and Chen Kun(Dr&Per). On May 24th, they performed in the Yugong Yishan. On May 26th, they rocked the Nameless Highland. On July 13th, they rocked the Yuyong Yishan. In July they also released their first record Hanggai. On July 31st, they performed at the 2005 Gegentala Festival in Inner Mongolia. August 24th, they performed at the Yugong Yishan. On August 27th, they performed at Shanghai's 哈雷 bar. On August 28th, they performed at Hangzhou's 旅行者 bar. At this gig, Chen Kun did not join and 寶音 of Nie Chi served as drummer. On September 4th, they performed at the 中央民族大学科爾沁餐庁 together with Yat-Kha and Mamur. On September 18th, they performed at the Nameless Highland during the 勿忘国耻-記念(九・一八事変)音楽会. On October 2nd, they rocked the Midi Music Festival 2005. After this gig 柏音 leaves the band and 吉勒圖(Matouqin) and 寶勒金(DJ) join. On December 21st, they performed at the Yugong Yishan. On December 23rd, they rocked the New Get Lucky Bar during the Rock Mongolia 北京首場蒙古(揺滾楽隊)大Party. On December 25th, they performed at the Nameless Highland. On December 30th, they rocked the 2 Kolegas.


In May 2009, Yi Li Qi is voted the no. 13 coolest rock star in Beijing by Timeout Beijing Magazine. Yi Liqi has gone through a more dramatic musical transformation than most Beijing rock stars. In 1996, he formed Qingpi (or Slacker), which was a straight-up grunge band; then came T9, a hardcore band which initially had heavy Rage Against The Machine leanings. But gradually Yi got less angry and more connected to his native Inner Mongolia. In 2003, he went to Hohhot and learned xoomei (throat singing) from legendary teacher Aodu Surong, also learning traditional Mongolian instruments such as the tobushuur (twostringed lute) and the morinhuur (horse-hair fiddle).[3] In September 2009 their song Five Heroes is included in the So Rock! Magazine (no. 90).


On May 3rd, 2010, they performed at the Midi Music Festival 2010.

In August (although it is known first and foremost as a predominantly heavy metal oriented music festival) the band performed at the 2010 Wacken Open Air.[4]


The band performed at the Sydney Festival in January 2011. According to The Australian: A few blocks away, Hanggai, a throat-singing Chinese rock group, kicked off proceedings at Martin Place. It was a theatrical set, full of passion, but a curious selection all the same for this slot.[5]

Hanggai performed at the Bonnaroo Music & Art Festival in Mancherster, Tennessee June 9–12, 2011.

Hanggai performed at the Woodford Folk Festival in December 2011, drawing huge dancing crowds to each performance.


HangGai, July 20th 2012, 2 Kolegas, Beijing, photo (c) Фуко, www.foukography.com

On July 20th, 2012, they performed at Beijing's 2 Kolegas. According to Beijing Daze:

The whole band was sporting acoustic instruments for this show including the bass player. Ilchi got himself and old school Mongol gong that he played through a few songs and the rest of the gang did what they usually do. One particularity of this show was the presence of their new latest addition: Drummer Yerbol . I was watching the show from the right side of the stage paying attention to him most night and he did a pretty darn solid job. Sure, there were a few glances exchanged at various moments but his bandmates seemed all relaxed and confident in his ability to keep the beat going. Keeping the beat was something they did the whole night for the 200+ faithful that crowded the outside patio at 2 kolegas despite the extremely high humidity levels and the relatively high ticket prices (RMB120). It was a crowd pretty much sold to the cause, sweating, screaming and drinking along throughout the night, enjoying the classics like Xiger Xiger and the Drinking Song just as much as they enjoyed the handful of new songs the band premiered that evening. Speaking of those new songs, it was hard to really judge them given the unplugged setting and the screaming audience but they pretty much sounded just like you’d expect a Hanggai song to sound like: catchy, happy and straight up grassland rock. I’m looking forward to giving it a spin once it’s been recorded.[6]

Other Sources

Taken from juefestival.com:

Hanggai, from the steppes of Mongolia by way of Beijing, is a crossover band that blends world music and rock and roll. The band is comprised of members from Beijing, Inner Mongolia, which covers a vast portion of China’s north, Xinjiang in China’s far northwest, and Qinghai’s Haixi Mongolian Prefecture in northwest China. As anyone who has seen one of their live performances (including their JUE 2010 appearance at Mao Livehouse) knows very well, Hanggai put on a spectacularly glorious, rowdy and transcendent live show, complete with throat singing, mouth harping, foot stomping and beer swilling.

Last September saw the release of Hanggai’s second album, “He Who Travels Far,” which was produced by Ken Stringfellow, an American musician and producer who has worked with the likes of R.E.M and Neil Young and features the legendary guitar stylings of Tom Waits’ frequent collaborator, Marc Ribot. Critics are pretty much obsessed with the album, which has earned 4 Stars from world music authorities including Earthbeat and World Connection.

What’s that you say? You’re still hungry for more info About Hanggai? Well then, let us regale you with the story of the band’s beginnings:

Formed in 2004 when frontman Ilchi and fomer bandmate Xu Jingcheng re-discovered the beauty of traditional Mongolian music, the band has now grown to seven players, Batu Bagen (Inner Mongolia), Ilchi (Inner Mongolia/Beijing), Illeta (Inner Mongolia), Hurcha (Qinghai), Li Zhongtao (Li Dan) (Xinjiang), Niu Xin (Inner Mongolia) and Xu Jingchen (Beijing).

Hanggai’s sound is based in traditional Mongolian music, a world that is rich in material, because each part of Mongolia (be that Outer Mongolia or Inner Mongolia) has its own musical traditions. Selecting folk tunes that offer a unique sound or emotion, the band works together to craft songs that retain their traditional base while offering a more modern sound. Traditional instruments like the horehead fiddle, the mouth harp and the sanxian fit comfortably side by side with more modern instruments like electric guitar, electric bass and a Western drum kit.

Participated Festivals

Appearances in Press/Books

  • Mentioned as "Other Notable Act" in the Insider's Guide to Beijing 2008.


Further Information

Official pages

Other pages

Articles & Interviews




  1. WMC News Dept. (2009-09-15). "New York Debut of Chinagrass Innovators Hanggai". Retrieved on 2010-04-04.
  2. toksala (2010-05-17). "Q&A with Mongolian Throat Singing Punk Rockers Hanggai: “People Seem Pretty crazy About Us”". Retrieved on 2012-06-22.
  3. Timeout Beijing Magazine (May 2009). "Class of '09". Retrieved on 2009-05-07.
  4. http://www.last.fm/festival/937566+Wacken+Open+Air+2010/lineup#all
  5. ASHLEIGH WILSON (2011-01-11). "Better than all right on First Night". Retrieved on 2012-06-22.
  6. Beijing Daze (2012-07-25). "[Gig Review Hanggai @ 2 Kolegas- Unplugged but Nevertheless Electrifying]". Retrieved on 2012-07-25.
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