"A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings." That proverb comes close to
articulating the importance of horses in Mongolia, whose people are outnumbered by its horses.
Were it not for horses, Mongolian/American folk-fusion trio Tuvergen Band (“galloping” in
Mongolian) may not exist, either. Tamir Hargana (lead vocals, folk lutes, morin khuur), Naizal
Hargana (morin khuur, vocals), and Brent Roman (percussion, didgeridoo, vocals) first met in
Lexington, where Tamir and Naizal moved in part because of the horse culture surrounding the
Kentucky Derby. Years later, the three musicians reunited in Chicago, where they are now based,
to play what they call “modern nomadic music”—an exhilarating sound indebted to Mongolian
and Tuvan traditions but inflected with bluegrass sensibilities, blues instrumental flourishes,
hard-driving rock rhythms, and more.
Hailing from Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, Tamir and Naizal are both virtuosos on the two-
stringed, cello-like morin khuur, colloquially called a horse-head fiddle and one of Mongolia’s
most iconic instruments. Tamir is also an internationally renowned specialist in Mongolian and
Tuvan khoomii (throat singing) and plays a variety of folk lutes, such as the three-stringed,
banjo-like Tuvan doshpuluur and West Mongolian tovshuur. An ethnomusicologist who has
studied Asian percussion his entire career, Roman augments these sounds with a custom hybrid
drum kit of twenty global percussion instruments and didgeridoo, the latter’s overtone-rich
timbre paralleling khoomii. Tuvergen Band uses this rich instrumental palette to reinterpret
Mongolian and Tuvan folk songs on subjects as varied as horse culture, nature, and everyday life
in the steppes.
Since debuting in 2020, Tuvergen Band has become a repeat headliner at Chicago’s Lunar New Year celebrations at Navy Pier and performed under the auspices of some of the city’s premier arts presenters, including the Chicago World Music Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Old Town School of Folk Music. The band has appeared at music festivals around the U.S.,
most recently at the 2023 Festival International de Louisiane. Their debut studio album is forthcoming in 2023.
For more information, visit tuvergenband.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram