Mongolian Fretless Shudraga and the Ethnic Band Behi

Behi are an all female trio playing why they describe as “modern lounge music with an ethnic twist”. Interestingly their lead instrument is the Shudraga a three stringed fretless lute.


Behi Live

Founded on October 23, 2011 the band hails from Ulaanbaatar the capital of Mongolia. Sadly there is not a lot of personal information about the band, which I hope to update as news comes in. The music varies from traditional Mongolian tunes with a modern beat, to covers of Western songs. There are a myriad of videos to watch but I’ve chosen two of the best, do watch them, they are visually stunning and it is great to see an Unfretted or Fretless instrument fronting a band to such great effect.

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar panorama

One of the amazing things about Ulaanbaatar is that it has a “Beatles Square” with a bronze statue of the Beatles at the Northern end. In the days of the USSR Eastern European bootlegs would be listened to and the centre was this particular square.

mongolia map
Mongolia is surrounded by Russia to the North and China to the South.




The shudraga or shanz is a long-necked spiked lute with an oval wooden frame with snake skin covering stretched over both faces. The three strings are fixed to a bar, which is inserted in the body. The instrument is struck or plucked with a plectrum made of horn or with the fingers. As the tones do not echo, every note is struck several times.



The Yatga, or Yatuga is a half-tube zither with a movable bridge. It is constructed as a box with a convex surface and an end bent towards the ground. The strings are plucked and the sound is very smooth. The instrument was considered to be sacrosanct and playing it was a rite, bound to taboos. The instrument was mainly used at court and in monasteries, since strings symbolised the twelve levels of the palace hierarchy.

 Shepherds were forbidden to play the twelve-stringed zither, but they were allowed to play the ten-stringed zither, which was also used for interludes during recitations of epics.

 Mongolians traditionally play three types of this zither, differentiated by their resonators or hollow bodies in which the sound is amplified. Designs include the master yatga; ikh gariing yatga, the national yatga; akhun ikh yatga, and the harp, called the bosoo yatga.


Youtube Videos


Behi – Argagui amrag

Behi – Revolution





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