TITLE: The Return of Takhi, the last Feral Horse
CAT# (YEAR COMPOSED): 89 (2014)
INSTRUMENTATION: bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, voice

NOTE: The Return of Takhi, the last Feral Horse represents the sounds of the central Asian Steppe – from ancient Mongol languages to contemporary avian and mammalian bioacoustical study. The ancient Mongolian poem, čaγan aγulan (White Mountains), a reflection on nature and mankind, is featured. Yet the text is not used as narration, but rather appears, vanishes, then reappears as the ancient soundscape evolved over time.

PREMIERE: 2016_05_02, The National Opera Center (NYC) by Loadbang

NOTE: 2nd performance was on 2016_06_08 by Loadbang during the 2016 China-ASEAN Music Week at the Guangxi Arts University Concert Hall, in Nanning, China. Their participation was made possible with support from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.



3 EXCERPTS (enhanced)

The Return of Takhi, the last Feral Horse represents the sounds of the central Asian Steppe.

The ancient Mongolian poem, čaγan aγulan (White Mountains).

White Mountains – (čaγan aγulan)


saiqan časutu čaγan aγulan-dur
saran-u gerel dusabasu neng čain-a
saraγul uqaγantu mergen-ün čikin-dür
sain üge-yi sonosγabasu neng mergejin-e


[saiqan] [ʦʰasƱtu] [ʦʰaghan] [aghƱlan-dur]
[saran-Ʊ] [gǝrɛl] [dƱsabasu] [nǝŋ] [ʦʰaǐn-a]
[saraghƱl] [uqaghantu] [mɛrgɪn-jun] [ʦʰɪkɪn-djƱr]
[sain] [jƱgɛ-jɪ] [sɔnɔsghabasu] [nǝŋ] [mɛrgɛʤɪn-ɛ]


White mountains covered in beautiful snow,
When moonlight falls, still brighter.
To the ears of wise and intelligent men,
With good words heard, yet wiser.


The sounds of the Central Asian Steppe – the sounds you might hear on the open plains from large mammals to small birds were analyzed through spectral analyses. In Takhi, I use both literal and metaphorical transcriptions of nonhuman vocalizations, referencing the hunting and foraging calls of large mammals such as:4

Cervus elaphus scoticus – European red deer
Cervus canadensis – elk
Cervus elaphus nelsoni – Rocky Mountain elk
Rangifer tarandus – reindeer
Canis lupus – grey wolf
Canis lupus albus – Turukhan wolf, aka Tundra wolf (grey wolf subspecies, native to Eurasia’s tundra from Finland to the Kamchatka Peninsula)
Canis lupus campestris – Steppe wolf, a subspecies of the grey wolf, native to the Caspian steppes