Uyghur is a Chinese minority group from north west of China. A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in north west of America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks.Because of the special geographical positions and complex historical backgrounds, both of them have their own culture and art. Music is an important component of their cultures.

Muqam: The melody type used in Uyghur music.

The muqam system developed among the Uyghurs  in northwest China over  1500 years. Uyghur has local muqam systems named after the oasis towns of Xinjiang, such as

Dolan Muqam:

Dolan Singer

A video of Dolan Muqam

Kuche Muqam:

Kuche muqam group


Kuche Muqam singer

Kuche Muqam Accompanist

And Turpan Muqam:

Dutar players

Turpan Muqam Accompanist

The muqam musical instruments are also old and traditional. Very luckily, I got chance to take pictures for muqam instruments two years ago.Unfortunately, I can’t find most of their names.

Plucked Instruments:

Adjust "Satar"

"Dutar" player


Keyboard Instruments:

Percussion Instrument:



Without any doubt, dance and music are never separated. There are many different dances with various Muqam.

Nazikumu with Turpan Muqam:



Dancing with Kuche Muqam

Music seems like integrating into Uyghur’s blood. Every Uyghur can dance and sing in anywhere at any moment. Normally, people are dancing and playing muqam in wedding, party and special festival. It may not be professional perform on the stage, but people enjoy it!

Dancing in the Wedding

Muqam for Special Festival

Playing in Home Party

Even when people feel lonely, Muqam can be played by only one person with “Dutar”.

One Person, One "Dutar", One Song and the Whole Day

Western music, north west of America: The life of cowboy

Western music was originally composed by and about the people who settled and worked throughout the Western United States. It celebrates the life of the cowboy on the open ranges and prairies of Western North America.

Cowboy's Life

Most of cowboy songs are unknown authorship, but the best known is “Little Joe, the Wrangler,” written by N. Howard “Jack” Thorp.

In 1910, John Lomax, in his book Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, first gained national attention for Western music. The first successful cowboy band was Otto Gray’s Oklahoma Cowboys.

In recent years, the singing group Riders in the Sky recorded a mix of Western and Western Swing  and has won Grammy Awards for their work with Disney on Toy Story 2.

Toy Story

The main musical instruments of Western music are claw hammer banjo, ukulele, harmonica.

Harmonica player

Music and dance are always together.

Like Muqam in west of China,the Western music is also not only limited on stage. People who live in the West are surrounded by music.

From melody and language, Muqam and Cowboy music are totally different. But they are all from the real life and full of stories.

Next week: Tianshan Mountains & Rocky Mountains.

Learn more:


Western music: