As one may imagine from learning about Uighur history–a land located on geographic crossroads, a people who were part of many empires over two thousand years–Uighur music is a nuanced mix of Central Asian, Chinese and many other influences. Uighur traditional music is based on the “muqam,” an intricate set of melodies and modes that create a musical context for epic songs, dances and rhythms.

In music class we heap high praise on Mamer: Mamer is actually Khazak and not Uighur, but he made the cut here because he’s from Xinjiang where he lives on the grasslands, plays the dombura and finds musical inspiration. Mamer’s 2009 debut album, Eagle, seamlessly blends Khazak folk music with Western alt-country, ushering in the age of an entire new genre of music called Chinagrass. Listen to Eagle. It’s fantastic.

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