On a very snowy Friday, a large audience gathered in the first church in Cambridge and were transported by the music of Langas and Manganiars and the dance by a Kabelia dancer to the sandy dessert of Rajsthan.
On Jan. 21, World Music presented a delightful musical recital featuring some of the finest authentic folk music and dance from Rajasthan. The event titled the rhythm of Rajasthan created an exciting fusion of traditional rhythms and melodies from the western region of Rajasthan.
The Langas who have strong Sufi influence use the Sindhi Sarangi and algoza (double flute) to accompany their singing. The Manganiars play the kamayacha a remarkable bowed instrument. Percussion is provided by the dholak and morchang.
The music of Rajasthan has deeply influenced Bollywood and perhaps as reflection of that the musicians opened with the traditional version of the famous Bollywood number Nimbooda. But the entire song while holding on to a basic melody included a lot of improvisational music and lyrics.
Suva Devi, a Kabelia dancer , showed of her acrobatic skill while combining it with simple folk steps. She danced on a sword with many pots held on her head. She danced on a water glass. She bent over backwards to pick a folded dollar note that was on the floor. She belongs to the Kalbeliya community, nomadic community who are Saparas or snake catchers. Her dance was set to a lot of music that we associate with Snake Dance made famous by the movie Nagin.
The musicians then rendered a version of Dola Re Dola. There were many items that described the Shringara that then morphed in Bhakti. The grand finale was the famous number Lal Meri, where the musicians pray to Ali , the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad to fill their every breath with divinity – Ali Dam Dam De Andar.
While the musicians stuck to rather simple scales their ability to throw their power filled voices and their ability to hold a high pitched note for a long time was indeed amazing. From their music it seemed that music was life itself. It was not techniques but rather the very reason for their life. This perhaps comes because their tribe is dedicated to be musicians and from birth each child is trained to make a life in music.
Musicians Kachra Khan, Habib Khan, Faqir Khan , Zakab Khan and Rais Khan performed exceptionally well and transported the audience to the sands of Rajasthan with ease.
It is not often that one gets to hear such traditional folk music from India. It was a great treat for the audience.
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