Monday, December 20, 2010

Sapera : snake charmers of India

Very little is known about the origin of the Sapera community. All that is known is that they are a community of snake charmers. They are one of a number of semi-nomadic communities found in North India, which live in camps at the outskirts of most North Indian towns. Shunned by mainstream society, they have made their living through curing snake bites, ridding people's homes of snakes and showing the snakes to tourists for money while playing their homemade been (or pungi). The been is constructed out of a gourd and is the trademark music instrument of the Sapera community.

The following tracks are field recordings of the Saperas playing the been, recorded live at the Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal. The mesmerizing drone of the been and the driving rhythms of the premtal and kanyeri (percussion instruments) provide through the music a spectacle that has captured the imaginations of Indians and non-Indians for centuries.

Been, Premtal, Kanyeri - Theka Talin :  Download

Been, Premtal, Kanyeri - Folk Song of Haryana :  Download

Been, Premtal, Kanyeri - Melodies: films Nagin, Raja Hindustani :  Download

Been, Premtal, Kanyeri - Melody: film Phagun :  Download

Been, Premtal, Kanyeri - Rasiya from Rajasthan :  Download

Been, Premtal, Kanyeri - Rajasthani Lok Sangeet, Lahra :  Download

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Folk music of Kashmir

The valley of Kashmir which is surrounded by the snow-clad Himalayas is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. It is a vast expanse of flat country with rich alluvial soil, lofty and glacial mountains, crystal streams, lofty crags, torrents, broad lakes, shady Chinar groves and pine forests. Kashmir's picturesque beauty has been immortalized in paintings, songs and poetry. The culture of Kashmir is distinct and diverse, encompassing the various habits and lifestyles of the people inhabiting in it's region. During their long periods of independence, isolation and solidarity, the people of Kashmir developed a unique culture making everlasting contributions to learning and literature. For a long time, Kashmir was a separate kingdom, and the history of Kashmir is a chronicle of Kings and courts. The history and tradition of folk music and dance in Kashmir valley goes back to thousands of years.

Folk music of Kashmir - Song of the Boatmen :  Download

Folk music of Kashmir - Love Duet :  Download

Folk music of Kashmir - Song of the Nightingale :  Download

Folk music of Kashmir - Song of the Silkworms :  Download

Folk music of Kashmir - Beautiful Kashmir :  Download

Folk music of Kashmir - Song of Spring :  Download

All the above songs are genuine field recordings, unadulterated and spared from the paraphernalia that accompanies studio recordings.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kabir in Malwa

The Malwa belt of Madhya Pradesh lies in the western part of the state with Ujjain as the ancient centre and Indore, currently the largest city. The most interesting aspect of the folk music traditions of the area are the Bhajan mandalis that sing words of the mystic poets, especially Kabir, Meera, Surdas and others. There is a very strong branch of the Kabir panth (a sect that follows Kabir's philosophy) here, and almost every village has a team of musicians who sing through the nights on a regular basis. There is of course the music that accompanies rituals, ceremonies or is sung at festivals and is very beautiful and rich.

Prahlad Tipanya - Sakal Hans Mein Ram Viraaje :  Download

Prahlad Tipanya - Mat Kar Maya Ko Ahankar :  Download

Kaluram Bamaniya - Piya Mera Jaagta :  Download

Kaluram Bamaniya - Ab Thara Laal Samandarada Mai :  Download

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Suns of Arqa : big and live

Suns of Arqa band creator and leader Michael Wadada has been continuously investigating the supernatural potential hidden in the classical Raga structure of the music of India. His mission is to mix the cerebral and cosmological vibrations of the Ragas with the mother earth rhythms of Nyabinghi drumming.

Big and Live was recorded 100% live with no overdubs. The unique vocals are complimented by guest appearances from the Dhrupad singer Reba Bhaduri and Cat Von Trapp. Big and Live is a return to the full organic sound of 1970's dub, mixed with Hindustani 'magic' music.

Suns of Arqa - Om Kaaraaya :  Download

Suns of Arqa - Arana :  Download

Suns of Arqa - Allah Who? :  Download

Suns of Arqa - Let Me Show You How :  Download

Suns of Arqa - How Does It Feel :  Download

Saturday, July 31, 2010

NorDar Lakshmi Shankar : Ampel'a

Just two songs from Ampel'a, an exceptional musical collaboration between musicians of diverse musical heritage. Armenia and India, two countries with primitive musical tradition, meet for the very first time. Kora Michaelian (member of NorDar) composes the music and nightingale of Indian classical music, Lakshmi Shankar sings. The album is a unique fusion of Armenian and Indian melodies, embossed with sophisticated musical forms.

NorDar Lakshmi Shankar - My Mother's Eyes Part 1 :  Download

NorDar Lakshmi Shankar - My Mother's Eyes Part 2 :  Download

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prem Diwani

Perhaps the most remembered and quoted woman in India's history is the 16th century poet, singer and saint Meerabai, or Meera. Versions of her songs are sung today all over India, and she often appears as a subject in films, books, dances, plays and paintings. Meerabai belonged to the Rajput aristocracy. From an early age, she worshiped the image of Krishna. Her form of worship was influenced by a number of her relatives who were devotees of a mystical form of Hinduism called Bhakti. In the Bhakti tradition, one approaches one's God through pure love, without any restrictions of caste, color or gender.

E Ri Main To Prem Diwani is one of Mirabai's most popular songs. The singers featured here are from across all genres of music. They belong to different times and were trained for diverse styles of music. While Aziz Mian is a famous qawwal from Pakistan, Lakshmi Shankar is a renowned Hindustani classical singer. Juthika Roy is a legendary bhajan singer of yesteryear. Geeta Dutt and Lata Mangeshkar, as we all know, are associated with Hindi film music. The styles of their singing may be different but the passion is the same. Take your pick.

Aziz Mian - Prem Diwani (Qawwali) :  Download

Lakshmi Shankar - Eri Main To Prem Diwani (Bhajan) :  Download

Lata Mangeshkar - Eri Main To Prem Diwani (Nau Bahar 1952) :  Download

Geeta Dutt - Eri Main To Prem Diwani (Jogan 1950) :  Download

Juthika Roy - Main To Prem Diwani (Non-Film) :  Download

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Karunesh : global spirit

Karunesh, born Bruno Reuter is a German-born Newage and Ambient musician. His music has strong Afro-Asian and Indian influences prevalent throughout, with liberal use of Indian instruments, such as the sitar. Although he had been drawn to music as a child and played in bands as a teenager, he chose to study graphic design as a career. However, after attaining his degree, Karunesh was involved in a serious road accident. His brush with death prompted him to choose music as a career instead of graphic design. He rethought his life and embarked on a spiritual journey of sorts, traveling in 1979 to India.

He became initiated in spirituality and took on a new name, Karunesh, a Sanskrit name, meaning compassion. Back in Germany, Karunesh came in contact with many musicians from all over the world and developed an ability to weave different styles and feelings from different cultures together in a living symbiosis, creating a music that is both relaxing and spiritual. Presented here are a few tracks from his album Global Spirit.

Karunesh - Call of the Tribes (Remix) :  Download

Karunesh - Punjab :  Download

Karunesh - Kabuka Ma :  Download

Karunesh - Bombay Pure :  Download

Karunesh - Solitude :  Download

Karunesh is now living in Maui, in the US state of Hawaii, since 1992.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Susheela Raman : love trap

Susheela Raman, born in London, is an acclaimed British Tamil musician. Susheela's parents are from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India, who arrived in London in 1960s. At the age of four, Susheela and her family left the UK for Australia. Susheela grew up singing South Indian classical music and began giving recitals at an early age. As a teenager in Sydney she started her own band, describing its sound as Funk and Rock and Roll, before branching out into Blues and Jazz based music, which demanded quite different voice techniques. She tried to bring these streams together when in 1995 she travelled to India to rediscover her roots by way of exploring Carnatic music.

Love Trap, produced by Sam Mills, is a pleasing and sensually charged album that takes on various folk music traditions to create a unique hybrid. The tracks are sung in various languages, infusing a myriad of styles, including Tuvan throat singing (overtone chanting) and the complex wail of India's traditional Carnatic vocals. The album flirts with trip-hop, rock, and electronica. The music pulsates with energy and each musician is given a chance to shine on the album's instrumental interludes. 'Ye Meera Divanapan Hai' was originally sung by Mukesh in the Hindi film Yehudi (1958). 'Sakhi Maro' is a devotional song by the 16th century mystic singer Meera Bai.

Susheela Raman - Love Trap :  Download

Susheela Raman - Manasuloni :  Download

Susheela Raman - Sakhi Maro :  Download

Susheela Raman - Ye Meera Divanapan Hai :  Download

Susheela Raman - Blue Lily Red Lotus :  Download

Please forgive the spellings in the track names, as these have been taken in verbatim, as printed on the CD.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the Arboreal Quartet

It always feels good to hear experimental music, especially of the type that emanates the synergy produced by Eastern and Western sounds. Just a week ago I got a message from John Wrinch Williams, a musician of note. He seemed very happy about the idea of Indian Rasa. After all, a blog was being launched to feature his brand of music. John Wrinch Williams, adapt at playing many instruments, is the founder of the band, the Arboreal Quartet, a labour of over two decades of musical exploration. With extensive on-stage, studio and on-air experience in genres as diverse as jazz, folk, electronic, Hindustani, and Celtic music, John now primarily plays the sarod. He has been a student and follower of sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

The Arboreal Quartet is a self-titled, debut CD of the band. The album was recorded live in one studio session. On acoustic guitar is Tom Eliosoff, while J F Martins plays the upright bass. Fernando Gelso is on the drums. I wish John would contemplate including a Tabla player as well in the band. But again, I wonder, how could it remain a 'Quartet' anymore, if he really did include one. Nevertheless, the sounds are very relaxing and the album can be best enjoyed during siesta time, a very creditable debut release by all standards. There are 10 tracks in the album. Here are a few, which I liked more:

the Arboreal Quartet - Lucky :  Download

the Arboreal Quartet - Shift :  Download

the Arboreal Quartet - Mountain :  Download

the Arboreal Quartet - Dang :  Download

the Arboreal Quartet - Cycle :  Download

the Arboreal Quartet - Dee :  Download

Download all 10 tracks (zip file), in CD quality, by clicking here.

Songs courtesy: John Wrinch Williams of the Arboreal Quartet.