Rajasthani Musical Adventure – October 2012

Over the next few days I’ll be going through the archives to show you what Sound Travels has been up to over the last year. We’ll start with the fabulous Rajasthan International Folk Festival trip of October 2012, where ten happy Sound Travellers, who booked through Songlines magazine, explored the music of my favourite desert state.

We began the trip with a party and an interactive session with Iranian daf and tonbak maestro Fakhroddin Ghaffari… and out came the cameras!

Sina's demoNext we headed to Shekhawati, where we received traditional Rajput hospitality from Jai Sinhh and his family – here are the group outside his ancestral home in a village near Churu

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The darun-playing worshippers of Gogaji, the Rajasthani snake god played to us in their village of Bajrangsar. Their twin-faced drum resembles the African ‘talking drum’, and similarly, its pitch can be changed by squeezing the leather strap wrapped around the narrow centre. The musicians sing, jump up high and make rhythms by stamping their feet and jangling the gunguru bells wrapped around their ankles.

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Nick enjoys a shisha(or at least he claimed to) with Mamphula Ram, the famous chang player.

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Playing the chang drums – Mamphula Ram and party demonstrate the music and dance usually performed during the February festival of Holi at celebrations and in competitions

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Next we headed to Jaipur where we spent a magical evening meeting dancers and musicians from the snake-charming Kalbeliya community. Bad lighting, but you get the feeling!

Meeting the Kalbeliyas

After a day of site-seeing and shopping in Jaipur, we then had a surprise dinner in Amber, and concert from UK beatboxer and sound artist Jason Singh, in collaboration with morchang-player and multi-percussionist Rais Khan.

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Our next stop after Jaipur was the holiest of holy pilgrimage sites, the Ajmer Sharif.

Nizamuddin Durgah

It’s an intense experience visiting the shrine to Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chisty, and the group came away feeling inspired

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Forty-minute drive from Ajmer is the the beautiful lake-town of Pushkar, home to Nathoo Lal Solanki, the best nagara player in the world! After a tour round Pushkar with my favourite babu/guide Mukesh, Nathoo led us in a drumming workshop.

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Last stop – the glorious Rajasthan International Folk Festival – with beautiful music from dawn…

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…throughout the day…

IMG_0362… til the small hours.

Colombian band CimarronWhat a fantastic fortnight with a wonderful bunch of people. Was sad to wave goodbye, but have met up with most of the group since, in London, Delhi and Assam (for those who came back for more on my Assamese Musical Adventure)

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“This trip opened up a box of magical music for me and in surroundings that were absolutely stunning. Georgie put it all in context and added her own great knowledge which made the journey unforgettable…. She really ‘made’ the trip for us all. Her research, knowledge and good humour were excellent. Full marks! Give her a bonus!” – Nick Hudson

Click here to read more about how the group felt about the trip

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