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Folk Heritage of Punjab


Freed
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Need cheering up ?

- here are some great videos highlighting the rich folk heritage of Punjab - the videos are of varying quality

There's the excellent Malvai Giddha ( or babean da giddha) - with classic funny bolian - great stuff !

There's Jagmohan Kaur - singing Bulleh Shah and there's Gurdas Mann singing 'Challa' - There's also the 'Great Indian dancers' of Southall - while they may not be as 'Lithe' and Athletic as Punjabi college Bhangra teams - they are really just a bunch of Dads and Uncles , with some that have stomachs obviously maintained by pints of Mild ! - but they do a good job - with nice bolian and matching moves. I love the opening sequence name checking the 5 rivers and the " Sir te Kaffan ban de " bit .

Hope they bring you as much joy to you, as they do to me !

Malwai Giddha -

http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=...98&hl=en-GB

Gurdas Mann - Challa (From 1987)

http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=...40&hl=en-GB

Jagmohan Kaur - Bulleh Shah (From 1984)

http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=...89&hl=en-GB

The Great Indian Dancers - (from 1987)

http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=...03&hl=en-GB

If that has whetted your appetite check out this site - it has some great Traditional Artistes and tracks of not just Punjab but all India and some great videos and tracks to download.

http://www.beatofindia.com/mainpages/artists.htm

ENJOY !

Freed

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Freed

Another great posting and a really entertaining one.

Freed, I was struck by the use of modern western instruments in that Gurdas Mann clip; an accordian, guitar, bongos and even a mandolin !

It's a typically Punjabi reaction to something modern or seemingly better to abandon the traditional ways. I wonder if you can comment on the folk-instruments of old and. I was wondering if in the folk tradition the instruments have always just been devices to attract the listeners, therfore they've always needed to be eye-catching and modern?

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You've hit the nail on head Amandeep !

Alka Pande in her research has called this "The pure and struggling" versus "the bastardised and flourishing"

Mirasis are the custodians of punjabi folk - but due to economic reasons and having to compete with modern 'video' artists they are forced to use modern instruments - to attract the punters (anyone who has been to a wedding in the pind will know the utter joy on the faces of kids and adults at the sight of a 'Saturday Night Fever' style flashing disco dance floor!). In her research Pande has tried to collect examples of instruments - she says that many examples no longer exist or if they do no one knows how to play them - she also tells of the sad story of instrument makers who nowadays just make items for the own personal pleasure - no one buys them and their children have moved into other areas like furniture making.

Another point is cheap copies - or display items - she gives the example of 'Algozey' - not only is it hard to play, it is also hard to make as the reed is difficult to get right - the market is flooded with copies to be sold at melas - they are not meant to be played.

This brings in the case of modern Punjabi artists who repeat the old hackneyed mantra 'we are preserving punjabi Virsa' - but in reality use traditional instruments or copies of them as 'props' - the music is all sampled even the dhol and algozey - making sounds a human could never reproduce.

In the Gurdas Mann video all the instruments are modern and relatively easy to play - why spend years training under an ustad to play sarangi , tabla etc when you can get a fairly good sound out of Bongos and the mandolin - It's the old Harmonium vs Tanti Saaj argument again !

But all is not lost - I think to use the Indian phrase - NRIs can make a difference. Traditional artists are easily available in Punjab - they just need patrons - when we go to Punjab we should hire them - Many of us do go frequently to Punjab and hire musicians be they Raagis and Dhadhis for religious functions or Singers for weddings - be discriminating and hire quality artists not just the 'loudest' or those with the 'Funky' hairstyles (Naming no names !!)

Alka Pande's book is very good - it also includes a CD of traditional instruments - including Sarangi,Toombi ,Nagaara and all the Malvai gidda 'orchestra'

'From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights - Folk Music and the Musical Instruments of Punjab' - Alka Pande - Grantha - 1999

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