Langa Party in Delhi

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Rajasthani Musicians Group

The vast unending expanse of burning hot sand that makes up the Thar Desert of Rajasthan hosts one of the most vibrant and evocative music cultures in the world.

The heady, hypnotic combination of rhythm and melodies are sung and played by the Langas and Manganiars are part of the eternal appeal of this mysterious and wondrous land.

The soulful, full throated voices of these two music communities have filled the cool air of the desert night for centuries in a tradition that reflects all aspects of Rajasthani life.

Songs for every occasion, mood and moment; stories of legendary battles, heroes and lovers engender a spirit of identity, expressed through music that provides relief from the inhospitable land of heat and dust storms.

The Langas and Manganiars are groups of hereditary professional musicians, whose music has been supported by wealthy landlords and aristocrats for generations.

Both sing in the same dialect, but their styles and repertoires differ, shaped by the tastes of their patrons.

The monarchs of the courts of Rajput and Jaipur maintained large music and dance troupes an in an environment where the arts were allowed to flourish.

Though both communities are made up of Muslim musicians, many of their songs are in praise of Hindu deities and celebrate Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Holi.

The Manganiar performers traditionally invoke the Hindu God Krishna and seek his blessings before beginning their recital.

At one time, the Manganiars were musicians of the Rajput courts, accompanying their chiefs to war and providing them with entertainment before and after the battles and in the event of his death, would perform at the ruler’s vigil day and night until the mourning was over.

Langa literally means ‘song giver’. An accomplished group of poets, singers, and musicians from the Barmer district of Rajasthan, the Langas seem to have converted from Hinduism to Islam in the 17th century.

Traditionally, Sufi influences prevented them from using percussion instruments, however, the Langas are versatile players of the Sindhi Sarangi and the Algoza (double flute), which accompany and echo their formidable and magical voices.

They perform at events like births, and weddings, exclusively for their patrons (Yajman), who are cattle breeders, farmers, and landowners.

The Langa musicians are regarded by their patrons as ‘kings’.

The ‘Sindhi Sarangi’ used by the Langas, is made up of four main wires, with more than twenty vibrating sympathetic strings which help to create its distinctive haunting tones.

The bowing of these instruments is a skilful exercise, often supported by the sound of the ‘ghungroos’ or ankle bells that are tied to the bow to make the beat more prominent.

Another remarkable bowed instrument is the ‘kamayacha’ of the manganiars with its big, circular resonator, giving out an impressive deep, booming sound.

The music of Rajasthan is driven by pulsating rhythms created by an array of percussion instruments, the most popular of them being the ‘dholak’, a double headed barrel drum, whose repertoire has influenced other Indian drums including the tabla.

This recording also features the double flute, ‘Satara’, and the hypnotic Jewish harp or ‘morchang’
Rajasthan folk music can mesmerize anyone with its beautiful rhythm and words. The folk music of Rajasthan originated from the emotions, stories, and daily activities of the Rajasthani people. Its music binds listeners to the end with its melodies. Rajasthani music also includes many activities too like dancing and story-telling through songs. Among famous Rajasthani folk music- Panihari, Pabuji Ki Phach, and Maand are the best. Maands are Rajasthan’s most sophisticated style of folk music and have come a long way from the time it was only sung in royal courts, in praise of the Rajput rulers.

Rajasthani Music has attracted people not only from India but from all around the world. There is a diverse variety of music in every part of Rajasthan. Each region has its own folk entertainment, the dance styles differ as do the songs. Interestingly enough, even the musical instruments are different.

One of the most famous Rajasthani Maand singers is Allah Jilai Bai of the Bikaner Gharana.

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