In our classes over the next three months we are going to take a trip around South and Central Asia that begins in India and proceeds counterclockwise around the region, going as far north as Tuva and as far east as Western China before ending in Bhutan. We're going to change imaginary lightbulbs while dancing in India, hold our breath and tackle our friends in Pakistan, spin in unending circles in Afghanistan and use our hands to tell a tale about an Uzbek squirrel. In Kyrgyzstan we'll praise a warrior and his horse, in Tuva we'll make the strangest of singing sounds, and in the Uighur region of Western China we'll build then tear down an imaginary house. In Tibet we'll “OM,” in Nepal we'll climb (and climb and climb), and we'll end our journey in Bhutan where we'll bid farewell to rain by avoiding being hit by a several foot long dart. And will we have good times? Oh yes, we shall.
This week in class we sing:
We sing "We Are Happy," a hello song from Uganda, to open every All Around This World class. This week we sing hello in Hindi: "Namaste!"
"Taralilalalai" is a "sozanda," part of a ancient repertoire performed mainly by Jewish female performers in the city of Bukhara. “Taralilalalai” translates roughly as “la la la” and “yar eh” means “my dear.” (more)
"Diwali Aayee" is a song about Diwali, the Hindu "Festival of Lights," an its an awesome holiday full of food, fireworks and fun. Everyone loves it, hence the chorus: "Diwali aayee, Diwali aayee, everybody loves Diwali...." (more)
A LITTLE MORE
As we explore we'll dig deep into the many musics of South and Central Asia. Many genres of music found South and Central Asia are ancient and intricate, with roots in concepts of melody and rhythm that are instinctively different from those used in the West. In South Asian classical music, for example, melodies build from note to note based not upon fixed scales but on the way different notes relate to one another and the mood those relationships create. Rhythmic compositions don’t move linearly, beat to beat, measure to measure, marching from start to finish as they generally do in the West, but in ever-revolving cycles. To appreciate South and Central Asian music–and, by extension, to open the real possibility of engaging with the traditional underpinnings of South and Central Asian cultures–many Westerners may find the need to disable assumptions, push aside preconceptions and step out of the comfort zone. What could be better than that?
So where in the heck do you start? Chandrakantha.com, compiled by Chandra and David Courtney, a musical husband and wife team from Houston, introduces Westerners to Indian classical and folk music in a way that makes no assumptions. Stupefied by the sitar? Terrified of tabla? Not only do you not know the difference between rag and tal – you've never even heard of rag and tal? Their “F.A.Q.s for Western Musicians Concerning Indian Music” lets you begin.