If you wanted to add authentic Indian folk music to your music collection, you could have a pretty hard time finding commercial recordings. There are, of course, archives that house treasures including genuine folk music, but the recordings would hardly ever be up for sale. If you really looked hard, you could find the odd album of Langa or Manganiyar music by music industry giants such as Sa Re Ga Ma, or smaller niche labels such as Ninaad Music, but be warned.
Strum along: De Kulture is making remote folk music more accessible.
You would need to have plenty of time on your hands to get to the farthest corner of your music store, and would probably have to delve into some deep, dusty, cobweb-laced recesses to fish out these albums, and that too, if you are the persistent kind who is hell-bent on getting what you’re looking for. Well, now things may get easier for people looking for folk music if a relatively new record label called De Kulture Music has its way.
Set up in November 2005 by a first generation musician named Sambhav Bohra, the label can already boast of an enviable collection of folk music. It comes in beautifully designed albums featuring high-quality field recordings of some of the most extraordinary music from remote areas of the country. Informative liner notes and exquisite photographs of musicians shot on location make these albums a very special treat. Glimpse of Kutchi Music is currently one of the eight albums produced so far by this label and it’s a treat both to look at and listen to.
Some of the musical forms recorded for this album of Kutchi music include Meghwal Kaafi, sung by the musicians of the Marwaada Meghwal community, and Waai, described in the album notes as “a Sufi singing-style created by the famous Sindhi Sufi saint Abdul Latif Bhitai”. There are voices and sounds in this album that you or I probably would not have heard before. Some of these are gruff and grainy, others incredibly high-pitched tenor voices; some sing alone to the accompaniment of instruments such as the Ramsagar and Jodiya Pava. But the passion and the abandon is riveting and makes you wait eagerly for the next song and the next voice.
The man behind this enterprise of bringing these voices and this rarely heard music to the public, Bohra, is a musician from Ajmer who chose to study Western classical music. Born to a banker father, Bohra moved to Mumbai in 2000, graduating from Sydenham College and subsequently working as an arranger and programmer with composers such as Rajesh Roshan. But it is in his current position as the director of De Kulture Music that Bohra came into his own, as he hand-picked a team of designers, audio engineers, researchers and photographers with whom to put together a very exclusive catalogue of music. For samples and a preview of what he has in store for you, visit www.dekulture.com.
Write to Shubha at firstname.lastname@example.org