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Manganiar Music

Rajasthan comprises a big landmass, abutting on several important cultural zones: Sindh and Punjab (the former, and part of the latter, now in Pakistan) to the west and northwest, Gujarat to the southwest, Malwa to the southeast, Braj Pradesh, that is, mid-western Uttar Pradesh, to the east and Haryana to the northeast. Interaction with these cultural zones has invested Rajasthan’s folk music with diversity and a great variety of forms and musical instruments. Thus places like Amarkot, Narwargarh, Girnar and Idar; the creations of poets like Shah Latif, Ghulam Fareed, Soordas, Bulle Shah and Narsi Mehta; forms like the Garba of Gujarat, the Nautanki of Uttar Pradesh and Sindhi and Multani Kaafis, legends as those concerning Ranak Devi, Sassi-Punnu and Heer Raanjha have all entered into and enriched the folk repertoire of Rajasthan. More particularly, the melody of the Middle East comes winging to the western borders of Rajasthan via Sindh.

The music of southwestern Rajasthan, namely the districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer, is, in the main, that of the hereditary Manganiar musicians. Some noteworthy features of their music are these : they represent the meeting point of the folk and the classical, mentioning names of ragas (like Jog, Shaam Kalyaan, Dhaani, Bilaawal, Sorath, Khamaaichi, Saarang, Maand, Sindhi Bhairavi and Kaafi) and employing aalaap, murkies, tihaais and taan-like sallies, displaying advanced consciousness of laya (rhythm) and sur (melody), although the classical overtones are mostly incipient and rudimentary, rooted in inherited and acquired dexterity rather than in grammar; their rich repertoire includes Jaangada, a distinctive song – type that, inter alia, employs Dingal poetry and is an exacting form to be rendered in a vigorous style that calls for musical skills of a high order, devotional songs by saint - poets like Meera Bai, Kabir and Soordas and compositions by Sufi saint - poets of Sindh, songs about legendary figures and ballads concerning them, for example, Moomal - Mahendra, Dhola - Maaru, and Lakhaphulani; singing dohaas or couplets before the song proper is another marked feature. The haunting and easy - paced Jaisalmeri Maand finds these singers at their best. Musical instruments such as the Dholak, Kamaayacha, Khartaal, Harmonium, Sataara (twin flutes), Morchang and the Dhol are some of their main musical instruments.

‘Vijay Verma, ‘The Living Music of Rajasthan’