Sunday, March 23, 2014

One World, One Culture Series - Erhu and Ravanhattha

I started my analysis of Indian musical traditions 2 years ago. Raagas being combinations of notes rendered in a particular format, it will not be difficult to digest that we will find songs based on Indian raagas, in musical traditions of other countries like China, Arabia etc. This is where i started sensing a Cultural Unity which exists but has not been investigated or established properly. My attempt in the forthcoming posts will be to try and document and share all the ideas i have around this topic.

I happened to hear this lovely Chinese song, played on a two stringed instrument called the Erhu. I love the sound...:)

Taking a look at it, and having investigated quite on Indian musical instruments, i was startled to see that this instrument looks a lot like Ravanhattha, played by street musicians in Rajasthan. The instrument is also a two stringed simple instrument, and its creator is said to be the mighty Dashaanana Ravana himself.


A performance by a street musician in Rajasthan. Note that eventually the tune starts sounding Chinese...:)

The whole point of similarity here is Chinese music is primarily pentatonic (5 note scales), and we can find songs based on Indian raagas like Malkauns/Hindolam, Bhoopal/Mohanam in Chinese music.

This, I believe, is a significant discovery for me as it hints at the fact that culture spreads gradually, and does not respect the discrete nature of geographical boundaries. Thousands of years of cultural interchange has created an amalgamation, which we can easily enjoy and connect in today's Internet connected age.

We should utilize the unique advantage we have to establish our Cultural Unity...:)

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