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Jodhpur RIFF 2018: Haunting music a precursor of more to come

By Mudita Girotra
Jodhpur, Oct 26 (IANS) Just a decade old, the Rajasthan Folk Festival (RIFF) has certainly set the bar quite high with the powerful music that echoes from the city’s Mehrangarh Fort for five days every year.

The first day of the 11th edition of the festival on Thursday began with the vocals of Kashmiri singer Vibha Saraf in the morning and the soulful sound of the traditional Kamaicha being played by a master of the instrument, Dapu Khan, in the evening.

The tiny and absolutely adorable Dapu Khan had a fantastic bunch of love and wedding folk songs to offer.

Up next was Suguna Jogi from the Kalbeliya community. Her performance was a nice sample of the music of this nomadic tribe.

Many folk bands across the world use the extended vocal technique of screaming and Jogi also sang similarly — which might not appeal to all.

For a newcomer, this could still be interesting but someone who frequents RIFF would be slightly disappointed.

While Jogi sang songs of her community, a co-performer presented their dance form, which started after the government banned snake charmers.

“Women started doing this dance form as we could no more make the snakes do it,” a performer from the Kalbeliya community said.

The night concert was a mix of traditional music from Rajasthan, Kashmir and, along with International artists, lifted the mood.

Kashmiri singer Vibha Saraf through her performance gave a sample of how beautiful the music from the stunning Valley can be. However, the singer seemed unprepared. She got too excited and kept jumping from one song to the other.

With beautiful performances every year, the RIFF has set the bar quite high.

After having attended last year’s edition with a brilliant line-up, this year’s first day was slightly underwhelming.

The modern day Farsi soundscapes by Iranian artists — Makan Ashgvari, Sanaz Sattarzadeh and Alireza Ghahremani were absolutely fantastic — making up for everything else that wasn’t up to the mark.

Sattarzadeh took everybody by surprise with the mesmerising sound of the long-necked tar instrument. While Ghahremani strummed the guitar, Ashgvari was on vocals. The sound of tar was so soothing that it didn’t need the accompaniment of any other sound.

As the moon lit up the whole area with a fascinating glow, when one looked at the sky, the sound felt like it was coming from there. Such was the charm of this instrument.

RIFF’s ‘Desert Lounge’ organised at Rao Jodha park, was an all-acoustic — sans any microphone, lights or stage equipment, against the stunning backdrop of the Mehrangarh Fort. It was a listeners’ delight, with the poetry of the Mir musicians from Bikaner, the powerful vocals of Sumitra Devi and the desert tunes of the ‘Mehfil-E-Thar’ from Barmer and Jaisalmer.

It went on till 2 a.m.

Friday morning had an interesting session on the legend of Meera Bai and Rajasthan being deeply connected. It answered a number of questions on the kind of connection, the oral and musical traditions of Rajasthan and india been influenced by Meera and vice versa

These questions and more were explored by artistes from the Meghwal, Manganiar and Kamad communities, among others, in conversation with renowned folklorist C.P. Dewal.

For the next three days till October 28, soulful music will echo from the majestic fort in the blue city.

(Mudita Girotra is in Udaipur at the invitation of the RIFF organisers. She can be contacted at mudita.g@ians.in)

–IANS
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