Friday, November 30, 2007

Something same, yet different

Today a travel back in time. Obviously all our video's have been a look in the past (as are recordings by default, but that's obviously not what I mean here- but keep it mind when watching The News though), but these are special because today we had our last ravanattha lesson from our teacher Rampal. A bit of a full circle feeling for our stay in Pushkar as we soon will head down to Bundi.

These are special recordings for several reasons:
This was our first recording of live music in Pushkar. As in Ajmer it was we that were approached by the musician(s), not we approaching them. We where lucky then and lucky now. This time in Pushkar, we were walked around the Sunset Cafe Terras and as we sat near a holy tree, Rampal appeared out of nowhere and started playing in front of us. As in good custom that Ravanattha players hold: before you have set up your gear properly.
But he didn't play as we heard the ravanattha being played before. He played it in a very special way: very gently yet the sound was like it came from everywhere, resonating into the air. As if the heavens opened up and the sun, moon, rain, and clouds all came out and started to dance. That sort of thing.
Later we made more recordings of him with his wife Sita, they sounded allright together but never reached this same magical sound. This is the best recording we have of his play. You can't replicate moment like this. We tried and tried, believe it. It just didn't work.

Another funny detail of this video is that it shows India in a way we encountered a few times: you have a very special moment, people start to flock around and undeliberately it breaks the moment.





After the recording, we met Rampal quite a few times. He was always playing in front of the nice Sunset terrace, away from the business hustle that was the Camal Fair Ground. Seb bought two ravanattha's of him and we both got lessons playing them. It's a pretty hard instrument to master - it's a little bit like a violin but with extra caveats: like when you squeeze your finger to hold the instrument or make a sliding for the note to change, it quickly turns false, ruining your efforts. The hardest part is to keep the clear notes and to find the next ones that you want. And then ofcourse there are these quick parts in the songs. We tried to learn two Rajasthani songs, but don't ask us to play them: we only know parts of them and we five days of lessons aren't enough.
Rampal was actually a very good teacher. He loved his instrument and he was very patient and kind with us. Actually in some way he felt proud to be teaching Rajasthani songs to foreigners interested in his skills, which doesn't happen much otherwise it seems, as he told us many things about his everyday life. A true pity, since he's such a master. We are going to miss him.

So if you ever want to learn the ravanattha from a master while you're near Pushkar, call him at: 0091 9829317796.
No kidding, that's his actual number.
The beauty of progress, right there to pick up and learn! :)

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