When folk meets Western - Youngsters listen to masters create music at Shilpgram festival

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 3.12.11

Dec. 2: When the West meets East, when music is not restricted only to stage, when folk and Western fine tune with each other, when youngsters create music with the masters, it has got to be the Guwahati International Music Festival — the extravaganza that began at Shilpgram today.

Sixteen-year-old Madhurjya Kishore Deka, for instance, started his day on a different note.

A guitarist who is a member of a band, Dark Carnage, and recently won a competition at Tezpur University, had his first brush with folk music.

As Guru Rewben Mashangva, a folk musician from Ukhrul district of Manipur, demonstrated to the students various folk instruments, Madhurjya absorbed the very last sound emanating from them.

“I was inspired. This is the first time that I saw such instruments. I will definitely try a fusion someday,” said Madhurjya who has been learning the guitar for the past two years.

Long after the tunes had fallen silent, the students carried them in their hearts.

“This was very interesting. Guru Rewben showed a string instrument made with horse hair and a percussion instrument called cow bell that can play only one scale,” said Antradeep Saud.

This 12-year-old student of Sanskriti The Gurukul has been taking keyboard and tabla lessons for the past three years.

“I will be inspired to experiment with natural objects and produce music with them,” said Antradeep.

Like Antradeep, Mikee Borgohain of Modern High School learnt that music can be made from anything, even horse hair. “I recently started taking guitar lessons. But for the first time I saw musical instruments that were made with natural objects like vegetables and horse hair,” said Mikee.

Brendan Power, a harmonica player from England who accompanied Guru Rewben, played fusion.

For fusion, he said one needs to “understand the various keys, find the right rhythm and scale and one can make music together”. Born in Kenya, brought up in New Zealand and now a resident of England, his music is as interesting as the places he has visited.

“I started with Blues. And I play Irish as well, which I inherited from my grandfather. And a little bit of Bulgarian, Chinese and Japanese,” Power said.

As he scaled his harmonica to the tunes of Rewben’s instrument, many paused and listened in rapt attention. “The percussion is normally accompanied with folk songs. It’s very interesting to see it being accompanied with a harmonica,” said Meenakshi Bora, who came to attend the festival.

For Rewben, music is a lifelong engagement. The folk instruments that he uses are designed by him. “This is our root. Folk music, if lost, we will lose our identity,” said Rewben.

There was also a group from Assam which performed various numbers using musical instruments made of bamboo. Another group from Goa played Goan and Portuguese music accompanied by their folk dance.

As evening fell, the stage was set for classical musical shows.

Musicians like Abhishruti Bezbaruah, violinist Minoti Khaund and Suniti Bhuyan performed. “This was not simply about listening to music. The students learnt, performed and got to meet many expert of the field,” said fine arts and music teacher of Sanskriti The Gurukul Nilotpal Hazarika, who came with his students.

The two-day festival, organised by Eastern Beats Music Society, will end tomorrow when rock performers like Nepal Abhaya, the Steam Injuns, Brendan Power and Mayukh Hazarika will take the stage.