Music beyond borders – Part 2

Last week we looked at how music from Europe such as Gregorian chants and Hungarian music had traces of classical Carnatic ragas. This week let’s look at music from African countries such as Algeria, Egypt and Mali.

The music of Algeria today is the confluence of many threads including those of Bedouin origin, Andalusian music with its confluence of the Ottoman Empire and Europe, and the mysticism of poets such as Rumi. Bedouin music revolves around the theme of spirituality with strong influences of Rumi, the well known Muslim poet. Andalusian music, a form of Arabic music owes much of its origins to the regional poets and the Ottoman years. Rai, a blend of different musical styles of the region, is a relatively new genre where the songs express political discontent and highlights social issues such as inequality and poverty.

Here is one Algerian tune that carries the melodic strains of raga Madhyamavati.

Stringed instruments such as harps and clarinets and percussions instruments such as cymbals have been in evidence thanks to archeological findings in Egypt. Egyptian music is closely tied in to the culture prevalent and often reflects the issues pertaining to Egyptian society. Listen to this ancient Egyptian meditation music based on raga Mayamalavagowla.

Afrobeat music which developed in the 90s is an amalgam of music from Ghana and Nigeria. The music is more rhythm-based and ragas are harder to trace 

Here is a quirky tune from Mali which sounds like raga Brindavani. The video is funny yet poignant at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Thiruvaiyaru – A State of Mind

A small town in the Cauvery delta comes alive in January each year. Carnatic musicians and rasikas all over the world turn their focus to Thiruvaiyaru (city of five rivers) in the Tanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. Many even travel from around the world to be there. Thiruvaiyaru is where carnatic composer Tyāgaraja lived and composed some of the most well-known songs of the genre. On Bahula Panchami—the fifth day of the lunar month Pushya—Jan 25 this year, five songs of Tyāgaraja, simply referred to as the “pancharatna kritis” were sung in one voice by millions of people all over…

Similar Story

Akka Mahadevi across the shores

I didn't expect to hear Akka Mahadevi's poetry being recited on a stage in the US. Fire and Ash, a multimedia show about Lord Shiva is where I encountered the poetry of this Kannada saint. The theme of the show conceived by playwright Gouri Ramanarayan centered on the stories and attributes of Lord Shiva. How Lord Siva symbolizes both the positive and negative energy of the universe was effectively brought out by the narration ably supported by vocalist Savita Narasimhan and dancer Anjana Anand. Several compositions ranging from Muthuthandavar's Teruvil Varano to Tagore's Srijoner to Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam and Akka Mahadevi's…