RIFF ends with musical Potpourri

Jodhpur: The fifth Rajasthan International Folk Festival has spawned a host of collaborations with international artists like UK beat boxer Jason Singh and US based band jamming to the earthy sound of Rajasthani folk musicians.

Sound artist Jason Singh mixed sounds from the morchang, dholak, khartal and various other instruments to create foot tapping music that had the audience on their feet at the RIFF Rustle concert last night, which marked the end of the five- day festival.

Accompanied by Rupa Marya and Indo-French teen Parveen Sabrina Khan on the vocals, the party also saw devotees of Sant Jasnath walking on hot coals to the tempo of the Manjira.

Rupa and the April Fishes from San Francisco delighted audience with their blend of Latino, African American, Yelamu Indian and Islander music, while veteran Rajasthani folk artists regaled listeners with instruments like the kamaycha, sarangi, surmandal and algoza, which festival director Divya Bhatia says, are not easily found anymore.

Bhatia says RIFF was successful in bringing Rajasthani folk artists into the limelight. "Our main purpose is to provide a platform for the folk artists and also to facilitate the entry of independent foreign artists who want to play in India. This year, we invited Rupa and the April Fishes, and Davy Sicard from Reunion Island to play," says Bhatia.

The festival has given rise to interesting collaborations between the international and folk musicians, giving music listeners a unique experience.

Dutch saxophonist Yuri Honing and his band Wired Paradise teamed up with folk singer Sumitra and a host of local musicians on the dholak, khartal and harmonium to play a unique combination of jazz and Rajasthani music. Other artists that collaborated with folk musicians were the Grigoriyan and Tawadros brothers, (Band of Brothers), Jason Singh, Rupa and the April Fishes and Davy Sicard.

Some collaborations were a result of a few hours of jamming sessions between the international and folk artists that were arranged by RIFF. Interlocutors were arranged for these sessions, but the universal language of music eventually crossed all boundaries.

Honing says, "The interlocutor is required in the beginning, but eventually we can work with each other just by gestures or jamming and improvising."

Previously collaborations that have begun at RIFF and have led to the folk musicians being invited to perform at international music festivals abroad. Yuri Honing has invited Sumitra and a few other artists to perform at Amsterdam.

Sumitra has also released a CD with Yuri Honing.

Perhaps the oldest and most integrated collaboration was "Dharohar", which was created for RIFF in 2008. The band comprises Jason Singh, singer Sumitra, Bex Mather on the guitar, Bhungar Khan Manganiyar on the khartal, Daya Ram with his harmonium, political satirist Jumma Khan Mewati with his one-string instrument bhapang, Kutla Khan Manganiyar on the dholak, Raies Khan Manganiyar with morchang and Sardar Langa on the sarangi.

Beat boxer Jason Singh says, "Dharohar is four years old now and we`re improving every year. Initially we faced some difficulties in terms of communication and finding artists who were flexible and could adapt to our kind of music."

Most artists involved in these collaborations say they believe they`re creating not merely a "fusion" but more of an integrated approach of different styles of music.

Jason says, "Fusion is just taking two things, throwing them together and seeing if anything comes of it. With Dharohar, we broke down the elements of both Rajasthani and English folk, compared the structures of the two and mapped out which elements could be integrated with each other."

Classical and folk also shook hands at RIFF when kathak dancer Anurag Verma performed with khartal maestro Samandar Khan and his team of folk musicians.

Verma says, "Rajasthani kathak, introduced by Pandit Kundanlal Gangani, has elements of folk dance integrated with classical dance. This form usually needs classical music but through our collaboration we have integrated folk and classical forms of both dance and music to give a wholesome performance."

"While the collaboration with "Band of Brothers" and Yuri Honing is set to get better, Rupa and the April Fishes, Davy Sicard and DJ Maga Bo will hopefully start new projects with the folk artists here," says Bhatia.