Rajasthan : à la Café La Semeuse

I confess I am fascinated by Rajasthani folk music. Although I am not a native of Rajasthan and have not visited this majestic state more than a couple of times, I do not miss a chance to listen to it’s folk music whenever I get an opportunity. Like me, I am sure there are millions out there, who have similar inclination towards this amazing music.

A little deviation from the main theme of this blog i.e hindustani classical music. It is a matter of pride to us, that not only common listeners like you and me, but famed international eateries like the Buddha Bar and the likes have included the exotic and ethnic sounds of Rajasthani folk in their playlists. Hindustani classical music artists like Ustad Sultan Khan, Zakir Hussain, Shubha Mudgal, Anoushka Shankar, besides many tribal artists feature prominently in the music there.

The Buddha Bar is an exclusive Buddha-themed bar and restaurant in Paris, France, serving Asian cuisine. The super-luxe Buddha Bar in Paris is a byword for high-end lounge bars. The Buddha Bar originally became popular because of the DJs choice of avant-garde ‘Lounge‘ and ‘Chill Out‘ genres of music. The Buddha Bar series was started by Claude Challe who compiled and produced the first two albums. The series continues with different producers like DJ Ravin, Sam Popat, Jean-Pierre Danel and David Visan. CDs have also been released using the music of the series. Compilation CDs of similar music are released under the Buddha Bar series by George V Records.

The Buddha Bar was started by Raymond Visan, who before he became a restaurateur was a parfumeur. The two-story dining area is dominated by a large statue of Buddha and the bar upstairs has a statue of large ornate dragon. His first giant Buddha made its appearance in 1996. Buddha Bar has also opened venues in London, Dubai, Beirut, New York and Cairo. Smaller versions named Little Buddha Bar are located in Las Vegas, Vienna, Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.

Smooth transition of captivating World-Beats and mystic sound of Asian musical instruments, music plays an important role in a life of the Buddha Bar. While relaxing in the luxury of your guest room or dining in Buddha Bar Café, music will always be available and customizable to your moods. The DJs will distill musical selections to infuse your evenings with sensuality, reflecting the musical experience of millions of Buddha Bar CDs sold worldwide to demanding customers.

Treading the path shown by Buddha Bar, Café La Semeuse (20 years of never bitter coffee, is their slogan), a coffee production house has followed suit. For the true connoisseurs of the coffee, the Café La Semeuse company produces music CDs. In these CDs, the ethnic music of those countries, from where the company buys coffee beans, is presented. According to their belief, listening to the music of the country in which the coffee beans are grown, adds to the completeness of drinking sensation. Presented here are a few exclusive recordings of Rajasthani folk music by Café La Semeuse.

Churi Gajaro (Vocal) :  (Download)

Mast Kalandar (Vocal) :  (Download)

Kesariya (Vocal) :  (Download)

Lahariya (Vocal) :  (Download)

Chirmi (Vocal) :  (Download)

Nimbudo (Vocal) :  (Download)

Café La Semeuse began 100 years ago in Switzerland, but it was in 1975, while on vacation, that Marc Greenberg, President of Café La Semeuse had the great good fortune of meeting the third-generation roaster of coffee, Marc Bloch, an encounter that would change his life.

For years Bloch sent La Semeuse coffee for Greenberg to enjoy. He knew from the very first sip that this was noticeably better than any other coffee he had ever encountered. Friends and family who tried it shared his excitement. He would later learn that it was in fact La SemeuseHigh Roasting‘ that made this coffee truly exceptional and delicious. His belief in the distinctiveness of this coffee was so strong that when Bloch dared him to introduce Café La Semeuse to his country – he took the dare…and never looked back.

Theme Classic (Bansuri) :  (Download)

Folklore (Satara) :  (Download)

Lahariyo (Harmonium) :  (Download)

Folklore 2 (Satara) :  (Download)

Folklore (Morchang) :  (Download)

So set out your coffee percolator, prepare a mug of La Semeuse coffee, relax on a couch and just chill out.

The above songs are exclusive field recordings of Café La Semeuse. As the names of the artists are not known, visitors are welcome to identify them on this blog.

Comments are welcome too.

Today’s Tip : You may download a full album of Buddha Bar music by visiting it’s website (click here). The playlist will autoplay after the page loads up, let it play for an hour or so and retrieve the songs from the Internet Explorer cache (read how-to in the musicindiaonline.com post). The songs are of CD quality (128 kbps) and worth the effort. Moreover they are in mp3 format.

Enjoy !!

Songs courtesy : Café La Semeuse

Ustad Sarahang : Nuggets of Gold !

Ustad Sarahang (1924-1983) is perhaps the best known exponent of hindustani classical music from Kabul (Afghanistan).

When he was still a teenager, his father sent him to Patiala School of Music in India to be student of Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan ‘The Light of Punjab’. Mohammad Hussain Sarahang, after 16 years of service and learning, returned to Kabul.

His style of singing khayals, in Pashto and Hindustani intermittently, was perhaps inspired by Amir Khusrau, who similarly experimented with Farsi (Persian) and Hindustani in his poetry (e.g. Zeehaal-e-Miskeen). His strong Pashto accent and unique style, gives the listener a totally different experience.

Hume Saiyyan & Jawani Luta Di :  (Download)

Yaad Piya Ki :  (Download)

Najariya Lag Rahi :  (Download)

Yar-e-Man Biya Biya :  (Download)

Jao Jao Saiyyan Nahi Bolun Tose :  (Download)

Sanchi Kaho Mose Batiyan :  (Download)

In some of the above songs Ustad Sarahang has experimented with Afghani instruments, while in some he has used conventional hindustani classical instruments. ‘Hume Saiyyan & Jawani Luta Di’ is simply superb.

Comments welcome.

Enjoy !!

Voices along the Ganges : Weddings & Funerals

As I write this post, news has already poured in : River Ganges has been declared the National River of India. Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh later announced : ‘the emotional link between Ganga and Indians needs to be recognised‘.

In my earlier posts Voices along the Ganges : Saints & Beggars and Voices along the Ganges : Chants & Folklores, I let you experience some great exotic sounds right from the source of the Ganges, Gomukh to Benares (Varanasi) and then Patna in Bihar.

Bihar has immensely contributed to the hindustani classical music and has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan and dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) (see previous post on the Malliks) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana). Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings with the help of many musical instruments like Dholak, Bansuri and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used. Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as ‘Phagua‘, filled with fun rhythms.

Patna – Sohar :  (Download)

Patna – Marriage Song :  (Download)

During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured laborers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area. Dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patna.

Continuing our journey southwards along the bank of the Ganges we come across Mithila, a land shaded by old mango groves and watered by melt water rivers of Nepal and the Himalayas.

Mithila – Ropni Geet (sowing of paddy) :  (Download)

Mithila – Kohbar :  (Download)

Malda – Domni Chant :  (Download)

The men of Mithila have been famous as priests and scholars. The women largely illiterate, find cultural expression through exquisite paintings created for ritual occasions. They cover their courtyard walls in abstract images in brilliant colour.

In the 1960s some local officials realised that if the women would only put some of their paintings on paper there might be a worldwide market for their creations. They proved to be correct and it is a mild irony in Mithila that the fame of the women has surpassed that of the men, because Mithila Art, otherwise known as Madhubani Paintings also, is now recognised throughout the world.

.. more Voices along the Ganges »

The journey along the river Ganges will continue…

Enjoy !!

Bhimsen Joshi : Bharat Ratna

Amidst all the depressing events that we watch these days on TV news channels and which have almost become an integral part of our day to day life, here comes a heart warming news at last. This year, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the doyen of hindustani classical music has been chosen for the much coveted ‘Bharat Ratna‘ award, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

Although his singing career of more than seven decades has landed him several distinguished awards, including the prized Padma Shri (1972), Padma Bhushan (1985) and Padma Vibhushan (1999). But Bhimsen Joshi, is just the fourth ‘classical musician’ after M S Subbulakshmi (see earlier post), Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan to be awarded the ‘Bharat Ratna‘.

Celebrating this occasion I am tempted to post a few musical gems rendered by him.

Bhairav – Sada Rangeele Balamwa :  (Download)

Shankara – So Janu Re & Kal Na Pare :  (Download)

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who was born on February 4, 1922, in Gadag, Karnataka, ran away from home at the age of 11 in search of a good music teacher. He finally enrolled as a disciple of Sawai Gandharva, the foremost disciple of Abdul Karim Khan, whom Joshiji admired. In accordance with the ‘guru shishya‘ tradition, Joshiji started living with his guru.

Joshiji’s meeting with Begum Akhtar got him a job as a staff artist at Lucknow radio station where he befriended noted shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan. In 1943, Joshi shifted to Bombay (sorry, Mumbai), but his real break came in 1946 at a concert to mark the 60th birthday of Sawai Gandharva. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is a big draw at the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival held in Pune every year.

Maru Bihag – Rasiya Ho Na & Tadpat Raina Dina :  (Download)

Puriya Kalyan – Aj So Bana & Bahut Din Beete :  (Download)

May Panditji live for a hundred more years and enthrall his audience for a long time to come.

P.S : My earlier posts on a series on the ‘Voices along the Ganges’ have received a boost too : River Ganges has been declared the National River of India (wasn’t it so, even before the declaration, or at least in the hearts of all Indians ??).

Enjoy !!