Thursday, 2 April 2009

Ravanhattha Lesson in Jaisalmer (Day 3)

On our way back to the fort, Jonny stumbled upon a master Ravanhattha player. This is a traditional folk musical instrument of the desert regions of Rajasthan. Not only does this master musician make and play the Ravanhattha, but he also gives lessons on the instrument to inquisitive, musical people! So Jon accepted the challenge to learn to play the Ravanhattha. First of all, the body of the instrument is constructed from a long tube of bamboo, which supports all the tuning pegs but also increases the resonance. The sound-box of the instrument is made from a coconut shell, whilst many sympathetic strings (ones which simply vibrate but are not actually played) stretch down along the bamboo. The one string which IS played is made from horse-hair (as is the bow) and the different pitches are made by the left hand stopping this string as it is bowed. The bow is decorated with a few bells to add a rhythmic splash to the performance. Jonny took to this like a duck to water! Actually the teacher said that with five days of practice he would be a virtuoso Ravanhattha player. Just wait until we reach Kolkata and Jon finds a sitar shop……..

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