(1967) v/a – Music from the Himalayas

Argo issue numbers: RG 530, ZRG 530 (stereo), re-released as ZFB 40 in April 1971
Recorded by: Deben Bhattacharya in India, Nepal and Tibet
Produced by: Deben Bhattacharya

Named performers
Sher Singh Rawat
Kubi Ram
Nanak Chand

he dhol (hd) – barrel drum
dahna (dah) damnya (dam), nagara (na) – kettle drums
jhanjhar (jh), tal (tal), signyen (si), paishian (p) – cymbals
bhokkar (bh), karnal (ka) – long horns
turya (tu) – large trumpets
ranasinga (ra) – war horn
shahnai (sh), jaling (ja) – conical swarm
bana (ba) – bong
chanen (ch) – spiked diffle
kencha (ke) – mandolin type instrument
ngah (ng) – drum
thibu (th) – bells
tangar (ta) – conch shell
flute (f)
damaru (da) – double-headed drum
yammong (ya) – gong
kontois (ko) – cylindrical drum
mauri dizau (md) – shawm-like reed instrument
kharan dizau (kd) – cylindrical drum
ben (b), tingteila (tin) – one-stringed fiddle

Click on a track title to hear it. It’ll open in a new window.


Side One
Chholia (hd/dah/dam/jh/bh/tu/ra) – led by Sher Singh Rawat
Kherey kā nāch (ra/ka/sh/dh/na/ba/tal) – Kubi Ram and villagers)
Shrikhand natti (ra/ka/sh/dh/na/ba/tal) – Kubi Ram and villagers
Bhamnu-and-Dohay – vocals by Kubi Ram and villagers
Shad-ritu varnan – Nanak Chand, vocal drones by two ‘Dogra peasants’
Tibetan dance-drama – I (ch/ke/ng/si/th) –
Tibetan dance-drama – II

Side Two
Lama Chhopa (ja/ta/ng/si/th/da/)
Khampti mask dance (pa/ya/ko)
Khampti ballad – sung by two young boys from Choukham
Dimacha Kachari (md/kd)
Ben (b)
Kachari ballad (b) – young tribal girl singer
Tingteila (tin) – from Tuinem, Manipur hills
Phanungri lament – sung by Hotoi, singer from Phanungri
Maran Mahon – villagers from Tuinem
Lumlaola (tin) – villagers from Tuinem singing

Review 1 – Beatle cult
Here’s a review of the record – one of the series of gems put out by Argo and produced by Deben Bhattacharya under the Living Traditions banner – by the Gramophone magazine when it first came out in 1967.

“These records (the Living Tradition series) are another reminder of how fortunate we are today in being given the opportunity of studying closely music that is strange to us.

“After hearing the Himalayas record I recalled having read somewhere that with a very little familiarity Indian music begins to sound to Western cars less ‘out of tune’ than a differently coloured version of our own music.

“Here we have music from a vast area in which India, Nepal and Tibet meet, together with some from lower ground. There are dances of varied kinds, religious music, martial airs and songs expressive of many emotions. Many of the instruments used are not even familiar by name to most people, although the latest Beatles cult (if such it be) may soon alter this.

“They include violin-type instruments of various shapes and sizes, horns and trumpets in primitive form and a wide variety of percussion instruments. Numbers that have appealed to me particularly are an unaccompanied love song sung by a group of villagers from Busher, Himachal Pradesh…an extract from a Tibetan dance-drama in which monks pay homage to the King and which features a score or so of drums, and the Phanungri Lament which is sung when lovers part or children leave their parents.”

Review 2 – the people seemed to dig it
The latest Beatle cult (if such it was) did change all that. In 1971 the album found its way into the ‘underground’ London club, the UFO (which must have been resurrected after its Pink Floyd 1967 heyday). In any case, Barry Everitt said the track Phanungri Lament got played at the club and “the people seemed to dig it”.

The album’s “kinda special”, says Everitt – in a review which sits on the pages of the heads’ magazine IT between stuff about Hendrix, Head Hands & Feet and Roy Harper.

“The music is so varied and the best I’ve heard for ages. Maybe soon it may be possible to travel around our island, recording the different music from our various commune tribes that are growing all around. If your local record man can’t get Argo records or ain’t interested, then write to me c/o IT and things will be done, oh yas.”

Shiva puts his head together
Here’s Everitt’s review of Side One, Track 2:

“Khere ka nach – performed by the villagers of Busher, Himachal Pradesh. This music is put together in praise of Lord Shiva, he was thought to have nipped up a mountain nearby for a while to put his head together.

“Well, if the music represents this, I reckon it was a long slow climb that went on and on as he walked higher up this 20,000 feet mountain he turned round and saw the beauty of the land laid out below him, but as most of us know, if there’s room to go we’ll try to get higher.

“This whole trip was turning him on and making a wide toothy grin appear on his face, he climbed as fast as he could, it was as if there was a festival of happiness going on inside his heart. On reaching the top, his mind completely blown, his heart full of joy, it’s hard to tell what his blood was full of, the music explodes and he settles down to as few years of meditation.

“A silver war horn, a long horn, drums and gongs help him to get up there, depending on yer head you can get there too.”

Amen to that.

Doctor Who?
Some chanting from the record was used in a Doctor Who episode in 1974. You know, the one where this chap gets sent to a meditation centre until he’s sorry he helped dinosaurs invade London…

Thanks and praises to bolingo for passing me a copy of the record.

~ by folkcatalogue on February 10, 2010.

2 Responses to “(1967) v/a – Music from the Himalayas”

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for all the great work you’ve done here!

    This record was just posted by bolingo69 on his blog “Anthems for the Nation of Luobaniya”.

    You can see it here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: