Another great lp from Deben Bhattacharya, this time on the english label Argo. This label issued many recordings of Mr. Bhattacharya under the generic title “The Living Tradition” in the 1960’s. Now, thanks to Bolingo and his fabulous blog “Anthems of the nation of Luobanya”, you can hear many of this lps, that includes great field recordings from many different countries.

-Here’s a review for the present lp found on Gramophone.net:

An excellent note with the Turkish record reminds us that Konya, the traditional centre of Anatolian cultures, has passed over the centuries through the domination of the Hittites, the Phrygians, the Lydians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. This and the geographical situation of Turkey, where Europe joins Asia, have contributed to a folklore of vast variety and many influences. In addition to music which is strange in itself but fascinating, we hear here a wide variety of instruments which are equally unfamiliar, some primitive but some more sophisticated. Among the latter are the Divan Saz, a long-necked lute of eight strings, the Kemenche, a short-necked threestringed fiddle, the Cura Saz, a six-stringed lute, and the Nay, a double-reed woodwind instrument with six finger holes. The former are for the most part percussion instruments ranging from drums of various shapes and sizes to sets of Kasik, wooden spoons used in the style of Chinese chopsticks. As in most folk music the songs and dances deal or are associated with natural events of many kinds, from the harvest to sheep tending and from love songs to dances appropriate to drinking occasions.

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Here are two more french 10-inch lps from “Le Club Francais du Disque” featuring Deben Bhattacharya recordings.

The first one is called “Rythmes et Mélodies d’Iran”  and includes instrumental tunes (played on string instruments like the Setar, Tar and Santur and drums like the Zarb) and some folk love songs and ballads.

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The next lp is called “Rythmes et Mélodies de l’Inde Classique” and features instrumental music and songs from North and South India.

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-For the french readers, you can click here to read the liner notes for the two lps in Pdf format

Here are two french 10-inch lps from “Le Club Francais du Disque” (issued, I believe, around the end of the 1950’s, or beginning of the 1960’s) which features Deben Bhattacharya’s recordings. The first one is called “Ryhtmes et Meélodies du monde gitan” and is a sample of gypsy music from around the world. There’s a bit of everything in this 30 minutes tour of the gypsy world: Dance tunes, songs and romances, Hungarian Café music, a church service, flamenco guitar,snake charmer music, etc…. You’ll hear bits of music from Roumania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, France, Andalusia, India and Bulgaria.

Listen here

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-For french readers, click here to see the booklet in pdf format

The second lp is called “Rythmes et Mélodies du Bengale” and is a sampler of Bengali music, including work songs, drumming and stick dance, religious songs and Ragas…

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-For french readers, click here to see the booklet in pdf format

-Don’t forget to check the wonderful blog “Anthem for the nation of Luobanyia” for more Deben Bhattacharya lps.

1.Tritala (drums)

2.Kajli (Oboe and Drums)

3.Bhatili (Strings, drums and bells)

4.Bhajan (Song for women, flute and strings)

5.Mayanamotir Gan (Chorus, drums, flute, strings and cymbals)

6.Jhumur (Flute and drums)

7.Baul Song

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We continue our trip to the Middle East with Deben Bhattacharya, this time with field recordings he made in Damascus, Syria in 1955 and 1960. The term “maqam” in Arab classical music is the equivalent of the “raga” in Indian Classical music and has multiple meanings. (Read here a Wikipedia article about Arabic Maqams). The music here is played on traditional instruments like Oud, Qanun, Ney, Violin and Buzuk.

-By clicking on the Media Player, you’ll hear all the selections from this album, which is available for cheap on cd so I don’t offer a download for this one (Buy it here)

After our tour with Alan Lomax’s “World Library of Folk and Primitive Music”, I propose you another tour of the world’s traditional music, this time with another important collector and researcher, Deben Bhattacharya. Born in Benares, India in 1921, Deben spent most of his life on the roads of the world, recording in small villages and cities the music of the world’s people, taking pictures and making films to help others understand better the diverse cultures he encountered. When he was not travelling, he made his home in diverse cities of Europe like London, Vienna or Paris, where he ended his well-spent life in 2001, in the Montmartre village-like neighbourhood he loved so well.

I’ll start this first foray into Deben Bhattacharya’s works with recordings he made in Israel in the summer of 1957 among diverse jewish communities. Let’s hear his first impressions of the young Hebrew state:

…The first thing that struck me on my arrival in Israel was the extraordinary variety of faces and the overwhelming diversity of sounds. people have poured into the country from all parts of the world- from East and West, North and South- bringing with them the habits, languages and music of their previous homelands. On the face of it, it seemed a confusion of old and new, struggling to integrate the Orient with the Occident, to intertwine the ancient and the sacred with contemporary scepticism. As i consulted my diary while preparing this text, I found my appointements with musicians varied in irregular succession with people from different part of the world. Today it would be with a Spanish group, and tomorrow with the Yemenites; and then the day after, I would probably be recording with the Bukharis who came from Central Asia…

At this time, 1957, not a decenny yet after the State of Israel was established, many jewish immigrants from all parts of the world were starting there a completely new life, with the difficult task of building their new home as well as participating to the edification of the new State. From diasporic jews, they had to become Israeli citizens, learn a new/old language, hebrew, and felt torn between their old ways and the new ways that surrounded them. People with very different backgrounds, reunited only by their own appartenance to a people and religion that was disseminated all over the world, had to work, fight and struggle hand in hand in a small piece of land that had a legendary past but an uncertain and fragile future.

For someone like Deben Bhattacharya who was passionate and curious about the world’s cultures and traditions, Israel may really have felt like the “Promised Land”. Where else in the world at this time, could he have encountered in one place such a diversity of sounds? The long Spanish ballads sung with the oud, the arabic luth, a Yemenite  singing a song in hebrew to the rhythm of a kerosene tin, the cantorial songs of east-european rabbis, music from Central Asia played by a bukharian ensemble on traditional instruments like Chang, Santur, Kamancha and Doiras, a Police band playing old and new european jewish tunes, a morrocan singer singing love songs in Arabic, again with the oud, religious songs of the jews from Cochin, India, etc…

-From the many hours of recordings he made in June and July 1957, Deben selected some material that was issued first on 4 lps by Westminster under the generic title “In Israel Today”.

A beautiful booklet with texts and photographs by D. Bhattacharya was included with the records. Click here to see it in pdf format

-Here are the 4 lps (vinyl rip cut in mp3 tracks). Click on the title to download the file

Vol.1: Songs and Dances of the Jews from Bukhara, Uzbekistan and Cochin

Vol.2: Music of the Jews from Morocco

Vol.3: Songs of the Jews from Yemen, the Atlas Mountains, Tunisia and Spain

Vol.4: Music of the Jews from Eastern-Europe

-In 1998, to celebrate the 50 years of Israel, the french label Fremaux & Associés issued a 2cd set of D. Bhattacharya’s 1957 recordings under the title “World Music From Israel”. Deben himself participated in the elaboration of the project and selected new performances as well as some already included on the Westminster lps. The Moroccan and the Eastern-European selections in particular are almost all new performances not included on the lps.

“World Music From Israel” CD 1: Music of the Oriental Jews

“World Music From Israel” CD 2: Music of the Europeans

Here we are with the last volume of the World Library we haven’t heard yet. This one is a sampling of the diverse folk music of Canada, and in a way it’s a good one to end this serie because of its great diversity. You’ll hear the music of the first inhabitants of the land, from the Iroquois to the Eskimo and the new music brought by the diverse immigrants: The French, the English and the Scottish. This volume was edited and by the canadian folklorist and ethnographer Marius Barbeau. (photo on the right)

Click here to learn more about Barbeau and his work

-Side 1, spiral 1: Iroquois Songs

-Side 1, spiral 2: French-Canadian Songs (part 1)

-Side 1, spiral 3: French-Canadian Songs (part 2)

-Side 1, spiral 4: French-Canadian Songs (part 3)

-Side 2, spiral 1: English Songs from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

-Side 2, spiral 2: Scots-Gaelic

-Side 2, spiral 3: Northwest Indian

-Side 2, spiral 4: Eskimo Songs

Click here to download all the tracks

Here’s volume 6 of The World Library, one of the two volumes i was missing to have the complete World Library serie. This is a presentation of Scotland’s traditional music, recorded in part by Alan Lomax himself in 1951, (with the help of the Macleans of Raasey, Hamish Henderson and William Montgomerie) and there are some BBC recordings as well. 1951 was an important year in the history of Scottish music as in august of that year, the Edinburgh’s People Festival introduced on stage for the first time, many practicioners of traditional music. It was the start of a folk revival that would spread interest in these music for the years to come. Some of the key revivalists of that time are present on the record: Ewan MacColl, Isla Cameron and Hamish Handerson. Among the traditional singers, Jimmy Mac Beath and John Strachan would be recorded again by Lomax and some cds of the Alan Lomax Collection are dedicated to their fine singing. Instrumental music is present also with, among others, Jimmy Shand’s melodeon and John Burgess’ bagpipes playing.

Side 1:

Side 2:

Click here to download


I’d like to inform followers of the World’s Jukebox that i’ll post soon (i hope before the end of the year) the two missing volumes from the World Library collection (Scotland and Canada) as i managed at last to find some copies. So stay tuned…

This is the last volume in the World Library serie and it’s another stunning sampler of traditional music, this time from Bulgaria. It was recorded in the field by english folk singer and collector of folk song A. L Lloyd in the fifties. Most of the pieces here, either vocal or instrumental use a kind of minor scale and some assymetrical meters  typical of balkan dance music. Some instruments heard here are the gaida (goat-skin bagpipe), the kaval (a end-blown flute), the gadulka (bowed string instrument similar to the rebec) and the tambura (lute). The vocal pieces are poweful and moving, sung in open, full-throat style.

This excellent vinyl rip was contribued by a reader of this blog a few months ago and i thank him very much fort this. The zip file includes a pdf with the inside liner notes and photographs.

Download here

If you’re a fan of bulgarian traditional music like me, there are other great records available. A few years ago, Yazoo Records issued ” Song of the crooked dance”, a great collection of 78rpm records of Bulgarian music edited by Lauren Brody. And this days the english JSP label just released a whole box set of traditional bulgarian music on 78rpm records called “Outsinging the nightingale” edited by the same Lauren Brody. You can order this box set and learn more about her research on vintage bulgarian music by going to the “Song of the crooked dance” website.