Music beyond borders – Part 2

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Last week we looked at how music from Europe such as Gregorian chants and Hungarian music had traces of classical Carnatic ragas. This week let’s look at music from African countries such as Algeria, Egypt and Mali.

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The music of Algeria today is the confluence of many threads including those of Bedouin origin, Andalusian music with its confluence of the Ottoman Empire and Europe, and the mysticism of poets such as Rumi. Bedouin music revolves around the theme of spirituality with strong influences of Rumi, the well known Muslim poet. Andalusian music, a form of Arabic music owes much of its origins to the regional poets and the Ottoman years. Rai, a blend of different musical styles of the region, is a relatively new genre where the songs express political discontent and highlights social issues such as inequality and poverty.

Here is one Algerian tune that carries the melodic strains of raga Madhyamavati.

Stringed instruments such as harps and clarinets and percussions instruments such as cymbals have been in evidence thanks to archeological findings in Egypt. Egyptian music is closely tied in to the culture prevalent and often reflects the issues pertaining to Egyptian society. Listen to this ancient Egyptian meditation music based on raga Mayamalavagowla.

Afrobeat music which developed in the 90s is an amalgam of music from Ghana and Nigeria. The music is more rhythm-based and ragas are harder to trace 

Here is a quirky tune from Mali which sounds like raga Brindavani. The video is funny yet poignant at the same time.


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About Chitra Srikrishna 50 Articles
Chitra Srikrishna is a Carnatic vocalist and writer living in Bengaluru & Columbus. Chitra blogs for Sruti, runs the podcast Raga Ruminations and produces RaagTime, a radio show on Indian music. Her albums include devotional poetry of Tamil Alwars & Dasa kritis, & thematic compositions on Rama and Hanuman. She's the musical half of a multimedia performance duo HumRaag. Her program BHAKTHI explores the journey of the mystics of India. Her latest Antah Prerna -A Musical Telling of an Entrepreneur's Journey debuted at Bangalore International Centre in 2018.