Music from India

Bobbili ballad

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  • Shelf mark

    RK DAT 07

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    In the house of Ambati Polarao, Kurumbeta, Andhra Pradesh.

  • Performance occasion

    Early evening

  • Performers

    Ambati Polaroa (singer, three-string lute thumbra), Gollapalli Venkatta Ramana (singer, thalam cymbals), Patinti Jinaroao (singer, rhythm instruments), Gollapalli Sankamasu (singer, rhythm instruments)

  • Recordist

    Killius, Rolf

  • Description

    The semi-professional male singers from the Daasari musician community perform the historical Bobbili ballad, which recounts the fight between two small Indian chiefdoms, each trying to get the Muslim emperor and French colonial officers on his side. The moral of the story is that the ordinary villager, represented by the singers, doesn’t care who actually rules him, but is very concerned about the high taxes put up by any ruler. In former times the Daasari, being wandering minstrels, were regularly called to entertain the guests at the marriage party in the small villages of northern Andhra Pradesh in eastern India. Nowadays they belong to the ‘village poor’ and their main income is to work as daily labourer for the land-owners. The song, sung in the south Indian Telugu language, is performed in call-response style, where the lead singer and chorus slightly overlap. While the lead singer explains and recounts (in free rhythm) and sings, the chorus comment and repeat important parts of the lyrics. Ambati Polaroa is the lead singer and plays the three-string lute thumbra (held in the left hand and used as a drone) and the little metal rings anjeli (kept in the right hand). Gollapalli Venkatta Ramana, the second singer, plays the small thalam cymbals. Patinti Jinaroao and Gollapalli Sankamasu, the other chorus singers also play rhythm instruments: the small daki frame-drum and the gattum brass pot.

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