Music from India

Erakulu ballad

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  • Shelf mark

    RK DAT 65

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    In a community space close to the small village Podduni, Orissa.

  • Performance occasion


  • Performers

    Ramaswamy (lead singer/narrator, sitari lute and jakalu wooden clapper), Svathy (singer and cymbal), Ananda (singer, sitari and jakalu)

  • Recordist

    Killius, Rolf

  • Description

    The semi-professional singers from the Erakulu musician community sing, dance, and narrate ballads taken from the Ramayana epic in a small village in the Sora habitats. Many people in the village belong to the Sora community, but have given up speaking their language and have adopted the south Indian Telugu language as spoken in the area. Although the performance was specially organised for recording purposes, around 50 villagers gathered to watch. This piece shows the beginning part of a four-hour performance. The artists belong to the Telugu speaking (and singing) Erakulu community. Once they were respected minstrels called for wedding parties and villages festivals; nowadays they belong to the ‘village poor’ and their main income is to beg for rice grains or as daily labourers for the land-owners. Mr. Ramaswamy is the lead singer/narrator and plays the sitari lute and the jakalu wooden clapper. He is supported by his wife Svathy (chorus singer and cymbal player) and his brother Ananda (plays sitari and jakalu and sings). All three dance. The sitari is a one-string drone instrument, which is known throughout India as ektara (one-string).

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