Stewart Lee’s recent playlist for Songlines is just as wacky as one would expect. Although I have to mark him down a bit for going down the hackneyed route of Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder, he roams the clouds from Shirley Collins and Laura Cannell to Ethiopian jazz. Like Moriarty pursuing Holmes to Tibet, just when I thought I was catching up on jazz behind the Iron Curtain, he’s outwitted me again—Dang!
[And I like to think that “Stew” himself might interject:]
Funnily enough, Dang is a region of Gujarat famed for its dance. These dancers are accompanied by rousing shawms:
which are also heard here:
And beat this for a wind instrument—the pawari (cf. pāva and satārā):
Here’s a Dang pas-de-deux:
And in ensemble:
All this is remote from the ethereal world of north Indian raga.
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The music of Dang is not to be confused with Dangak, which is the Korean equivalent of Japanese Tōgaku [Oh, right you are—the Plain People of Ireland]. Both genres are obscurely derived from the music of the Chinese Tang court, and both are largely marginally preserved today through museumification—far from the lively Gujarati folk scene. BTW, the population of Gujarat is larger than that of (South) Korea!
Thankfully (did I say that?), only two pieces survive, Nagyangch’un (Chinese: Luoyang chun 洛陽春, a title not in the Tang Chinese repertoire, FWIW):
and Pohŏja, which is the Chinese Buxu 步虛, Pacing the Void:
The hyangak repertoire is native to Korea; here’s Sujecheon:
These genres in turn are not to be confused with a-ak, the Korean version of the Confucian yayue 雅樂:
Turning to ritual in living society, mudang shamans are active, as in this ritual filmed in Seoul:
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Anyway, all that was meant just as a little preliminary aside—sorry, got carried away (What am I like?! LOL). Throwing pursuers off the scent, what I’m trying to get round to is Stewart Lee’s choice of Ethiopian jazz. But to cite the Plain People of Ireland again, here’s me bus, so I guess that’ll have to wait for another time [Later: here’s the post]… Dang.
With thanks to Simon Mills