Made from humble-looking porcelain bowls filled with varying levels of water and played with cane sticks,the instrument might not pass off as the most handsome one in town,but the sounds emerging from it might make even the harshest critic rethink their words and eat humble pie. The jaltarang,as it is commonly known in India,is fast becoming one of those musical instruments that might soon be lost forever for want of proper exposure and recognition.
Speaking about the music form,jal tarang artiste Milind Tulankar says,”The instrument is one of the oldest in the world and has a very soothing sound. True,it hasn’t been recognized a lot in India but I am hoping to bring about an awareness about jaltarang amongst the masses.” Milind has been performing at various concerts for over 13 years now. He says,”I hold a concert every year on the occasion of my grandfather Pandit S V Kanhere’s death anniversary. It was he who taught me how to play the instrument when I was 12 years old. It was his wish to see that the instrument gains popularity and be held on par with classical Indian instruments like the sitar and santoor.
The instrument has a mention in ancient Greek and Indian texts. The bowls can be tuned to the desired frequency by varying the quantity of water,and are placed in a semi-circle around the player. Depending on the ragas,the number of bowls varies from 16 to 24,Tulankar adds. Elaborating on his concert,which is to be held today at garware College,he says,There will be performances by various other artistes. We are expecting a turnout of around 500-600 people.”
People from countries like Germany,Austria,Switzerland and New Zealand are usually awed by the fact that ordinary porcelain bowls produce such beautiful tunes,says Tulankar. “In fact,they are even more interested than Indians to learn more about the instrument,” he adds with a sigh.
Milind has produced eight audio CDs and two VCDs,all of which are compilations of various tunes composed and played on the jaltarang. Asking about what needs to be done to popularise the instrument and its unique kind of music,he says,”The government should invite artistes to play at various national festivals. Only when people are exposed to its mellifluous tunes will they start showing interest in it and like to start playing it themselves,” Tulankar says with a smile.
The concert will be held at the Garware College Hall,Karve Road,at 5.30 pm today. The entry for the show is free