In his community, the Langas from Rajasthan, every male child grows up to be a musician. So when Asin Khan Langa dropped out of school after he attended a camp for musicians, to make music his sole focus in life, the decision didn’t come as a surprise. “Our first commitment is to our jajmaan, or patrons, who are the Sindhi Sipahi, the Muslim Rajput community,” says the 29-year-old master of the Sindhi sarangi. Since then, he was performed for his patrons during births, weddings, community events, and other ceremonies, as well as in festivals both in India and abroad.
On February 20, Langa will be playing in Mumbai for the first time. He will be accompanied by Saddik Langa on the dholak, and Bhungar Manganiyar of the now-famous Manganiyar community on the khartal, a type of wooden clapper. Their performance will take place at G5A, Laxmi Mills, at 7:30 pm.
Langa’s performance is the first of a series called Sounds of the Soil, a dedicated folk music series curated by the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture. The series aims to connect talented folk musicians who already have a presence in their region to interested audiences, and encourage dialogue between different traditions in music and the arts.
The Sindhi Sarangi, which Asin Khan Langa plays, is an instrument that is seldom used even amongst sarangi players. It is made out of tali or sheesham wood, and comprises of 26 strings. The material of the strings varies, some being prepared from the intestines of a goat, and others made of steel and brass. What emerges is a yearning, mournful sound, which Langa turns into rural desert songs of life, love, and loss. For the show in Mumbai, he will also set to music the spiritual poetry of Kabir, Mira Bai, and Shah Latif.
“At home, the lyrics that are sung are better understood. On the other hand, in cities or abroad, my music is appreciated more because it’s different from anything the audience has heard before,” says Langa, when asked where he enjoys performing. Langa plays solo but also collaborates with other musicians. Recently, he performed alongside playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy in Chennai. “I play with the same amount of focus and pleasure whoever the audience may be. Their enjoyment is key.”
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