This is a space for a plural of voices. A plural of sounds and images. Plural of perspectives. Our voices and the voices of others inhabit this space. There is of course a connection between these voices, a reason for bringing them together; a physical and thematic connect.
The Baul Fakir Utsav, held in the first, sometimes second weekend of January every year in our south Kolkata neighbourhood of Jadavpur-Shaktigarh, is a festival a group of friends have been organising since 2006. We are also in that group. The festival journal in Bangla brings to us many ideas expressed in many voices and here we have brought entire journals to our readers; they are connected in many ways to the spirit of our work of The Travelling Archive. There is also a short film on the festival. more
Response is about how people have responded to our work of The Travelling Archive so far. But more than just stringing the comments in the Press and from friends, also people we do not personally know, this section opens up roads which can take us in endless directions. Those whose voices we have brought to this page all come from interesting worlds and we have tried to make links with those worlds in this space. So, from one link to another, from one interesting project to another, from an archive to a radio programme to a little school near a lake—a whole wide world can open up for us here, should we choose to embark on this rewarding journey. more
We have also brought to this page our own attempts to more creatively engage with our field recordings, connecting with the works of others before and after us. In Film, Art or Illustration?, we are searching for a lineage, a place to belong. Is what we are doing also not part of something larger; are we not one voice among many?more
Essay is a requested piece which we are asking from friends who are seriously engaged in related work and from whom we have so much to learn and who are generous enough to share their knowledge with us. Greek music researchers Costis Drygianakis and Yiorgis Sakellariou have a conversation about working in Russia and Lithuania; American sound artist Robert Millis writes about his listening memory of American folk music; and Renee Lulam, an independent researcher from Shillong writes about oral traditions in the Khasi Hills in the northeast of India.more
We mourn the passing of Shibda, Shibaditya Sen (1952-2018), our teacher in Santiniketan. Gone too soon, and another light has faded out of our sky.
Read more in our tribute page
Salamat Khan (Salamot bhai as we called him) passed away at dawn on 12 August 2015. He was so essential to our world, yet so much like a bird impossible to catch. Forever uncaged and uncageable. His death to us is like the last visible flight which he has taken. As if he had a sharp beak with which he pierced the sky and once he went in, the sky closed itself upon us. We lesser mortals were left below looking skywards, our hearts filled with longing for a little bit more.
We grieve the passing of Chandrabati mashima. At the same time we feel blessed to have known her through this last decade of her life, although it seems like too short a time now.. Chandrabati mashima opened for us new worlds of listening and understanding music. Also new ways of understanding what it is to be a woman and an artist. There is much to learn from the utshaho--her boundless energy and courage--which was seemingly at the root of everything she did and dared to do. When we first heard her in 2006, we felt sure that this music would travel. It did indeed. Mashima was always loved in her own land, but when she came to our Baul Fakir Utsav in Kolkata in 2010, she won the hearts of thousands more. Now young singers of the city are singing some of her songs--dhoirojo na dhorite, pari na shohite, onurage tonu jhore --which they have picked up from the Utsav's CDs, also from our recordings perhaps. As they sing, we hope they will remember that it is Chandrabati Roy Barman who gave them to us. Our own CD of her and Sushoma Das' songs and conversation from Travelling Archive Records has been received with critical appreciation by many, crossing boundaries of language and culture. Slowly the music seeps in; music made of songs and conversation, everyday sounds and silences. As we listen, the image of the artist comes alive. Some do not die, they only make a transition.
Sadek Ali of Faridpur, Bangladesh sold grains for his living, but lived for his songs. As a child he followed the folk poet Jasimuddin around wherever he went and the poet’s shadow seemed to hang on him for the rest of his life. Every time he sang for us, he would religiously mention that he had spent 45 years with Jasimuddin. There was a framed photograph of Jasimuddin on the wall of his shop in Faridpur market. Sadek Ali not only sang for us but also generously organised recording sessions in the space of his house, first in 2006 and then again in 2008. Last time we went to see him in 2011, Sadek Ali bhai was lying semi-paralysed in bed having suffered a stroke some months ago. He passed away in 2013.
Nimai Chand Goswami, the baul musician who passed away on 14 June 2014, was on our first ever field recording session. Moushumi had been to his house in Suripara, Bolpur in November 2003 with Sudheer Palsane, who recorded the session on a Sony PD 150 DV camera, even before the first IFA grant was announced. They went unannounced and Nimai was generous enough to let them in; he played music and talked about his life, mixing reality with fiction. The reason for this early visit was the sound of Nimai's eloquent dotara, we hadn't yet heard much, but Nimai was among the few things which occupied us in that preparatory phase. We had heard him on albums released in Europe with Paban Das Baul, such as Manuche O Rautan. Later Nimai had taken Moushumi to meet Kalpana Dasi and Shyamsundar Das Baul of Masadda, also in Birbhum. One place led to another, from one recording session we went to the next. As the initial years passed and we began to gather experience, we did not go back to Nimai any more; only met him occasionally at melas and festivals, also at our own Baul Fakir Utsav. But it is not easy to forget the sound of Nimai's dotara--not for its virtuosity, but because it was deeply affecting. Coincidentally, the first text in Bangla on the top of our Home page, is from a song we had heard Nimai sing. When we chose those lines about the power of listening, little did we know that Nimai's dotara would fall silent so soon.