Films of Growing into Music in Rajasthan


1) Manganiyar Childhood

A 140-minute Beyond Text: Growing into Music film by Nicolas Magriel. Researched, filmed and edited by Nicolas Magriel.  Part of the Growing into Music in North India series.  © Nicolas Magriel and SOAS University of London 2013.

The Manganiyar people of Western Rajasthan are hereditary Muslim musicians and genealogists, patronised by upper-caste Hindus for whom they perform and recite genealogies on festive occasions and life-cycle events such as births and marriages. Music is passed on from generation to generation orally and aurally.

This 140-minute film offers a rare opportunity for immersion in the musical life of children in the Manganiyar community—for sharing in their own immersion in music. The film begins by portraying three 18-month-old toddlers' participation in community musical life. We then see a wide variety of peer-learning situations—children making music together as play and recreation. A chapter on Manganiyar girls follows. Then several chapters deal with individual instruments, especially the quintessential Manganiyar instrument, the bowed kamaicha. Next we get an intensive look at the jajmani (patronage) system-we see children, following literally in their elders' footsteps, visiting patrons' houses to perform at marriage ceremonies. Sections on genealogical recitation and on duha, the deep and emotive un-metred aspect ofManganiyar music, follow.

Manganiyar children absorb music mainly by osmosis, by being surrounded by music making from infancy. So a long chapter on adult interventions in the learning process comes later in the film, as do two chapters which address more modern and articulate modes of music transmission. The penultimate chapter is about schooling—examining the difficulties of reconciling modern education and city life with the Manganiyars' traditional artistic lifestyle. Finally a chapter on change surveys the uncertainty arising as Manganiyar ethos and music are threatened by the attractions of urban life and the gradual erosion of the jajmani system.

Filming took place during three stays in Rajasthan in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and the sections on peer learning, kamaicha, dholak (a double-headed barrel drum), and teaching are presented chronologically so as to highlight childrens' musical maturation. Unlike in the learning of Indian classical music, there are few specific markers ofprogress. Children learn music much as they learn language. No one applauds the learning of repertoire or the perfection of technique—these are seen as natural functions of growing up.

On the DVD of this film, an eighteen-chapter menu makes specialty interests instantly accessible. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this DVD.

© Lucy Durán, Nicolas Magriel, Geoff Baker 2011