Let there be no noise made, my gentle friends;
Unless some dull and favourable hand
Will whisper music to my weary spirit.
Mushtaq Khan’s family has been into music for generations, and he, himself has been learning music ever since he remembers. The eyes of this 35-year-old singer from the Manganiyar community of Rajasthan light up as he starts speaking about his music with all the passion.
The group also has 5 other members, and all of them are related to each other. Basically, their whole bloodline is musical. Mushtaq Khan was brought up in a musical environment and has been singing these folk songs since his childhood.
Like most of the Manganiyaars, this group songs also has various range of themes like marriage, love, separation, childbirth and the special occasions in a family. Various families in Jaisalmer, have been their patrons for ages, and their economy is dependent on music. Their musical groups are called to perform on these occasions, and this group has performed at various destinations in India and Mushtaq Khan has also travelled and lived in Washington, California and New York for workshops. He also collaborates with other musical groups from time to time.
These ragas used by Mushtaq Khan also hints of influences from Guru Granth Sahib, According to the Guru Granth the first raga created by the Maker was Bhairav, and raga Bhairav had five raginis of which only the first, raga Bhairavi is known today and performed. The folk songs of Rajasthan have maintained the elements of Indian classical music despite the fact that they are freely composed and sung, knowing no rigid rules. At times, their audience also demands popular songs, which have been imbibed into Bollywood, and they are more than happy to oblige since they consider that music is essential for enjoyment. When asked about his future plans, Mushtaq Khan says that he wants his children and the upcoming generations to carry forward this musical tradition while keeping their formal education in a healthy balance.
Mushtaq Khan’s music is mesmerizing and his deep, baritone voice keeps the mood of the music alive. They combine their love for music and the skill for the same to make musical masterpieces, and timeless harmonies. Interestingly, the lyrics to these songs are quite simple, yet they are capable of evoking heartfelt human emotions.
Nowadays, in order to keep the musical tradition alive, is difficult, since many songs are lost with time, owing to the influx of popular music, therefore recognition of these artists is essential as they form the part of intangible heritage of Rajasthan. A culture to be nourished, enhanced and shared. Poetic and lyrical melodies echo in this never-ending Thar, and its every sand grain.
Their knowledge in the theory of Indian classical music such as different ragas and talas separates them from other folk groups as communities of the country. Mushtaq Khan’s group, in particular, pays a certain amount of preference to the Kalyan raga which is usually played at dusk. They have performed in various Indian cities but found performing in Mumbai the most exciting and rewarding.
They come from humble backgrounds but have a vigorous desire to create and perform their art not just to make a living but contribute towards their community’s musical culture. They have come together form similar walks of life and different age groups to form a clique in order to showcase their skills and abilities to promote the culture of Rajasthan and set it on a path of prosperity.