Audio | Historical recordings of Santali songs (1931): Arnold Bake’s recordings at Kairabani – Jharkhand

Santali flute player by a pond, photograph by Arnold Bake (Kairabani mission, March 1931)
Enlarge and learn more: Sound and vision blog >>

In Kairabani [Arnold Bake] photographed Santali pupils playing their instruments at the mission, but he seems to have been dissatisfied with the sober ambience of the premises. To also have a picture of a Santali musician in a natural environment, he probably arranged a photo with one of the musicians outside.

Source: “The Santals, Scandinavian missionaries, and salvage ethnomusicology: an encounter of three worlds”. Christian Poske, Sound and vision blog, British Library, 30.6.2020, accessed 21 February 2021

Tip: download the PhD thesis by Christian Poske titled “Continuity and Change: A Restudy of Arnold Adriaan Bake’s Research on the Devotional and Folk Music and Dance of Bengal 1925-1956”. SOAS University of London (2020).
https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/34909/

View by Language (excerpt): Santali
Tip: search and listen to all of the available recordings on British Library Sounds >>

1. “Boeha dupulạr”: traditional Santali song; 2. “Coṭ cuṛa”: Santali Christian song; 3. Lagre song played on a large tiriya flute
Abstract & audio player >>
“Boeha dupulạr”: traditional Santali song praising brotherly love, complete song performed by male vocalist (song also performed on C52/1648: 1, C52/2131: 4); 2. “Coṭ cuṛa”: Santali Christian song, based on a traditional Santali melody. The lyrics concern the right path to god, which is likened to a path leading through a forest in which satan dwells, posing dangers to those who walk carelessly; 3. Lagre song played on a large tiriya flute (also on C52/1647: 2, C52/2134: 2 & 3); 4. Ref tone. Reasonable quality recording.

1. “Boeha dupulạr”: traditional Santali song; 2. Doń song; 3. Doń song

1. Lagre song; 2. Lagre song; 3. Sohrai song (beginning); 4. Sohrai song (end)

1. Mora karam song; 2. Song played on a large dhodro banam; 3. Song played on a large dhodro banam with male singing voices in the background

1. Sohrai song; 2. “Boge gupi do”: Santali church song; 3. Sohrai song

1. Sohrai song; 2. Bhinsar song; 3. Unidentified song, probably of the Lagre genre

1. Song played on a small tiriya flute; 2. The same song, performed by male vocalist accompanied unisono on a small tiriya flute; 3. “Otma lolo kạmru guru, serma setoṅ buạṅ guru”: incantation song
Abstract & audio player >>
1. Unidentified song played on a small tiriya flute; 2. The same song performed by a male vocalist accompanied unisono on a small tiriya flute; 3. “Otma lolo kạmru guru, serma setoṅ buạṅ guru”: traditional Santali song, probably an incantation song, performed by male vocalist. Meaning of words: “kạmru guru” – teacher of charms, incantations and herbal medicine; “serma” – the sky; “setoṅ” – the rays of the sun; “buạṅ guru” – teacher of the buạṅ, a stringed musical instrument; 4. Ref. tone. Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise.

Updates by Christian Poske on 23 February 2021:

These are three Dasãe songs, which would traditionally be performed during the Dasãe daṛan(“September wandering”), a festive procession and rite of initiation for those learning the practices of Santali medicine from an ojha (“diviner, medicine man”). The updated documentation, given in my thesis, is therefore:

1. Dasãe song played on a small tiriya flute

2. Dasãe song (same as 1.), sung by male, with unisono accompaniment on a small tiriya flute

3. “O̱t ma lo̱lo̱, kạmru guru”: Dasāe song, sung by male

Bodding describes the Dasãe daṛan in detail in his Studies in Santal Medicine & Connected Folklore (1986 [1925-40]). In the book, he quotes the lyrics of a song that is almost identical to the third song on the cylinder:

O̱t ma lo̱lo̱, kạmru guru, serma setoṅ, buạṅ guru,

Yo̱ haere, cela do̱laṅ lalaoket’ko.

Sui sutạm gutukate se̱ne̱rre laṅ galaṅkako,

Reaṛ kaṇḍa, sitạ nala latarrelaṅ do̱ho̱kako.

That is,

The earth is hot, o Kạmru guru, the sky is fierce sunshine, o Buạṅ guru;

Alas, alas, we two have tantalised the disciples;

We two shall thread a needle and weave them on the rafter,

in a cool waterpot, below the Sita valley we two shall put them.

(Bodding, 1986, p.84)

From left to right: Missionaries H. P. Børresen, H. J. Muston, L. O. Skrefsrud, with Santali hunting priest, chiefs (with turbans), hunters, and musicians (Santal Parganas, 1874) (Photographs of the Danmission, Copenhagen / International Mission Photography Archive, USC Digital Library)
Enlarge and learn more: Sound and vision blog >>

Bake referred to the church song ‘Boge gupi do’ (‘The Good Shepherd’) that had been composed by the Norwegian missionary Lars Olsen Skrefsrud (1840-1910) [who] settled in India to make sustained efforts to convert the Santals from animist belief to Christianity [and] introduced a romanisation system providing the language with the first standard script that is still used by converts today, with minor amendments made by Bodding.

Source: “The Santals, Scandinavian missionaries, and salvage ethnomusicology: an encounter of three worlds”. Christian Poske, Sound and vision blog, British Library, 30.6.2020, accessed 21 February 2021

View by Location (excerpt): Kairabani (Jharkhand)
Tip: search and listen to all of the available recordings on British Library Sounds >>

1. “Boeha dupulạr”: traditional Santali song; 2. “Coṭ cuṛa”: Santali Christian song; 3. Lagre song played on a large tiriya flute

1. “Boeha dupulạr”: traditional Santali song; 2. Doń song; 3. Doń song

1. Lagre song; 2. Lagre song; 3. Sohrai song (beginning); 4. Sohrai song (end)

1. Mora karam song; 2. Song played on a large dhodro banam; 3. Song played on a large dhodro banam with male singing voices in the background

1. Sohrai song; 2. “Boge gupi do”: Santali church song; 3. Sohrai song

1. Sohrai song; 2. Bhinsar song; 3. Unidentified song, probably of the Lagre genre

1. Song played on a small tiriya flute; 2. The same song, performed by male vocalist accompanied unisono on a small tiriya flute; 3. “Otma lolo kạmru guru, serma setoṅ buạṅ guru”: incantation song

Number of items in collection: 87

Recordings in this collection can be played by anyone.

Arnold Adriaan Bake’s [1899-1963] collection of recordings from South Asia have been a great resource for many academics across several disciplines. The British Library is actively engaged with a number of international academics and communities who are working with wax cylinder recordings from the Arnold Adriaan Bake archive to enhance the documentation for these recordings. They are therefore being released in regional batches as research progresses.

Bake was a Dutch ethnomusicologist noted asa primary pioneer of the discipline and one of the foremost international academic experts on South Asian music. His recordings on wax cylinder, tefi-band, reel-to-reel tape and film from successive field trips, were made throughout South Asia with principle studies in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, in 1925-29, 1931-34, 1937-46 and 1955-6.

Bake’s recordings document religious music found throughout South Asia, where he recorded festivals, weddings, funerals, religious practices and recitations. In addition Bake documented folk music and dance, including the stick dances and hobby horse customs which appear in European traditions and a thoroughly comprehensive study of the vocal and instrumental music of Nepal.

Source: Arnold Adriaan Bake South Asian Music Collection, British Library Sounds
URL: https://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Arnold-Adriaan-Bake-South-Asian-Music-Collection
Date visited: 21 February 2021

The Santals, Scandinavian missionaries, and salvage ethnomusicology: an encounter of three worlds

Since 2015, Christian Poske has conducted his PhD research on the Bengal recordings of the Arnold Bake Collection. A Collaborative Doctoral Scholarship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, situated his PhD within two institutions: the British Library Sound Archive and SOAS, University of London. He conducted his fieldwork in Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Bangladesh from April to October 2017, revisiting the locations of Arnold Bake’s fieldwork. Christian’s fieldwork investigated the aims and methods of Bake’s research in the early 1930s and studied the continuity and change in the devotional and folk music and dance documented by Bake. Christian is completing his PhD in Music this year at SOAS and in addition to his research has been engaged as a cataloguer for the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project. He currently works as Bengali Cataloguer at the Department of Asian and African Collections at the British Library. […]

The restudy of historical sound recordings often gives unexpected results. During my research on the cylinder recordings of the Dutch musicologist Arnold Bake (1899-1963) at the British Library Sound Archive, I came across a number of sparsely documented recordings made at a Christian mission for the Santals, a South Asian aboriginal people centred in the Indian state of Jharkhand today. When I [Christian Poske] conducted my fieldwork in 2017, I found out that one of the church songs recorded by Bake is still popular among converts in the region.

[Quoting Arnold Bake]

‘Recently, I had the opportunity to start recording Santal music… To really get in touch with the Santals, I have turned to the currently most important authority in this field, Dr Bodding… However, he is a missionary, and as he helped me along, we arrived at a huge boarding school for Santals. But it looks worse than it is. The mission has the policy to change as little as possible. Language, music and customs are, if anyhow possible, retained. All melodies used in the church are pure Santal melodies, although the words were made Christian… The music as such is quite unlike Hindu music, and their whole musical sense is very different. They love polyphony a lot when they get to hear it. I have recorded a sample (which hardly has any scientific value) how the Santal singing master of the school edited a song with four voices without actually ever having a European education, he does not speak a word of English, for example. The boys sing it with passion, which you could never expect from the Hindus…’
(Arnold Bake, letter to Erich M. v. Hornbostel, 15.4.1931, Berlin Phonogram Archive)

With these words, Bake explained his fieldwork at the Kairabani mission to Erich M. v. Hornbostel (1877-1935), the director of the Berlin Phonogram Archive. The Norwegian missionary Paul Olaf Bodding (1865-1938) of the Santal Mission of the Northern Churches had arranged Bake’s visit to Kairabani. […]

Source: “The Santals, Scandinavian missionaries, and salvage ethnomusicology: an encounter of three worlds” (courtesy Christian Poske by email)
URL: https://blogs.bl.uk/sound-and-vision/2020/06/the-santals-scandinavian-missionaries-and-salvage-ethnomusicology-an-encounter-of-three-worlds.html
Date visited: 21 February 2021

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone. […]

The Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project – part of the Save our Sounds programme – aims to preserve and provide access to thousands of the UK’s rare and unique sound recordings: not just those in our collections but also key items from partner collections across the UK.

Source: Unlocking Our Sound Heritage
URL: https://www.bl.uk/projects/unlocking-our-sound-heritage?_ga=2.195804588.1297834387.1613940073-1904369641.1613726698
Date visited: 21 February 2021

Related posts

Tips for using interactive maps

  1. toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser
  2. for details and hyperlinks click on the rectangular button (left on the map’s header)
  3. scroll and click on one of the markers for information of special interest
  4. explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>

About website administrator

Secretary of the foundation
This entry was posted in Eastern region – Eastern Zonal Council, History, Languages and linguistic heritage, Misconceptions, Music and dance, Musicology, Names and communities, Organizations, Santali language and literature, Worship and rituals and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.