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larryjhs

Not concertinas, but harmoniums in Bangladesh

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I know it’s a bit off topic, but...Just because it’s the weekend. 

 

As part of my real life, I lead  an international development project in Bangladesh. I am there often. In old Dhaka, there are instrument makers on one street in the remaining traditional Hindu quarter who amongst other things, make harmoniums as well as traditional flutes that cost almost nothing (bansuri). My barber in the market plays one. There are also cheap electric guitars. 

 

You can see here the boxes and reeds. I didn’t see the bellows or keyboards but they may import these from India. I should find out if the reeds are local. These instruments are very cheap, about $60USD.  The wood is not great Good ones are much much more. Also included is a tabla  maker. I’ve seen skins being scraped on inverted turtle shells.

 

 I just thought these photos remind us how local workshops were 150 or more years ago when concertina were first being made.

 If I gave one of these guys the plans for a concertina I could probably end up with a very exotic instrument. There are lots of tiny bookbinders and box and paper bag folders and pasters who could do the bellows.

 

The skills of many other trades are on display in the countryside, such as shallow-water riverboats that look like gondolas built just by hand with no special tools. And furniture makers are everywhere 

 

Harmoniums are of course very popular. One of my students sings and plays very well. Why they survived as an outcome of Empire maybe due to the fact that they are more robust in the climate. I cannot believe that concertinas were not also brought to the subcontinent  

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Very cool.

 

I've been looking at harmoniums online and would like to have one some day. I still need to learn more about which brands are the better made instruments.

 

The pictures of the shirtless builders reminds me of growing up in Hawaii. My mom had two rules for the dinner table (in order to keep her kids civilized):

 

1) No eating at the dinner table without a shirt, and

 

2) No singing while eating!

 

The photo of the tabla maker working while talking on his cell phone is an interesting juxtaposition of age-old skills and modern life.

 

Thanks for posting this!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the comments.  Mobile phones are pervasive in Bangaldesh, connecting both the rich and poor in all parts of the country. Connectivity is relatively cheap even for the poor.  Now since you are all so interested, here is a video of boatbuilders at work in the rural parts of the country. You start with a log, saw it down, and take it from there. 

https://www.facebook.com/larry.stillman/videos/vb.725866405/10154709844536406/?type=3

 

And if I can say so myself, attached is one of my favourite photos.  They are very easy to take- just an iphone does it.  The landscape is a water-scape.  In the phone, these are people who collect fry (baby shimp), standing in the shallow water and then they raise them with bonds The net is s blue nylone one.  If any of you are interested in Bangladesh- just look at my posts and zilllion photos in Bangladesh-related albums on Facebook.  And support good international development projects (totally off topic!)

It's a  long way from concertina playing, but on the other hand, they have a very strong folk music tradition that links into traditional  poetry (poets like Tagore also contributed).  Kids learn a common base of songs in school.

 

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Edited by larryjhs
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