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Aboriginal music from Australia

Earth Rhythm performed at the opening of the aboriginal art exhibition, Kiripuranji: Contemporary Art from the Tiwi Islands.

music Updated: Jun 30, 2003 18:02 IST

If somebody told you about people playing aboriginal music from Australia in the city, you would most probably not believe it at all, at least till the time you heard this group of four play some rhythms from the soul of the earth. They recently played at the opening of the aboriginal art exhibition, Kiripuranji: Contemporary Art from the Tiwi Islands, organised by the Australian High Commission at the IHC.

Going by the name Earth Rhythm, the group was started when Rashid Ansari felt the need to bring back some music into his life. While living in Australia way back in the mid ’80s, he had had the opportunity to play didgeridoo (pronounced di-je-ri-doo), long and broad bamboo pipes through which wind was blown and music created by the aboriginals of Australia. Once in India he had no way to get the original, so he created his own from both bamboo and eucalyptus trees and started playing.

Slowly, he teamed up with Suchet Malhotra, a trained Hindustani classical artist, and roped in two others, Vikram Badhwar and Shena Gamat.

Today, the group may not really be that well known but anyone and everyone who has an inclination for instrumental music would definitely have heard them.

“It is a great experience playing the didgeridoo. It not only produces some amazing music but also helps in improving one’s breathing. It has an overall impact on one’s health,” says Ansari, who wears many hats at the same time – that of a martial arts exponent, theatre artist, consultant and musician.

Agrees Malhotra: “It has made a difference to my life. Moreover, it is my kind of music and I enjoy it thoroughly.”

The group of four has an assortment of Brazilian, Nigerian, Middle-eastern, Turkish and Tibetan musical instruments that they use to produce mindblowing sounds.

“We are also incorporating some Indian sounds. Our music is a mix, not exactly the original aboriginal Australian sounds,” says Ansari. He has of late sold about 20 didgeridoos. “I think it is a fad,” he says.

For both Badhwar and Gamat, being part of the group has given them an opportunity to discover their passion for music. Particularly so for Badhwar, who rediscovered his passion for percussion when he started playing the didgeridoo.

“The primordial sound is just out of the world,” he says. To believe him, one has to listen to this quartet at least once.