Rura – Scotland
Sharwan Kumar, mashak - Rajasthan
The pride of the Celtic people, the Bagpipe evokes the Highlands of Northern Scotland with grandeur, the Highlands where the Celts would have introduced this instrument, an area where the Romans did not succeed.
The bagpipe has progressively replaced the harp, a symbolic instrument previously used by bards.
In Scottish Gaelic, the name given to this instrument is Pìob Mhòr, which means Great Bagpipe. The bagpipe was once part of the Scottish clan system: each chieftain had his own tune (son-to-son tune). The music played had a very important social role: weddings, funerals, gatherings, etc.
The four musicians – Steven Blake (Highland pipes), Jack Smedley (fiddle), David Foley (flute and bodhran) and Adam Brown (guitar) – deliver a blend of powerful and entrancing instrumentals. RURA progressively became an inarguable phenomenon at the forefront of Scottish contemporary scene given the incredible energy of its members who convince all generations of folk-lovers.
The mashak tradition
The mashak is a bagpipe found in Northern India – in Garhwal, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh – and in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, used for weddings and festive occasions. Regarding its relation with the Scottish Highland pipes, some academics dispute any indigenous origins of the mashak; researcher Ander Burton Alter, indeed wrote in 2000 that the pipes played today in Garwhal are Scottish Highland bagpipes with no local manufacturer prior to British rule in 1814. However, Anthony Baines, an organologist, described an intermediary development stage wherein Indian musicians imitated the Highland pipe by tying "an extra pipe or two" into their mashak. Similarly, the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (1984) describes the traditional mashak as becoming rare as it is displaced by the Scottish pipes.
Therefore, this unique musical encounter between RURA and the mashak ensemble from Bikaner will be an occasion to show the human power of music beyond the weight of historical and political dominations.