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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Barbaric charm in Beluch melodies


There

is then the _Soroz_, a kind of violin made of a half pumpkin, which forms the sounding board, and a handle to it with four keys and four strings. It is played with a bow of horsehair.

The other instruments in use are the _Seranghi_, a kind of superior violin such as the two central ones represented in the full page illustration. It has no less than fourteen keys, is hollow and uncovered in its upper portion, but has a skin stretched in the lower half of its sounding case. It is also perforated underneath and is played with a bow called _gazer_.

The _Rabab_ is a larger wooden instrument of a somewhat elongated shape, and its lower portion is also covered by a tight sheepskin--the remainder of the uncovered wood being prettily inlaid with silver and bone. This instrument is twanged with the fingers and has eighteen _killi_ or keys, twelve with metal strings and six with gut strings.

The _Surna_, or flute, is made of bamboo with a brass funnel. The mouthpiece is very ingenious, made of crushed cane fastened into a cup which is firmly applied to the lips, thus preventing any wind escaping at the sides. It certainly gives a very piercing sound when played loud.

The _Dohl_, or drum, was also of wood with sheepskins drawn tight at the two ends while wet, rolled up all round the rims of the apertures, and kept in position by leather strips.

style="text-align: justify;">[Illustration: Beluch Musicians (at Sibi.)]

Besides these the Beluch shows much ingenuity in improvising musical instruments to accompany his songs, out of any article which will give some sound, such as his rifle rod, which he balances on a bit of string and taps upon with the blade of his knife, or two pieces of wood which he uses as castanets, and, failing all these, snapping his fingers and keeping time with the melody.

There is a certain weird, barbaric charm in Beluch melodies, and, unlike the Persian, the Beluch possesses a very keen ear, in fact, a thorough musical ear, even according to our rules of harmony. To an unthoughtful European there may indeed be a certain monotony in Beluch melodies, but never a grating discord which will set one's teeth on edge.

Monotony in music, or rather, a repetition of the same melody until it becomes monotonous, is, rather than otherwise--if one comes to think of it--a fault on the right side, for if a melody is repeated time after time it means that the people themselves like it and appreciate it. There is no doubt that anybody with an unspoilt musical ear rather fancies listening over and over again to a melody which appeals to him--and we need not go as far as Beluchistan to be convinced of this--for we ourselves have been known to take fancies to songs of so high a standard as _Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay_, _The Honeysuckle and the Bee_, &c., and we hum them while soaking in our morning tub, we whistle them as we go down to breakfast, we strum them on the piano after breakfast, we hear them rattled outside by a barrel organ, as many times as there are forthcoming pennies from windows, while we are having lunch, we hear them pathetically sung at afternoon parties by hired entertainers, bands play them in the restaurants during dinner, and we hear them in the theatres, in music halls, and everywhere,--so that we cannot very well blame others for the monotony of their melodies since we largely follow the same course as theirs.

The Beluch plays and sings because it gives him real pleasure, and he is quite carried away by his music. Certain notes and combinations of notes, especially such as are very high and shrill, but in good tune, seem to go straight to his heart, and he revels in them. When singing, therefore, he prefers to sing in falsetto--as high as the furthest strain of his voice permits--and having worked himself into a semi-dazed state gradually descends to low deep notes, which by contrast appeal to him and not only give balance and character to his melody but produce quite a good harmonious effect. The low notes, however, are never ejaculated, but hummed, almost buzzed, with a vibration in the voice which is most melodious. The sound is like an indefinite letter U.


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