Snake Charmer’s Orchestra: Iqbal Jogi and Party

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A rather interesting album made originally in the 1950s during the ethno-music craze that brought non-Western/exotic music into suburban homes in the West.

The instrument featured here is called by several different names across South Asia: murli, been or punji.  The Murli or Punji is a wind instrument which consists of two parts; the upper part is made of a dried and hollowed gourd which acts as the main sound chamber. The lower part is constructed from two reed pipes which are joined together into a double barrel form and positioned below the sound chamber. On most of these instruments the reed section has eight holes, which are used to play tones for music. However, in some parts of Sindh there is an additional hole in the lower back end of the right pipe. This instrument is known as a Murli in Sindh, and a Punji in other parts of Pakistan. It is most commonly recognized for its popular use by snake charmers throughout South Asia . 

Iqbal Jogi is a name known only to others than his family and friends as the key been player on this record. A Sindhi, in all likelihood,

The Jogi (also spelled Yogi; meaning “sage” or “saint”) are a Hindu sect (nath sampraday), found in North India and Sindh, with smaller numbers in the southern Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Jogi is a colloquial term for the “yogi”, which refers to the people who practiced yoga as part of their daily rituals. Over the time, this led to the formation of a community, and subsequently was formed into a caste. (Wikipedia)

Jogis are mendicants, who perambulate from holy site to holy site, and who often stop by your door, with begging bowl, simple musical instruments and colourful turbans or skull caps.  Though the name derives from yogi, a Sanskrit term, in the middle ages, especially in Sindh and Punjab, the jogis were associated with a math (spiritual refuge) in northern Punjab called Tilla Jogian (jogis hill). Adherents to the sect while nominally ‘Hindu’ came from all faiths and segments of society and were called Gorakpanthi after Gorakhnath the sect’s founder.

Iqbal Jogi is of this group of spiritual musicians.

When you think about this recording it has Monty Python-esque possibilities.  A bunch of bearded , turbaned men dancing about blowing into snake-charmers gourds!  But don’t allow your mind to go there. As this more recent release of the album is subtitled, there is a lot of passion in this group.  They blow intensely and seriously, bringing new life to some Sindh’s oldest and most beloved folk songs and melodies.

So settle back and prepare yourself for some very special sounds…a snake charmers orchestra!

The Passion of Pakistan

Track Listing:

01 Lorau (A Folk Tune Popular in the Desert Region of Sind.)

02 Momil Rano (A Folk Romance)

03 Kohiari (From the Sind Region of Pakistan.)

04 Lal Mori Pat (Traditional Folk Song)

05 Bhairveen (Raag of the Morning.)

06 Sorath (Folk Tune in Sindhi Ragni.)

07 Pahari (Tune of Sindhi Folk Song & Dance.)

08 Pahari (Folk Tune in Raga.)

Iqbal Jogi

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