Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Festival of ethnic music in Dublin

... at least this is how the Irish Independent put it last Saturday.

Melancholicus took these two pictures from the same edition of that newspaper. He was delighted that the event pictured here was featured in the paper, and especially with the photos, since this performance was a question of “I wish I had a digital camera ... why don’t I have a digital camera?”

Melancholicus would have liked to have photographed the performance himself, since he had a bird’s eye view of it from the window of his office. It took place last Friday at lunchtime, in the courtyard in the middle of the Newman building. While at his day’s work, Melancholicus was given a musical treat.

The first photo shows Aruhan and Alatengwula, members of the Mongolian Long Song Troupe. The second shows Liu Fang of Yunan province, China, playing a four-string lute. They were performing as part of the 12th International CHIME conference hosted by the UCD School of Music at Belfield.

The performance lasted for nearly an hour; in both visual and musical quality, it was one of the finest that Melancholicus had ever seen. The performers were dressed in traditional costume, played traditional instruments and sang traditional songs from whatever part of the world they hailed from. Particularly impressive was one of the Mongolian performers who, in addition to playing a stringed instrument (of which Melancholicus sadly does not know the name), alternated between singing and humi.

There is no Wikipedia article on humi, although there ought to be one. It is a peculiarly Mongolian breathing technique — breathing in such a way as to produce musical notes. It is exquisitely beautiful. The first time Melancholicus encountered humi, he wept for the beauty of it; for, if he may stoop to the use of a contemporary cliché, it is an intensely spiritual sound, immediately evocative (to these ears at least) of the face of God, and of His presence in eternity.

*UPDATE: details and more images from the performance on the UCD website here.

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