November 20, 2007

Water music

How alive this instrument is.

Over the course of nearly ten minutes, on its home acres, where influential heat may seasonably evaporate or effluential rain may fill to the lip the bowls of the jal-tarang, the tuning of each bowl must change as the amount of water in each bowl changes in the course of a performance. The tuning of each tune is itself liquid, in league with the liquid melody as made from the bowls that day. I suspect the jal-tarang player is intimately familiar with this eventuality, and has the well-trained knack for adjusting play accordingly.

Lionel Hamton must make do with a related instrument whose struck tones and intervals are at least nominally invariant:

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