Oppari

29/04/16Excavated Shellac Unearths Early 20th Century Indian 'Crying Song'

Mind officially blown, as we venture deeper into the realm of the Dust-to-Digital-affiliated Excavated Shellac blog, "a website dedicated to 78rpm recordings of folkloric and vernacular music from around the world", brought to life by Jonathan Ward, a passionate collector and researcher, for his and our listening pleasure. "This is the music of THE FUTURE", is the claim on his FB fan page and we can only nod our heads in agreement. This is amazing.

Among his most recent re-discoveries ranks this 'ancient' Gramophone recording, dating back to 1916. In what could at first be mistaken for laughter, it features a crackling bout of professional weeping, also known as an oppari, a traditional Tamil funeral song: "An oppari contains exaggerated crying and wailing between each sung line in a single breath, emphasizing the tragedy of the death, and to show that the recently deceased is truly missed as they send them off to the next life. As each line about the deceased’s virtues is sung, the singer sometimes self-flagellates, beating their chest."

What makes this find even more intriguing is that the enigmatic performer Krishnasawmy is a man, whereas opparis are usually voiced by women. Read more about this fascinating excavation on the blog, where you can also listen to and download this jewel for your personal archives.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom