Walking around a dusty hamlet (Nirona) in the heartland of Kutch in Gujarat, India, in search of hand made bells, I chanced upon a musician who crafts bells for a living. Neighbours pointed out to a house where they made bells but at the door step I was greeted by melodious notes, which were unfamilar but had a rhythm. For a moment, I forgot the heat and the dust and hesitatingly knocked. The bell maker was taking a breather from his usual job with the melody of the Morchang !! Tan, Ting Ting Tan….sounded like a harp but a little more sharper.
He then showed us the palm size instrument which comprised of a horse shoe shaped metal ring with a long metal strip or tongue in between. The tongue is slightly broad and fixed at one end and is loose and free at the other end so that it can be made to vibrate. It is firmly held by the left hand between the teeth and the forefinger of the right hand is used to vibrate the free end and the sound is produced from the mouth cavity and throat. He asked us if we had some time to spare so that he could entertain us with some music before demonstrating the art of bell making. Looking through the eyes of the soul, I realised that music can be made with just about anything whether it is a Morchang or the Piano, be it Metal or Wood , it is the intent that matters. If we were to create music with every situation, with the high notes and the low notes, the musical instrument called life will generate a chart busting melody.
Quick net search later that evening, revealed that Morchang is widely used among the folk musicians in Rajasthan and Gujarat as an accompaniment with the Dholak (country drum) or with the Mridangam, down south in India. If you are visiting Rajasthan or Gujarat in India, do stop by to hear folk music to the tune of Morchang or any other indigenous instrument and be assured that it will be worth remembering.