There is a compelling need to preserve the traditional methods of instrument making, fast disappearing due to modernization, the lack of opportunities to make a sustainable living, and disaffected youth. Centuries old traditions and cultural forms are threatened with extinction. It is imperative to work with the last remaining keepers of these traditions - be it craftsmen, singers, poets or musicians - to preserve and disseminate their knowledge and skills, and to train the next generation. Established in 2010 as a not-for-profit registered under the Indian Societies Act, AMARRASS SOCIETY FOR PERFORMING ARTS (ASPA)'s mission is to create sustainable livelihoods for folk musicians and craftspeople.
ASPA travels into the interior and remote regions of the country to carry out research, archive and record folk/regional music and poetry, and develop contact with traditional instrument makers. The goal is to archive, promote, and create market and trade opportunities for the musicians, instrument makers and other indigenous crafts people.
Commercial platforms such as i-Tunes, Spotify, etc. that can be used to monetize some of the recordings; non commercial platforms such as Soundcloud that can be used to make searchable and sharable the database of recordings; online (amarrass.com, Amazon, Discogs, Bandcamp.com) and offline channels (performances, retails stores, for the sale of instruments.
Workshops, lectures and demonstrations - help nurture talent from an early age, develop avenues for presenting and showcasing exceptionally talented youth, knowledge transfer within and beyond the community.
Archival & Research
Transcription and translation of poems and songs (since the repertoire belongs to an oral tradition with limited documentation available); audio and video recordings.
Initial efforts of ASPA have focused on identifying a few select master craftsmen from the Manganiyar communities in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer districts in Rajasthan, and in Kutch in Gujarat. We have been encouraged by some of our initial successes:
Reviving the art of folk instrument making
We have forged relationships with master-craftsmen Shankara Ram Suthar and Mohan Lal Lohar that have resulted in over 200 instruments sold including the Sindhi sarangi, kamaicha, morchangs, khartaals and algozas.
Recording and releasing music performed by children
Banko Ghodo, commercially released in 2011, and a Kickstarter-supported project, featured recordings of up-and-coming child artists from the Manganiyar community.
Workshops & Music Lessons
We have organized instrument-making workshops in India, presented at conferences, museums and educational institutions on the practical aspects of creating sustaining livelihoods in folk music, and have launched our 'Music in Schools' initiative to bring folk music to children in India and across the globe.
with Lakha Khan (Peabody Essex Museum; University of Wisconsin-Madison; American University, Washington D.C.; University of Pittsburgh; Royal Music Academy in Aarhus, Denmark)
with Barmer Boys (Shiv Nadar Schools, NCR, India; Music Meeting, Nijmegen; Winnipeg Folk Festival, Canada; Children's Hospital in Odense, Denmark; series of school concerts in Denmark in September 2018)
Join our efforts at ASPA by sponsoring some of initiatives, or having folk musicians and artisans and their crafts as part of your corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Contact us at or call 011-4666-1200 to discuss how you can contribute.