Acoustic Traditional is an independent non-profit organisation, led by young tribal people, working towards the promotion of oral storytelling and tribal folklore, especially of mountain and forest-based communities.
It aims to encourage the preservation of the various myths, legends and stories that have been an integral part of a tribal group, vis-a-vis their cultural, environmental, spiritual and scientific heritage and also to creatively engage mainstream communities, through storytelling, in view of building a collective that supports the need for such preservation.
Started as a class room project as early as 1999 in Nepal, Acoustic Traditional has grown over the years to include a vibrant base of supporters, from musicians to activists to development professionals from across India. While functioning as an independent network of storytellers, researchers and campaigners, it produced various shows and engagement activities from time to time, bringing in the support of various local and international institutions. Now based in Bangalore as a registered organisation, it continues to engage people and various mountain communities towards conserving a rich, but dying tradition - oral storytelling.
Over the years, Acoustic Traditional has been proactively engaging various communities - both tribal and non-tribal, using creative tools, concerts, art and the internet.
Background on our work
"Once I met an old Lepcha Bungthing (shaman in Lepcha) while traveling to Magan, North Sikkim. He told me something which changed my life, and continues to revive in me the interest that once took me there... He said, in response to my question if he knew of some old Lepcha legends, 'Nani (Son or kid), look around you, the Teesta (an important river in the region) is diseased, people are digging into the gold which feeds the soil, everyone is tyring to be someone or the other I cannot imagine who....if I told about our legends, you would probably laugh at me! I wouldn't blame you. What is the use of telling you things which you cannot relate to at all? No body wants to talk.... I do not know which community you beling to, probably Newari...but remember, you will need your past one day to put together who you are...' S.M Koica Lo
That in many way speaks about our work and why we
work. Apart from exploring the pleasures of listening to our folklore, which is
an important aspect of reviving our tradition of storytelling, Acoustic
Traditional is also - and quite significantly - about re-establishing the links
between our stories and our amazingly diverse rich traditional knowledge and our
cultural identities which we are losing as we move ahead in time. With a wide
range of influencers - from acculturation to displacement to generational
differences to ...... affecting the course of tribal inheritance, we are losing
our ancestral legacy, our legends, myths, beliefs and practices as our own
tradition-keepers such as our storytellers and shamans, disappear.
Along with them, we are losing something that has so long survived the times - our collective experiences and learning and their relevance in our present times.
To listen to storytellers, bring them together, give them audience, document myths, legends and stories and build an archive where various stakeholders, enthusiasts, cultural historians and more importantly, the participating communities themselves, can find means to look back into their past in future. More importantly, we work to revive the tradition of storytelling in communities where it is sometimes the only means to understanding and knowing their cultural, spiritual and scientific history.
Our primary aim is to bring together tribal storytellers, stakeholders, organisations, communities through various engagement means (such as the Annual Festival of Indigenous Storytellers, Storytelling Sessions, Workshops, etc.)towards the conservation of tribal oral history
While there is an increasing interest from both the scientific and
non-scientific communities in tribal cultures, there is yet a general perception
that tribal worlds are worlds of superstitions, myths and backwardness that they
are in urgent need of mainstreaming and development. This is sometimes the
attitude of the younger tribal generation as well, which makes the pursuit of a
meaningful revival even more challenging. There is little understanding of the
fact that these communities are knowledgeable communities with a tradition of
sustainable living. But in the lack of efficient communication tools and
platforms in the mainstream arena, the gap between the tribal and non-tribal
worlds tends to increase.
In more ways than one, Acoustic Traditional is about bringing the essence of tribal cultures before a wider audience and building crossovers wherever possible and meaningful, especially through storytelling!
Who are the founders?
Bringing in over 14 years of experience in research, communication and creative campaigning tools, especially in environment and youth mobilisation, Salil has been an active advocate of tribal stories. He has worked on various issues (toxics, climate and energy, GMO's, etc.) and with various organizations - both international and national and now leads the organisation. An initiate into shamansim (jhankri), at the moment, he is doing an independent research on the music of the Himalayan shamans, while heading Acoustic Traditional.
Working for the development sector for over 7 years, Barkha is one of the main forces behind the sustainability of the project. A sharp videographer and a documentalist, she has been at the heart of the A. T archives unit. She has also been filming for various NGO's and projects in the last few years. Now working on the rights of the people with disabilities, she is also based in Bangalore and heads the organisation as the Managing Trustee.
Copyright, Acoustic Traditional, 2011