The DAN MOI Jaw Harp Blog ♫

  • Nadishana: Whilst Playing the Jaw Harp I Imagine a Whole Orchestra

    Nadishana plays jaw harp at the Ancient Trance Festival 2008

    The multi-instrumentalist Nadishana plays more than 200 instruments. Among those the jaw harp, he says, is one of his favourites. „You can play it everywhere, even in public spots, without causing too much of a stir. I often use the time for practicing, when I need to wait somewhere.“

    Nadishana grew up in a southern Siberian village and studied at University in Sankt Petersburg. He’s been living in Berlin for more than 10 years now, and is one of the favourite musicians as well as a regular performer at the Ancient Trance, the festival for jaw harp and World Music. In August 2016, Helen Hahmann met him at the 8th Ancient Trance in Taucha, near Leipzig, and had a chat with Nadishana at the castle yard, where he talks about his approach to music, his very individual style and his favourite jaw harps:


    I want to learn something about music in general

    Where I come from, the jaw harp is not really popular. 15 years ago, in Southern Siberia it was virtually non-existent. Also, the jaw harp was by far not as present in the Northern parts of Siberia, in Yakutia, as it is now. I believe the first time I heard those peculiar sounds was on vinyl records, back then in Russia.

    One could only borrow records in libraries as 10 years ago you couldn’t just get the music you took an interest in from the internet the same we do today.

    Anyway, I was excited by those recordings. I was wowed and just wanted to know what kind of instrument that is. So, I started reading books and visiting museums about music instruments. Until that point, I’ve never seen anybody in a live performance with a jaw harp. Three years later, when I started going to Uni a friend of mine purchased one in a second-hand store. He played it and let me try as well.

    I bought my first jaw harp in Kyzyl, Tuva. It was not really a good quality jaw harp and broke down easily. But I started practicing with it. Then, I got a jaw harp from the Altai region. Originally, I am a guitar player, and I am also into percussions and flute as well as several other instruments. For me, it’s not about playing that certain instrument. I rather want to learn something about music.

    Whilst playing the jaw harp I imagine a whole orchestra

    I don’t consider myself as a jaw harp player. I am a musician who explores music in all imaginable ways. But the jaw harp is an interesting instrument. Though it’s a simple one, it has got a lot of power, provides many possibilities, and so many strange sounds that can be generated. And it’s truly an ancient sound. As is the case with other overtone instruments, the flageolet tones can be accentuated.

    My style is a product of my previous experience that I made with music. I play drums and percussions and I apply those techniques and rhythms to the jaw harp. I also arrange the music. That is to say, I imagine an orchestra during my jaw harp play: now the violins start to play, and then the percussions chime in. Then again, the percussions are pausing and the whole orchestra is playing, or all but one instrument just stop. I think of alteration in speed, modulation of the melody etc. I arrange the music during playing the jaw harp the same way I would do for an orchestra.

    Naturally, I am inspired by other jaw harp techniques and other music, for instance the Indian art of jaw harp playing and actually Indian music in general. What is being achieved in India with the Morsing is just amazing. Or have a look at Norway: over there they have this fantastic tradition to play tunes with the jaw harp.

    Playing the Japanese jaw harp Kohkin is what I like best

    I’m fascinated by the jaw harp because it is so small and such a quiet instrument as well. I can take it with me everywhere I go. You can play the jaw harp at public spots without harassing anyone at all. That’s the reason why I play the jaw harp as often. I simply take it always with me. While I’m waiting somewhere, I just get it out of my pocket and pass some time.


    I like best playing the Japanese, black jaw harp, the so called Kohkin. I like it, because I play on small jaw harps only and the smith in Japan builds small, good quality instruments. On those small Kohkins I can apply all my playing techniques. The only problem I encounter is that my way to play makes the instruments break rather quickly. Three of them already broke and since the Kohkin are quite valuable I decided to go for some budget instruments. That’s why I play the Vargan instruments from Paul Potkin that come from the Altai mountains. They are inexpensive, quality is solid and they simply don’t break as quickly.

    More information on Nadishana:

  • Sustainability all along the line: The Ancient trance Festival 2016 backs responsible awareness of sound, environment and man.

    Ancient Trance Festival 2016

    The Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha started off as a small compact moment of concert for jaw harp music more than ten years ago. Just after the very first festivals the crowd was signalizing that they enjoyed the universe of transcendental live music, of resource-aware partying, and of join-in activities, created by the Ancient Trance team. During the first weekend in August 2014 more than 4000 people were drawn to Taucha.

    Ancient Trance Festival 2014

    How does the team of organizers look at the Ancient Trance Festival? Corinna Klinke belongs to the communication group of the festival team and provides an insight into the structures, the self-conception, and the vision of the future of Europe’s biggest mouth harp festival. For the DAN MOI blog Helen Hahmann talked to her.

    Helen Hahmann (HH): After the very successful Ancient Trance Festival in 2014 which also hosted the congress of the International Jews Harp Society, many people had probably marked the date in August 2015 as definitely not to be missed. But then you announced that you would pause for a year and not organize a next festival until 2016. Why did you do that?

    Corinna Klinke (CK): Even in the years before we liked to take a step back now and then. The festival grounds for example used to be larger a few years ago. There was another stage in the area which today is reserved for camping. After that, some of our team said that the festival was a bit too big, and so we decided to get smaller again and to put up a stage less in the following year. For us and the festival it is an important point to look what we are capable of. This is a sustainable treatment of and within the team – to keep in mind that the festival does not burn out our people. In the end we all do that voluntarily. In 2015 many team members questioned where to get the energy from to be able to cope with all the work. And then it became clear that we would need a break and pause for a year just to work on the mission and vision of the festival. What do we actually want and how can we realize this? One important issue at it was the appreciation of the work – not in a financial sense, but in the sense of how can we say thank you to the people managing all this. How can we grow together as a team for the festival to grow into a long-term project?

    HH: Who are the people organizing the festival?

    CK: Outsiders may easily get the impression that there are “hippies” behind those people, wearing dreadlocks and colorful rags. And of course, they are. But there are also other people being part of it who have organized similar events for different musical genres, and who just enjoy discovering something new. We are united by the kind of music, the virtuosity, and of course the aspect ‘mouth harp’. Besides, I for example like to be surprised by the music and groups I did not know before. So there is a varied mixture of people, and therefore their interests are quite diverse. This is the reason why we also used the past year to find a way of communication which satisfies everybody, which means consensus instead of content. We have organized ourselves in a structure called sociocracy. Different areas are divided into groups or circles which are specialized in certain tasks. When these groups meet there is a so called “check in” and “check out” providing people with the chance to “arrive”: some come from work, others from a world trip or from dinner with the family. That means each member of the group gets their own space. Furthermore there is a moderator who makes sure that each person gets the chance to speak. Or when somebody talks for too long or keeps repeating themselves, the moderator sets a frame or limit for the contribution.

    HH: How did you become part of the Ancient Trance Festival?

    CK: I have taken part since 2010. Back then I read an announcement on the bill-board saying that people were wanted. I met the team and pretty soon became part of it. Then for a few years I coordinated the press which I did because I had studied communication and media science in Leipzig. But after a while I found it monotonous, plus I had my first baby and that was the reason why I worked in the office. I liked it a lot, but it was also exhausting. Then in 2014 I joined in the artist support.

    HH: How has the program of the Ancient Trance Festival changed? Any alterations compared to 2014?

    CK: There will be many world music bands who have never played before at the Ancient Trance, but a few known bands will also participate in the festival, such as the Airtists around the Hungarian musician Aron Szilágyi. Especially with the jaw harp virtuosos there are of course always similar artists in different lineups, for example multi-instrumentalist and jaw harp player Nadishana from Russia. In 2016 he will be playing in a duo together with Dima Gorelik from Israel. We are also thinking about finding a main theme for the festival in the future, such as a musical theme for example or topics like sustainability or intercultural understanding. But these thoughts are still in process.

    HH: What are your visions about your engagement with the festival? What is motivating you? What do you hope to induce with this festival?

    CK: Well, I am motivated by the teamwork. Back then when I became part of that structure, I had some kind of aha moment: it is possible to communicate that way. Last year many were struck by the sociocracy and became interested. For example I am very impressed by the consensus decision: when we take a vote on something, we try not to decide by majority, but to attain a commonly agreed resolution.

    The Ancient Trance is not a festival going on until 3 am or even longer. At 1 am at the latest the stages are closing. But the nice thing is that afterwards there are people all over the place sitting in the meadow and playing music together, starting small sessions. The guests themselves playing music is maybe something not quite so common for festivals. At the Ancient Trance you can meet people, be it at a concert, playing music, doing the laughter yoga in the early morning hours, or at the lake enjoying the atmosphere. I think, many people are drawn by the otherness and uniqueness of the festival, and become interested in participating themselves. Many of our team were initially guests and then were up for joining in. That is what is motivating us!

    HH: What are your wishes for the future of the festival?

    CK: I wish that the Ancient Trance is growing in a “healthy way”. Many festivals were hyped and then quickly became something very big, which destroyed some of the charm of those festivals. I would not like at all to see this happening to the Ancient Trance. I rather wish that it will be growing with its resources and energies in a healthy way. Part of it will be, not to let it become a routine what we are doing, but to give space for spontaneous acting to keep the festival alive and open-minded. Open-minded in a sense of noticing what is happening around us, how society is changing, and how our guests are changing, who are the new guests and what are their wishes?

    The Ancient Trance Festival will take place from August 12th to 14th 2016. You can listen to the interview with Corinna Klinke on

    Ancient Trance Festival 2016


  • Marranzano World Fest 2016

    We are very happy to announce that this year we will make it to attend the Marranzano World Fest in Catania (Sicily, Italy) from July 14-17. This jaw harp and world music festival is organized volutarily by Luca Recupero from IPERcusSONICI and his team. We will contribute with a small stand with a fine collection of jaw harps. We are really looking forward!

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    Marranzano World Fest 2016

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