There is a pronounced lack of awareness about world instruments in the rural UK, Not only the actual instruments themselves are little known, but also the musical frameworks within which they often occur.
Becoming familiar with more diverse time signatures for example outside the somewhat overused standard 4/4, not only offers a fresh source of musical inspiration, but also offers a great opportunity for mental dexterity and agility. It also coaxes the listener out of complacency, in which state also versions of audio over familiarity have a comatose and numbing effect on the awareness and psyche. Rhythms such as 7/8 for example can be very stimulating and lead to considerable expansions of approach and understanding.
Sometimes it can be quite extraordinary the degree of ignorance of even common ethnic instruments that the public can display.
Playing recently in an Eastbourne jazz club, a performance combining Tablas with keyboards and drums was greeted with several enquiries as to what the percussion instruments were. Tablas are so hugely known and accepted in India as being the basis of their percussion framework, that to draw a blank identifying them comes as a shock.
This is where the role of Educational Musical Performances integrated with workshops can have such a positive effect . Observing skilled players of such ethnic instruments can be a greatly inspirational affair. If then also this same audience comes to participate in a shared group musical event, perhaps akin to the spirit of drum circle type events, the warming sensation of co-creation when well facilitated and organised can be a significant and transformative episode which can leave a lasting uplifting impression.
A successful approach to observing instruments that are fresh to an audience is to see them in action within a context that is essential to the tradition, feel and character of those instruments. Then taking this merely as an explanatory introduction, there is no reason why other styles cannot be cross-pollinated with these instruments in a free way without patronising or restrictive guidelines. The overall objective should presumably be to maintain a lightness of spirit, a pleasant sharing of different cultural traditions and a sharing for all to enjoy. If fun has been had listening to some of these multifarious different musical cultures, it will have been hard not to have gained some education in the process, and an increased appreciation of the diverse and broad nature of the music of our world, whose myriad and diverse forms are enormous.