The Soul of Bengali Music

The music of Bengal is not limited by political boundaries. It is in fact closely linked to Hindustani and Urdu music because of their common historical past. However, speaking here of Bengali music, it would be evasive by referring to ancient Bengal and restrictive referring only to the present Bengal.

Bangla music is related to ancient prayers and deities. Moreover, given the old caste system, it is also limited to certain categories of people such as fishermen, drivers, hermits, etc. The modernization of this music took place independently of Western influence through the introduction of Sufi notions into Hindu folklore, new classical genres in Rabindranath Tagore's works, complex revolutionary themes in Kazi Nazrul Islam, and fusion of traditional music with modern instruments and themes made necessary by the advent and success of the Bengali cinema.

The Hindustani music of North India is the art music in force in Bengal. The ragas are interpreted in the same way as elsewhere, with the same system of complex rhythms called talala. The Bengali scholar Rabindranath Tagore wrote and composed thousands of songs still popular today, despite their philosophical dimension.

The Rabindra Sangit is a specific genre created for this purpose, with the following sub-genres inspired by the Indian musical scales Puja porjay (prayer songs), Prem porjai (love songs), Bichitra porjai (miscellaneous songs), and Swadesh porjai (patriotic songs). Tagore also knew western music and composed a few songs with these musical scales in addition to the musical dramas Balmiki Protiva and Kalmrigaya.

The corpus of rabindra sangît is still used in Bengali films and is taught in schools. The Indian national anthems Jana-Gana-Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla are the result. Kazi Nazrul Islam was another great Bengali poet and composer. The Nazrul Geeti are revolutionary, philosophical and spiritual compositions. Some such as Karar Oi Louho Kopat have been used in many films.

Bangla rural folk music is very rich and represented by Lalon Fokir, a mystic of the xixth century. It can be classified into various subgenres like Bhatiyali songs of fisherman or boatmen, Jatra, the dramatic stage singing, Kirtan, devotional songs devoted to Krishna and Radha, Pala, stage songs, Kobi gaan, poems sung with simple melody for the stage jousts.

Bauls are itinerant hermits or fakirs wearing out occasionally as trance music in which they do not hesitate to also dance. Favoring harmony with nature and sociability, the Bauls faced many difficulties in resisting modern life, especially in an increasingly urban country. The songs are accompanied by a few simple instruments called ektara, dotara, bansurĂ® and khol and are sometimes danced in groups. Tabla is the typical drums of Bengal, usually used together with the bigger drum has a sound more serious than the small one. The sound is very cute, that makes you want to learn a bit of Bengali dance.

The Bauls always dress in orange and white and willingly accept women among them. They are divided into five main orders of Kartabhaja, Saheb Dhani, Khushi Biswasi, Balarami and Llan Shahi. In 2005, the vulcan songs were proclaimed masterpieces of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. The Lalon giti are the work of the composer and philosopher Lalon Shah or Lalon Fokir created from the Baul geeti. Originally from Kushtia they are popular throughout Bengal.

With the advent of modern instruments, the adhunik sangit or modern songs appeared and for long has been the popular music. Whereas earlier songs were classified either by their composer or by their origin, shortly before independence, film songs appeared which did not belong to any specific root and were doomed to success by the simplicity of words and melodies. We can also mention Kishore Kumar who introduced the adhunik gan and the new wave.

Beginning in the 1980s, new trends emerged, tinged with Western politics and influence. Pop-rock music began with the advent of bands or band music, of which Mohiner Ghoraguli, and Miles were the icons. The bangla rock continued with Bhoomi and Chandrabindoo. The hard rock made its appearance with Fossils and Cactus. We can divide the rock scene into a mainstream and another underground, a fan of reality shows and other alternative rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal and gothic metal.