Muzik Info Inc.

Folk Music

India has a very rich tradition of folk music. The extreme cultural diversity creates endless varieties of folk styles. Each region has its own particular style.

There is a tendency to lump folk music along with tribal music. There is actually a difference. Where folk music is a mere rustic reflection of the larger Indian society, tribal music often represents cultures that are very different. Some of these tribal cultures are throwbacks to cultural conditions as they were thousands of years ago.

Tribal and folk music is not taught in the same way that Indian classical music is taught. There is no formal period of apprentiship where the student is able to devote their entire life to learning the music, the economics of rural life does not permit this sort of thing. The musical practioners must still attend to their normal duties of hunting, agriculture or whatever their chosen proffesion is.

Music in the villages is learned almost by osmosis. From childhood the music is heard and embibed along with ones mother's milk. There are numerous public activities that allow the villagers to practice and hone their skills. These are the normal functions which syncronise village life with the universe.

The music is an indispensible component of functions such as weddings, engagements, and births. There is a plethora of songs for such occasions. There are also many songs associated with planting and harvesting. In these activities the villagers routinely sing of their hopes, fears and aspirations.

Folk music is also used for educational purposes. For instance sex education has traditionally been taught in Andhra Pradesh by song. There is a function when a girl has her first menses. In this function the elderly women in the community gather at the house (men are definitely excluded), the girl is given her first woni and langa (half sari which is worn by unmarried girls), rich food and other gifts. During this function the women sing songs that are extremely bawdy. To an outsider this would seem uncharacteristic of obviously respectable community members. However the function of such songs is to provide the girl's first instructions on her emerging womanhood and what her future marital duties will be.

Musical instruments are often different from those found in classical music. Although instruments like the may sometimes be found it is more likely that cruder drums such as , , or will be used. The and which are so common in the classical genre are absent in the folk music. One often finds instruments such as the , , , , and . Quite often they will not even be called these names, but may be named according to their local dialect. There are also instruments which are used only in particular folk styles in particular regions. These instruments are innumerable.

The instruments that folk musicians use are generally not as refined as the classical musicians use. The instruments of classical music are crafted by artisans whose only job is the fabrication of . In contrast the folk instruments are commonly crafted by the musicians themselves.

It is very common to find folk instruments that have been fabricated of commonly available materials. Skin, peritoneum, bamboo, coconut shells, and pots are but a few commonly available materials used to make musical instruments.

India folk music owes its origins to the villages of India. This musical form represents the folklore and lives of the villagers. Indian folk music is classified into its varied types depending on the region of their origination. Here is a list of some of the popular ones that seem to have found global music fans:

Bhangra: This folk music hails from the state of Punjab. It is considered the music of celebration with a dance form of the same name. Another musical form that has come from the same region is known as Gidha.

Lavani: This belongs to the state of Maharashtra. This variation of folk music is commonly sung by women. Another music type is composed by the fisher folk of the Konkan coastline. This is known as Kohli music.

Dandiya: This is a popular folk music that originates from the state of Gujarat. This is a celebratory music form and people dance to these tunes during the festival of Navratri, as well as other celebratory occasions and festivals. Another type of music that comes from this state is that of Gharba.

Rajasthani: The state of Rajasthan has global acclaim because of it rich and colorful heritage. In fact most foreigners visiting India, put this state on to their tourist package. The entire state is made up of numerous clans and castes and sub-castes, and each one has created its own peculiar folk music. These include langas, sapera, bhopa, jogi and manganiyar.

Bauls: It is the folk music of Bengal that was created by musicians who called themselves bauls. The term bauls has its roots in the Sanskrit word batul, which means �ivinely inspired insanity�

The Bauls of Bengal were a mystical order of musicians in 18th, 19th and early 20th century India who played a form of music using a khamak, ektara and dotara. The word Baul comes from Sanskrit batul meaning divinely inspired insanity. They are a group of mystic minstrels. They are influenced greatly by the Hindu tantric sect of the Kartabhajas as well as by Sufi sects. Bauls travel in search of the internal ideal, Maner Manush (Man of the Heart).


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