Music is what our feelings sound like. The roots of the multifarious land of India in music dates back thousands of years to the Vedic period when the ancient gurus transformed their chants and hymns into symphonies.
In the early period there was a division of music between the kingdoms and temples. The temples presented religious music to all those who wanted it while the kingspatronized the separate artists and within that division a new culture took birth out of the very hearts of the common man- the
folks of the nation. While the classical royal music of the kings and the “Brahmins” were competing for supremacy and elegance of voice; the folklore passed on the inspirational and heartrending tales through the generations. Due to its rural connections, this form of our culture has become a mere fragment today in the contemporary India.
Many people tend to confuse folk music with tribal music finding them similar. But that’s not true. Where
folk music is a mere rustic reflection of the larger Indian society, tribal music often represents cultures that are very different. It also happens to
differ from the highly regarded classical music which requires a person’s life of devotion in learning the intricacy. Folk music is borne out of the heart of the common man which does not lay down any rules. People in the community are raised in this culture where it’s more of a daily ritual than affecting the daily life of the people. The essence of folk music is felt during social
gatherings or events like weddings, harvesting, births etc where it acts as an
indispensible part in expressing their hopes, fears and joy.
One captivating aspect of the Indian folk music is that it bestows a plethora of moral values among the people living in the countryside which is
of great significance to them. For instance, sex education has been traditionally taught in Andhra Pradesh through a song. When a girl of the
community attains her maturity, the elderly women gather for a function presenting her first woni and langa which is worn by her along with
other gifts. The idea is to let her know about the journey she is going to embark as a woman. To outsiders, this may seem raving but for the localities, it’s a part of who they are.
There has been a dearth when it comes to the recognition of Indian instruments. For instance when a kid is asked about a musical instrument which
is closely related to the westernised drums he often has one answer i.e. the Tabla. But we people living in the metros are so unaware of the innumerable substitutes like The Dhol, Nal Or Daf each of which has a different framework leading to a different intriguing tale. The difference is that The Tabla is again the imperial instrument while the rest are carved out of simple materials which are not so refined. Similarly the cruder versions of Sitar used in folk music are known as ektara, dotar, saringda, rabab and santur. As we all know that folk music is the music of the simpleton, similarly their instruments also have countryside connections and are of often made up of bamboo, clay pots, and empty coconut shells. In modern times many forms of indian folk music have went on to become a part of our pop culture like Punjab’s Bhangra and Gujrat’s Dandiya due to their high energy and spirits which is not only popular in our country but has gained worldwide attention. The dance oriented music and its conversion into Thumri (semi classical) form is bringing this remote rich heritage into the spotlight.
The magic of the Indian folk music is its ability to immerse the audience into a trance of tales and folklores which is truly felt when one has a village environment in the backdrop where many kids gather around under a banyan tree to hear the elders singing the song of the common men. Their simplicity and “a unity in diversity” of the music is what keeps it apart from the entire world hoping to make a blend out of India’s past, present and coming future.