I am no expert in any kind of music. I don’t need to be . A connoisseur of food need know the details of the recipe.
Classical music and folk music are both ancient in origin and have been carried forward by a tradition of pass over to the next generation, sometimes through family ties and sometime through Guru-Shishya Parampara. I feel the main difference between classical and folk tradition is that while classical music is highly refined, folk music is music in its raw, virgin form.
Classical music has been adopted by maestros of music and patronized by people of high society. Whereas, folk music is a cry from the heart of people who lived very close to nature. There is a simplicity and spontaneity in folk music that can be highly seductive.
Every mainstream language has many dialects. While classical ragas could take lyrics from main stream languages as well as dialects, folk songs are usually in dialects.
Even though I do not understand the dialects, my heart finds instant connection with the Rajasthani Folk music. Rajasthan is a treasure house of folk music. It is amazing to see people living in harsh conditions producing such sweet melodies. The other day, when I came across this BBC documentary titled – The Lost Music of Rajasthan -on youtube, I could not but watch it without any break.
The above BBC documentary highlights the efforts taken by a few individuals to preserve folk music, not a museum piece but in its living natural surroundings. While the protagonists of the above documentary are apprehensive about the survival of the folk music, some lament that the purity of the folk tradition is getting compromised by the use of modern instruments and the influence of film and television.
With changes in the social structure, economic conditions and influence of other cultures certain level of changes are bound to happen. I only hope, the changes are for the better, without uprooting the traditions altogether.
Be it in any langauge, folk music can touch a chord in the heart instantly. India, being home to thousands of tribes and dialects, every state has a number of folk music traditions.
About four decades back, the song Rangabati – a folk song in the western Odisha dialect Sambalpuri became popular not only in Odisha but also all over India. Imagine a song going viral all over India, long before the advent of internet ! Rangabati continues to fascinate. The song continues to be a favourite. Some have tried to give it a modern make over in MTV Coke Studio, to disastrous consequences.
(Poor video quality, but the song is original)
The above one is sung by Sona Mahapatra, in her trained methodical style and voice and in accompaniment to modern instruments. When you listen to both the songs, you can feel how folk songs get murdered when you try to refine it, or maybe, try to sing without feeling it. No doubt, the attempt by Sona Mahapatra created a lot of controversy. Sona Mahapatra has song many Bollywood chart busters. I like many of her songs. But sorry, Sona. I find your Rangabati attempt repelling.
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