FOLK SONGS OF BENGAL
Bangla literature evolved from a form of musical composition known as Charya which was basically a north Indian musical form. The Charya lyrics were similar to sonnet in length and its organized singing mode infused into Bangla songs a kind of classical discipline at the very early stage. Jaydeb, a 12th C Bangalee poet, modeled his songs on Radha-Krishna love lore and compiled in a collection called Geet Gobinda. The Geetgobinda is regarded as precursor of Dhrupada. Historically speaking the early Bangla musical expressions were expressed in loric forms and was modeled on the mystical Buddhist songs known as Charya songs.
Bangla folk music has a long history. Several people contributed to what has become one of the most important musical influences in lives of Bengalis on both sides of the (West Bengal-Bangladesh) border. Among these are Lalon Fokir, Hason Raja and Ramesh Shill. Abbas Uddin was a key player in popularising folk music later on.
From Jasim Uddin, Folk Songs of E. Bengal, USIS (1959), Palash Publication, Essays of Jasim Uddin II, 2001)
Folk-song is the collective creation of a whole people
You cannot calculate the age of a song from the shape of its tune. Even today the one-line song is composed afresh in our villages; and a well-developed melody may be centuries old. Whether ill tune or wording, a folk-song is neither old nor new. From day .to day it changes a little, by the additions and alterations’ of different singers, and always it remains true to the ancient pattern. This is what makes it a folk-song-the collective creation of a whole people. This is the course of development from simplicity to complexity. But please bear in mind that I am giving
The tunes can be adopted go from country to country.
In these swift-measure songs the tunes themselves are universally easy to understand. Because the words are predominant, a foreigner who does not know the language cannot enjoy them for very long at a stretch; but the tunes can be adopted go from country to country.
In the long measured songs, on the other hand, the cadences are half-curved, long-curved, rounded, quarter-curved and full-curved. Where European tunes run in straight lines the tunes of East Bengal flow in curve’s. The tune, not the words, is the main thing, and so those long-measure songs can be understood by a foreigner; only he has to train his ear to their simple cadences.
How many tunes shall I name? How many festivals shall I describe? In the tragic song of Imam Hussain, in gipsy songs, baul songs, murshida songs, rain songs, in songs innumerable the lovers call those they love, in song they invoke their God, in song they draw down the elemental powers and compel the clouds into the sky.
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