Music plays a significant role in the culture and heritage of Bangladesh. It has a diverse range of musical styles that reflects the country’s unique history, language, and social customs. Bangladesh is home to numerous musical genres, including classical, folk, modern, and fusion music. In this article, we’ll explore the music of Bangladesh and its rich cultural heritage.
Table of Contents
Music of Bangladesh
Classical Music of Bangladesh:
Traditional classical music of Bangladesh is originated from North Indian Classical Music or Hindustani Music which is one of the form of two Indian Classical Music tradition. Practice of both the tradition in Bangladesh can be traced very long ago.
The Chalukyas raided the region in the 11th century. The Chalukya Empire was an ancient empire in South India. This empire ruled from the sixth to the twelfth century. Pulakesa II was the greatest king of the Chalukya Empire. During his time the empire made considerable progress in administrative efficiency and expansion of foreign trade. During that time, along with the Chalukya Empire, many Carnatic families also came and settled in the region.
The Sen kings descended from the Karnataka family. After the rule passed to the Sen dynasty, high music flourished. Because they were music lovers. The last Hindu king of this region, Lakshmana Sen, was the poet of the court, ‘Jaidev’. ‘Gita Govinda’ written by him is an ancient book of poetry. Geet Govinda verses were essay class music.
But in Bangladesh the “North Indian Classical Music” or “Hindustani” classical music is more popular and most the songs based on raga created on this tration.
Prominent Classical Music Personalities and Contributions:
Pandit Bareen Majumdar:
Pandit Bareen Majumdar’s contribution to the promotion and expansion of high music in Bangladesh is undeniable. After the partition of the country, he came to Pabna and started living permanently. Since then he has worked continuously for the promotion of high quality music.
On November 10, 1963, the country’s first music school ‘College of Music’ started with the help of 16 teachers and 11 students in a house in Kakrail. In 1968, he made the music college an affiliated college of Dhaka University by preparing the syllabus of the degree class and served as the chairman of Dhaka University’s Music Examination Council till 1977.
In 1970, he organized a music conference at Engineers Institute of Bangladesh in Ramana, Dhaka for the purpose of collecting funds for the College of Music. Many talented artists including Najkot-Salamat, Amanat-Fateh, Mehdi Hasan, Asad Ali Khan participated in this conference. In 1973, under the Education Commission, he formulated the syllabus for music at the primary, secondary and higher secondary levels and served as the chairman of that committee.
He wrote two textbooks named ‘Sangeet Kali’ and ‘Sur Lahri’. Barin Majumdar occupies a prominent place in the cultural history of Bangladesh for her contribution to the practice and promotion of high-quality music.
Rabindra Sangeet is a genre of music that is synonymous with the works of the renowned Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore. It is a form of musical expression that incorporates poetry, melody, and rhythm to create a unique and soulful experience.
Rabindra Sangeet has a rich cultural history in Bengal, and it is deeply ingrained in the Bengali identity. Tagore’s works are characterized by their poetic and philosophical depth, as well as their profound emotional resonance. His lyrics often explore themes such as love, nature, spirituality, and human emotions, and his music has been widely acclaimed for its universality and timelessness.
The origins of Rabindra Sangeet can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Tagore began experimenting with musical compositions. He was inspired by the classical and folk music traditions of India, and his early works were heavily influenced by these styles. Over time, he developed a unique musical language that blended elements of Indian classical music with Western harmonies and melodies.
Rabindra Sangeet has been performed and recorded by countless artists over the years, and it continues to be a popular form of music in Bengal and beyond. Its popularity has spread beyond India, and it has been performed and recorded by musicians around the world.
One of the defining characteristics of Rabindra Sangeet is its ability to evoke deep emotions in listeners. The music is often described as being meditative and contemplative, and it is known for its ability to transport listeners to a state of heightened awareness and introspection. The music is also known for its ability to unite people from different backgrounds and cultures, and it has been used as a tool for promoting social and political change.
Rabindra Sangeet is a unique and beautiful form of music that is deeply rooted in the Bengali cultural tradition. Its universal themes and emotional resonance have made it a beloved form of music around the world, and its legacy continues to inspire new generations of musicians and music lovers.
Nazrul Sangeet, also known as Nazrul Geeti, is a genre of music that originated in Bengal, India, and is based on the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of the most prominent and revolutionary poets in the region. Nazrul Sangeet is a unique blend of Indian classical, folk, and Western music, with lyrics that touch upon themes of patriotism, social justice, love, and spirituality.
Kazi Nazrul Islam was a versatile artist who wrote over 4,000 songs, including ghazals, qawwalis, and patriotic songs, among others. His compositions are characterized by their powerful lyrics, soulful melodies, and an intense emotional appeal that resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Nazrul Sangeet has a rich history and a deep cultural significance. It was an important part of the Indian freedom movement, with songs like “Bidrohi” and “Dhumketu” becoming anthems of resistance against British rule. Nazrul Sangeet also played a significant role in the Bengali Language Movement, which aimed to establish Bengali as an official language in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Today, Nazrul Sangeet continues to be an important part of Bengali culture, with many talented musicians and singers performing and recording Nazrul songs. Some of the most popular Nazrul Sangeet artists include Firoza Begum, Manna Dey, Sabyasachi Chatterjee, and Indrani Sen.
Nazrul Sangeet is a unique and powerful genre of music that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Bengal and the legacy of Kazi Nazrul Islam. Its lyrical and musical depth continues to inspire and move people, making it an enduring and beloved part of the Bengali musical tradition.
Dwijendragiti is a song composed by eminent Bengali dramatist-composer Dwijendralal Roy. These songs occupy a prominent place in the world of Bengali music. His famous songs “Dhan Dhanya Puspa Bhara Amer Ae Vasundhara”, “Banga Amer! Janani Amer! Dhatri Amer! Amer Desh”, “Jedin Sunil Jaldhi Utilile Janani Bharatvarsh”, “Opaar Opar Hika” etc. are equally popular even today.
The number of songs composed by Dwijendralal is about 500. Dwijendralal’s music has two distinct styles – one style follows Indian classical music, while the other style uses the “movements” of European classical music. Both the classical and the khyal branches of Indian classical music influenced him deeply; But he did not accept the style of Thungri song; He also did not compose songs in the genre of folk music such as Baul, Bhatiali etc. But he has few Kirtananga songs.
Dwijendralal’s father Kartikeya Chandra Roy studied music carefully; His voice was melodious. Kartikeya Chandra himself was a prominent top-notch singer of the 19th century. For this reason, Dwijendralal was brought up in a musical environment from childhood; which profoundly influenced his later musical career. Pramath Chowdhury writes, “I can testify that Dwijendralal was adored as a singer in the virtuoso community at the age of twelve or thirteen.” Besides, famous top-kheyal singer Surendranath Majumdar of Bhagalpur was his friend and relative. Dwijendralal also gained a lot of knowledge about Indian classical music from him.
Dwijendralal set his poetic compositions to the ideals of various ragas. Like- “Neel Akasher Asim Cheye” (Desha), “Pratima Dike Ki Pujib Tomare” (Jayayanti), “Tomerei Valbesechhi I” (Darbari Kanara), “Malay Asiya Kaye Gaye Kane” (Natmallar) etc. He also composed his popular Swadeshi songs in various ragas. For example, “Dhandhanyapushpavara” (Kedara), “When Sunil came from Jaldhi” (Bhupa-kalyan), “Mebar Pahar Mebar Pahar” (Imankalyan) etc. Again, he added English, Scottish, etc. tunes to the songs of Hasi. Being satirical, these songs gained particular popularity and Dwijendralal’s contribution to the collection of laughter songs in Bengali music is the greatest.
Dwijendralal himself was a singer. From his early life, he used to sing songs composed in various assemblies. Like grandfather Karthikeyachandra and father Dwijendralal, son Dilipkumar Roy was also a singer and composer. Dwijendralal’s songs are generally sentimental; He never resorted to cleverness in songs other than those of laughter. It was Dwijendralal who introduced chorus in Bengali music. It was this style that gave him great popularity later on. During the Swadeshi movement, Dwijendralal’s songs inspired the community.
Folk Music of Bangladesh:
Folk music of Bangladesh is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. Bangladesh has a rich and diverse folk music tradition, which reflects the country’s ethnic and linguistic diversity. The music is an expression of the daily lives, joys, sorrows, struggles, and aspirations of the people of Bangladesh. It also reflects the natural beauty and landscape of the country.
Bangladesh has several distinct forms of folk music, including Baul, Lalon, Bhawaiya, Jatra, and Marfati. Baul and Lalon are the most well-known and revered folk music genres in Bangladesh. They are the voices of the marginalized and the oppressed, and they have a strong philosophical and spiritual dimension.
Baul music is a unique blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufi Islam. It originated in the 18th century and is associated with the Bauls, a community of wandering mystic minstrels who sing and play instruments such as the dotara, ektara, and dhol. Baul music is characterized by its simplicity, sincerity, and profoundness. The lyrics of Baul songs are usually simple and direct, and they often deal with themes of love, devotion, and the search for truth.
Lalon music is another important folk music genre in Bangladesh. It is associated with Lalon Shah, a 19th-century mystic and philosopher who is revered by people of all religions and communities. Lalon music is known for its philosophical depth and social critique. It is characterized by its use of the dotara and the khamak, two traditional musical instruments. The lyrics of Lalon songs are often cryptic and symbolic, and they deal with themes such as humanism, social justice, and spirituality.
Bhawaiya is another popular folk music genre in Bangladesh. It originated in the northern part of the country and is associated with the Bhawaiya community, who sing and dance to express their joys and sorrows. Bhawaiya music is characterized by its lively rhythm and the use of the dhol, flute, and violin. The lyrics of Bhawaiya songs deal with themes such as love, nature, and rural life.
Jatra is a traditional form of Bengali folk theater that is popular in Bangladesh. It combines music, dance, and drama to tell stories from history, mythology, and contemporary life. Jatra music is characterized by its use of the harmonium, dhol, and cymbals. The lyrics of Jatra songs are usually in Bengali and deal with themes such as love, heroism, and social issues.
Marfati is a unique form of folk music that is associated with the Marfati community, who are predominantly Muslim. Marfati music is characterized by its use of the harmonium, tabla, and dholak. The lyrics of Marfati songs deal with themes such as love, devotion, and social harmony.
Folk music is an integral part of Bangladesh’s rich cultural heritage. It reflects the country’s ethnic and linguistic diversity and provides a voice for the marginalized and the oppressed. Baul, Lalon, Bhawaiya, Jatra, and Marfati are just a few examples of the diverse and vibrant folk music traditions of Bangladesh.
Rock & Fusion Music:
Modern music in Bangladesh has been heavily influenced by Western pop and rock music. Bangla rock is a genre of music that emerged in the 1990s and has gained popularity among the younger generation. It features a blend of Bengali lyrics and Western-style instrumentation. Popular Bangla rock bands include LRB, Warfaze, and Aurthohin.
Fusion music is a popular genre in Bangladesh that blends traditional and modern musical elements. It is characterized by the fusion of different musical styles, such as classical, folk, and modern music. Some of the most famous fusion musicians in Bangladesh include the late Ayub Bachchu, who was known for his blend of rock and folk music, and Bappa Mazumder, who is known for his fusion of Bengali and Western music.
The music of Bangladesh is a rich and diverse tapestry that reflects the country’s unique cultural heritage. Whether it’s classical music, folk music, modern music, or fusion music, each genre has its distinct style and appeal. The music of Bangladesh is not only a source of entertainment but also a way to preserve the country’s cultural identity and heritage.