Music speaks the language that holds no barrier of physical location and culture regardless of time. It can sound as cliched as it can be the most, but no one can deny the universal appeal of music as it’s one of the oldest and finest forms to express the emotions of individuals that finds its address among groups by the “I have gone through this too” appeal.
Although it finds it way through uniformity across the globe, yet the music scene is as diverse as you can imagine based on the country , state and the city. The essence remains intact, the influences too but the form may change a bit depending upon the popular culture.
Today I would talk about the music scene in once called the “culture hub of India” and former capital “Kolkata”.
Kolkata is the place of great poet, songwriter of international fame and first Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and thus it doesn’t need any further introduction to explain the open worship of art and culture here. It has adopted the music culture of the world just like any other city belonging in the global map while retaining its originality intact.
The most worshipped music in Kolkata is Classical music having its roots deep in tradition and heritage. Classical music has various forms like Hindustan classical music, Carnatic music etc.
From the Vedic times till the moment you are reading this article the practice of Classical music is on full fledge. Even today a wannabe or amateur singer is advised to take the lessons of classical music first before digging the hand in the other music scenes. Many classical music legends have considered Kolkata as their home including but not limiting to the likes of Ustad Allauddin Khan, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Ajay Chakraborty etc.
Though in recent times the exposure is minimised due to the sudden rise of popular music, it is still relevant in the mind of melophiles.
Folk music is the kind of music that tells the story of Petrichor, philosophy and the enormous cycle of life. The novelty to work in the drenched soil by the farmers, the fatal attraction between river and sky, folk music is like an advanced poetry lesson with a tune that calls us to lose ourselves in nature. The standout feature of the folk music is that it can draw the deep meaning of life in simple words that can be understood by each division of society. Folk music in Kolkata is being practised through years.
The songs written and composed by the great Rabindranath Tagore is so popular that it has been able to create an entirely new branch in the music scene of Kolkata as well as world music named as “Rabindra Sangeet”. There is no single emotion of human life that has not been essayed , itched and expressed in his songs. One can feel love and solitude, wonder about the vastness of the world , cry their heart out and take inspirations from his songs at the same time.
Not only it portrays different stages of human life seamlessly, his songs talks about science as well which have been well appreciated by “Albert Einstein”, one of the greatest scientists of all time.
The practice of Rabindra Sangeet can be found in any home in the city of Kolkata regardless of their social, financial status. The residents of Kolkata feel proud to be associated with this form of music. We have a school “Shantiniketan”, situated in the countryside of Kolkata, founded by Rabindranath Tagore himself that can be considered as the authority of Rabindra Sangeet learning and Visva Bharati that has all the copyrights regarding the practice of Rabindra Sangeet in any place of the world. The famous practitioners of Rabindra Sangeet from Kolkata include late Suchitra Mitra, Konica Bandyopadhyay, Sagar Sen etc.
Another famous branch of music is “Nazrul Geeti”. These are the songs written by the poet who feared no one namely “Kazi Nazrul Islam”. He was also known as “Bidrohi Kabi” for his brave attitude in that period of time when British was ruling India. Nazrul Geeti is famous for the successful rendition of popular sentiment towards independence and life. Nazrul Islam has also contributed to Shyama Sangeet and Ghazals. Famous singers of Nazrul Geeti are Anup Ghosal, Firoza begam. Manabendra Mukhopadhyay etc.
Ganasangeet is the song of awakening, freedom of expression and patriotism . At the time of British Movement in India, this division of music finds its origin. It has been popularised again lately by the Communist party of India at the time of ruling of Congress Government in India .
Ganasangeet can be sung by anyone and it requires no formal training. Vande Mataram, Kadam Kadam badhaye jaa is some of the examples of Ganasangeet.
Rock and Band music
It had a late entry in the music scene of Kolkata. Rock music and Band music first gains its popularity by the Bengali Rock Band Moheener Ghoraguli (Generally considered as the first Bengali rock band) led by the frontman Goutam Chattopadhyay. Since then the band music had slowly gained its popularity in Kolkata and various parts of West Bengal. Since then the tradition remains with the sudden rise of new bands like Krosswindz, Cactus, Chandrabindoo, Bhoomi and Fossils. Krosswindz, Cactus and Fossils deals with Rock music whereas Bhoomi is a folk band and chandrabindoo is mostly known for the subtle touch of satire in their lyrics.
The most dominant music in recent times in Kolkata is Film music or Film scores. All other forms of music, the “non-film” music are losing their relevance for the domination of film music here.
From the early days in Tollywood ( Bengal film industry) ,there were famous playback singers and music directors like S.D.Burman, R.D. burman, singers like Manna de, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay but they were also famous for their non-film albums too. But the Non-film album trend is at a stake now and Film music has been able to literally wipe out the non-film albums in these days.
There was also a short era of “Jibonmukhi music” That was famous for portraying the harsh reality of life and the daily lifestyle of the common man. The famous musicians of that era are Nachiketa Chakraborty , Kabir suman and Anjan Dutt. Anjan dutt and Kabir Suman is highly influenced by the western music and one can sense the pop music influence in their songs.
Times have changed and so does the music scene in Kolkata. Matching the global trend, people are more equipped now with the instruments that are needed to create art through their tunes. Gen Y is making music independently without the help pf any music studio to market it and they are marketing the music by themselves through social media like Facebook, youtube and focused social sites like SoundCloud. The city is almost crowded by pubs and clubs that features live music by independent music in which the trendsetter was “Someplace Else”.
Time is changing , new influences are being made and music is being evolved everyday. New generations of music would be made for sure, be it in near or distant future according to the demand of time. As soon as the music scene gets updated I would let you know.
That’s a promise to you.