India is a land of huge cultural diversity and has an incredibly rich tradition of folk music. Each region consists of its own form of folk music. This genre of music is very active in rural India as well as in some cities. Despite the fact that folk music has lost much of its popularity with the arrival of pop music culture and cinema music; there are many people out there who love this particular type of music. The presence of traditional folk music in India is still very large and is basically a village representation of Indian Society.
People tend to club together folk music with tribal music but actually there is a huge difference between the two. Folk music represents a larger society while tribal music represents the culture of a particular group. There is no formal training for Folk music and people learn it since their early days and make it a part of their daily life, which is further on passed to future generations.
Indian folk music has a raw appeal that is difficult to describe. A number of delightful sounds can be heard in folk music across India because of unique assembly and arrangement of handmade musical instruments. Folk songs are mostly sung in a semi-classical way and most of them are dance oriented. They are very pleasurable and have captivating tunes. There are surplus songs for special occasions like wedding, births, etc and are typically sung in small village functions. Lots of songs are associated with planting, harvesting and local festivals too.
The musical instruments used in folk music are often different from those found in classical music. The singers generally craft their own musical instruments, using most commonly available materials. Simple forms of instruments like Dholak, Ektara, Dhaf, Dotar, Nal, Saringda etc are used in folk music. They are quite often known as their local names.
The sparkle and wealth of folk music is spread all across India. This genre of music can be found in different regions across India, some of the most popular ones that have global recognition are mentioned below: -
Rajasthani folk music is quite popular on an international level and has a huge assortment of music. Musician castes like Langas, Bhopa, Sapera, Manganiyar and Jogi are found in Rajasthan. The melody of Rajasthani folk music from archaic musical instruments like Ektara, Sarangi, Shehnai, Tarpi, Kamayacha etc provides enjoyable music that enlightens the listeners. From huge colorful Dhols to tiny Damrus, the musical instruments come in all sizes, shapes and colors. The spirit of Rajasthani music comes from the artistic symphony of musical instruments, accompanied by melodious voice of folk singers. The presence of Rajasthani folk music can be seen in cinema music too.
Taken from the word “Lavanya” which means Beauty, this form of folk music is quite popular form of music along with dance in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The songs are traditionally sung by female artists but occasionally male artists may sing too. Performed to the captivating beats of “Dholika”, a Drum-like music instrument, it’s a combination of traditional songs and dance. The songs are sung in fast tempo and women in sarees dance with enthusiasm on fast rhythm and beats of Lavani.
The festival symbolizes the beginning of a New Year for the people of Assam. The festival is dedicated to nature and man. Traditional drums and wind instruments along with Bihu dances and songs are an important part of this festival.
Originating in Punjab, Bhangra is an energetic and colorful form of dance and music. Being a part of harvest celebrations, it has become a part of various occasions like weddings, New Years, Events etc. Bhangra Enjoys a worldwide popularity, there is lot of mixing and fusion going on with other popular genres like Hip-Hop, Reggae etc
Uttarakhandi folk music:
Born in the lap of nature, the music is blessed with the warmth and touch of Mother Nature. The music in these parts relate to various festivals, traditions, stories and the simplicity of life in the Himalayas; giving us a pure reflection of their cultural heritage.
From the state of Gujarat comes Dandiya, a form of dance-oriented folk music. With changing times the music has also been adapted for pop music. It is actually a kind of dance rather than music.
Named after the percussion instrument “Dollu”, it is performed by men of Kuruba community in Karnataka. 16 dancers wear the drum and beat it rhythmically while dancing. The beat is controlled by a leader with cymbals who is positioned in the center. Slow and fast rhythms patterns emerge making it an energetic performance.
A form of expressive poetry and light music on subjects like love, nature, values etc the music is similar to Ghazals. This type of folk music is pretty popular in many parts of India, especially in Karnataka.
Originated in Tamil, the folk music consists of Gramathisai i.e. village folk music and Gana i.e. urban folk music.
As India has a vast enriching culture, each region has diverse form of Folk music. To list them all together is unfeasible but if looked at a particular region it is possible to get an in-depth acquaintance about the various folk music that region has to offer.