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Music of Bangladesh

The music of Bangladesh, also referred to as Bangladeshi music, comprises a long tradition
of religious and secular song-writing over a period of almost a millennium. Composed with
lyrics in the Bengali language, Bengali music spans a wide variety of styles. In Bangladesh
music has served the purpose of documenting the lives of the people and was widely
patronized by the rulers.
Classical
Bangladeshi classical music is based on modes called ragas (rag, in Bengali). All traditional
Bengali music tend to be based on various variations of Hindustani Classical Music.
Folk
Folk has come to occupy the lives of Bangladeshis almost more than any other genre of
Bengali music. Among the luminaries of the different folk traditions are Lalon Fokir,
Radharaman Dutta, Hason Raja, Khursheed Nurali (Sheerazi), Ramesh Shill and Abbas
Uddin. Folk songs are characterised by simple musical structure and words. Before the
advent of radio, entertainment in the rural areas relied on a large extent on stage
performances by folk singers. With the arrival of new communication technologies and
digital media, many folk songs were modernised and incorporated into modern songs
(Adhunik songeet).
Folk music can be classified into several subgenres:

Baul: mainly inspired by Lalon Fokir and almost exclusively performed by hermits.

Bhandari: devotional music from the South (mainly Chittagong).

Bhatiali: music of fishermen and boatman, almost always tied by a common raga
(mode), sung solo.

Bhawaiya: song of bullock-cart drivers of the North (Rangpur).

Dhamail: a form of folk music and dance originated in Sylhet, Bangladesh. It is


practiced in the erstwhile district of Sylhet in Bangladesh and in areas influenced by

the Sylheti culture such as Cachar, parts of Shillong, Karimganj and Hailakandi
Districts of Assam, parts of Tripura in India.

Ghazal: Popularity of folk music of Sufi genres: introduction of philosophy and


religion in music.

Gombhira: song (originating in Chapai Nawabganj, in the Northwest) performed with


a particular distinctive rhythm and dance with two performers, always personifying a
man and his grandfather, discussing a topic to raise social awareness.

Hason Raja: devotional songs written by a music composer by the name of Hason
Raja (from Sylhet, northeastern side of Bangladesh near Assam) that was recently repopularized as dance music.

Jari: songs involving musical battle between two groups

Jatra Pala: songs associated exclusively with plays (performed on-stage). Usually
involves colourful presentations of historical themes.

Kirtan: devotional song depicting love to Hindu God Krishna and his (best-known)
wife, Radha.

Kavigan: poems sung with simple music usually presented on stage as a musical
battle between poets.

Lalon: best known of all folk songs and the most important subgenre of Baul songs,
almost entirely attributed to spiritual writer and composer, Lalon Fokir of Kushtia. He
is known to all in West Bengal of India too. (Western Bangladesh, near the border
with West Bengal).

Sari: sung especially by boatmen. It is often known as workmen's song as well.

Shyama Sangeet: a genre of Bengali devotional songs dedicated to the Hindu goddess
Shyama or Kali which is a form of supreme universal mother-goddess Durga or
parvati. It is also known as Shaktagiti or Durgastuti.

Baul
Baul is the most commonly known category of Bangladeshi folk songs. It is mostly
performed by hermits who are followers of Sufism in Bangladesh. Present day Sufis earn
mainly from performing their music. Baul songs incorporate simple words expressing songs
with deeper meanings involving creation, society, lifestyle and human emotions. The songs
are performed with very little musical support to the main carrier, the vocal.
Instruments used include the Ektara ("one-string"), Dotara ("two-strings"), ba(n)shi (country
flute made from bamboo) and cymbals. In recent times, Baul geeti has lost popularity, due to
urbanization and westernization.
Adhunik
Adhunik sangeet literally means "modern songs". Although, to outsiders, this may seem like
an ambiguous nomenclature, it has particular motivations.
Bengali music traditionally has been classified mainly by the region of origin and the creators
of the musical genre, such as Nazrul geeti (written and composed by Kazi Nazrul Islam),
ghombhira (unique to a specific area in Bangladesh), etc. However, this prevented the ability
to classify any music that failed to fit into any of the classes. In the period just before Indian
independence, several new minor musical genres emerged, mainly in the form of playback
songs for movies. A miscellaneous category, Adhunik sangeet, was created, since, at that
time, this music was "modern".
Rabindra Sangeet
Rabindra Sangeet also known as Tagore Songs, are songs written and composed by
Rabindranath Tagore. They have distinctive characteristics in the music of Bengal, popular in
India and Bangladesh. It is characterized by its distinctive rendition while singing which
includes a significant amount of ornamentation like meend, murki, etc. and is filled with
expressions of romanticism. The music is mostly based on Hindustani classical music and
folk music of Bengal.
History of Rabindra Sangeet
Tagore was a prolific composer with 2,230 songs to his credit. Rabindra Sangeet merges
fluidly into his literature, most of whichpoems or parts of novels, stories, or plays alike

were lyricised. Influenced by the thumri style of Hindustani music, they ran the entire gamut
of human emotion, ranging from his early dirge-like Brahmo devotional hymns to quasierotic compositions. They emulated the tonal color of classical ragas to varying extents.
Some songs mimicked a given raga's melody and rhythm faithfully; others newly blended
elements of different ragas. Yet about nine-tenths of his work was not bhanga gaan, the body
of tunes revamped with "fresh value" from select Western, Hindustani, Bengali folk and other
regional flavors "external" to Tagore's own ancestral culture. Scholars have attempted to
gauge the emotive force and range of Hindustani ragas:
Tagore influenced sitar maestro Vilayat Khan and sarodiyas Buddhadev Dasgupta and Amjad
Ali Khan. His songs are widely popular and undergird the Bengali ethos to an extent perhaps
rivalling Shakespeare's impact on the English-speaking world. It is said that his songs are the
outcome of five centuries of Bengali literary churning and communal yearning. Dhan Gopal
Mukerji has said that these songs transcend the mundane to the aesthetic and express all
ranges and categories of human emotion. The poet gave voice to allbig or small, rich or
poor. The poor Ganges boatman and the rich landlord air their emotions in them. They birthed
a distinctive school of music whose practitioners can be fiercely traditional: novel
interpretations have drawn severe censure in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.
For Bengalis, the songs' appeal, stemming from the combination of emotive strength and
beauty described as surpassing even Tagore's poetry, was such that the Modern Review
observed that "[t]here is in Bengal no cultured home where Rabindranath's songs are not sung
or at least attempted to be sung ... Even illiterate villagers sing his songs". A. H. Fox
Strangways of the Observer introduced non-Bengalis to rabindrasangit in The Music of
Hindostan, calling it a "vehicle of a personality ... [that] go behind this or that system of
music to that beauty of sound which all systems put out their hands to seize.
In 1971, Amar Shonar Bangla became the national anthem of Bangladesh. It was written
ironicallyto protest the 1905 Partition of Bengal along communal lines: lopping Muslimmajority East Bengal from Hindu-dominated West Bengal was to avert a regional bloodbath.
Tagore saw the partition as a ploy to upend the independence movement, and he aimed to
rekindle Bengali unity and tar communalism. Jana Gana Mana was written in shadhubhasha, a Sanskritised register of Bengali, and is the first of five stanzas of a Brahmo hymn
that Tagore composed. It was first sung in 1911 at a Calcutta session of the Indian National

Congress and was adopted in 1950 by the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of India as
its national anthem.
Collection of compositions:
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The book forming a collection of all songs written by Rabindranath is called Gitabitan
("Garden of songs") and forms an important part of extant historical materials pertaining to
Bengali musical expression. The six major parts of this book are Puja (worship), Prem (love),
Prakriti (nature), Bichitra (diverse), Swadesh (patriotism), and Aanushthanik (celebration).
Historical influence:
Rabindra Sangeet has been an integral part of Bengal culture for over a century. Indian social
reformer Swami Vivekananda became an admirer of Rabindra Sangeet in his youth. He
composed music in the Rabindra Sangeet style, for example Gaganer Thale in Raga
Jaijaivanti.
Nazrul Geeti
Nazrul Geeti, literally "music of Nazrul", refers to the songs written and composed by Kazi
Nazrul Islam, a Bengali poet and national poet of Bangladesh and active revolutionary during
the Indian Independence Movement. Nazrul Sangeet/Geeti incorporate revolutionary notions
as well as more spiritual, philosophical and romantic themes. Nazrul wrote and composed
nearly 4,000 songs (including gramophone records), which are widely popular in India and
Bangladesh.
Background of Nazrul Geeti
Nazrul showed the symptoms of keen poetic and musical talent at his tender age and started
writing songs when he was a member of a Leto group (Folk Musical Group). Following Kazi
Bazle Karim, his uncle and a leader of a Leto group, he became expert in composing songs
and setting them to tunes. Joining Leto group enhanced his musical career and put a
significant impact on shaping his future musical life. At very young age he was excelled in
composing songs in different languages, apart from Bengali language. He met Satish
Kanjilal, a teacher of Searsol School who had interest in classical music and some mastery
over it. Observing Nazrul's irresistible inclination to music, Mr. Kanjilal imparted him some

lessons on classical music. Later Nazrul widened his knowledge on music when he was
serving as a Havilder in Karachi Barrack under Bengal Regiment. He learned a great deal of
Persian language, literature and music with the help of a religious teacher from Punjab
attached with the regiment.
Nazrul Islam's musical style

Revolutionary Mass music


The Mass music and poems of Kazi Nazrul Islam have been widely used during the Indian
Independence Movement and Bangladesh Liberation War. The music is highly motivational
and revolutionary in nature with strong and powerful words and captivating tunes. It talks
about the extremities of everything. The lyrics of those songs are provoking, as they talk
against conservatism and about life on a broader parameter of philosophy and spirituality.
The beauty of Nazrul's mass music lies in the freedom of its expression, which also drew
immense criticism. However, those who understood its philosophy praised the courage and
straightforwardness.
Shyama Sangeet
Nazrul made valuable and rich contribution to Shyama Sangeet. He was thoroughly familiar
with both Islamic and Hindu tradition and culture, and also he deeply cared about the
harmony between Muslims and Hindus.
Ghazal
Nazrul's acquaintance with the tradition of Persian Ghazals, a form of love songs, was very
significant in the sense that it paved the base of his successful efforts in composing Bengali
Ghazals which he undertook by 1927-28. Bengali Ghazal is, it can be mentioned outright, an
innovation by Kazi Nazrul Islam alone. It served as the first mass-level introduction of Islam
into the mainstream tradition of Bengali music.
Historical influence of Nazrul Geeti
Nazrul used his music as a major way of disseminating his revolutionary notions, mainly by
the use of strong words and powerful, but catchy, tunes. Among the revolutionary songs,
Karar Oi Louho Kopat (Prison-doors of Steel) is best known and has been used several
movies, especially those made during the pre-independence period of Bangladesh.

Nazrul Geeti has recently been translated and recorded in Oriya (an Indian language) in the
form of a studio album.
Notable songs

Dolan Chapa (name of a faintly fragrant monsoon flower), poems and songs, 1923

Bisher Bashi (The Poison Flute), poems and songs, 1924

Bhangar Gan (The Song of Destruction), songs and poems, 1924 proscribe in 1924

Chhayanat (The Raga of Chhayanat), poems and songs, 1925

Chittanama (On Chittaranjan), poems and songs, 1925

Samyabadi (The Proclaimer of Equality), poems and songs, 1926

Puber Hawa (The Eastern Wind), poems and songs, 1926

Sarbahara (The Proletariat), poems and songs, 1926

Sindhu Hindol (The Undulation of the Sea), poems and songs, 1927

Jinjir (Chain), poems and songs, 1928

Pralaya Shikha (Doomsday Flame), poems and songs, 1930 proscribed in 1930

Shesh Saogat (The Last Offerings), poems and songs, 1958

Modern music and western influence


Modernization of Bengali music occurred at different times and, for the most part,
independent of western influence. Most notable of these changes were:

Film music
The film industry of Bangladesh supported music by according reverence to classical music
while utilizing the western orchestration to support melodies.

Rock music

Bangladeshi rock was introduced in 1972 by singer, songwriter, music composer Nasir
Ahmed Apu of Spondan band, pioneer of Bengali pop/rock and re-invented Bengali folk
music in Bangladesh. Spondan was founded in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 17 January 1972.
Spondan's " Emom Ekta Ma Deana" "Sritiro Shai pote ajo" songs written, tune and music by
Nasir Ahmed Apu, Vocal by Ferdous Wahid, Record label Bangladesh Gramophone company,
1975 are all time hit. Other popular songs created by Nasir Ahmed Apu of Spondan are
"Paglar mon Nacchaya", (Vocal by Ferdous Wahid, record label- Dhaka Record, 1974) "Ai
Montare Daana mele diechi vocal by Nasir Ahmed Apu recorded in 1974), Shajiey gujie de
more (recorded in 1976) and further more. Uccharon was formed in 1973 and their first
released album was " Ore Saleka, and High court er Majhare" vocal by Azam Khan of
Uccharon, record label Dhaka Record, 1973. Subsequently other contributory bands are
Souls, Miles, Nagar Baul, Warfaze, RockStrata, LRB and Ark.
Popular Rock Bands
Formed Name
1970
Souls
1970
Uccharon
1972
Spondan
1976
Feedback
1978
Miles
1980
Nagar Baul
1980s Different Touch
1984
Warfaze
1985
Rockstrata
1986
1991
1991
1993

Nova
Love

Runs

Blind
Ark
Cryptic Fate

Genre
Language
pop/rock
Bengali
Pop rock
Bangla
pop/rock
Bengali
Rock music
Bangla
Pop rock
Bangla
Hard rock, psychedelic rock
Bangla
Pop rock
Bangla
Hard rock, heavy metal music
Bangla
Heavy Metal
Bangla
Rock music, Hard rock, Psychedelic
Bangla
rock

City of origin
Chittagang
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Chittagong
Khulna
Chittagong
Dhaka

Alternative rock

Bangla

Chittagong

Pop rock
Progressive metal

Bangla
Bangla

Chittagong
Dhaka

Dhaka

1996

Shironamhin

1996
1998
1998
1998
1999
1999
1999
2000
2001
2001
2001

Dalchhut
Aurthohin
Black
Poizon Green
Artcell
Scarecrow
Nemesis
Lalon
Stentorian
Vibe
Satanik

2002

Arbovirus

2004
2004
2005
2006
2006
2006
2007

Severe
Dementia
Funeral Anthem
Shohortoli
De-illumination
Mechanix
Powersurge
Shunno

Folk

music,

alternative

rock,

Bangla
psychedelic rock
Rock music
Bangla
Rock music, Heavy Metal
Bangla
Rock music, alternative rock, grunge
Bangla
Thrash/Power Metal
English
Progressive metal, progressive rock
Bangla
Thrash Metal, metal core
Bangla
Alternative rock
Bangla
Rock
Bangla
Hard rock, heavy metal
Bangla
Heavy Metal
Bangla
Black Metal
English
Experimental music, alternative rock,
Bangla
Nu metal

Dhaka

Death Metal

English

Dhaka

Power Metal
Theatrical rock
Symphonic rock, symphonic metal
Heavy Metal
Thrash Metal
Pop rock

Bangla
Bangla
Bangla
Bangla
Bangla
Bangla

Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka

Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka

Fusion
Fusion, traditional music with Western instrumentation to revitalize and re-popularize
Bengali music. Joler Gaan and Lampost are one of the best popular Fusion bands in
Bangladesh.
Hip Hop
Stoic bliss and deshi mc's are two of the notable hip hop artists of Bangladesh
Contemporary Urban Bangla Music
A new growing genre of Bangladesh music is contemporary urban music. Contemporary
Urban music got popularity with the introduction of American and British television channels
and Hollywood movies. Recently, A Canadian Bangladeshi singer, Master D started singing
urban music genres like RnB, Soul, Grime, Hip Hop. Thus urban music started getting

popularity in Bangladesh. Master D's first single "Aye Raat, released in October 2014 and
created a new sensation in The Bangladeshi modern music scene. Master D's other notable
singles include 'tumi chole gele', 'tension stress (ft. Bohemia), 'Desi Chick', 'Count on me'.
Notable Bangla urban artists include Master D, Shahriar, Stoic Bliss, and Rajib.

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