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INDIAN FOLK MUSIC

Due to immense cultural diversity, we have a rich tradition of folk music and a wide spectrum of folk styles. Each region is marked by its own distinct style.

Some cultural historians tend to put tribal music under the rubric of folk music. However, both the genres differ. While folk music is a reflection of larger Indian society, tribal music, on the other hand, represents distinct cultures. Though both forms have evolved over centuries, tribal music antedates folk music since tribes or indigenous people were the original inhabitants, residing mostly in the vicinity of dense forests perched on hilly tracts. However, both the tribal and folk music has been transmitted generationally and does not entail a formal period of apprenticeship so that the practitioners could devote their entire life (as in the case of Indian classical music) since exigencies of the tribal and rural life does not permit it . The tribal and folk musicians have to attend to their normal duties of hunting, agriculture or whatever their avowed profession.

The village/hamlet elders, in their leisure hours, train the young and encourage them to perform in community functions like weddings, engagements, births, so that they hone their skills. Music also accompanies the planting and harvesting seasons where villagers through songs routinely express their hopes, fears and aspirations. In some regions when a girl has her first menses, the songs also serve an educational purpose, that is, they provide girl's first instructions on her emerging womanhood and her marital duties in future.

Musical instruments that accompany folk songs are different from those refined instruments found in classical music. In most cases, the musical instruments used by folk musicians are generally crafted by the musicians themselves. The common instruments (name of the instrument varies according to the dialect or language spoken) that are used like daf, dholak , nal , nagada (percussion instruments) and ektara/dotara , saringda , rabab , santur , penkali . However, there are innumerable instruments used in particular folk style in particular regions. Generally, folk instruments are fabricated from locally available materials like skin and hides, peritoneum, bamboo, coconut shells, earthen pots etc. A list of some of the important folk musical instruments is given below.

 

•  Bansuri - bamboo flute
•  Chimta - fire tongs
•  Daf - frame drum
•  Dholak/Dholki - barrel drum
•  Ektara/Dotara - simple lute
•  Gettuvadyam - hammered lute
•  Ghatam - clay pot
•  Ghunghru - ankle bells
•  Kartal - wooden clappers
•  Khol - clay drum
•  Magadi Veena - bamboo lute
•  Murchang - jaw harp
•  Nagada - kettle drum
•  Nakula - bamboo lute
•  Pung - drum
•  Pungi - snake instrument
•  Rabab - lute
•  Santur - hammered dulcimer
•  Shankh - conch shell
•  Gopichand - one stringed instrument
•  Thanthi Panai - pot drum
•  Pena - simple one bowed instrument
• Damaru/Idakka/Udaku - hourglass drums