Regional Alternative Music – West Bengal
Bengal has enjoyed a resplendent musical culture throughout centuries.
Owing to its feudal past this state has patronised traditional classical music but have equally enthusiastically nurtured a vast repository of its own rich folk music. This resulted in a vast range of experiments by people like Rabindranath Tagore, Atul Prasad, Rajanikanta Sen, Qazi Nazrul Islam. Post independence, individuals like Shalil Chowdhury, Hemanga Biswas, Bhupen Hazarika, Sachin Deb Barman, Rahul Dev Barman, and later on Suman Chattopadhyay (Kabir Suman) and the Bands – continued this trend.
This state is situated in the east coast of India, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. The transitory nature of the coastal demographics, the constant ebb and flow of people and cultures influenced Bengali language, literature, cultural practices, and people’s lifestyle allowing it to fluidly adapt to the social, economic and pilitical changes, Music being no exception.
Bangla Band music, I suggest, is thus in keeping with this character of Bengali culture and not merely an act of ‘aping the West’. It has more to do with asserting changed identity, perhaps, rather than simplistic “aping of an alien culture”.
As the times and perspective changed, what we consider important changed, musical expression obviously had to adapt to these to remain true to the character of the people making this music. If am used to pizza and talking in Hinglish, I could not express my deepest sentiments in Sanskrit, it would have to be in the language I speak and in terms of metaphor I can relate to.
It has been a natural outcome of people’s search for forms, idioms and sound that could authentically and closely reflect the contemporary world. It has happened both in West Bengal and across the border in Bangladesh, and in fact right across the Indian subcontinent.
In the process musicians have transcended boundaries of traditional interpretations. Artists have merged forms in an attempt to compound cultural characteristics together giving birth to a whole new genre of music that came to be called Fusion Music in the beginning. Eventually people learned to distinguish between ‘fusion’ and ‘bands’. People became conscious about the specifics of ‘band’ identity and its ramifications.
While moral and social values evolved to accommodate contemporary lifestyles and technological evolution, modern concepts about nationality, tradition, and linguistics influenced artists, performers and musicians (like everybody else in all the other fields of work). Bangla Band Music progressively responded to and reflected these changes in their music.
Buddha Laughed (Cactus), The Punished Pegasus (Cactus), Ei Akla Ghor Amar Desh (Fossils), Bhalobashi oi Akasher Taragulo Guntey (Paroshpathor), Ami Gai Ghorey Ferar Gaan (Crosswindz,Composition Mohiner Ghoraguli), Ei Jibon Chaichhey Aro Beshi Kichhu (performed by Lokkhichhara, composition Mohiner Ghoragui) etc all prove that fact.
In my post titled Bands, I have listed a few of the Bangla Bands that are more popular in Kolkata at the moment.