Bangladeshi folk music is inspired by particular environments, their traditions and styles of expression and the occupation of its people. A multitude of folk song categories which range from a distinct geographic region, depends on certain professions of its singers and their style of singing also signifies the theme of the song. There are about 50 different types of folk songs from Bhatiali to Bhawaiya but it is rather hard to define the exact point where music takes a turn and develops into these forms.
If you’ve been meaning to catch a glimpse of these cultural performances, here are a few genres that are popular in the various districts of Bangladesh.
Bhatiali melodies literally translate to songs sung by boatmen going down the stream. Bhatiali is generally considered a sad song, where the singer sings on without having anyone to listen to the sad poignancy in the singer’s voice. It is seen nearly all regions of Bangladesh, particularly around the riverside area.
Bhawaiya songs are like that of the pleasant wind that blows randomly and touches the heart. Bhawaiya songs were sung by buffalo keepers while they ploughed. They were made popular by the coachmen in districts like Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Rangpur, and Pabna.
Baul music celebrates celestial love, but does this in very earthy terms, as in declarations of love by the Baul for his bosh-tomi or lifemate. With such a liberal interpretation of love, it is only natural that Baul music transcends religion.
Baul music is a celebration of mystical love that surpasses social and religious norms. Baul songs are mostly sung by the inhabitants of West Bengal, specifically in areas like Birbhum and Kushtia. These narrative songs, too epic in their dimension to be called ballads, blend influences from sacred and secular Perso-Arabic literature of the Middle East with compositional roots in the epic poetry of South Asia. During their heyday, performances of jarigan songs, like oratorios, combined solo, choral and instrumental passages to express the lyrical as well as expository material of the lengthy narratives. The highly developed poetic and musical form of the jarigan songs, as well as their suspenseful plots and the dramatic mode of their rendition, appealed to mass audiences.
Jarigans are narrative songs that are infused in poetry and suspenseful plots. They are typically sung in Muharram festivals in Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Faridpur.
Gambhira is a special kind of folk song sung to describe human joys and sorrows and sometimes social problems as well.
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