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Influence of Westernization on Bengali music

 

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Every human settlement is followed by a rural culture. Irrespective of East or West, there have spawned an admiration around it, granting it a voice as an outlet to belch the abstruse workaday experiences out. Limited but steady practices also have continued alongside; the urban settlement comprised members rooted pretty deep in the Arcadian domain. A colossus transformation, if we have a look to the other side.

  

 

For Bengali translation by native translator contact www.indianscripts.com    

Bangla music, if the subject matter needs a mention. Those who are into it have guessed fair - those who are not, for them, a good start. Though we won’t enter much deep, we shall try to cover the spectrum as far as possible. The rest - it’s your job!

  

Bangla society has revolved around music and so has music been around the mass, but it’s not till the mid-1940s that music became kind of staple to Bengalis. Earlier examples include the patrons of cultural cross-pollinations who mostly comprised the elite but the only source of music at those times being live performances, Indian Classical and classically influenced music stayed within the confines of the upper class. Not that the plebeian were devoid of any sort of musical activity; there used to be regional genres that we may call the people’s music. Spanning over several forms like Baul, Kobigaan and devotional, the subjects, patterns and styles used to revolve around the lifestyle of the rural Bengal. But it was the European settlement - to be more precise, the British Colonization that marked the admixture of two different cultures that resulted in a shock for the average Bengalis. The upper class; however, was the first to adopt the European scene, while rural Bengal dived into sarcasm and sheer mockery of the newly witnessed art form.

  

 

For Bengali translation by native translator contact www.indianscripts.com    

As the European styles set in, so did the western melody patterns; examples range from compositions by eminent poets like Rabindranath Tagore to the film songs of the 40s, 50s and 60s. While Rabindranath Tagore emphasized more on the chorales (Drink to me only with thine eyes) and traditional western folk tunes (Auld Lang Syne), the film songs relied heavily on the musical styles that were contemporary to the periods. Ranging from classically inclined Valse Moderatos to Hula Hu, Can Can, Cha-Cha-Cha and rock’nroll, the populace slowly started identifying themselves with the upbeat melodies; one can comment that it was an effect brought forth by the changing lifestyles that allowed for shorter sequences than a few-hour-long ones, but then, it was the Indian-ized versions that caught public attention; the pure form, again, remained confined among the elite, some of whom experimented with the styles (e.g. Mohin-er Ghoraguli) to create some original styles by blending Bangla lyrics with Western theories, a sharp contrast to the idea of mere replacements.

  

The trend still continues; following the footsteps of Mohin, a plethora of bands showed up, but sadly, the majority of them engage upon copying the western styles instead of creating original ones and though some mixed Indian Classical with Western musical patterns under the name of fusion, we can conclude that the recent times have shown as an example of forceful mixing what we thought would be a blend. The difference is thus greater than what lies between pure Urdu and the Urdu dialect popular in some areas of Southern India.

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