Music of Bangladesh, Culture, Musicians

Bangladesh has a very rich musical heritage since music has always played an important role in the lives of the people. In ancient times, song was usually linked to prayer and this can still be seen somewhat today in the singing of folksongs that often praise certain gods and their creation. Over time new influences where introduced and musical styles changed. Musical development was better than many other spheres of life because such development was often well patronized by the rulers of the time. Today Bangladesh music is varied and distinctive.

Generally speaking, Bangladesh music can be categorized into a number of genres. The main genres are: classical music, rabindra sangeet, nazrul geeti, folk songs, adhunik gaan and modern music with western influences. Each of these categories is very broad and can incorporate a number of different styles and musical movements. The most distinguishable characteristic of classical music is that it is based on raqas modes. Rabindra sangeet is more often characterized by the words used, which are usually either prayer songs, love songs, seasonal songs or patriotic songs. All rabindra sangeet music has a theme of philosophy and love and often they incorporate masterful poetry.

Nazrul geeti is more easily classified because all musical works in this genre incorporate the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of the country’s national poets and a major revolutionist. The style tends to incorporate revolutionary thoughts as well as spiritual and philosophical themes. Most folk songs relate the particular lifestyles of various types of people such as hermits, fishermen and cart drivers. They have survived from generation to generation and often include words of worship to various Bengali gods.

Adhunik gaan is basically a genre of more modern music that is often loosely categorized by the area where it originated. The style started to emerge just before the revolution and is stylistically simple so that anyone – irrespective of education level – can appreciate its worth. While these songs are still called ‘Adhunik gaan’ which means ‘modern songs’ many of them are now quite old. Despite the emergence of newer styles of music, Adhunik gaan is still one of the most popular music styles amongst middle-class Bangladeshi families today.

In the late 80s, new demands were being made on music that current trends could not meet, and a more western influence started to be exerted on musicians. This led to the emergence of a number of Bangladeshi artists who chose to lean more towards world-wide trends. Pop and rock took the country’s youth by storm and are still being enjoyed today. Some mainstream rock has made its way to radio stations and CD shops in Bangladesh while a large underground rock movement also exists.

If you go to Bangladesh, you will soon encounter all sorts of musical sounds. One may sound completely different from the other, but they all share the common thread of having a massive impact on the lives of the people of Bangladesh. Make sure that you listen to some Bangladesh music when you’re next in the country!

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