Folk Music: Concept and Connection

Folk Music:  Man has gazed with awe and wonder at sea, earth, thunder, cloud, and rain. Standing before the endless ocean he has felt small; he has bowed. He could not embrace the clouds but has sung malhar. He could not climb vast mountains, but has played their haunts- Pahari dhun has echoed the mountain’s call.

“Folk music is an important and integral medium of culture, being a genuine document of rustic ways of life. It is a spontaneous depiction of the local culture and is a living art. It is true that folk music is non-academic and less disciplined in forms but then its perpetual expressions of joy, sorrow, traditions and beliefs, without losing its continuity, is a very edifying experience.”[i]

Folklore was the casual or light songs created by the common people to perform normal household and day-to-day tradition. Folk songs and dances, as the name ‘folk’ (masses) denotes, are the origin of music because it was created and sung whole heartedly by common men. Every culture, region, and country have their own folk music in their own comfortable language, accent, dialect, rhythm, meter, and pitch. Folk music, since created by the people, for the people, portrays the lifestyle, thought-processes, temperaments, rituals, caste creed, and even dress-code of that region. It does not have any rules-regulations of music, therefore, it’s extremely intimate, fluent, casual for the general masses. There are folk songs for all occasions or without any occasion, such as wedding, rituals, child-birth, baby-shower, agriculture-folks, festival-driven, seasonal-folk, folklore for celebrating youth or adolescence, and so on. In fact, classical music was created after folk music to standardise and organise the contents in the same.

Folk is the condition of music untouched by the grammar, untouched by musical sciences; it is a music which burst out of a people. The bursting out is an act of its own- out of the unknown haunts of emotions conditioned by samskaras. Where these find their origins and where they flow is equally known. What is known, however, is that wherever and whenever hearts beat, there is music.

Folk is the very air in which man breathes, with soul drenches in music as the pure sounds flow. The rawness with which it bursts out is its beauty and the freedom with which it does so, an essential element of the expression itself.

Reference: [i] Raj Kumar, “Essays on Indian Music”: Lesson-14, Pg.: 138