Music has been in practice in Bangaldesh region from very ancient times. Two very basic genres of music were marga or classical music, based on ragas, and deshi or regional music having closely linked with indigenous traits. In classical music the manner of rendition is important, whereas in desi songs both words and tunes are equally emphasised.
The Charyacharyavinishcha, generally referred to as charyagiti, were composed by Buddhist monks or saints between the 7th to 12th centuries. Searching for Buddhist chronicles, haraprasad shastri discovered the manuscript of Charyacharyavinischay in 1907, making this the most ancient extant text of bangla language and song. However, while abhog (the fourth or concluding part or stanza of a song) is common to both charyagiti and Modern Bangla Song, udgraha (the first part of a song), melapak (the second part of a song) and druva (the third part of a song) were used instead of sthayi, antara, and savchari, which are used today. Udgraha and druva were compulsory, but melapak and abhog were not. These features are known as dhatu (literally, element) so if one dhatu is omitted, the song is called tridhatuk git (song of three elements) and if two are omitted, it is called dvidhatuk (song of two elements). Normally, this type of song is called 'prose song'. As the charyagitis are devoid of melapak, they are tridhatuk prose songs.
The charyagitis were sung in a number of ragas and raginis, such as paatmanjari, mallari, gurjari, kamod, varadi, bhairavi, gavada, deshakh, ramakri, shavari, aru, indratal, devakri, dhanshri, malasi, malasi-gavada, and vangal raga. Musical accompaniment was provided by the pataha or dhol and ektara. Apart from being the earliest examples of Bangla song, the charyas are also interesting in the account they provide of how to make the vina and the tantri. The charyagitis are mainly devotional songs of Buddhist Sahajiyas and spread in Bengal during the reign of the Pala kings. The charyapada (charyapada and charyagiti are synonymous, but the former term is used to refer to the poems as literature and the latter to refer to the lyrics as song) and Dohakos (the oldest manuscript discovered by Sastri) provide the names of many Bangali acharyas. The rhythmic and metaphorical charyas are written in what is referred to as sandhya bhasa. The object of these songs was to spread the ideas of the sahajiya Buddhist saints.
The nathgiti written to describe the greatness of Nath gurus, followers of Goraksanath, are contemporary with the charyapadas. There were two main strains of nathgiti: Minchetan or goraksavijay, which focus on Goraksanath, and the songs variously known as King Manikchandra's songs, Maynamati's songs, or gopichandrer gan, which focus on Manikchandra. The songs of Goraksanath narrate the feats of Goraksanath and describe how Goraksanath rescued his master, Minanath. The other strain narrates the legend of King Manikchandra and Queen Maynamati and of how their son, Gopichandra, became a saint.
The writers of nathgiti include Hadipa and kahnapa, who also wrote charyapada. However, nathgiti lack the discipline of the charyapada. It is also believed that nathgiti performances differed from those of charyagiti. Possibly, nathgiti was sung in a mixture of song, dance and recitation, in the manner of panchali. It may be noted that the story of Maynamati and Gopichandra is also known as Gopichandra's Panchali.
One of the most remarkable contributions to music was jaydev's Gitagovinda, written in sanskrit, in the 12th century. Jaydev was the court poet of King laksmanasena. These verses, inspired by the story of radha and krishna, are a beautiful combination of words and music. Gitagovinda is a dramatic poem, containing songs and dialogue of the three main characters, Radha, Krishna and Sakhi, Radha's female companion. Gitagovinda consists of 12 cantos, 266 verses, and 24 songs. However, the essence of the poem lies in these 24 songs, which are sung in different ragas such as malavagauda, basanta, ramakiri, karnata, deshakh, deshavaradi, gondkiri (gunakari), malava bhairavi and vibhas. The following tals are used: rupak, nihsar, yati, ektal, and astatal.
Several of the ragas of charyagiti are also found in the Gitagovinda as well as in Baru Chandidas' srikrishnakirtan. The ramakri of charyagiti has become ramakiri in Gitagovinda and deshakh in Srikrishnakirtan. The dhanusi of Srikrishnakirtan is mainly the changed form of dhanasi of charyagiti. The mallari raga is still well known. Several of the ragas that were used in the Gitagovinda are still in use today, such as bhairavi, vibhas, basanta, desh, etc. However, it is not known whether ragrupayan and the raglaksman of today are similar or not. The tals mentioned in the Gitagovinda are still used in Bangla kirtan today. Ragtarangini, an ancient musical grammar text, discusses the musical aspects of Gitagovinda and also mentions karnat, a raga that is in use in Bangladesh, especially in Bangla kirtan.
In Gitagovinda there were two main singing styles: dhrupadanga and kirtananga. Dhrupadanga was the ancient classical style of singing and was accompanied by the pakhwaj. Kirtananga was melody-based and was accompanied by the dhol or mridangam. Originally, Gitagovinda was mainly sung in dhrupadanga. Through the influence of Sri chaitanya, it started being sung in the form of kirtan. As a result, the verses of Gitagovinda turned into kirtan. In this way Bangla kirtan was deeply influenced by Gitagovinda.
Baru Chandidas' Srikrishnakirtan is a good example of the art of singing and is important both as a poetic song and as a verse play. It is thought that it also included dancing. Srikrishnakirtan contains a total of 418 verses, each with a different tune, tal and style of singing. It is a kind of pastoral song, narrating a pastoral love story and portraying village life. There are three characters in the song: Radha, Krishna and Badai. Many believe that Srikrishnakirtan was the source of jhumur song and jatra.
Srikrishnakirtan mentions 32 ragas and raginis, among them, aher, kahu, ramagiri, gurjari, desh baradi, deshag, dhanusi, patamanjari, pahadi, vangal varadi, varadi, basanta, vibhas, velabali, bhatiyali, bhairavi, mallar, malava, shauri, shri. The tals which are found in the song are yati, krida, ektali, laghushekhar, rupak, etc. The sauri raga mentioned in Srikrishnakirtan is probably the degenerated form of the shabari raga that is used in the charya. Some of the ragas and raginis used in Srikrishnakirtan can be found in ancient writings on music, such as aher (abhir), kahu (kakubh), ramagiri (ramakri), dhanusi (dhansri), deshag, etc. The ragas and raginis mentioned in Gitagovinda are also found in Srikrishnakirtan, such as yati, rupak, and ektali. In Gitagovinda, however, there are more verses written in patamanjari than there are in Srikrishnakirtan, in which the pahadi raga dominates.
vidyapati also made important contributions to Bangla song. Although his songs were written in Maithili, they were once very popular in Bengal. His Vaishnava stanzas are highly regarded, and his themes vary between spiritual love and secular love. Later lyricists tried to emulate him; rabindranath tagore himself was an admirer of Vidyapati and set some of his songs to music and sang them himself.
Like Jaydev, Vidyapati also wrote Vaishnava songs based on the Radha-Krishna theme. A century later, Govindadas, another Vaishnava poet of Bengal, followed the footsteps of Vidyapati and became popularly known as the second Vidyapati. Rabindranath admired Govindadas and composed a tune for his song, 'Sundari radhe aoye bani' and included it in the Bhanusingha Thakurer Padavali (Bhanusingher Padavali). Vidyapati's verses are beautiful for both word and tune. The kirtan singers of Bengal have immortalised him by including his verses in Rasakirtan and Palakirtan.
Many Vaishnava poets, inspired by Chaitanya, wrote songs based on the story of Radha and Krishna and made them popular all over Bengal. These verses, also known as kirtan, are an invaluable heritage of Bengal. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, 'The joy we find in kirtan is not the joy of pure song; with it we also find the aesthetic sentiment'. Apart from Chandidas and Vidyapati, other poets who contributed to this genre include Govindadas, jnanadas, maladhar basu, sheikh faizullah, syed sultan, Balaram Das, Lochan Das, Basudev Ghosh, murari gupta, and Narahari Das.
In Bengal from ancient times, kirtan was sung in praise of the divine. Buddhists sang charya, which is in fact another form of kirtan. While all songs which glorify God and describe his different names and attributes are kirtan, Chaitanya gave a specific form to kirtan and divided it into two types: kirtan which names God and kirtan which describes the doings of God. There are five parts of kirtan: katha, donha, akhar, tuk and chhut. Another part of kirtan is jhumur. The influence of jhumur can be seen in Bangla folk songs as well as in modern songs. nazrul islam used jhumur in a number of songs such as 'Churir tale nurir mala', 'Tepantarer mathe badhu he', 'Rangamatir pathe lo', etc.
Kirtan songs spread throughout Bengal towards the end of 16th century, developing into four branches: garanhati, manoharshahi, reneti, and mandarini. The manoharsahi kirtan was the most influential, particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries. It has also influenced the panchali.
Dhapkirtan is a type of pastoral song that developed from the kirtan. Among the popular writers of this form were Rupchand Adhikari (1722-1792) of Murshidabad and madhusudan kinnar (Madhukan) of Banagram (jessore). These songs reveal the influence of panchali and jatra. Unlike the classical kirtan, however, dhapkirtan does not use complicated tals, such as dashkosi, ad, lopha, etc. The influence of dhapkirtan can be seen in quite a number of kirtan songs by Rabindranath. The song, 'Oke balo sakhi balo, keno michhe kare chhalo' (Ask him, Friend, ask him, why he is deceiving me), from Mayarkhela clearly reveals the influence of Madhukan.
The age of the mangalkavya or mangal gan, ie panegyrics or songs in praise of deities, lasted from the 15th to the 18th century. These songs were based on ragas such as basanta, mallar, sri, kaushiki and sung to a specific tune known as mangalsur. The mangalkavya record the names of many instruments that were used during that period: Sahnai, Bansi (flute), Mrdanga, shankha, karatal, Mandira, rabab, dotara, Sitar, dampha, Khamak.
There are three main thematic strains of mangalkavya: Manasamabgal, Chandimabgal and Dharmamabgal. In addition to these there are also Suryamabgal, Bhavanimabgal, Annadamangal, etc. Among the Vaishnava mangalkavya the most notable are Chaitanyabhagavat, Chaitanyamangal, etc. These panegyrics reflect the traits of character, the customs, and manners of Bengal.
Like the mangalkavya, the panchali is also based on myths and legends. Usually, the panchali was limited to five short verses. In the 19th century there were changes in form, though the subject matter remained the same. dasharathi roy (1806-1857), the most popular and influential panchali writer of the period, introduced ragas such as lalita, vibhas, sindhu-bhairavi, yat and jhanptal. Rabindranath in his autobiography has mentioned the popularity of Dasharathi Roy. Other writers in this genre include Thakur Das, Dwarakanath Tagore, Rasikchandra Roy, Brajamohan Roy, ishwar chandra gupta, and Sannyasi Chakrabarti. The genre continues to be popular today with women singing Laksmir Panchali, Shanir Panchali, Mangalchandir Panchali, Satyanarayaner Panchali.
The rise of shaktagiti may be dated to the 17th century when the worship of the Mother Goddess, Shyama or Kali, grew in Bengal. Just as the story of Radha and Krishna forms the theme of kirtan, saktagiti is inspired by the divine energy of the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess takes different forms; sometimes she is Durga, sometimes Kali. Though all songs in praise of the Mother Goddess are called saktagiti, songs in praise of her in the form of Durga are known as umasangit, while songs welcoming her during durga puja are known as agamani-vijaya songs. Songs sung in praise of the goddess in the form of Kali are known as shaktasangit. These songs are also variously known as matrsangit, kalisangit, chandigiti, malasi gan.
The first, and perhaps greatest, writer of sakta verses was ramprasad sen, who was a devotee of Kali, was also an ascetic and a poet. Ramprasad's songs, known as Ramprasadi songs, may be sung in the manner of raga songs and also to simple tunes. Despite their simple words and tunes, the songs often have deep spiritual meanings, for example, in the following lines: 'Manre, krsi kaj jana na/ eman manab jamin railo patita / abad karle falta sona' (O my heart, it does not know how to cultivate/ So this human field remains fallow / If it had been cultivated it might have produced gold). Ramprasad also wrote pala gans for short stage plays.
Kamlakanta Bhattacharya (1772-1821), the court poet of Maharaja Tejaschandra of Burdwan, is another notable writer of sakta verses. He wrote a number of agamani-vijaya songs as well as devotional syama songs. This trend of syama songs or saktagiti influenced writers such as Rabindranath, girish chandra ghosh, and Kshirod Prasad as well as Nazrul Islam.
Another important genre of Bangla music is kavigan or poetic song that evolved around the 18th or 19th century from the padavali as well as syama song and the kheud. The kaviyals, the poets of this genre, were not educated, but they knew the vedas, the puranas, the quran and political history. Regarding the origin of kavigan, Rabindranath Tagore said: 'In the new capital created by the English there was neither the old court nor the old ideals. At that time the mentor of the poets was an immature, corpulent figure named the masses and suddenly the song of the kaviyals became the ideal song for the court of that king'. These songs, which were created to entertain the common people, were mainly songs about Radha and Krishna.
The kaviyals had to compose questions and answers extempore during their performance. They depended on ready wit and skills in versification to defeat their rivals in these poetic contests. The noise and tempo of drums, kansi, bells, or mandira rose up or went down in tune with the debate.
At the beginning of the 18th century, a kaviyal named gonjla gaen first formed a professional group and started to sing kavigans. His disciples included Raghunath, Lalu, Nandalal, Nitai Bairagi, Nrisinha, haru thakur, bhola moira, Rambasu. Other famous kaviyals included Kesta Muchi, ramesh shil, and anthony firingee. Although Anthony Firingi was of Portuguese origin, he was specially attracted to kavigan and performed it regularly.
Rambasu was another kaviyal, whom Ishwar Gupta termed the Kalidas of kaviyals. Rabindranath too greatly admired his songs and adapted the line of one of Rambasu's lines, 'Mane raila sai maner katha' (My feelings remain in my heart) to read 'Mane raye gela maner katha' (My hidden thoughts remained hidden in my heart.)
There is another version of kavigan known as the bayati song. While kavigan is sung by two groups of singers, a bayati song may be sung by a main singer with his group. Some famous bayatis of Bangladesh include Abdur Rahman, Kuddus Bayati, Idris Bayati. tarashankar bandyopadhyay has immortalised this genre in his novel Kavi.
The jatra song originated in Bangladesh in the 16th century. Jatra actually means a procession or other musical or dramatic performance that takes place in a temple during puja or other festivals. Though jatras contained dialogue, song and dance predominated. As a result, in the past these performances were called jatra song. Jaydev's Gitagovinda is very like a jatra song. Baru Chandidas' Srikrishnakirtan is an example of a jatra pala, a short stage play, containing thirteen acts starting from the birth of Krishna to his separation from Radha. Chandi drama or Chandi jatra, written by bharatchandra, a pandit in the royal court of Krishnanagar, also contributed to the evolution of jatra song.
During the 19th century, jatra themes expanded to include social criticism. Bharatchandra's Chandijatra and vidyasundar, Manasar Bhasan etc are noteworthy jatra palas. Manasar Bhasan was written to help people overcome their fear of snakes. Other famous 19th century jatra writers include Govinda Adhikari, Nilkantha Mukhopadhyay, Paramananda Adhikari, Madhusudan Kinnar, and Brajamohan Roy.
Govinda Adhikari's Naukavilas was very popular at one time. Govinda Adhikari's disciple, Nilkanta Mukhopadhyay, wrote the jatras Kangsa Vadh, Yayatiyajna, Chandalini Uddhar etc. Quite a number of Nilkantha's songs are still sung. Krishna Kamal Goswami wrote Svapnavilas, one of the songs of which continues to be sung today: 'Shono Brajaraj svapanete aj/ Dekha diye gopal kotha lukale' (Listen, Brajaraj' [Krishna], where did you hide after appearing in my dream?) The song is composed in khambaj and ektal ragas.
In jatra the adkhemta tal, consisting of six beats, was popular. Gopal Ude, a popular writer of jatra song, used this tal in Vidyasundar. One of his songs in Vidyasundar, 'Ai dekha yay badi amar' (That house which you see is my home), was transformed by Rabindranath Tagore in Taser Desher into 'Gharete bhramar elo gunguniye'. At present jatra consists mainly of prose dialogue interspersed with songs and dances.
The pala or ballad, written between the 16th to 18th centuries, forms an important folk genre. Some of the most well known ballads of Bengal are the maimansingha gitika and purbabanga-gitika. The political, social, economic, religious and cultural history of Bengal is found in these ballads. Some of the popular Bangla ballads include Mahuya, Maluya, Kanka o Lila, Kajalrekha, Chandravati, Kamala, Deoyan Bhabna, Dasyu Kenaramer Pala, Rupavati, Deoyan Madina and Alal-Dulaler Pala. These ballads were not just popular oral performances, they have also inspired both plays and movies. Deoyan Bhabna has been dramatised as Madhavi Malancha Kanya.
Another important genre of Bangla folk songs is the baul song, which perhaps dates back to the 18th century. However, written versions of Baul songs date from the 19th century. lalon shah (1772-1890) preached a religion of universal humanity and equality through songs such as 'Nanan baran gabhire bhai eki baran dudh / Jagat bharamiya dekhlam eki mayer put' (Cows come in many colours, but all milk is of the same colour./ I travelled the world over but saw all mother's sons' [human beings] are the same).
In the 19th century, the songs of kangal harinath Majumder (Fakir Chand) became particularly popular. At that time the Baul songs of manomohan dutta also became famous. Kangal Harinath and Rabindranath Tagore attracted the attention of the urban, educated society to Baul songs. Among other Bauls composers are Gagan, duddu shah, pagla kanai, Bhaba Pagla, Radha Raman (1833-1916) Madan, Shah-Noor, Sahabuddin, hasan raja. Baul songs influenced modern poets such as rabindranath tagore, dwijendralal roy, rajanikanta sen, atulprasad sen and kazi nazrul islam. Baul songs show the successful mingling of lyric and tune, a dominant feature of Bangla song.
Songs based on classical ragas became popular in Bengal towards the end of the 18th century. Bangla tappa also emerged at this time, principally through the efforts of nidhu gupta or, as he is sometimes known, Nidhubabu. Tappa song is often known as Nidhubabu's tappa. This genre continued to be popular till the middle of the 19th century. Although Nidhu Gupta was influenced by the lively tune of the North Indian tappa, he introduced a note of pathos into the Bangla version. Later composers followed this particular characteristic of Bangla tappa. Other notable composers of Bangla tappa include Sridhar Kathak, Kalidas Chattopadhyay or kali mirza, Raghunath Roy, Ramshankar Bhattacharya, Habib Mian, and Hasnu Mian Tappabaj. Bangla tappa combines lyric and tune, as is characteristic of Bangla song. Bangla tappa influenced later poets such as Rabindranath Tagore, DL Roy, Atulprasad, and Nazrul Islam.
Songs formed an integral part of the religious worship of the Brahma Samaj founded by Raja rammohun roy in the 19th century. Inspired by the ideals of the Brahma Samaj, Brahma songs proclaimed monotheism and declaimed against idol worship. Initially, brahma sangit were influenced by tappa and kheyal. Later, under the influence of Vishnu Chakrabarty and Krishna Prasad Chakrabarty, Brahma songs were written in the form of dhrupad, the solemnity and calm beauty of this genre being deemed more suitable for devotional songs. Writers, ranging from Raja Rammohun to Rabindranath Tagore, have written Brahma songs. This genre has greatly influenced modern lyricists.
The 19th century saw the rise of nationalism as well as a return to tradition. There was a growing realisation that love of one's nation involved a love of one's own tradition and that, without revitalising folk culture, it was not possible to revive and rejuvenate the nation. In 1855 Ishwar Chandra Gupta attracted everyone's attention to the almost extinct folk songs by publishing some of them in his magazine sangbad prabhakar. Among others who played an important role in preserving ancient folk songs were the Tagore family of Jodasanko, particularly debendranath' tagore. Later, people like Rabindranath Tagore, muhammad mansuruddin, jasimuddin, kshitimohan sen, dineshchandra sen, and chandra kumar de collected folk songs like baul, bhatiyali, Sari, Jari, marfati and murshidi from different parts of Bengal and helped in their preservation and documentation.
The urbanisation that started in the early years of the 19th century saw the beginning of modern Bangla songs. Rabindranath Tagore, Dwijendralal, Rajanikanta, Atulprasad and Nazrul Islam are still held in considerable regard as they combined attractive tunes with meaningful lyrics. Although other poets attempted to emulate this ideal, the songs of these five poets, who draw from both classical and folk traditions, are unique.
The popular songs of Dwijendralal were actually written by him for plays. Nevertheless, his songs are diverse in nature. He was a skilled writer of patriotic songs and love songs. Rajanikanta Sen's songs, often better known as kantagiti, are inspired by patriotism and reflect the nationalistic spirit of the time. They are also inspired by devotion and dedication to the Creator. Atulprasad combined the classical raga and raginis with baul and kirtan tunes.
In modern song Nazrul Islam was the first to break free from the overwhelming influence of Rabindranath Tagore. One of his main contributions was to the development of the Bangla ghazal. Though Atulprasad was the first to write Bangla Ghazals, it was Nazrul who perfected the form. Nazrul Islam further enriched Bangla song by bringing in diverse motifs and themes. He used diverse ragas and raginis, as well as folk tunes. He also occasionally employed Arabic and Persian vocabulary. Recorded by famous singers, his songs were very popular in the early thirties and forties. Some of the well-known singers of Nazrul songs include dilip kumar roy, Jnanendra Prasad Goswami, sachin dev burman, Kanon Devi, Angur Bala, Dhirendra Chandra Maitra, Abdul Halim Chowdhury, Feroza Begum, and Sudhin Das.
A radical change occurred at this time in the modern Bangla song with the separation of lyricist from composer and artist. This separation proved detrimental to the union of meaning and tune that had been one of the prime features of Bangla song. Four famous composers of Nazrul's period are Saurindramohan Mukhopadhyay (1886-1966), Hemendra Kumar Roy (1888-1963), Dilip Kumar Roy and tulsi lahiri. Although Dilip Kumar Roy was exceptionally promising, he gave up music for the ascetic life. Tulsi Lahiri's songs are popular and are often mistaken for Nazrul songs. Saurindramohan's songs reveal the influence of Rabindranath. Hemendra Kumar was skilled in singing, dancing and acting. A number of his songs became popular on the professional stage.
During this period, with the increasing popularity of Nazrul's songs, as well as the growth of the movies and gramophone records, Bangla songs began to attract the masses. With the growth of a new record-listening audience, new possibilities arose for Bangla song. As the gramophone companies started vying with each other to release new songs, the need for composers, lyricists, and singers started increasing. Some of the noteworthy lyricists of this period are Sajanikanta Das (1900-1962), Hiren Bose, Shailen Roy (1905-1963), Ajay Bhattachrya (1906-1943), Banikumar (1907-1974), Subodh Purakayastha (1907-1984), Anil Bhattacharya (1908-1944), Pranab Roy (1911-1975), Premendra Mitra, Nishikanta, Shyamal Gupta, and Gauriprasanna Majumdar (1925-1986). Some composer-singers of the period include Jyotirindra Mitra (1911-1977), Binoy Roy (1918-1975), Hemanga Biswas (1912-?), Sukriti Sen, Salil Chowdhury (1923-1994), and Amal Chattopadhyay. Some of the noteworthy composers of the period include himangshu kumar dutta, Dilip Kumar Roy, kamal dasgupta, Anupam Ghatak, and Subal Das Gupta. A number of singers contributed to the popularity of Bangla song: dilip kumar roy, Krishnachandra Dey, Kanan Devi, k mallik (Kashem Mallik), KL Saigal, pankaj kumar mallick, Shaila Devi, Vishmadev Chattopadhyay, Sachin Dev Barman, Jnanendra Prasad Goswami, Uma Bose, abbasuddin ahmed, Santas Sen Gupta, Feroza Begum, etc.
After 1947, the songs of both Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam became increasingly popular in Bangladesh. At the same time, the growth of the movies saw an increasing number of modern songs being recorded. The chief lyricists and music composers of the post-47 period include abu hena mostafa kamal, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, khan ataur rahman, Devu Bhattacharya, Samar Das, and abdul ahad. From the late 1980's bands became popular in Bangladesh, especially among the new generation. Many of the songs played by the band are written, composed and sung by their members. Some bands, such as Spandan and Rishij draw on the tradition of the marami and maizbhandari, and thus have their roots firmly in the folk tradition. Other groups, though using the percussion instruments of the west, sing songs about the class divide and the difference between the rich and the poor. Many bands, however, appear to be poor imitations of western pop groups, not only where their tunes are concerned but also in the themes of their songs.
Bangla songs have been closely associated with political and nationalist movements in Bengal. Thus, during the swadeshi movement that started in protest against the division of the Bengal in 1905, Rabindranath Tagore composed 'Banglar mati Banglar jal' (The soil of Bengal, the water of Bengal), to a Baul tune; Dwijendralal wrote 'Banga amar janani amar' (Bengal is my land and my mother); Rajanikanta called on everyone to discard western clothes and wear the coarse cloth of the motherland; Atulprasad wrote 'Balo balo balo sabe' (Say, say, say everyone). To these were added the fiery songs of Nazrul's Agnivina. Nazrul's song, 'Ei shikal para chhal moder, ei shikal para chhal', calling on Bangalis to break their chains, inspired the Swadeshis in their struggle. Among others who contributed to the nationalistic movement was mukundadas, whose jatras, Desher Gan (patriotic song) and Matrpuja (Worship of the Mother), motivated the Bangalis to fight for their rights and against the despotic rule of the English.
Later, during the language movement, in the mass movement of 1969 and in the liberation struggle, the songs that had been composed during the Swadeshi Movement were used against the Pakistan Government. Along with the revival of these older songs, a number of new songs were written, inspired by Bangali nationalism. These desher gan or deshatmabodhak gan, or patriotic songs, initiated a new trend. Different poets wrote poems, songs, and elegies in homage to the martyrs of 21st February 1952. Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury's 'Amar bhaiyer rakte rabano ekushe February' (21 February reddened with the blood of my brothers), set to tune by altaf mahmud, became the theme song of ekushey february and inspires people with love of their mother tongue even today. An anonymous poet wrote the song 'Rastra bhasa andolan karilire Bangali' for which the singer, Abdul Latif, composed the music. Abdul Latif also wrote 'Ora amar mukher bhasa kaira nite chay' (They want take away my mother tongue). Sheikh Lutfur Rahman motivated the masses with 'Milita praner kalarabe, yauban phul fote rakter anubhabe' (Amidst the chorus of united hearts, the flowers of youth blossom red). These songs, written to commemorate the freedom struggle and the martyrs of the language movement, came to be known as desh o bhasar gan (songs of land and language). Bangalis still pay homage through these songs to those who died for their motherland and their language.
Though at different times Bangla music has been influenced by classical music, by folk music and even by western music, it has always merged lyric and tune. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Bangla songs developed into new forms, enriched with diverse subjects and tunes. This trend still continues. [Mridul Kanti Chakrobarty]
Bibliography Rabindranath Tagore, Sanggitchinta, Viswa-Bharati Granthan Vibhag, Kolkata, 1907; Ahmed Sharif, Bichita Chinta, Chowdhury Publishing House, Dhaka, 1975; Dilipkumar Mukhopadhyay, Bangalir Ragasangit Charcha, Pharma KLM Pvt Ltd, Kolkata, 1976; Rajyeswar Mitra, Bangla Sangit (Prachin O Madhyayug), Kolkata, 1984; Karunamay Goswami, Bangla Ganer Bibartan, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1993; Mridulkanti Chakrobarty, Bangla Ganer Dhara, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, 1993.