Classical Music (or Ragapradhan Gan) is a genre of Bangla songs based on the ragas. In composing these songs, the melodies of north Indian ragas are followed. As far back as the Charyagiti (9th century), ragas have been used in Bangla songs. jaydev's Gitagovindam, Padavali kirtan, Mangalgiti, shyamasangit, tappa, brahma sangit and tagore songs have also been influenced by ragas.
The use of north Indian ragas in Bangla songs as in dhrupad, kheyal, tappa and thungri began in the middle of the 18th century. This trend gathered momentum during the 19th and the 20th centuries. Among those who pioneered this trend were Ramnidhi Gupta, kali mirza, Raghunath Roy and the founder of the Vishnupur gharana, Ramashankar Bhattacharya. An important role was played in this connection by the Nawab of Lakhnau, Wajid Ali Shah. Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned by the British in 1856 and banished to Metiaburuz in Kolkata. Here, during his 30-year exile, he patronised music, specially dhrupad, kheyal, tappa and thumri, and thus made a lasting impact on music in Bengal, particularly in Kolkata.
rabindranath tagore, who had a deep appreciation for north Indian raga music, successfully introduced ragas in his songs. He was followed by dwijendralal roy, rajanikanta sen, atulprasad sen in this, thus raising the quality of Bangla music.
The tradition of composing and singing raga-based Bangla songs that began in the third decade of the 20th century was further enriched by kazi nazrul islam. Other talented composers who followed this trend were himangshu dutta, dilip kumar roy, Raichand Baral, Krishnachandra De, Sudhirlal Chakravarty, Anil Bakchi, kamal dasgupta, Durga Sen and chinmay lahiri.
The tradition of Bangla raga songs did not last long. However, ragpradhan gan still exercises some influence in the composition of modern Bangla songs in both Bangladesh and west bengal. [Khan Md Sayeed]