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Day 2 – Q 1. In what ways the tradition of tribal and folk music differ from Indian classical music? Explain.

1. In what ways the tradition of tribal and folk music differ from Indian classical music? Explain. 

आदिवासी और लोक संगीत की परंपरा भारतीय शास्त्रीय संगीत से किस तरह अलग है? स्पष्ट करें।


Indian classical music is the classical music of the Indian subcontinent.  It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic.


The tradition of tribal and folk music differ from Indian classical music in the following way:

Cultural traditions from various regions of the country reflect the rich diversity of Regional Music of India. Each region has its own particular style.

  • Tribal and folk music is not taught in the same way that Indian classical music is taught.  There is no formal period of apprenticeship where the student is able to devote their entire life to learning the music, the economics of rural life does not permit this sort of thing.  The musical practitioners must still attend to their normal duties of hunting, agriculture or whatever their chosen profession is.
  • Music in the villages is learnt from childhood, the music is heard and imbibed along with numerous public activities that allow the villagers to practice and hone their skills. 
  • The music is an indispensable component of functions such as weddings, engagements, and births.  There is a plethora of songs for such occasions.  There are also many songs associated with planting and harvesting.  In these activities the villagers routinely sing of their hopes, fears and aspirations.
  • Musical instruments are often different from those found in classical music.  Although instruments like the tabla may sometimes be found it is more likely that cruder drums such as daf, dholak, or nal are used.  The sitar and sarod which are so common in the classical genre are absent in the folk music.  One often finds instruments such as the ektar, dotar, rabab, and santur.  Quite often they are not called by these names, but may be named according to their local dialect.  There are also instruments which are used only in particular folk styles in particular regions.  These instruments are innumerable.
  • The instruments of classical music are crafted by artisans whose only job is the fabrication of musical instruments.  In contrast the folk instruments are commonly crafted by the musicians themselves.
  • It is very common to find folk instruments that have been fabricated of commonly available materials.  Skin, bamboo, coconut shells, and pots are but a few commonly available materials used to make musical instruments.

Few Examples:

  • Pankhida, Rajasthan: Sung by the peasants of Rajasthan while doing work in the fields, the peasants sing and speak while playing algoza and manjira. The literal meaning of the word ‘Pankhida’ is lover.
  • Pandavani, Chhattisgarh: In Pandavani, tales from Mahabharata are sung as a ballad and one or two episodes are chosen for the night’s performance. The main singer continuously sits throughout the performance and with powerful singing and symbolic gestures he assumes all the characters of the episode one after another.
  • Sohar, Uttar Pradesh: Social ceremonies have, at times, served as a potent factor for intermingling of different cultures. North India has a strong tradition of singing ‘Sohar’ songs when a son is born in a family. This has influenced the Muslim culture and a form of ‘Sohar’ song gained currency in the Muslim families living in some regions of Uttar Pradesh. ‘Sohar’ songs unmistakably point to the mingling of two cultures.


Besides classical music India has a rich legacy of folk or popular music. This music represents the emotion of the masses. The simple songs are composed to mark every event in life. They may be festivals, advent of a new season, marriage or birth of a child. Rajasthani folk songs such as Mand and Bhatiali of Bengal are popular all over India. Ragini is a popular form of folk songs of Haryana.

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