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Music of Bengal

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Title: Music of Bengal  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Music of Bangladesh, Alaur Rahman, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Suzana Ansar, Bangladeshi rock
Collection: Bangladeshi Music, Bengali Music, Culture of West Bengal, Music of Indian Subdivisions
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Music of Bengal

Music of Bangladesh
Specific forms
Religious music
Ethnic music
Traditional music
Media and performance
Music awards
Music festivals
Music media




Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem Amar Sonar Bangla
Other Chol Chol Chol
Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano
Regional music
Related areas
Other regions

The music of Bengal (Bengali: বাংলা সংগীত), also referred to as Bangla music, comprises a long tradition of religious and secular song-writing over a period of almost a millennium. Composed with lyrics in the Bengali language, Bengali music spans a wide variety of styles.

Bengal is today split between the Indian state of West Bengal and the independent country Bangladesh.


  • Styles 1
  • Forms 2
    • Bishnupur Gharana 2.1
    • Baul 2.2
    • Rabindra Sangeet 2.3
    • Nazrul Geeti 2.4
    • Shyama Sangeet 2.5
    • Dwijendrageeti 2.6
    • Atulprasadi 2.7
    • Prabhat Samgiita 2.8
    • Other 2.9
  • Modern Bengali music 3
    • Bangla Rock 3.1
    • Rock music of West Bengal 3.2
    • Rock music of Bangladesh 3.3
    • Famous Band 3.4
    • Bangladesh 3.5
    • India 3.6
    • Bangladeshi hip hop 3.7
  • References 4


The earliest music in Bengal was influenced by Sanskrit chants, and evolved under the influence of Vaishnav poetry such as the 13th-century Gitagovindam by Jayadeva, whose work continues to be sung in many eastern Hindu temples. The Middle Ages saw a mixture of Hindu and Islamic trends when the musical tradition was formalized under the patronage of Nawabs and the powerful landlords baro bhuiyans.

Much of the early canon is devotional, as in the Hindu devotional songs of Ramprasad Sen a bhakta who captures the Bengali ethos in his poetic, rustic, and ecstatic vision of the Hindu goddess of time and destruction in her motherly incarnation, Ma Kali. Another writer of the time was Vidyapati. Notable in this devotional poetry is an earthiness that does not distinguish between love in its carnal and devotional forms; some see connections between this and Tantra, which originated some time in the middle of the first millennium CE.


Bishnupur Gharana

The Bishnupur Gharana is the sole Classical (Drupad) gharana of Bengal . It originated in Bishnupur, Bankura by the court musicians of the Malla Kings. Bahadur Khan of Delhi, a descendant of the Tansen , was the father of Bishnupur Gharana. Bahadur Khan was brought to Bishnupur by Malla King Raghunath Singha II.


Main aricle: Baul

The Bauls (meaning "divinely inspired insanity") are a group of mystic minstrels (Muslim Sufis and Hindu Baishnos) from the Bengal region, who sang primarily in the 17th and 18th centuries. They are thought to have been influenced greatly by the Hindu tantric sect of the Kartabhajas as well as by Muslim Sufi philosophers. Bauls traveled and sang in search of the internal ideal, Moner Manush (Man of the Heart or the inner being), and described "superfluous" differences between religions.Lalon Fakir, alternatively known as Lalon Shah, who lived in the 19th century in and around Kushtia, is considered to be the greatest of all bauls.

Rabindra Sangeet

By far the most defining expression of Bengali music, with an ouvre of over two thousand songs, was Rabindranath Tagore (known in Bengali as Robi Thakur and Gurudeb, the latter meaning "Divine Teacher"). His songs are affectionately called Rabindra Sangeet, and cover topics from devotion, love, nature and seasons, and patriotism. Tagore's earlier works had been inspired by the lilas of Krishna while his latter works involved transcendentalism of the Upanishads. Some of the notable Rabindra Sangeet artistes are Shantideb Ghosh, Shailajaranjan Majumdar, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, Kanika Bandyopadhyay, Debabrata Biswas, Suchitra Mitra, Pankaj Kumar Mullick, Santosh Sengupta, Subinoy Roy, Chinmoy Chatterjee, Ashoketaru Bandopadhyay, Sagar Sen, Supriti Ghosh, Sumitra Sen, Ritu Guha, Purabi Mukhopadhyay, Purba Dam, Sushil Mullick, Arghya Sen, Mohan Singh, Sharmila Roy Pommo, Swastika Mukhopadhyay, Indrani Sen, Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta, Promita Mallik, Rezwana Chowdhury Bonna.

Nazrul Geeti

Another influential body of work is that of Kazi Nazrul Islam, which constitutes what is known as Nazrul geeti.Some of the notable Nazrulgeeti singers from India include Suprova Sircar, Dhirendra Chandra Mitra, Manabendra Mukhopadhyay, Dr. Anjali Mukhopadhyay, Dhiren Bose, Adhir Bagchi, Purabi Dutta, Firoza Begum, Anup Ghoshal, and, Bangaladeshi singer Sohrab Hossain.

Shyama Sangeet

Shyama Sangeet is a genre of Bengali devotional songs dedicated to the Hindu goddess Shyama or Kali which is a form of supreme universal mother-goddess Durga or parvati. It is also known as Shaktagiti or Durgastuti. Shyama Sangeet appeals to the common man because it is a musical representation of the relationship of eternal and sublime love and care between the mother and her child. It is free of the common rituals of worship and also the esoteric practice of the Tantra.


Dwijendralal Ray's Dwijendrageeti (the Songs of Dwijendralal), which number over 500, create a separate sub-genre of Bengali Music . Two of Dwijendralal Ray's most famous compositions are Dhana Dhanya Pushpa Bhara and Banga Amar Janani Amar. Ray is regarded as one of the most important figures in early modern Bengali literature.


Mainarticle: Atulprasad Sen

Atulprasadi, one of the major lyricist and composers of early-modern period, is also widely popular in Paschimbanga. Atul Prasad is credited with introducing the Thumri style in Bengali music. His songs centred on three broad subjects - patriotism, devotion and love.

Prabhat Samgiita

Prabhát Saḿgiita also known as Songs of a New Dawn and Prabhat Songs, are songs composed by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. Sarkar composed a total of 5,018 songs iincluding the lyrics and the tune, in a period of eight years from 1982 until his death in 1990, making using of eight different languages: Bengali, Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu , Magahi, Maithili and Angika.


  • Bhatiali
  • Bhawaiya
  • Dhamali
  • Gombhira
  • Kavigan, poems sung with simple music usually presented on stage as a musical battle between poets.
  • Jatra Pala, songs associated exclusively with plays (performed on-stage). Usually involves colourful presentations of historical themes.

Numerous other poets and composers had laid the foundation for the rich repertoire of Bengali music in the 19th century and early 20th century. Some stalwarts of this ear include Ramnidhi Gupta (commonly known as Nidhu Babu), Lalon Fakir, Atulprasad Sen, Dwijendralal Ray, Rajanikanta Sen and a large canon of patriotic songs from India's Independence movement. [1]

Modern Bengali music

Modern Bengali music has been enriched by Indian singers like Jaganmoy Mitra (who is considered a pioneer of modern song), as well as artists such as Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, Manna Dey, Geeta Dutta, Sachin Dev Burman, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar, Kumar Sanu, Dhananjay Bhattacharya, Shyamal Mitra, Tarun Bandopadhyay, Satinath Mukhopadhyay, Shreya Ghoshal, Dwijen Mukhopadhyay, Manabendra Mukhopadhyay, Mitali Mukherjee, Sudhirlal Chakraborty, Jaganmoy Mitra, Robin Majumdar, Bechu Dutta, Gourikedar Bhattacharya, Satya Chowdhury, Sachin Gupta, Subir Sen, Dilip Kumar Roy, Uma Bose, Kanan Devi, Sabitri Ghosh, Ila Ghosh, Kamala Jharia, Angurbala, Indubala, Utpala Sen, Gayatri Bose, Supriti Ghosh, Alpana Banerjee, Protima Banerjee, Sabita Chowdhury.

Azam Khan, Abdul Jabbar, Apel Mahmud, Ferdousi Rahman, Khurshid Alam, Bashir Ahmed, Syed Abdul Hadi, Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Kalim Sharafi,Abida Sultana, Kanak Chapa, Shakila Zafar, Samina Chowdhury, Happy Akhond, Lucky Akond, Maqsood, Arnob, Mila, Farida Parvin, Latif Sani, Bari Siddiki, Anusheh Anadil, Sabina Yasmin, and Runa Laila all hailing from Bangladesh.

Krishna Chandra Dey, Bhabani Charan Das, Radharani Debi, Mrinalkanti Ghosh, Pannalal Bhattacharya, Hiralal Sarkhel, Nirmal Bhattacharya, and Gitashree Chhabi Bandopadhyay were famous for their renditions of devotional songs, while Abbasuddin Ahmed, Abdul Alim, Rahoman Boyati, Indromohon Rajbongshi, Kiran Chandra Roy, Nirmalendu Chowdhury were stalwarts in singing Bengali folk music. Sanat Sinha and Japamala Ghosh carved out a niche in children's songs.

Bangla Music is highly indebted to legends like Kazi Nazrul Islam, Rabindranath Tagore, Jasim Uddin, Fokir Lalon SaNi, Baul Abdul Karim, Hason Raza, Kari Amiruddin, Kobi Zalal and many more.

All traditional Bangla music is based on classical music or on its variations. Some of the most reputed classical musicians of the sub-continent come from Bengal including Ustad Allauddin Khan, Sangeetacharya Tarapada Chakraborty, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Manas Chakraborty, Ustad Ayet Ali Khan and Ustad Abed Hossain Khan.

Notable Bengali music composers active in Calcutta (Kolkata) in the 1930s through the 1980s include Himangshu Dutta, Kamal Dasgupta, Rai Chand Boral, Timirbaran Bhattacharya, Pankaj Kumar Mullick, Anupam Ghatak, Sachin Dev Burman, Durga Sen, Kalipada Sen, Gopen Mullick, Nachiketa Ghosh, Robin Chattopadhyay, Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Salil Chowdhury, Sudhin Dasgupta, Shyamal Mitra, Pabitra Chattopadhyay, Anal Chattopadhyay, Anil Bagchi, Abhijit Bandopadhyay, Rahul Deb Burman, Ajoy Das, and Bappi Lahiri, while Ajoy Bhattacharya, Hiren Bose, Subodh Purakayastha, Pranab Roy, Sailen Roy, Gouri Prasanna Majumdar, Shyamal Gupta, Pulak Bandyopadhyay and Mukul Dutta were well-known lyricists.

Bangla Rock

Bangla rock is a music genre in which the song lyrics are written in the Bengali language. It may refer to:

Western influence has resulted in the emergence of the phenomenon of Bangla bands, both in Dhaka and in Kolkata, as well as songs reflecting the joys and sorrows of the common man, Jibonmukhi Gaan (songs from life). Bangla bands became popular with young people in the 1970s, both in India and Bangladesh, and have since become entrenched in modern Bengali culture. Recently, traditional folk-based Bengali songs are also being released by bands.

Rock music of West Bengal

Rock music of West Bengal originated in Kolkata, West Bengal , India . The first known Bangla rock band was Moheener Ghoraguli and also India's first rock band. In modern times, in this type of music distorted electric guitars , bass guitar, and drums are used, and sometimes accompanied with pianos and keyboards and in early times the instruments used in the modern times were also accompanied by saxophone, flute , violin and bass violin . Bhoomi a Bangla rock band formed in 1999 has also been using flute in their music.

Rock music of Bangladesh

Bangladeshi rock is the rock music of Bangladesh. It originated in Chittagong with Souls, which was formed in 1970. Distortion , electric and bass guitars and drums are used, sometimes accompanied by piano or other keyboard instruments . In the past, it was accompanied by saxophone, flute , violin and bass violin.

Famous Band


Some famous Bangladeshi bands are Miles, Nagar Baul, Ark, LRB, Warfaze, Feedback, Souls, Prometheus, Ark, Renaissance, Nova, Obscure, Chime, Artcell, Aurthohin, Maqsood O Dhaka, Black, Shironaamhin, Cryptic Fate, Scarecrow, Arbovirus, Nemesis


Bands like Mohiner Ghoraguli, Bhoomi, Chandrabindoo, Porosh Pathor, Fossils (band), Cactus (Indian band), Lakkhichhara, Krosswindz, Skinny Alley, Prachir, Prithibi, Shahar, Alienz, Eeshaan, Calcutta Blues, Kaya, Blood, N10, Pota R Marudyan

English bands from Kolkata include Cassini's Division, Bolepur Bluez, Insomnia (band), Underground Authority, Pseudonym, Chronic Xorn, Yonsample, What Escapes Me, Evil Conscience of Kolkata, India are also notable. Singers like Ajoy Chakraborty and Kaushiki Chakraborty are working to bring back classical raga influence into Bengali music.

Bangla bands use a wide variety of styles such as rock, pop, folk, and fusion. Their music is influenced both by popular American music as well as traditional Bengali folk music such as Zaari, Saari, Bhatiali, Bhawaiya, Shyama Sangeet and Baul.

Bangladeshi hip hop

Bangladeshi hip hop is a genre of music and culture that covers a variety of styles of hip hop music developed in Bangladesh.Bangladeshi hip hop is heavily influenced by US hip hop, and started in early 2000.


  1. ^ Chatterjee, Gita. Bengal's Swadeshi Samgīt. Published in Banerjee, Jayasri (ed.), The Music of Bengal. Baroda: Indian Musicological Society, 1987.

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