English 2 (B)
Dr. Devika Seth
Cultural History of Modern India
Project Topic: The Lore of Folk in Media: A study of Folk Music as disseminated through mass media.
Culture is the innate identity of a human society which is a result of the multilateral interactions between the various people constituting it. Each society has its distinct cultural heritage and it serves as instrumental in defining and distinguishing various societies. Composite of a community’s traditions, morals, beliefs, customs, norms and various other aesthetic and sentimental developments, culture is passed down from one generation to the other. Broadly speaking, culture gradually evolves into the ...view middle of the document...
The beauty of folk music lies in the fact that unlike classical music, it is spontaneous and unrestrained. Folk songs are the plain narration of the mundane as well significant events that chance in as well as affect the lives of the people of the concerned community. Making use of unflattering musical instruments, folk songs are sung usually sung at festivals and special occasions like marriages or child births but their text may not always be event specific. Stressing on the oral nature of the folk genre, I. Srivastava writes about folk songs that “[they] are not looked upon as fixed texts composed by a particular person in a certain way”. Often they are long renditions of the epical stories like that from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana or the Puranas like the Rajasthani folk genre katha (story). As Peter Manuel informs, the Punjabi folk songs are widely based on “ballads like Hir, Sohini-Mahewal, Sassi-Punnu, Mirza Sahiban etc.” Also sometimes the dohas of Kabir and Tulsidas also find their way into the folk songs of some regions. Made out of natural materials, the hand made instruments of folk music like dholak, ghumot (percussion instrument), dhol, dotara (stringed instrument) etc, have a captivating rawness that emanates mystical music.
Prior to the onset of mass media, the only source of entertainment in the villages was these folk art forms. Women would sing at ceremonies, festivals and weddings whereas men had the more open public sphere as their stage in form of tea-joints and chopals. As these songs did not require any prior training and were more of a daily habit than a polished art form, the richness of its flexible content displayed great variety which not only entertained but served as the document of the traditional social and cultural life of the rural populace. “In 1908, the British-owned Gramophone Company of India (GCI) [was] established […] in Calcutta” (Manuel). Most of the company’s collection was marketed after 1910 under the name of His Master’s Voice (HMV), still a famous recording name. Owing to the “cultural and linguistic diversity” the GCI homogenized all Indian music in order to cater to a large audience on a commercial scale. This was a major blow to the “rural folk genres like Rasiya, Braj Dhola, Bundhelkhandi Alha and many epics and tales sung in Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab" as their voluminous texts could not be accommodated within the record limits and the linguistic diversity made it imperative to create records that would cater to the “pan regional audience” (Manuel). Thus, utilitarianism laid down its terms which resulted in the mass dissemination of music that was purely rooted in commercial gains. Also the class distinction became more pronounced as the educated urban bourgeoisie became the axis around which all the production revolved and the ignorant rural minority was marginalized. With the beginning of Indian radio broadcasting in 1927, Radio came to India. Though always governed by political...