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Influence of Tagore in contemporary music

  • Published at 04:32 pm August 6th, 2018
Rabindranath Tagore, Shironamhin album cover
Rabindranath Tagore, Shironamhin album cover Courtesy

77 years after his death, Rabindranath Tagore’s songs are still influencing contemporary music

Rabindra Sangeet also known as Tagore Songs is a distinctive music genre that has inspired musicians in this part of the world for decades. 

The Bengali polymath composed 2,230 songs- ranging from classical music, folk music to western songs. 

Tagore songs have different parjaya (sub-genres) including Baul, Prem, Puja, Kirtan etc. These songs are filled with expressions of romanticism. 

Over the years, experimental works featuring Rabindra Sangeet have become more frequent in Bangladesh and India.  

Rendition of Tagore songs in contemporary style is different from the original versions, and includes the use of modern instruments like guitar, bass and drums. 

Popular rock band Shironamhin experimented with Tagore songs in their fourth studio album called “Shironamhin Rabindranath”. 

The album was released in 2010 to both positive and negative responses. However, the band gave the Noble Laureate’s timeless songs a rock makeover.

The album featured nine well-known Tagore songs including “Gram Chhara Oi Rangamatir Poth,” “Phooley Phooley,” “Tumi Ki Keboli Chhobi,” “Purano Shei Din-er Kotha,” and “Shudhu Tomar Bani Noy Go,” among others.

Alongside familiar instruments, the band used over 20 different lesser-known instruments including esraj, sitar, khol, chakua, gilabandha, ghattam, banjo, Brazilian wood, Scottish whistle, pianika, clarinet and silver flute.

Shayan Chowdhury Arnob arranged the music for Sahana Bajpaie's Rabindra Sangeet album “Notun Kore Pabo Bolay.” The album was finely balanced with traditional and western instruments. Arnob’s skilled arrangement brought freshness to the songs for young listeners. 

Last year, a mixed album called “Rock with Rabindranath”-featuring various artists, was released under Agniveena banner.  

Indian bands and artists have also been experimenting with different Tagore songs. Recently, Kolkata based band Winter Shade released a rock version of “Purano Sei Diner Kotha” on YouTube. 

Mumbai based Indian pop-rock band “Saman” created buzz among their fan base on social media in different countries for the band’s musical arrangement of “Tumi Robe Nirobey”, a famous Tagore song. 

Actor Amitabh Bachchan lent his voice on Tagore song “Ekla Cholo Re” in the film “Kahaani.”

Visva Bharati’s (a public university founded by Rabindranath Tagore) copyright on Rabindra sangeet expired in 2001, hence the songs are now on public domain for the musicians to experiment with the timeless songs written and composed by kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore.