Another form of folk music which influenced the general lyrical songs of Bengal was Baul. It is a sectarian type of composition arising out of a peculiar religious faith, which has its principal expression in songs only. The Baul-lyrics attracted the poets of Bengal because of their simplicity of expression, use of common phrases and common imageries. The Baul sects maintain God or the Lord to be the husband of beings with whom one should unite and get supreme satisfaction of revelation, the world and the life being unreal and deceptive. The conception was mingled with Gurubad (master worship) at a later period. This means that there should be a master of Guru who would act as the medium between the Lord and devotee. The poetic language used for this mystic faith sung in common rural tune in swinging rhythmic patterns. Some of the songs which address ‘Guru’ have become popular for the mode of expression, tune and metre. Baul-song is known to have extended its features in songs like Dehatattva (significance of this bodily existence), Marfarti, Murshidya Sariyati and Hakiyati - all a blending of Islamic faith.

Bauls have two sections. The classification is made in respect of their religious faith and the nature of songs:

  1. The Muslim Bauls-the music of the Faqir or the minstrel;
  2. Vaishnava Bauls which are again classified into:

    1. Navadwipi group (belonging to Chaitanya-Vaishnavism as at Navadwip) and
    2. Radh group (belonging to the western part of the river Bhagirathi).

The types of composition and method of musical performance of these groups differ in nature and colour. The songs are differently influenced by some Bhatiali group of tunes, popular ragas like Behag-Khamaj group and Bhairavi and typical tunes from keertan-music. The nature of presentation, the rhythmic elements and the composition give them a distinctive identity. Some of the tunes and the rhythmic patterns of Baul songs were widely utilised by Rabindranath Tagore in his songs. This attracted notice of other composers of Bengal. Bauls find the most perfect bliss in a complete projection of their thoughts and philosophy in tune and mode of performance in dance style. Tunes, remarkable in their simplicity of devotional expression, are inseparable from the dance movements of a true Baul. Some sections of singers are peculiarity known for their throwing of voice to the top-notes. The tunes utilised in Baul conform to the patterns common with Bhatiali in the first instance. Secondly, there are tunes in ragas Bhairavi and Bilawal type which are also familiar. Bauls are seen to use varied types of instruments like Khamak and Dotara.

The third group of the songs may be classified as folk music based on mere recitation in tune. These are sometimes partial exposition of some notes in monotonous rhythmic design. It may be observed that Tala or rhythm makes the basic support of the recital of these tunes. Somewhere drumming and metal percussion accompaniment constitute the major show with vocal recitals. Ceremonial music is sometimes covered by a few continuous notes presented in a singsong manner. Lullaby of every country gives the same impression of solo hum-music.


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