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MUSIC

Karunamaya Goswami

The foundations of the mainstreams of our musical culture in the 19th and 20th centuries were already laid in the eighteenth. Narottam Thakur of Rajshahi who first evolved the organised version of the rendering of Padavali Kirtan died in 1687, when the East India Company was at war with the Mughals. Raygunakar Bharatchandra, whose many poetical compositions were rendered to music, died in 1760. Bharatchandra was the true representative of the transition of music from medieval to modern age. His contemporary Kaviranjan Ramprasad Sen (1720-1781) founded Shaktapada Sangeet school which tended to compose musical lyrics on the goddess of power. By the mid 18th century, Calcutta was already developed into a modern urban centre where art and culture was thriving. Ramnidhi Gupta, the first great innovator of modern musical developments, was born in Calcutta (1741). It was under his influence that the two reigning musical trends- shaktapada and Vaishnava Padavali were popular. By 1839, when Ramnidhi Gupta died, Bengal musical culture was almost entirely free from its medieval mores.

Bangla literature began in the form of a musical composition known as Charya which was a Prabandhageeti on song composed according to some ordained musical norms. It was a north Indian musical form. We get an account of Charya in sangeetratnakar, a noted musicological treatise by Shrangadev who lived in the 13th century. The sonnet-like length of the Charya lyric and its organised singing modes infused into Bangla songs a kind of classical discipline at the very early stage. Jaydeva, a Bengali poet of the second half of the 12th century modelled his songs on the Radha- Krishna love-lore which he compiled in a collection called 'Geetagovinda' which was regarded as the forerunner of Dhrupada. Looked at historically, the early background of the musical exer-cises in Bengal which have mostly flourished through poetry was shaped by the mystical Buddhist songs known as Charya songs and the songs of Geetagovinda composed by Jaydeva. They provided an all-India musical content for the Bangla songs to evolve. But the regional musical compositional approaches of Bengal were first accommodated by Baru Chandidas in his book of songs, Shrikrishnakirtan or the Songs on Shrikrishna. Here for the first time in the compositions of Baru Chandidas we notice the advent of some musical forms peculiar to Bengal and melodies typical to the region, the present Bangladesh. But soon the regional musical approach of Bengal is found to have been blended with the mains-tream of Hindustani or northern Indian musical modalities in the varied flourishing of Padauali Kirtan. Bengali art musical trend reached great height through this historic union between the high lyricism of Vaishnavite poetry and the musical excellences of Hin-dustani tradition. Bengal's achievement in the form of Vaishnavite songs has been regarded as one of its greatest contributions to the realm of Indian musical culture.

It appears from Raygunakar Bharatchandra's compositions that he was well versed in classical music. He might have acquired his skill from the great classical musical tradition of the court of the King Krishnachandra Ray (1710-1783) of Navadwip, himself a meritorious composer and great patron of creative art of all forms, particularly music and dance. Bharatchandra had influenced the future courses of musical developments in Bengal in many ways. It is true that he adopted the line of Mangalgan or the Song of Bliss which was traditionally dedicated to the gods and goddesses of power. But it is also true that Bharatchandra had himself tried to liberate the poetical as well as musical compositions of Bengal from the hold of gods and goddesses and infuse a human touch into them. It is also very important about him that even in the context of long poetic works of narrative nature Bharatchandra composed a good deal of songs' which were independently lyrical. They could really be sung and appreciated independent of the narrative. These songs, as they refer to classical musical forms and melodies and well ordained rhythms, indicate his intimate access to the norms of classical music of representative and popular nature. Bharatchandra may also be regarded as a pioneer in composing songs on Radha Krishna love episode in raga musical forms outside the area of Padauali Kirtan. He had also made initial attempts to compose small lyrical songs on the Goddess of Power. From these considerations, perhaps, it will not be an exaggeration to consider Bharatchandra Ray as the forerunner of Ramprasad Sen and Ramnidhi Gupta. It is also important about this man that he tried to transcend the poetical and musical tendencies of Bengal from their medieval tone to the modernist trends towards eroticism. This erotic element, which was present in Jaydeva's Geetagouinda, was hitherto largely suppressed under the influence of multifarious Vaishnavite songs of devotional nature. But Bharatchandra's powerful portraiture of eroticism created a fresh interest in it and the sentiment was very largely explored, often tending to vulgarity in folk dramas and musical compositions of folk dramatic nature. It was particularly found to suit the taste of emerging city elite made up of mostly the rich people.

As it has been already pointed out, the trend of Vaishnavite songs was on the wane at the end of the 18th century and Kaviranjan Ramprasad Sen (1720-1781) made the beginning of a golden age of Shaktapadasangeet or songs on goddesses of shakti (energy).1 Ramprasad Sen has gone down in history as a great maker of shyamasangeet or songs on goddess Kali. As far as the thematic excellence of his lyrics is concerned Ramprasad commu nicated unorthodox sense of Bhakti or devotion and a strong longing for the Mother's love. In fact, his depiction of goddess Kali as a loving Mother served as a great factor for the popularisation of his songs. There is always a distance between the worshipper and the worshipped. But Ramprasad had struck off the distance bet ween Kali whom he conceived as universal mother and the ordinary folk. The universal mother was conceptualized into an ever obliging human mother. This mother-child theme was heightened in a kind of melodic pattern known as Prasadi Sur. The melodic pattern goes after the name of Ramprasad because he had himself created it through a union between a classical melody and baul, a folk musical type of Bengal. Prasadi Sur is simple, sweet and touching. It contributed greatly in popularising the songs of Ramprasad; the pattern was keenly followed by almost all the later Bengali musi-cians down to Kazi Nazrul Islam. The matter of Prasadi Sur is really very important in the sense that here we notice the beginning of the trend of unison between classical musical patterns and the folk musical forms outside the area of Padauali Kirtan. This musical attitude continued in Bengal ever since and subsequently it led to various salutary consequences. Music directors of Bengal theatrical stage exploited this musical norm in many ways and it reached an extraordinary height under which the musical creativity of Rabindranath Tagore took shape.

The highly personalized relation that Ramprasad Sen estab-lished in his shyamasangeet between the goddess Kali and her devotee was brought closer to human relationship in those songs he composed on Uma or goddess Durga. This is also a type of song first composed by Ramprasad. It was called Agamani. Its subject matter was agaman or coming of goddess Durga from the Himalyan home of her husband, Shiva, to her parents' home somewhere in the' same Himalayan range. It is a parable of the worship of the goddess Durga for three days and her departure on the fourth. Ramprasad had very efficiently represented the anxiety of Menaka, mother of Uma, also the other name of Durga for her daughter living very far from her, her joy at her coming to pay a fond visit and her agony at Durga's departure on the day of uyaya. In the agamani songs of Ramprasad Sen, a goddess who killed the demons to liberate the heaven, has been represented as a sorrowful daughter of an ever sorrowing earthly mother. In both of the trends of Shaktasangeet, namely, Shyamasangeet and Agamani, Ramprasad Sen was able to bring the theme of devotion to an intimately personal level portraying the joys and sorrows of domestic life. This made his songs popular and like the Vaishnauite songs, his songs on Kali and Durga were also sung by the great and the small alike. The trends of Shyamasangeet and Agamani as founded by Ramprasad Sen were very largely followed by the later composers in Bengal. From Kamalakanta Bhattacharya (1772-1821) to Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) Ben-gali composers in general had further enriched devotional songs.

Ramnidhi Gupta, popularly known as Nidhu Babu (1741-1839) was destined to begin a new age in the history of musical culture of Bengal. Musically, the period may be called the age of Tappa and in contents, the age of humanism in Bangla songs. Tappa was a new form of Hindustani classical music introduced by a Lucknow musi-cian, Gulam Nabi, popularly known as Shori Mian, a contemporary of Nidhu Babu. Ramnidhi was taught Tappa by some teachers who learned the new art directly from Golam Nabi's school. Tappa lyric was made up of two stanzas devoting mostly to the theme of love between man and woman. This was delivered in a kind of light classical style which has been described as a product of combi-nation between Hindustani music (lighter than Kheyal) and the Punjabi folk songs, sung generally by the camel drivers. Ramnidhi was highly attracted to this new musical form of Hindustan and aspired to create its Bengali version which he did with great success. In the new form he made experiments with far reaching effect, indeed.

A shift in the theme of Bangla art songs should be mentioned at the outset. From the mystic Buddhist songs, Charangeeti, to Ramprasad Seri s song on goddess Kali, Bangla songs were normally directed to achieving some spiritual ends. They were religious songs sung as part of performing religious rites. But Ramnidhi Gupta created a different trend of Bangla art songs by introducing the themes of human end, particularly of love between man and woman. It is true that pulsations of human love could be discerned in the Vaishnavite songs on Radha-Krishna episode. It has been asserted by critics that Radha-Krishna love episode served as an effective allegory to portray all the conceivable modes of human love. It was a spiritual version of the affectionate relation between earthly man and woman. But Nidhu Babu had the power and courage to come out of this trend and make physical love the theme of his Tappa. A human theme devoid of allegory and symbolism, therefore, was first delineated in Bangla songs. The age of humanism in Bangla songs and for that matter in Bangla poetry had its humble begi-nning. In this way by the end of the 18th century the musical creativity of Bengal was formed to flourish in two major trends: one was the humanist trend as it began in the love songs of Ramnidhi Gupta and the other one was spiritual or the devotional trend as it followed from Charya songs on the Vaishnavite musical composi-tions. Tappa was the musical medium of the humanist trend of Bangla songs. It also marked the beginning of the modern age in the history of musical culture of Bengal and, largely speaking, in the history of Bangla poetry. Ramnidhi Gupta liberated Bangla songs from the limitations of sectarianism and imbibed them with the secular universal humanist spirit, particularly with the spirit of love. It is in this context that he was considered as "not only the founder of tappa, the primary inspiration of modern Bangla art songs has also come from him."2 It is no exaggeration to remark that until the end of the 19th century few practitioners of music could keepthemselves free from the pervading influence of Nidhu Babu.3

It is also very important about Nidhu Babu that he connected the trend of Bangla secular song with the central stream of Hindustani classical music. Bangla songs were first composed after the model of Prahandha sangeet on medieval form of classical music and it had an all India context. But the connection between the musical compositions from Bengal and all Indian musical norms quite disturbed the Vaishnavite songs which had predominantly regional musical elements. It is also asserted by some that Hindustani classical music did not assume any significant dimension in the musical development of Bengal till the close of the 18th century. At least the modern forms of Hindustani classical music developed in centres like Delhi, Lucknow, Benares etc. were yet to shape the development of Bangla songs. Distance of Bengal from the centres of Hindustani classical music, want of Bengali composers trained in the mainstream of classical music and rise of some regional compositional forms in Bengal have been identified as the reasons for the gap between Hindustani classical music and the Bangla musical works. But an age of close relationship between modern forms of Hindustani classical music and the musical works of Bengal is found to have been established by the end of the 18th century. Various reasons are attributed to this historical situation. It was during this period that Hindustani classical musicians in a very large number began to emigrate to Bengal in search of patronage. Their employment in the ruling households in various parts of Bengal contributed to creating a classical musical environment in the country. Bengali composers and musicians, inspired by their Hindustani colleagues, began to show increasing interest in classi-cal musical forms. A golden age of communion of very far reaching results between the mainstream of Hindustani classical music and the musical achievements of Bengal had thus begun in the period from the closing years of the 18th century to the early decades of the 19th. Ramnidhi Gupta did the most important pioneering work during the initial years when the tradition of Hindustani musical norms was infused into those of Bengal. He began to compose tappa in Bengali after the Golam Nabi model of Lucknow. Here for the first time Bengali art songs began to conform to Hindustani musical norms.

The tappa tradition of Bengal was also enriched by Kalidas Chattopadhyay (1750-1820) popularly known as Kali Mirza. Kalidas learned the art of tappa in Benares from someone belonging to Golam Nabi's school. So Nidhu Babu and Kali Mirza both trained in the art of Hindustani tappa founded the Bengali tappa school and thus introduced a new dimension into the musical culture of Bengal. Meanwhile Raghunath Ray (1750-1836), a contemporary of Nidhu Babu and Kali Mirza began to compose Bangla songs in imitation of Kheyal form. Kheyal is the second important school of Hindustani classical music; the first being dhrupada. The Kheyal style was modernised by Sadarang, a musician allegedly of Tansen's daughter's line. In the same period Ramshankar Bhattacharya (1761-1853) of Bisnupur, Bankura began to compose songs in Bengali conforming to dhrupada norms. This is how the tradition of composing the Bangla dhrupad began and Ramshankar founded the Bishnupur school of dhrupada which is known as the only great dhrupad gharana or dhrupad school in Bengal. Thus by the close of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th Bangla songs are seen to have been composed conforming to three out of four modes of Hindustani classical music, namely dhrupad, kheyal and tappa, the fourth being thumri. It is true that, in the process, there was some resistance in Bengal against the import of Hindustani music. But music in Bengal has always been applied to heighten the lyrical suggestivity. In spite of that, in structure and content art music traditions of Bengal assumed the characteristics of the extended forms of the Hindustani musical styles.

Tappa earned a great deal of popularity as soon as it was intro-duced in Bengal. It was in high demand among the composers as well as the listeners. Its freshness in both music and lyrical content had caught popular attention immediately. Songs were not only composed in pure tappa style, the style was also applied to some other musical forms of Bengal for which they assumed a different musical dimensions. Composers like Dasharathi Ray (1806-1857), Shridhar Kathak (1816-?), GovindaAdhikari (1800-1872), Ashutosh Dev (1803-1856), Kashiprasad Ghosh (1809-1873), Radhamohan Sen and Jagannathprasad Basu Mallik of the first half of the 19th century and Manomohan Basu (1831-1912) were all reputed for their tappa compositions. Many of them tried to imitate Ramnidhi Gupta and some of them were so successful in doing so that in the absence of strict vigilance on the matter of authorship during those days some of the tappas of Nidhu Babu passed for those of some later composers. D. L. Ray, a major Bengali poet, dramatist and composer of songs, was keenly interested in tappa and composed a good number of songs in tappa style. He had also exploited a com-pound form called tap-kheyal, a mix of tappa and kheyal. Surendranath Majumdar (1865-1935), who had great influence on D. L. Ray, had an excellent command over tap-kheyal form. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) had been greatly influenced by the tappa musical style. lie made successful experiments in dove-tailing the tappa style with his own musical innovations. It may be thus observed that for the period from Nidhu Babu to Rabindranath Tagore tappa and tappa based musical styles nourished Bangla art songs in many ways. The 19th century composers of Bangla love songs drew their inspiration principally from the tappa tradition set by Ramnidhi Gupta.

Now we may turn to a popular musical form called kaui. It is a form of music executed in a kind of a competition between two singing parties, each led by a Kaui (Poet) or Kauiwalah. The compe-tition is held over a theme drawn usually from the mythological literature. The leading poet or Kaui of either of the singing parties which is scheduled to sing first throws a question for the leading poet of the other party to answer. The poet who fails to make the 'correct' answer loses the competition. The whole performance is divided into several sessions and each session is again subdivided into several musical parts. Although kaui is a form of folk music, it is highly organized and the total music is delivered in several steps each having a name of its own. Kaui stands for a musical organi-sation peculiar only to Bengal. Rajyeswar Mitra, a noted Bangla music critic believes that the tradition of Kavigaan or Kavi songs originated from Kawali, a form of Islamic devotional composition. He says:

The Nawabi rule in Bengal from Murshid gulf to Alivardi brought internal peace and during this time the popular music of Bengal made a headway as against the old and static classical form. The most outstanding creation of this age was the kavi songs. It was a very lively form since it was wordy duel set in tunes. Generally an episode on the life of Shri Krishna and Gopis was the theme and one party raised an issue while the other gave _a fitting reply when the former ended. Its movements were distinctly different from the existing classical types. Movements like Chitan, Parchitan, Fuka, Melta, Mohara, Shawari etc. used in kavi were not conventional movements which were Sthayi, Antara, Sanchari and Abhog used in classical songs. The Kavi songs were akin to Qawali songs in many respects and equal importance on percussion instruments was laid in both these varieties. It appears that the idea of Kavi songs occurred from gawali songs held among the aristocrats of the ruling circles and an indigenous form was established by degrees.4

We are not much inclined to accept this theory. In spirit Kawali and kavi are, in fact, musical discourses of different natures and there is no substance in linking kavi with Kawali, for there were ample elements in Bangla songs preceding kavi to give rise to this typical musical genre. The wordy duel which has been identified as a characteristic of kavi songs existed in plenty in the Vaishnavite ballads. The wandering poets of Bengal known as Kathaks had established a tradition of impromptu rendering in rhyme of narratives glorifying gods and goddesses. These formed the bases of kavi songs because kavi elements are found in the tradition of Bangla songs long before Kawali, sung mostly in Urdu was carried into Bengal. But Rajyeswar Mitra is quite right when he says that kavi, in its organisation of musical parts or movements, speaks of original musical thought of Bengali composers. It has no relation to the structural design of dhrupada, made up of four movements, namely, Sthayi, Antara, Sanchari and Abhog and Kheyal and post- kheyal classical forms which are made up of two movements, namely, Sthayi and Antara, Xavi is presented in movements which have been called Chiten, Parchiten, Fltka, Melta, Mahra, Shawari, Khad and Antara. These exemplify the power of Bengali folk poets to execute a long musical discourse through an intricate amalgam ofmovements. A full course of kaui songs made of all the movements was called Danda Kaui. Raghunath Das (1725-1790) has been named as the founder of Danda Kaui. Gojla Gain (1704-?) is known as the founder of kaui tradition. Lalu-Nandalal, Ramji, Raghunath Das – all disciples of Gojla Gain made the primary background of kaui songs.It flourished extraordinarily by the end of the 18th century. Rasu (1735-1807), Nrisingha (1738-1807), Haru Thakur (1738-1812) , Nitai Bairagi (1751-1818), Basu (1786-1828) contributed greatly towards the flourishing of the kaui. The tradition of the kaui musical discourse grew uninterrupted till the middle of the 20th century and it was on the wane under the impact of ever flourishing city musical culture. Ramesh Shil of Chittagong and Sheikh Gumani Dewan of Murshidabad have made great contributions towards the making of present-day, kavi songs.

For the history of art song, the whole of the nineteenth century makes an important era when it developed in many ways in content as well as in form. It was practically from the beginning of this century that the Bengal composers began to adopt modern stan-dard, and consequently musical works of Bengal entered into an age of strict structural discipline. The introduction of tappa by Ramnidhi Gupta, of kheyal by Raghunath Ray and of dhrupada by Ramshankar Bhattacharya created a sharp awareness among the Bengali composers about the lyrical and musical structures of songs. Dhrupada and dhrupada-based songs were made of four movements and Kheyal and tappa and kheyal-based and tappa-based songs conformed to two movements.

We must not ignore the fact that the Hindustani form was an extension of central Hindustani musical discipline developed earlier in Gowaliwar, Delhi, Benares and Lucknow. Bengal did not only follow the lyrical and musical norms, the vocalists of Bengal. had also begun to learn the characteristic style of singing in each genre for which they had to undergo systematic training. A large batch of Bengali vocalists of classical background grew up soon and the number of rigorously trained singers began to multiply apace.

Historically speaking, a remarkable modern musical atmosphere of Hindustani connection began to prevail in Bengal from the beginning of the 19th century and the classical musical trends of abstract nature brought forth different impacts when they were adopted into rich lyricism in Bengal. An age of extensive experimentation in music had also begun at the same time. With the kind of development that we have charted above an era of great musical preparation began in the early nineteenth century and the exercise had yielded rich dividend during the later part of the century.

The important trends of musical compositions in Bengal in the 19th century may be termed as love songs, Brahma sangeet and patriotic songs. It may be mentioned here that this is not a musical grouping. It is merely a classification in terms of lyrical themes.

The portrayal of love between man and woman in the early 19th century Bangla songs is very important. It marked the beginning of a gradual and important development of Bangla love songs stripped of all metaphysical symbolism. The 18th century Kavi composers made a significant breakthrough in this respect. They almost got out of the Radha-Krishna symbolism and portray the sentiment of love in human spirit although they could not dare to bring in heroes and heroines who were men and women in flesh and blood. Ramnidhi Gupta had the courage and capability to cross that border of waning metaphysical symbolism and compose songs on man-woman relationship, emphasizing particularly the sense of uiraha or separation. Historically, "the element of love was first introduced in Bangla songs through Kaui compositions and Nidhu Babu first of all stripped the Kaui spirit of other associations and himself composed songs to portray individual love."5 Tappa was his medium and he modified Golam Nabi's version to some extent to suit it to the mood of Bangla lyricism. There had been a great deal of diversification in the composition of love songs from Nidhu Babu to Rabindranath Tagore, but tappa had always been playing a pivotal role.

The acquaintance of the Bengali poets with the western ideas and institutions had tremendously influenced the form of Bangla love songs. In Bangla songs we, for the first time, come across the feelings of woman's right to love. But the social impediments were great. In real life, man and woman in love can seldom unite.

The name of Biharilal Chakrabarty (1835-1894) may be mentio-ned for his particular contribution to the 19th century trend of Bangla love songs. He enriched the language of lyric, intensified the spirit of romanticism and made nature a companion of individual existence. The idea of eternal feminine in a non-metaphysical context was first epitomised by him in Bangla songs. Once by way of paying respects to Biharilal Chakrabarty, Rabindianath Tagore said: "I can this much say that nowhere in modern Bangla literature the love songs have so much flourished. Nowhere other than in his compositions we get such beautiful language, intense emotion and combination of melody with words."6 The trend of love songs founded by Nidhu Babu and Biharilal Chakrabarty continued to flourish and acquire greater aesthetic dimensions.

Brahma sangeet, which is associated with the Brahma move-ment, constituted an important trend in the 19th century. Brahma is a Vedic word for God. Brahma songs, therefore, mean songs about Brahma. Brahma songs were sung as a part of worship of the Brahma as prescribed in a new form of Hinduism founded by Raja Rammohan Roy which he called Brahma religion or religion of God. God as understood in Brahma religion is one, indivisible and form-less. It is in essence different from a traditional Hindu idolatrous concept. So the songs were in spirit different from the traditional Hindu devotional songs of idolatrous sentiment. Brahma songs were sung in praise of one, indivisible, formless God. Rammohan Roy was also the founder of Brahma school of songs which he himself had termed as 'Brahma songs'. Rammohan, a man of great musical talent, was a connoisseur of Hindustani classical music. and he himself learned it from Kali Mirza. He had a belief in the efficacy of songs as the medium of prayer and self-purification. He, therefore, made prayer songs an inseparable part of Brahma worship, and himself took part in such Brahma worship. Brahma songs had played a pioneering role in founding the tradition of Bangla devo-tional songs of a new spirit. A collection of songs composed by him called 'Brahma sangeet' was published in 1828. Brahma songs earned distinctive features in many ways. It may be noticed that since its inception, Brahma songs tended to practise classical musical forms.

At the invitation of Rammohan Roy, Bishnu Chakrabarty (1804-1900), a pioneer dhrupada singer joined the Brahma temple as a musician. He had played an important role in shaping the musical style of Brahma songs and it was under his influence that dhrupada musical tradition was almost inseparably linked with Brahma sangeet. Apart from Rammohan Roy, some of his friends took the responsibility of composing Brahma prayer songs. The tradition of Brahma songs continued unabated. In course of time divisions had cropped up in Brahma society and break-away leaders established new sects but the trend of Brahma songs was never altered. Rather newer musical attitudes of the reformed sects contributed to enriching the main stream undergoing diversification and enlarge-ment.

Keshabchandra Sen (1838-1884) came in conflict with Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) and broke away.from the mainstream of Brahma Samaj and founded a new sect called Indian Brahma Society (1866). The composers of prayer songs of this sect paid attention to the indigenous music and followed the Padauali Kirtan style. The Society got further split-up when Shibnath Shastri (1847-1911) and Anandamohan Basu (1840-1916) differed with Keshabchandra Sen and founded their own sect known as Sadharan Brahma Samaj (1878). But the dhrupada musical style was continued in the old Brahma society under the leadership of Debendranath. The greatest development of Brahma musical tradition took place in the line of old Brahma society and the best in this respect was done by Rabindranath Tagore.

The composers of Brahma songs enriched the Bengal musical genres in various ways. While adopting the ways of classical music, they, at the same time, utilized the folk musical styles as well. According to a musical commentator: "In this way within one hundred years Brahma songs turned into an ocean out of the union of musical streams of all kinds and led to the future course of Bangla art songs into an immeasurable possibility."7

By the end of the 19th century the traditional Hinduism of idolatrous spirit tried to make, through reforms, a revival of its old self. Ramkrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886) and his disciple Vivekananda (1863-1902) revived the cult of Goddess Kali and Shishir Ghosh (1840-1911) revived the Vaishnavite cult. As a re-sult, a fresh enthusiasm was created about traditional forms of Hinduism and Brahma religious movement thus put under pressure to make it more broadbased. There was a corresponding rejuve-nation of Hindu devotional songs of idolatrous spirit. Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) made the best musical response to this need.

The genre of patriotic songs was founded in Bengal, thanks to the growth of middle classes and nationalism, in the second half of the 19th century. Temporally, the patriotic songs may be traced in three distinct periods: songs composed before partition of Bengal (1905), songs composed in the wake of the partition of Bengal and songs composed since the annulment of the partition of Bengal.

It is not certain whether patriotic song was presented in the first session of Hindu Meta (1867). But the noted patriotic song by Satyendranath Tagore (1842-1923), 'unite India's children' was sung as the inaugural song of the second session (1868) of the'Mela. This is undoubtedly the first thumpingly popular patriotic song in Bangla. "This song, in fact, was the first national anthem of India".8 Dwijendranath Tagore (1840-1926) composed a pensive patriotic song for Hindu Meta: 'India, your face is a pale moon'. It was tuned to Natabehag, a sombre classical melody. India has been presented in this song as a pale weeping woman exhausted under the weight of sorrows. The tradition of portraying India as a woman in sorrows in patriotic songs began from this composition, in fact. Thus, the two principal trends of Bangla patriotic songs: the tendency of stimulation and the tendency of lamentation, were noticed at the very outset, the first was being innovated by Satyendranath Tagore and the other- by Dwijendranath Tagore. This is true that the tendency of stimulation prevailed over the tendency of lamentation, but still some beautiful songs were composed communicating the second tendency. One of the organisers of the Meta was Manomohan Basu (1831-1912), a poet and dramatist. His patriotic songs communicated an intense feeling of dismay at the British domination of India and its consequent effects. .Ganendranath Tagore, a secretary of the Meta organising committee, earned a great reputation from a song which was sung in the fair several times: 'How shall I sing in glory of India, because I am buried in shame.' Stimulating songs by Hemchandra Bandopadhyay (1838-1903), Gobindachandra Roy (1838-1917) and Bishnuram Chattopa-dhyay (1832-1901) were sung in different sessions of the Hindu Meta. 'Who wants to live without being free', a song by Rangalal Bandopadhyay (1827-1887) was a tremendous hit at the time. Rabindranath Tagore is also reported to have presented some of his self-composed songs in the later sessions of the Hindu Meta. At last was presented the most stirring song by Bankimchandra Chottopadhyay: 'Bande Mataram', published in 1881. Since 1885, the founding year of the All India National Congress, increased attention was paid to composition of patriotic songs. At the second session of the Indian National Congress a patriotic Tagore song, 'We have united at the call of mother' was sung. At the 12th session of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta Rabindranath Tagore had himself sung Bankim's 'Bande Mataram' in his self-composed melo-dy. Meanwhile Sarala Debichoudhurani, a niece of Rabindranath came up prominently as a composer of patriotic songs. The annual session of the Indian National Congress of 1901 was inaugurated with the performing of one of her songs.

Patriotic songs entered its second phase during the anti-partition movement 1905-1911. It is truly said though the tradition of Bengali patriotic songs originated in the Hindu Mela, but it flourished during the anti-partition days.9 Hundreds of anthologies of songs were published not only from Calcutta, but also from far flung mofussil towns in rural Bangladesh. Rabindranath Tagore was the principal composer during this period. The anti-partition movement inspired all the important contemporary composers like Dwijendralal Ray (1863-1913), Atulprasad Sen (1871-1934), Raja-nikanta Sen (1865-1910), Mukunda Das (1878-1934), Kaliprasanna Kavyavisharad (1861-1907), Amrita Lal Basu (1853-1929), Pramathanath Roychoudhury (1872-1949), Bijaychandra Majumdar (1861-1942), Ashwinikumar Dutt (1856-1923), Sarala Debichoudhurani (1872-1945), Kaminikumar Bhattacharya and Manomohan Chakrabarty to compose songs on the anti-partition movement.

Rabindranath Tagore composed most of his patriotic songs during this period including his most celebrated one: 'My golden Bengal I love you', which is now the national anthem of Bangladesh. A remarkable feature of the patriotic songs is that although composed to serve a particular occasion or need they outlived the contemporary need through their immortal poetical and musical merit. Tagore had utilized the folk musical stock of Bengal, particu-larly Baul, to compose melody for the patriotic songs of this period.

Patriotic songs of Dwijendralal Ray were very popular in this period. They had a fresh musical tone acquired from western music. Their musical design of gradual rise and fall added a new charm about them and made singing in chorus attractive. D. L. Ray had also composed some parodies on patriotic sentiment.

Rajanikanta Sen is found to compose some patriotic songs for the movement opposing the partition of Bengal. His illustrious song: "Accept as a blessing the coarse cloth given by mother" symbolising the popular spirit of the boycott of foreign goods, was very, widely sung during and after the movement. Atulprasad Sen composed many patriotic songs most of which earned general popularity for him.

Barisal, a district town in southern Bengal; was an important place of political movements. The anti-partition movement ran very high there and inspiring patriotic songs were composed by nationalist poets of Barisal among whom included Mukunda Das (1878- 1934) and Ashwini Kumar Datta (1856-1923). As a composer of patriotic songs Mukunda Das was soon able to transcend the borders of Barisal and establish himself as a composer at national level. So intense was his power of reflecting the heroic sentiment in songs that possibly none among the Bengali composers other than Kazi Nazrul Islam could be compared with him in this respect. He was known as the wondering poet of Bengal. He moved from place to place to sing his self-composed songs and stage his patriotic plays passed as swadeshi jatra. He epitomised almost all the tendencies of Bangla patriotic songs. Like many other past and contemporary poets Mukunda Das looked upon the motherland as a goddess, preferably a goddess of power. He held high the tradition of milangaan or song of unity, particularly between the Hindus and the Muslims.

The trend of Bangla patriotic songs was on the wane when the Bengal partition was annuled in 1911. Of the important composers of the trend Kaliprasanna Kavyavisharad died in 1907, Rajanikanta Sen died in 1910, D. L. Ray died in 1913 and Rabindranath Tagore and Atulprasad Sen diverted their genius to composing songs of different sentiments. Only Mukunda Das was there to compose in the old trend.

Now we pass on to the third phase which is, in fact, the phase of Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore's musical life may be divided into three phases: the first phase extends from 1881 to 1900, the second phase from 1900 to 1920 and the third phase from 1921 to 1941. The first phase is called the period of preparation, the second phase is called the phase of experimentation and the third phase has been termed as the phase of composition per excellence. In the first phase of his musical life Rabindranath Tagore had mostly turned his attention to composing songs in imitation of some existing stock-songs in Hindi. In the second phase he began to create melodies of his own on the basis of Hindustani classical musical forms. It marked the beginning of Tagore style musical compositions. Most of Tagore's patriotic songs were composed in this period. He began to pay increasing attention to folk musical forms from this time onward. The third phase provided the mature Tagore compositions widely acclaimed for their characteristic Tagore style:

The characteristic Tagore songs are those which he composed in the last phase on the basis of experiences and experimentation on every wide range. Rich in variety and novelty these compositions are regarded as Tagore's great contributions to the stock of Indian music.10

The mature Tagore musical style was evolved out of a combi-nation of folk melodies particularly baul with classical melodies and baul form with classical musical forms. Coming to the last phase of his creative life Rabindranath paid highest attention to heightening the lyrical suggestivity with the help of music. This was, of course, the motto of his whole career as a composer.

Rabindranath Tagore has himself put his songs in four principal groups which he called Puja (worship), Swadesh (homeland), Prem (love) and Prakriti (nature).- There are two minor groups called 'variety' and 'occasional.' Tagore's 'worship' class of songs are about 650 in number. These songs were composed in Brahmasangeet tradition. He belonged to old Brahma society under the leadership of his father and the dhrupada based musical line of the society was his musical ideology which is of course true not only, of his devotio-nal songs but also of songs of other categories. The devotional songs on one indivisible God of Brahma religion were composed by hundreds of Bengali lyricists, but the best of this kind was composed by Rabindranath Tagore. His Brahma songs stand for the highest achievements in the domain of Bengali devotional songs. Allegiance to God has been communicated in a combination of lyricism and music that inspires every believing soul. So when the

Brahma religious movement has gone on the wane, Tagore songs have remained lovable. They have never assumed the limitations of communal prayer songs. They reflect the spirit of universal prayer. This enables Tagore songs of devotion to withstand the test of time.

Tagore had composed some three hundred songs on nature. They have been known as seasonal songs as they muse natural states in Bengal through the changing cycles of weather. Here we notice the fullest blossoming of the romantic attitude to nature pioneered in Bangla lyrical compositions by Biharilal Chakrabarty who is also said to have inspired Tagore. Tagore does not merely describe the visible changes in nature: in flowers, in plants and creepers, in wind, in river and in sky etc.; he also communicates the corresponding states of human mind. The existence of human element in Tagore songs on nature is, therefore, very deep.

The relation between music and nature has always been very intimate. This took rather an organised shape in classical music where seasonal melodies have been planned and six major ragas have been exclusively left to six seasons. Civilization of man grew up in the lap of nature in early days. Pulsations in nature were quickly felt in the state of human mind. Natural festivals were parts of man's living. But people were being increasingly cut off from nature as the rural civilization was on the wane and cities as the centres of modern industrial civilization grew up and expanded. Rabindranath Tagore tried to revive that sinking relation between man and nature in his songs and in seasonal festivals that he introduced in Shantiniketan. He came to north Bengal to take charge of the estate at the age of thirty. There he passed year after year in the midst of trees, creepers, green and golden fields, shadowy villages, and roaring rivers. At the age of forty Rabindranath founded the Shantiniketan school. There he lived very close to rural environ ment. He composed sixteen songs on summer, one hundred fifteen on rain, thirty on autumn, five on late autumn, twelve on winter and ninety six songs on spring. These make the best of Bengali seasonal songs. The seasonal festivals introduced by Rabindranath Tagore and the dance sketches and songs he composed on the season-cycles are regarded as his great contributions to the musical culture of Bengal. Tagore composed over four hundred love songs. In respect of number they stand next to devotional songs. The trend of composing love songs extends from the first to the last phase of Tagore's creative life. He never failed to be inspired with the intrinsic charm of love. As in music, so in theme, a gradual development marks Tagore's composition of love songs. In love songs of the first phase of his musical life we get the feeling of a highly personalized love, a known environment of living, as if we get Rabindranath himself in love. But in, later phases the portrayal of feeling passes into a change and personalized state of mind merges into a universal urge. In the mature Tagore songs of love we feel the presence of an eternal urge that tends to make universal man crave for universal woman of his fascination and universal woman crave for universal man of her choosing. In this sense of course they become songs of spiritual impulse. Like the best of Bangla love songs Tagore songs on love are never songs of union between man and woman. They never reflect a joyous mood. They are songs of separation symbolizing rather like the Vaishnavite songs the eternal separation between the eternal masculine and the eternal feminine. Sometimes the beloved is so much spiritualised that it becomes difficult to distinguish between a love song and a song of devotional sentiment. Songs of human love were first composed by Ramnidhi Gupta. Since then throughout the 19th century innumerable love songs had been composed by hundreds of Bengali poets. But the most sublime form of it from lyrical as well as musical points of view was attained by Rabindranath.

Tagore's musical ideal was dhrupada. Once he told Dhurjatiprasad Mukhopadhyay, "We have got two things in dhrupada; on the one hand we have got its vastness and depth and on the other we have got its control and symmetry."11 Depth, control and symmetry are the virtues which characterize the musical compositions of Tagore. It must be said here , that Tagore had only taken the essence of dhrupada music. He never followed its intricate ways of improvi-sations. His highest objective in musical composition was to heighten the lyrical suggestivity. He did it with a kind of missionary zeal throughout his life without submitting to natural musical temptations. The way of music, particularly when it is the way of Hindustani classical or semi-classical music, is always elusive. It mesmerizes one into the depth of countless ways of improvisations. But Tagore himself being a great admirer of Hindustani classical music could get rid of intricacies of performance and set the lyric to melody with a stern poetic motto of bringing out the message of vani or the lyrical part of the song. Rabindranath had not only followed the ideology himself, he had also founded this tradition of musical composition through more than two thousand of his songs. He had also largely followed the dhrupada structural design. It was a four stanza musical division. Prior to him musical compositions in Bengal were mostly made of two musical stanzas. But Rabindranath Tagore founded the tradition of four stanza musical composition which formed the basis of modern Indian musical exercises.

In these ways Tagore had taken single-handed efforts to improve upon the 19th century trends of music and founded a sublime tradition of his own which is regarded as the most wonderful musical achievement in modern India.

D. L. Ray attained a great fame by devising an encouraging musical style which was the product of a brilliant combination of Hindustani classical music and western musical pattern. He applied this neo-musical style with great success to his patriotic songs. The western way of lively gradual musical rise and fall added a new dimension to the expressiveness of his compositions. Interesting comments on this musical innovation was made by Kalidas Ray, a renowned Bengali poet and critic. He said:

This kind of liveliness was not present in our music. D. L. Ray derived this liveliness from Western music and instilled it into the music of our land. He introduced in our country what is known as movement in Western music. In our musical system melody expands pretty slowly. But D. L. Ray noticed that enthusiasm and speed have great musical value. It expands the area of melody and instills liveliness in it.12

D. L. Ray achieved unprecedented success in utilizing western chorus singing style in the raga musical frame. He had done a pioneering job in the use of marching music in patriotic songs. D. L. Ray has left testimony of great strength as a composer of love songs. He made use of raga music. But he did not opt to make use of the traditional raga musical ways. He rather adopted a personal approach and worked very hard for distinctly varying musical com- positions to suit the suggestivity of varying lyrics. He exploited tappa and kheyal and a combination of tappa and kheyal known as tap-kheyal. But everywhere he has left marks of individual approach.

Jyotirindranath Tagore initiated the trend of composed music and it took a shape in him before Rabindranath achieved considerable success in what may be called a creative musical approach.

Dwijendralal Ray is regarded as the greatest composer of humo-rous songs in Bangla. He is, in fact, the founder of the tradition of modern Bangla humorous songs. He achieved equal success in satirical songs as well as songs of pure humour. He composed a new musical pattern for songs of humour in which western musical elements played an effective role.

It is true, although unfortunate that D. L. Ray has not been offered the position in the history of music in Bengal which he deserves as a composer. Proper attention could not have been paid to him in presence of Tagore who outshone all his contemporaries. Moreover there is no institutional support for propagation and evaluation of D. L. Ray's work. But it must be recognised that he modernised the art musical approaches in Bengal and heralded Bengal's entry into world music.

Rajanikanta Sen (1865-1910) occupies an important place in the history of modern Bangla art songs. He is particularly reputed for his devotional and patriotic songs. Rajanikanta Sen was born in the district of Sirajganj in Bangladesh. Guruprashad Sen, his father was a judge. He was also a poet and musician. Rajanikanta was found to be keen in singing and composing songs since his young years. But he earned the real reputation of a composer as he settled in Rajshahi as a lawyer. D. L. Ray went to Rajshahi in 1894. There he heard him singing humorous songs which inspired him to compose songs of similar sentiment. Rajanikanta was inspired with ideas of the anti-partition movement and himself took part in it. But soon misfortunes began to loom large over him. He lost his children and he himself fell ill with ailment in kidney and then with cancer. Even from deathbed Rajanikanta Sen composed some brilliant devotional songs.

Today Rajanikanta is best remembered for his patriotic and devotional songs. His humorous songs have fallen out of use. In patriotic songs he portrayed the salient themes which had been adopted by Bengali poet since the Hindu Mela days. The idea of boycott of foreign goods inspired him most. His 'accept as blessing the coarse cloth given by mother' is regarded as the best Bangla composition on the swadeshi spirit of boycott. Critics feel that only one song like this motivated the people of Bengal to consume countrymade goods. This song earned him countrywide reputation. Rajanikanta Sen will long be remembered for hil; devotional songs. Songs of such touching humility have been rarely composed in Bengal. He composed melodies out of a raga background. But the singing style he evolved was simple, unintricate and devoid of superfluous improvisations. It touchingly communicates the spirit of self-surrender. The world of Rajanikanta Sen's compositions is not very big and varied. Most of his compositions do not seem to be fascinating to the present-day Bengalis, but some of his songs definitely stand for what excellence one can achieve in music. These are enough to rank him as one who enriched the musical culture of Bengal remarkably.

Atulprasad Sen (1871-1934) is one of the great five makers of modern Bengali musical culture which he had enriched in many ways. His greatest contribution, perhaps, is that he integrated the styles of Hindustani light classical forms with the Bangla art musical styles. He founded the style of composing Bangla songs in thumri genre. Thumri is the sweetest and most lyrical of Hindustani classical forms. With its initiation a new chapter was found to begin in the history of musical compositions in Bengal. We have so long heard of Bangla songs composed under the influence of tappa, dhrupada and kheyal, three of the four major Hindustani musical genres. But now thumri, under whose impact Bengal stood at the doors of an age of immense possibilities of mellifluous lyricism and musical charm. Atulprasad composed music of various tendencies, but he was at his best in thumri, and the light classical nature of thumri appears to have influenced everything he did on music, because it occupied the core of his heart.

Atulprasad Sen was born in Dhaka. But he had settled himself as a lawyer in Lucknow. He composed his songs there and in songs alone he communicated the deepest urge of his soul. His songs are over two hundred in number. They have been broadly divided into four groups which he called 'God,' 'Nature,' 'Man' and 'Motherland'. His way of classifying his songs shows that he was under the influence of Rabindranath Tagore in doing so. Like D. L. Ray he had long been in England and knew western music well. But Atulprasad never took interest in pursuing western musical styles in his compositions. Raga music, particularly the light classical was his principal musical source. Under the influence of Rabindranath Tagore he took interest in the folk music of Bengal and made brilliant utilization in his compositions of baui and Kirtan melodies. In some cases his blending of folk styles with light classical ways had produced wonderful charms.

Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam are the two most important makers of modern musical culture of Bengal and they till satisfy a great part of the musical tastes of the Bengalis. Nazrul appeared on the musical scene of Bengal during the hey day of Tagore age, but soon he was able to establish his distinction and initiate some new trends of far reaching consequences.

Kazi Nazrul Islam began to compose songs at an early age. He worked for folk musical troupes known as Leto. The songs he composed and sketches he wrote for the leto troupes have been mostly lost. We particularly know of his musical contributions since he settled in Calcutta in 1920 after his regiment was disbanded at the end of the First World War.

If the musical life of Kazi Nazrul Islam is divided into several phases, then the first phase should be called the phase of patriotic songs extending over a period from 1920 to 1926. He is found to put maximum emphasis on composing patriotic songs during this period. Kazi Nazrul Islam is regarded as a great composer of Bengali patriotic songs. His immortal compositions of this genre have always been sung with fervour. Nazrul appeared on the musical scene of Bengal when a great vacuum was persisting in the trend of patriotic songs at the death of some major Bengali composers and at the departure of others including Rabindranath Tagore from this trend. Nazrul had ably filled in the vacuum and represented in his songs the fiery spirit of the contemporary anti-British struggles. Kazi Nazrul Islam's patriotic songs may be classified into several groups in regard to the subjectmatter. They are: songs on reverence for motherland, songs of freedom movement, songs on awakening the youth, songs on awakening women, songs on Muslim awakening, songs of socialist inspiration, songs on communal harmony and patriotic humorous songs.

Some of the themes are traditional and some of them were freshly added by Nazrul Islam to the stock of Bangla patriotic songs. The old trends too assumed newer dimensions in Nazrul's compositions. The portrayal of heroic sentiment in songs on freedom movement for instance, took an unprecedented spirit in his compositions. The language and melodies he created for his songs were different from the earlier ones and the spirit of a rebel was perfectly communicated in his songs of rebellion. The rebel poet of Bengal started a line of rebellious songs parallel to the line of rebellious poetry. But the trend of patriotic songs of socialist inspiration was a creation of Kazi Nazrul Islam himself. The composers of patriotic songs in Bangla had long been speaking of political independence. In fact, this formed the very core of the tradition of Bengali patriotic songs. But the idea of economic independence or the idea of founding a society free from exploi-tation of the weaker sections by the strong ones was first introduced.by Nazrul into the stream of Bangla patriotic songs. He derived his inspiration for composing such songs from socialist revolution in Russia. Nazrul was a political activist and he parti-cularly composed songs of socialist inspiration as he, with some of his friends, founded political parties which were declared to be dedicated to reshaping the Indian society under socialist ideology. The Bangla version of the Communist International that Nazrul made is regarded as a great piece of composition. The trend of socialist songs flourished very greatly in Bengal under the auspices of the Indian people's Theatre Association. But the trend is found to begin in the patriotic compositions of Nazrul.

Kazi Nazrul Islam composed a large number of songs on the idea of a broadbased social awakening. His inspiring songs on the awakening of youths and women must be mentioned in this respect. But his songs on awakening of Muslims demand a special mention, because this trend was also one creation of his own. Bangla patriotic songs by and large were on social awakening. But the spirit they represented till the advent of Nazrul was Hindu in nature. They stood for a broadbased awakening among the Hindus. The particular context of Muslim awakening was only added by Nazrul Islam to the stock of patriotic songs in Bengal. This had gone a long way in inspiring the Muslims of Bengal to respond to the call of freedom and social change. Kazi Nazrul Islam had also greatly enriched that section of Bengali patriotic songs, which stands for communal harmony, more particularly harmony in the relation between Hindus and Muslims. The tradition of composing such songs is as old as the tradition of Bengali patriotic songs .itself. Most of the representative composers of Bangla patriotic songs strove for such sons urging Hindus and Muslims to shun the ways of disunity and live in amity with each other and together struggle for freedom and for the good of motherland. Such songs were known as milangan or songs of unity. Rabindranath Tagore composed a beautiful miiangan as far back as 1886 which he himself sang in the second annual session of the Indian National Congress. Kazi Nazrul Islam appears to have taken the matter of urging for Hindu-Muslim amity with utmost seriousness not only in musical compositions but also in every other kind of creative enterprise. He had himself made it known in many occasions that the spirit behind combining the Hindu and the Muslim ways of culture in his creative efforts was to bring these communities closer so that they could overcome all the bitterness in their relation and live in peace and harmony. This combination, Nazrul knew, had not been artistically effective every-where, but still he did it with a missionary zeal to bring Hindu and Muslim minds closer in literature and music. Kazi Nazrul Islam had, in fact, composed some of the immortal songs in Bangla language on communal harmony.

The second phase of Nazrul's life as a composer is called the Gazal phase. It began at the end of 1926 when he paid exclusive attention to compose songs in that genre. Gaza1, a kind of love song was first developed in Persia, now called Iran. In course of time Urdu gazals flourished very greatly and great Urdu poets paid attention to this form. But the attention of lyricists from Bengal could not have been drawn to this popular and expressive musical form and none before Atulprasad Sen did ever take any interest in composing some gazals. Even Atulprasad, as it has been said earlier, composed only a few gazals, not more than seven in number and he lived far away from Bengal for which this did not appear as a musical phenomenon to create a respectable impact. When Nazrul began to compose gazals in Bangla and they were being sung in Calcutta by eminent vocalists, they created an impact and music loving people of Bengal began to respond to this genre with great enthusiasm. A new era of Bengali art music was begun by Kazi Nazrul Islam. It has been called the gazal era by the critics. Nazrul composed a large number of gazals and gave shape to a musical beauty which was so long unheard of in Bengal. People of Bengal felt for the first time that they had so long been deprived of the romantic charm of a light classical music and Nazrul's compositions opened the possibilities of a new musical era in Bengal. Gazal's lively romanticism, Persian association and engaging mode of improvi-sation contributed greatly to its popularity.

The third phase of Nazrul Islam's musical life is known to us as the Gramophone Company phase. It is called so because he worked with the gramophone companies in Calcutta, particularly with His Master's Voice. It began either at the end of 1928 or in the beginning of 1929 when he joined the HMV. First he joined as the lyricist and tuner and then he became the trainer and the chief trainer. The gramophone company phase marked a tremendous and varied flourishing of Nazrul's talent as a composer. He was found to compose songs on all the possible themes, in all the possible musical forms and at an incredible speed. He surprised everyone by his gift of impromptu composition. Most of his (over three thousand) songs were composed at this period. Kazi Nazrul Islam is recognised to have greatly contributed to build the golden age of gramophone records in Bengal. A kind of massive response to music was made possible in Bengal on the founding of gramophone companies and films. In his songs Nazrul had also made a massive response to satisfy the popular and diverse urge. He could give leadership to the first ever large scale production of music on a commercial basis. Modern songs, devotional songs, songs of folk tradition and raga songs are the principal sectors of Nazrul's compositions during the gramophone company phase of his musical life.

The trend of composing modern song forms the most important musical phenomenon in Bengal during the post Tagore period. The principal impulse behind founding this trend was to suit the trading demands of record companies and the films. Popular appreciation and entertainment were its motto. Nazrul's distinction as a composer was that he could spontaneously respond to the popular urge and keep by and large true to artistic commitments. Modern songs were composed principally on the theme of love and Nazrul Islam composed a good number of songs of lasting artistic merit in the modernist musical trend. In fact he laid the very foundation of modern Bangla songs.

Kazi Nazrul Islam was also a great composer of devotional songs. They may be broadly divided into two categories, Islamic songs and Hindu religious songs. He was the founder of the trend of Islamic songs in the art music tradition of Bengal. Islamic devotional songs had so long been composed only in the folk music level. But these could not bring musical satisfaction to the educated, modern Muslims. They required songs befitting to the urge of the new age. Nazrul was the first among the Muslim poets and composers in Bengal to give musical shapes to the devotional urge of the modern Muslim mind-and to make a solid start by composing nearly two hundred songs on various Islamic themes. This was a' distinct contribution of Nazrul towards enriching the music culture of Bengal.

The trend of composing Bangla art songs following the folk music styles had also taken a beautiful shape in the compositions of Nazrul Islam. The trend was initiated by Rabindranath Tagore by the beginning of the 20th century, particularly when he composed patriotic songs during the anti-partition movement. The trend soon earned popularity and the attitude to sophisticating the folk music styles. was appreciated and adopted by the contemporary compo-sers. The record companies and film makers had also taken a favourable stance on the matter. Kazi Nazrul Islam had also enriched this musical tendency by composing a large number of songs of folk music tradition and enlarged the scope of this newly developed musical genre. Rabindranath had principally adopted the baul form. Atulprasad had also followed Tagore's suit. But Nazrul followed different Bengali folk music styles like baul, jhumur, jhapan, bhatiali and bhawaiya. The trend had thus been enlarged and diversified. Particular mention must be made to Nazrul's exploitation of jhumur, the favourite musical style of the Santhals. Its dancing rhythm and characteristic application of off-beats added a new charm to Bangla art music compositions. Some of Nazrul's experimentation in this field are looked upon as pioneering works of what was later known as modernised versions of traditional folk styles. ,

In Bangla raga musical compositions Nazrul achieved a great success. The process began in 'the third phase of his musical life and reached its culmination in the fourth phase, known as the radio phase which started in 1938 when Nazrul began to actively take part in programmes organised by the Calcutta Radio Station and continued the practice down to 1942 when he fell incurably ill while taking part in a children's programme in. the studio of the same radio centre. Nazrul's musical orientation basically had a classical bias and he is found-to have exploited the various forms of Hindustani classical music to compose music for almost every kind of song he wrote in Bengali. Nazrul did not take considerable interest in dhrupada. But his love for kheyal and thumri was almost endless. He applied the charms of these Hindustani forms to Bangla songs in countless ways. Nazrul had also made experimentation on raga music and created seventeen new ragas. He initiated an age of spectacular creativity in Bengal on the basis of raga music leading to wonderful consequences. Particular mention should be made to the trend of classico-modern songs of Bengal which Kazi Nazrul Islam had pioneered.

The decade that began in 1930 stands historically as a period of transition between the old and the new ways of Bangla art songs. The origination of the art of modern songs and division of labour between a lyricist, a singer and a composer to produce finished song, improvements in the recording methods, introduction of Talkies and background singing, expansion of radio music progra-mmes are some of the important features of the new ways of music in Bengal. Nazrul Islam stands as a bridge between the two ages and he is the last representative of the ageold way of art music in Bengal.

Mention must here be made to those who contributed greatly to enrich the musical culture of Bengal at that period of transition. As lyricists we get Hiren Basu, Hemendra Kumar Ray, Tulsi Lahiri, Anil Bhttacharya, Ajay Bhattacharya, Pranab Ray, Subodh Purakayastha, Shailen Ray, Banikumar, Sourindramohan Mukherjee, Premendra Mitra and Dhirendranath Mukherjee. As composers and music directors we get Hiren Basu, Hemendra Kumar Ray, Tulsi Lahiri, Binay Goswami, Himansu Datta, Nitai Matilal, Kamal Dasgupta, Subal Dasgupta, Krishnachandra Dey, Shailesh Dattagupta, Chitta Ray, Raichand Baral, Bishanchand Baral and Pankaj Kumar Mallik. As singers we get Angurbala, Indubala, Harimati, Kamala Jharia, Radarani, Shaila Debi, K. Mallik, Krishnachandra Dey, Kanan Debi, Juthika Ray, Shachin Deb Barman, Abbasuddin, Satya Choudury, Mrinal Kanti Ghosh, Jaganmoy Mitra, Suprabha Sarkar and Kundanlal Saigal. These lyricists, composers and singers together contributed to build up the golden age of modern Bangla songs and music of Bengali films. The background of their contributions was created by Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul- Islam. The modern musical experimentation in Calcutta had also made the background of modern songs and film music of entire India.

Indian People's Theatre Association movement founded in the year 1943 in the context of an opposition to imperialism and fascism influenced the total creative pursuits of Bengal, not to speak of music alone. The cultural ideology of the communist party of India was the driving force behind the movement and the distinct trend of ganasangeet or people's song in Bengal, originated under the auspices of the People's Theatre Association. In the first bulletin of the association published in 1943 it was said:

It is in this situation that the Indian People's Theatre Association has been formed to co-ordinate and strengthen all progressive tendencies that have so far manifested themselves in the nature of dramas, songs and dances. It is a movement which seeks to make our arts, the expression and the organisers of our people's struggles for freedom. economic justice and democratic culture. It stands for the defence of culture against imperialism and fascism and for enlightening the masses about the causes and solutions of problems facing them. It tries to quicken their awareness of unity and their passion for better and just world order.13

Songs were looked upon as an effective medium of organising the working people to this end. These were not the traditional patriotic songs of Bengal. They were the new songs composed by some activists of the people's theatre movement. The songs were composed on themes of social change, forming of progressive society free from exploitation and rise and victory of the working people. Binay Ray, Jyotirindra Maitra, Hemang Biswas and Salil Choudhury were the principal minds behind composing people's songs and the musical squads of Indian people's Theatre Associa-tion began to organise sessions at various places. A new section of invigorating songs was added to the tradition of Bangla patriotic songs. It had an humble beginning in the compositions of Kazi Nazrul Islam. But under the auspices of the People's Theatre Association it flourished so well that it could take the shape of a distinct trend of Bangla.songs.

This was the musical context of Bengal in 1947 when the state of Pakistan came into being upon the partition of the sub-continent of India. Bengal was divided into two provinces. East Bengal with its capital in Dhaka was made the eastern province of Pakistan and West Bengal with its capital in Calcutta remained in India. In addition to the compositions of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam the then Bangla musical context was fed principally by the enriched trend of romantic modern songs and the trend of patriotic songs including the freshly introduced people's songs.

The musical developments in West Bengal during the 'post partition years are found chiefly to concentrate on the trend of romantic modern songs which was nourished by the expanding scopes of record companies, films and the radios. A 'batch of talented lyricists-and composers joined those who had been working from the thirties. Promising singers were also coming for-th. Among others Mahini Choudhury, Shyamal Gupta, Gouriprasanna Majumdar, Pulak Banerjee and Shibdas Banerjee did a wonderful job as lyricists. As composers brilliant contributions were made by Anupam Ghatak, Rabin Chatterjee, Hemanta Mukherjee, Nachiketa Ghosh, Salil Choudhury, Dilip Sacker, Sudhin Das Gupta, Prabir Majumdar, Abhijit Banerjee and Anal Chatterjee. Persons like Hiren Basu and Jnanprakash Ghosh took part in enriching the musical environment.

They together built up the trend of romantic modern Bangla songs which, through ups and downs, is still continuing there. As matters stand to-day the musical culture of West Bengal appears to pass into a stage of decay and instead of concentrating on exploring the traditional way of Bangla art music, the composers are increa-singly depending on nothing more than systematic noise in the name of imitating Western music and music of Hindi films. Again the compositions of the- early decades are coming up to cater to the aesthetic taste. Tagore songs and songs of Nazrul. are found to stand the test of time.

The post partition musical creativity in East Bengal (East Pakistan) had chiefly flowed into two distinct streams, namely, modern songs and patriotic songs. But mention must here be made to the tribulations Dhaka had to face to assume the role of a cultural capital when a deep vacuum had been created in the field of music at the large scale migration of Hindus from East Bengal to India as the consequence of partition. The cultivation of music in Bengal was still limited mostly to the Hindus, although some stalwarts from among the Muslims had already made their marks in this field. An account of this situation has been given in the autobiography by Abdul Ahad who was the first among the Bengali Muslims to receive training in Tagore songs in Shantiniketan in the lifetime of Rabindranath Tagore and who later earned reputation as a trainer .of Tagore songs in Calcutta. Like some other Muslim musicians he came to Dhaka from Calcutta in 1948 and joined the Dhaka Radio Station. Abdul Ahad served the causes of music in various capacities, but the most remarkable role he played was that of a composer who singularly tried to fill the vacuum in the initial years and for many more years dominated the music scene here as a composer of music for various types of songs, particularly the modern and the patriotic songs. Abdul Ahad has respectfully recalled the memory of those who took pioneering role immediately after the partition of India to fill in the musical vacuum and inspire the younger generation to rise up to the need of the age and learn and deliver music. Their expectations came true and efforts were fruitful. A generation of men of musical culture was soon found to grow and the vacuum was gradually filled in quite successfully. Mention first of all has been made of the late Abbasuddin who was also fresh from Calcutta for the inspiring role he played as a versatile singer and organiser to do everything possible to tide over the period of vacuum. Names of Bimal Ray, Laila Arjumand Banu, Afsari Khanam, Anjali-Ray, Shahjahan Hafiz, Sultan Alam, Abdul.Halim Choudhury, Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and Abdul .Latif have also been mentioned, who as singers and some of them as singers and composers rendered great services.

Of the two important trends of musical composition which have been mentioned earlier, the modern musical trend .did not have the congenial atmosphere to flourish during the initial years in Dhaka for absence of patronizing institutions like the film and the record company. The only medium which extended support to the growth of this .musical genre was the, radio. It got support of films in the early sixties and that of television in the late sixties. The support in real sense by the record company could never be extended here. Primarily the Dhaka Radio Station and subsequently the radio stations in Rajshahi and Chittagong were the institutions under the umbrella of which the trend of modern songs flourished in East Bengal. Lyricists like Sikandar Abu Jafar, Azizur Rahman, Mohammad Moniruzzaman and Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal and composers like Abdul Ahad and Samar Das contributed greatly towards the growth of Bangla modern songs in East Bengal.

But the more living and the more invigorating pulsations in musical culture had been felt in East Bengal or East Pakistan in the tradition of patriotic songs. Patriotic songs, it has already been said, are products of the musical and poetic response to the political urge of a people in a given frame of time. It is also the product of a protest working in the social mind overtly or covertly. The situation congenial to the growth of the trend of patriotic songs was found to exist in East Bengal as early as when Pakistan was founded and when equally at the same time the contradiction in the relation between the eastern and the western zones of Pakistan was discovered. It became clearly evident from the speeches made by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan that the minority of the Pakistani people in West Pakistan had far reaching plans of dominating and exploiting the majority wing of East Pakistan. Theorganised movement in East Pakistan against the design of West Pakistan started as early as 1948 over the question of the status of Bangla as the state language and it reached the culmination on 21.February 1952, when some of the demonstrators laid down their lives for the sake of Bangla language. Martyrdom for Bangla language was a great milestone in the cultural and political history of East Pakistan and it marked the beginning of a great struggle by the people of East Pakistan against the colonial rule of West Pakistan which passed through several phases finally culminating in the War of Liberation in 1971, aimed at achieving independence of East Pakistan.
This long political struggle had its songs to stimulate the people. As the spirit of Bengali nationalism was always found to inspire the struggling masses, some songs composed years ago by great composers like Rabindranath Tagore, Dwijendralal Ray, Atulprasad Sen and Kazi Nazrul Islam served the cause. Tagore songs, in fact, played an effective role in inspiring the spirit of Bengali nationalism and the struggle on its basis in the eastern part of Pakistan. Songs of People's Theatre pertaining to a broadbased social change on the basis of rise and victory of the working people were also sung. The members and the admirers of Indian People's Theatre Association, Calcutta continued the trend here on their coming to Dhaka or some other cities of East Bengal. Meanwhile poets and composers from all over East Bengal worked together to produce a host of patriotic songs, some of them being very remarkable, reflecting the wishes and aspirations of Bengali people contributing to the mainstream of ongoing political movements opposed to the colonial nature of Pakistani rule. As the political movements passed through stages of developments leading finally to the War of, Liberation, patriotic songs were written in an ever increasing number. The waning trend of Bangla patriotic songs was rejuvenated in East Bengal. Mention must here be made to two great patriotic songs, one composed in 1952 and the other composed in 1971. They are rather treated as landmarks in the history of patriotic songs here. One was the great song of the language movement: Amar bhaier rakte rangano ekushe February, ami ki bhulite pan? Or can I forget 21 February, tinged with the blood of my brother? The other was the great song of the liberation war: Joi Bangla, Banglar Joi, babe habe, habe nishchoi (Long Live Bangladesh and Long Live Bangladesh, Bangladesh shall Live Long). The first song reflects the spirit of the language movement and the second song stands for the spirit of the War`-of Liberation. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury and Altaf Mahmud as the lyricist and composer of melody of the first song and Gazi Mazharul Anwar and Anwar Parvez as the lyricist and composer of melody of the' second song have done splendid jobs to enrich the tradition of Bangla patriotic songs.

We may here mention the names of some eminent composers and lyricists who played a vital role in building up the musical culture of Bangladesh during the period extending from 1947 to 1971. Composers like Abdul Ahad, Samar Das, Khadem Hussain Khan, Mir Kashem Khan, Abed Hussain Khan, Abu Baqr, Khan, Masihul Alam, Dhir Ali, Mansur Ali, Rabin Ghosh, Raja Hussain Khan, Sudhin Das, Khan Ataur Rahman, Subal Das, Satya Saha, Pranesh Das, Sadhan Sarkar and Khandakar Nurul Alam will always be remembered for their brilliant performances as composers of melodies and lyricists like Sikandar Abu Jafar, Farrukh Ahmad, Syed Siddiqui, Ahsan Habib, Masud Karim, Aiizur Rahman, Abdul Latif, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Khan Ataur Rahman, Abu Hen1 Mustafa Kamal and Gazi Mazharul Anwar will be ever remembered for their inspiring compositions in the modern and patriotic music traditions of Bangladesh.

  1. Shrikumar Bandopadhyay, Shahitya O Sanskritir nirtha Sangam, (Calcutta 1962), 3.5,5
  2. 2 Rajyeshwar Mitra, Banglar Geetikar O Banglar Ganer Nana Dik, (Calcutta 1973),7.
  3. Arun Kumar Basu, Bangla Kauyasangeet 0 Rabindra Sangeet. (Calcutta 1978). 15.
  4. Rajwyeshar Mitra, 'Music' in N. K. Sinha led.), The History oJ~ Bengal, (1757-1905). (University of Calcutta 1967), 543.
  5. Arun Kumar Basu, Bangla Kauyasangeet O Rabindra SangeeL 106.
  6. Rabindranath Tagore. Rabiruira Rachanauali, uol. IX. (Calcutta 1941), 432.
  7. Arun Kumar Basu, Bangla Kauyasangeet 0 Rabindra Sarngeet, 181.
  8. Gita Chattopadhyay, Swadeshi Bangia Gaan. (Delhi 1983), 7.
  9. Shubha Guhathakurta, Rabindra Sangeeter Dhara. (Calcutta 1959). 12.
  10. Rabindranath Tagore. Sangeel Chinta, (Calcutta 1966). 165.
  11. Kalidas Ray, 'Prak-Kathan,' in Dilip Kumar Ray (ed.), Dwyindra Kauya Sanchayan. (Calcutta 1969).
  12. Sudhir Pradhan, Sanskritir Pragati, (Calcutta. 1883), 199.

 
     
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