Music of Bangladesh

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The music of Bangladesh spans a wide variety of styles. Bangladesh claims some of the most renowned singers, composers and producers in Asia. Music has served the purpose of documenting the lives of the people and was widely patronized by the rulers. It comprises a long tradition of religious and regular song-writing over a period of almost a millennium.

Classical music[edit]

Nazrul sangeet origins from the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam

Ragapradhan Gaan[edit]

Bangladeshi classical music is based on modes called ragas. In composing these songs, the melodies of north Indian ragas are used. As far as the Charyagiti (9th century), ragas have been used in Bengali music. Jaydev’s Gitagovindam, Padavali Kirtan, Mangal Giti, Shyamasangit, Tappa, Brahma Sangeet and Tagore songs have been inspired by Ragas. The use of north Indian ragas in Bangla songs began in 18th century.[1] This trend gathered momentum during the 19th and 20th centuries. The pioneers of these trend were Ramnidhi Gupta, Kali Mirza, Raghunath Roy and the founder of the Bishnupur Gharana, Ramshanker Bhattacharya.[2] Nawab of Lakhnau, Wajid Ali Shah played an important role in this trend. He was dethroned by the British empire in 1856 and banished to Metiaburuz, Kolkata. During his 30-year exile, he patronized music, specially dhrupad, tappa, thumri and kheyal. And, thus made a lasting impact on Bangladeshi music.[3] All traditional Bengali music tend to be based on various variations of Hindustani Classical Music. Rabindranath Tagore had a deep appreciation for north Indian ragas, successfully introduced ragas in his songs. He was followed by Dwijendralal Roy, Rajanikanta Sen and Atulprasad Sen.[4][5][6]

Folk music[edit]

Painting depicting Hason Raja.

Folk has come to occupy the lives of Bangladeshis almost more than any other genre of Bengali music. Among the luminaries of the different folk traditions are Lalon Fokir, Shah Abdul Karim, Radharaman Dutta, Hason Raja, Khursheed Nurali (Sheerazi), Ramesh Shil, Kari Amir Uddin Ahmed and Abbas Uddin. Folk songs are characterised by simple musical structure and words. Before the advent of radio, entertainment in the rural areas relied on a large extent on stage performances by folk singers. With the arrival of new communication technologies and digital media, many folk songs were modernised and incorporated into modern songs (Adhunik songeet).

Folk music can be classified into several subgenres:

  • Baul: mainly inspired by Lalon and almost exclusively performed by Baul mystics.
  • Bhandari: Devotional music from the South (mainly Chittagong).
  • Bhatiali: Music of fishermen and boatman, almost always tied by a common ragas sung solo.
  • Bhawaiya: Song of bullock-cart drivers of the North (Rangpur).
  • Dhamail: A form of folk music and dance originated in Sylhet. It is practiced in the Sylhet Division in Bangladesh and in areas influenced by the Sylheti culture such as the Barak Valley of Assam and parts of Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur in India.
  • Gazir Gaan: Devotional songs dedicated to Gazi Pir, who is part of Pach Pir tradition of folk practice and belief.[7]
  • Ghazal: Popular folk music of Sufi genres, introduced from philosophy and religion in music practiced mainly by Bengali Muslims.
  • Gombhira: Song (originated in Chapai Nawabganj) performed with a particular distinctive rhythm and dance with two performers, always personifying a man and his grand father, discussing a topic to raise social awareness.
  • Hason Raja: Devotional songs written by a music composer by the name of Hason Raja (from Sylhet, northeastern side of Bangladesh near Assam) that was recently repopularised as dance music.
  • Jari: songs involving musical battle between two groups
  • Jatra Pala: songs associated exclusively with plays (performed on-stage). Usually involves colourful presentations of historical themes.
  • Jhumur: traditional dance song form Bangladesh and eastern part of India.[8]
  • Kavigan: poems sung with simple music usually presented on stage as a musical battle between poets.
  • Kirtan: devotional song depicting love to Hindu God Krishna and his (best-known) wife, Radha.
  • Lalon: best known of all folk songs and the most important subgenre of Baul songs, almost entirely attributed to spiritual writer and composer, Lalon Fokir of Kushtia. He is known to all in West Bengal of India too.(Western Bangladesh, near the border with West Bengal).
  • Pala Gaan: folk ballad also known as Pat.[9]
  • Sari: sung especially by boatmen. It is often known as workmen's song as well.
  • Shyama Sangeet: 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.[10]


Baul is the most commonly known category of Bangladeshi folk songs. It is mostly performed by hermits who are followers of Sufism in Bangladesh. Present day Sufis earn mainly from performing their music. Baul songs incorporate simple words expressing songs with deeper meanings involving creation, society, lifestyle and human emotions. The songs are performed with very little musical support to the main carrier, the vocal. Instruments used include the Ektara ("one-string"), Dotara ("two-strings"), ba(n)shi (country flute made from bamboo) and cymbals. In recent times[when?], Baul geeti has lost popularity, due to urbanisation and westernisation.

রবীন্দ্র সঙ্গীত (Music of Robindra)[edit]

Rabindra Sangeet (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রসঙ্গীত Robindro shonggit, Bengali pronunciation: [ɾobindɾo ʃoŋɡit]), also known as Tagore Songs, are songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore. They have distinctive characteristics in the music of Bengal, popular in India and Bangladesh. "Sangeet" means music, "Rabindra Sangeet" means Songs of Rabindra.

Rabindra Sangeet used Indian classical music and traditional folk music as sources.[11]

নজরুল গীতি (Music of Nazrul)[edit]

Nazrul Geeti or Nazrul Sangeet, literally "music of Nazrul," are songs written and composed by Kazi Nazrul Islam, a Bengali poet and national poet of Bangladesh and active revolutionary during the Indian Independence Movement. Nazrul Sangeet incorporate revolutionary notions as well as more spiritual, philosophical and romantic themes.

শাহ আবদুল করিম (Music of Shah Abdul Karim)[edit]

Shah Abdul Karim known as "Baul Samrat" or king of baul music, he has composed over 1600 baul songs, some of his notable songs include Keno Piriti Baraila Re Bondhu, Murshid Dhono He Kemone Chinibo Tomare, Nao Banailo Banailo Re Kon Mestori, Ashi Bole Gelo Bondhu and Mon Mojale Ore Bawla Gaan. He referred to his compositions as Baul Gaan. He holds voice against unfairness, injustice, prejudice and communalism through his writings. Karim portraits Bhati area's people love, wish and happiness amid the writings. He got inspiration from another legendary musician Fakir Lalon Shah. Karim wrote many spiritual songs including Marfati or Dehatatta. Bangla Academy has translated ten songs of his in the English language. Karim wrote many spiritual songs including Marfati or Dehatatta. Bangla Academy has translated ten songs of his in English.

লালন গীতি (Music of Lalon)[edit]

Lalon also known as Fakir Lalon Shah, Lalon Shah, Lalon Fakir. Lalon composed numerous songs and poems, which describe his philosophy. Lalon left no written copies of his songs, which were transmitted orally and only later transcribed by his followers. Also, most of his followers could not read or write either, so few of his songs are found in written form.


Popular Rock Bands
Formed Name Genre Language City of origin
1973 Souls Pop/Rock Bengali Chittagong
Uccharon Dhaka
1972 Spondan
1976 Feedback Rock music
1978 Miles Pop/Rock
1980 Nagar Baul Hard rock, psychedelic rock Chittagong
1980s Different Touch Pop/Rock Khulna
1984 Warfaze Hard rock, heavy metal music Chittagong
1985 Obscure Pop and rock Khulna
1985 Rockstrata Heavy Metal Dhaka
1986 Nova Rock music, Hard rock, Psychedelic rock
1991 Love Runs Blind Alternative rock Chittagong
Ark Pop rock
1993 Cryptic Fate Progressive metal Dhaka
1996 Shironamhin Folk music, alternative rock, psychedelic rock
Dalchhut Rock music
1998 Aurthohin Rock music, Heavy Metal
Black Rock music, alternative rock, grunge
Poizon Green Thrash/Power Metal English
1999 Artcell Progressive metal, progressive rock Bangla
Scarecrow Thrash Metal, metal core
Nemesis Alternative rock
2000 Lalon Rock
2001 Stentorian Hard rock, heavy metal
Vibe Heavy Metal
Satanik Black Metal English
2002 Arbovirus Experimental music, alternative rock, Nu metal Bangla
2004 Severe Dementia Death Metal English
Funeral Anthem Power Metal Bangla
2005 Shohortoli Theatrical rock
2006 De-illumination Symphonic rock, symphonic metal
Mechanix Heavy Metal
Powersurge Thrash Metal
2007 Shunno Alternative rock, Pop rock
Tribe Acid Rock/Metal
Bishorgo Rock Chittagong
Sent Men Revolt Spiritual Thrash, Thrash, Heavy Metal Dhaka
GrooveTrap[12][13] Funk, R&B, Soul English


Tamak (r.) and Tumdak (l.) - typical drums of the Santhal people, photographed in a village in Dinajpur district, Bangladesh.

Common instruments are:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Traditional Music of Bangladesh". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Classical Music of Bengal". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  3. ^ "New Horizons of Bangladeshi Classical Music". The Daily Star. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Bangla Classical Music Festival". Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Classical music of Bangladesh". Banglapedia. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Music of Bangladesh". Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Gazir Gaan: Representation of tolerance and social equality". The Daily Star. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Jhumur Song". Banglapedia. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Pala Gan". Banglapedia. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  10. ^ Sayeed, Khan Md (2012). "Shyamasangit". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  11. ^ Huke, Robert E. (2009). "West Bengal". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  12. ^ "Jasper al-Rashid". The Daily Star. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  13. ^ "Groovetrap Bringing the funk back after 10 years". The Daily Star. 19 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-08.