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Rabindra Sangeet (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রসঙ্গীত Robindro shonggit, Bengali pronunciation: [ɾobind̪ɾo ʃoŋɡit̪]), 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. It is characterised by its distinctive rendition while singing which includes a significant amount of ornamentations like meend, murki,etc. and is filled with expressions of romanticism. The music is mostly based on Hindustani classical music and folk music of Bengal.
Brief relevant history of Bengal
After the decisive victory of the British East India Company in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, they actually became the rulers of Bengal and the Nawabs had almost no practical power of their own. Under the British rule, the lifestyle of the people of Bengal started to change gradually. People of Calcutta had enough money at this time and they were desirous for entertainment. In 1779, Calcutta's first theatre was established which emulated European theatres of the era. Music listening, learning and cultivating European music styles and performance practices also began around that time.
The year 1795—96 is considered a significant year in the history of Bengal when Herasim Levadev, a Russian musician and bandmaster, came to the city and translated two Russian dramas. Many Bengali actors and actresses participated in Lavadev's dramas. In the beginning of nineteenth century theatre groups were formed in places like Chandannagar, Kidderpore, Dumdum etc. Not only the British, but also Italian and the German culture started influencing Bengali culture and Bengali music. In 1805, the Bengali drama Vidyasundar was staged. The drama commenced with pleasing music of orchestra and it was also accompanied by Indian musical instruments such as the esraj, the Sitar, the Sarangi, the Pakhvaj etc.
From the first half of the nineteenth century, Calcutta saw a rise of orchestral music in Bengali theatres and "polite" (affluent) society. On 3 July 1857, a drama entitled Ratnavali was staged at Jatindramohan Tagore's house at Belgachia. Jatindramohan Tagore (later known by only his last name which eventually became synonymous with Bengali songs of the era) was one of the main organizers of this drama. He assigned musicians Kshetramohan Goswami and Jadunath Pal to form an orchestra imitating those found in European theatres. Hence, the aforementioned and other Bengali musicians and scholars began experimenting with different forms of European music, and they developed Bengali notations, called gat's, etc. These activities cemented the name Tagore in Bengali-Indian music history.
(Jatindramohan) Tagore started writing poetry in his early childhood. He grew up in an environment surrounded by lovers and cultivators of music, and he had a fine introduction to different musical genres.
Collection of compositions
The book forming a collection of all songs written by Rabindranath is called 'Gitabitan' ("Garden of songs") forms an important part of currently-extant historical materials pertaining to Bengali musical expression. The six major parts of this book are Puja (worship), Prem (love), Prakriti (Nature) and Bichitra (Diverse), Swadesh (Patriotism) and Aanushthanik (Celebration).
Rabindra Sangeet has been an integral part of Bengal culture for over a century. Indian social reformer Swami Vivekananda became an admirer of Rabindra Sangeet in his youth. He also composed music in the Rabindra Sangeet style, for example Gaganer Thale in Raga Jaijaivanti.
Notable singers of Rabindrasangeet
Some of the well-known singers of Rabindrasangeet are:
- Abdul Ahad
- Amiya Tagore
- Malati Ghosal
- Kanika Bandyopadhyay
- Rezwana Chowdhury Banya
- Debabrata Biswas
- Kabir Suman
- Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta
- Banani Ghosh
- Santidev Ghosh
- Kishore Kumar
- Asha Bhosle
- Kavita Krishnamurthy
- Suchitra Mitra
- Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay
- Pankaj Mullick
- Ghosh, Santidev (2006). Rabindra Sangeet Miscellany. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 978-81-8069-305-2.
- Tagore, Rabindranath (2007). Boyhood Days. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-333021-9.
- Sigi, Rekha (2006). Gurudev Ravindra Nath Tagore A Biography. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89182-90-8.
- Furrell, James Wyburd (1882). The Tagore Family: A Memoir. Kegan Paul, Trench, & Company.
- Dasgupta, Sanjukta; Guha, Chinmoy (2013). Tagore-At Home in the World. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-81-321-1084-2.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rabindra Sangeet.|
- tagoreweb.in, contains complete works of Tagore, including his songs, and scores.
- rabindrasangeet.com, more on Rabindra Sangeet