Music of West Bengal

The music of West Bengal includes multiple indigenous musical genres such as Baul, Bishnupuri Classical, Kirtan, Shyama Sangeet, Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti, Atulprasadi, Dwijendrageeti, Kantageeti, Ganasangeet, Adhunik Gaan, Sumaner gaan, Bengali rock. The city of Darjeeling, which has many Nepali people, is a center for Nepali rock, too.

Music of West Bengal
Baul Song Performance - Saturday Haat - Sonajhuri - Birbhum 2014-06-28 5286.JPG
Baul Song Performing in Birbhum, West Bengal
Specific forms
Religious music
Ethnic music
Traditional music
Media and performance
Music mediaRadio



Regional music
Related areas
Other regions
Hira Devi Waiba, pioneer of Nepali Folk Songs.
Music of India
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735.jpg
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, c. 1735 (Rajasthan)


Media and performance
Music awards
Music festivals
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthemJana Gana Mana
Regional music

Bishnupur GharanaEdit

The Bishnupur Gharana is the sole Classical (Drupad) gharana of Bengal. It originated in Bishnupur, Bankura by the court musicians of the Malla Kings.[1] Bahadur Khan of Delhi, a descendant of the Tansen, was the father of Bishnupur Gharana. Bahadur Khan was brought to Bishnupur by Malla King Raghunath Singha II.

Baul sangeetEdit

The bauls are a mystic group of singers and musicals, immensely popular in the countryside. They perform using a khamak, ektara and dotara.

Rabindra SangeetEdit

Rabindra Sangeet (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রসঙ্গীত Robindro shonggit, Bengali pronunciation: [ɾobindɾo ʃoŋɡit]), also known as Tagore Songs, are songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore.[2] They have distinctive characteristics in the music of Bengal, popular in India and Bangladesh.[3][4]

Rabindra Sangeet has been an integral part of Bengal culture for over a century.[4][5] 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.[4]

Tamang SeloEdit

A genre of Nepali Folk song of the Tamang people and popular amongst the Nepali-speaking community in West Bengal, India and around the world. It is accompanied by Tamang instruments, the Madal, Damphu and Tungna, although now-a-days musicians have taken to modern instruments. A Tamang Selo can be catchy and lively or slow and melodious and is usually sung to convey sorrow, love, happiness or day to day incidents and stories of folklore.[6]

Hira Devi Waiba is hailed as the pioneer of Nepali Folk songs and Tamang Selo.[7] Her song 'Chura ta Hoina Astura' (चुरा त होइन अस्तुरा) is said to be the first Tamang Selo ever recorded.[8] She has sung nearly 300 songs through her musical career spanning 40 years. After Waiba's death in 2011, her son Satya Waiba (producer) and Navneet Aditya Waiba (singer) collaborated and re-recorded her most iconic songs and released an album titled Ama Lai Shraddhanjali (आमालाई श्रद्धाञ्जली-Tribute to Mother).[9][10][11]

Shyama SangeetEdit

Shyama Sangeet (Bengali: শ্যামা সঙ্গীত) is 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.[12]

Shyama Sangeet appeals to the common man because it is a musical representation of the relationship of eternal and sublime love and care between the mother and her child. It is free of the common rituals of worship and also the esoteric practice of the Tantra.

Nazrul GeetiEdit

Nazrul Geeti or Nazrul Sangeet, literally "music of Nazrul," refer to the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, a Bengali poet and national poet of Bangladesh and active revolutionary during the Indian Independence Movement. Nazrul Sangeet/Geeti incorporate revolutionary notions as well as more spiritual, philosophical and romantic themes.


Dwijendralal Ray's Dwijendrageeti (the Songs of Dwijendralal), which number over 500, create a separate subgenre of Bengali music. Two of Dwijendralal Ray's most famous compositions are Dhana Dhanya Pushpa Bhara and Banga Amar Janani Amar. Ray is regarded as one of the most important figures in early modern Bengali literature.


Atulprasadi (Bengali: অতুলপ্রসাদী) or the Songs of Atulprasad Sen (1871–1934), one of the major lyricist and composers of early-modern period, is also widely popular in Pachimbanga.[13] Atul Prasad is credited with introducing the Thumri style in Bengali music.[13] His songs centred on three broad subjects - patriotism, devotion and love.[13]

Prabhat SamgiitaEdit

Prabhát Saḿgiita (Bengali: প্রভাত সঙ্গীত Probhat Shongit, Bengali pronunciation: [pɾɔbhat ʃɔŋɡit] - see spelling variations Prabhat Samgiita#Name and Variants), also known as Songs of a New Dawn and Prabhat Songs, are songs composed by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar.[14] Sarkar composed a total of 5,018 songs, including the lyrics and the tune, in a period of eight years from 1982 until his death in 1990,[15] making using of eight different languages: Bengali, Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Magahi, Maithili and Angika.[16]


Adhunik sangeet literally means "modern songs". In the period just before Indian independence, several new minor musical genres emerged, mainly in the form of playback songs for movies. A miscellaneous category, Adhunik sangeet, was created, since, at that time, this music was "modern".


There is a new genre in Bengali music called ‘Jibonmukhi Gaan’. Jibonmukhi gaan means ‘songs about life’. Suman Chattapaddhay first started this type of music by writing songs about everyday life and ordinary people although it is widely believed that Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was also a pioneer of this genre. Eventually Nachiketa Chakraborty, Anjan Dutt, Silajit Majumder and many others have followed Suman's footsteps.

Band music and Bengali rockEdit

Mohiner Ghoraguli is widely credited with being the first Bengali Band (in West Bengal) and also India's first. Later, as Western influences became more widespread, the Bengali band became popular with young people during the 1980s and 1990s, both in India and Bangladesh, and has since become entrenched in modern Bengali culture. Bengali bands use a wide variety of styles such as rock, pop, hard rock, heavy metal, grunge, folk, and fusion. Their music is influenced both by popular American music as well as traditional Bengali folk music such as shyama sangeet and baul. Like popular music in other countries, Bengali bands are very popular among Bengali young people.

Popular Rock Bands

Year formed Band name Genre Language
1975 Moheener Ghoraguli Bengali rock Bengali
1990 Krosswindz Bengali rock, fusion Bengali, English, Hindi
1991 Chandrabindoo Bengali rock Bengali
1992 Cactus Bengali rock, hard rock Bengali
1996 Hip Pocket Rock, hard rock English
1998 Fossils Bengali rock, hard rock, metal Bengali, English, Hindi
1998 Kalpurush[17] Bengali Rock, Bengali Pop, Rock, Pop Bengali, Hindi
1999 Bhoomi Bengali rock Bengali
1999 Skinny Alley Rock, alternative rock English
1999 Lakkhichhara Bengali rock Bengali
2001 Cassini's Division Rock, alternative rock English
2002 Insomnia Bengali rock, alternative, nu metal English, Bengali
2005 Rikterskale Bangla Rock
2005 Prithibi Bengali rock Bengali
2005 Agnish Bengali Rock, Hard rock, Rock n Roll Bengali
2005 Calcutta Blues Bengali rock Bengali
2006 Destiny[18] Progressive, neo-classical
2006 Pinknoise Experimental rock, alternative rock English
2006 Pseudonym Alternative rock, hard rock English
2006 Kanvas Alternative rock, Folk rock Bengali, Hindi
2007 Five Little Indians Alternative rock English
2008 soul unity of rhythm Alternative rock Bengali
2009 Kendraka Jazz rock
2010 Underground Authority Alternative rock, rap rock, hard rock Hindi, English, Bengali
2012 RobiONobin Folk rock
2013 Lotus Eater Country, Alternative rock, rap rock soft rock, folk fusion, rock 'n' roll Hindi, English, Bengali
2014 Cross Chords Experimental Rock, Progressive Rock, Metal Bengali, English
2015 the troubadours Folk, Blues, mainly known for their Protest songs, such as 'Raasta ta howa dorkar' Bengali, English

Nepali RockEdit

Rock at Someplace Else (Kolkata)Edit

Someplace Else is a pub in Kolkata which features daily performances by live bands. Since 1994 it has been promoting different kinds of music, and established artists share the space with aspiring performers. The pub is situated inside the Park Hotel, and regarded as a heritage spot of the city. Famous bands like Skinny Alley, Hip Pocket (a regular band), Lou Majaw, Prestorika, Parikrama, Indian Ocean, Soulmate, Cassini's Division, Underground Authority, The Supersonics and many international musical acts have performed in this pub.[19] International artists like Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, QED (band), Dub FX and many more have performed in this pub. The pub hosts 3285 hours of live music every year, the most anywhere in India (approximately nine hours of live music daily).

Daily BandsEdit

Day Bands
Monday Open Mind (Open Mic Session) and Guest Band
Tuesday Krosswindz
Wednesday Hip Pocket and Pseudonym
Thursday Span
Friday Hip Pocket and Insomnia
Saturday Guest Band and Saturday Night Blues
Sunday Orient Express and Crystal Grass

Urban MusicEdit

Raz Dee, A Canadian Bengali singer started signing RnB music in west Bengal. Now it is getting popular.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Culture of Bishnupur". Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  2. ^ Sigi, Rekha (2006). Gurudev Ravindra Nath Tagore A Biography. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 90. ISBN 978-81-89182-90-8.
  3. ^ Tagore, Rabindranath (2007). Boyhood Days. Penguin Books India. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-14-333021-9.
  4. ^ a b c "Magic of Rabindra Sangeet". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  5. ^ Dasgupta, Sanjukta; Guha, Chinmoy (2013). Tagore-At Home in the World. SAGE Publications. p. 252. ISBN 978-81-321-1084-2.
  6. ^ (ACCU), Asia⁄Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO. "Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage(ICH)". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  7. ^ "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | North Bengal & Sikkim | Hira Devi dies of burn injuries". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  8. ^ "चुरा त होइन अस्तुरा - पहिलो तामाङ सेलो गीत ? - Tamang Online". Tamang Online. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Daughter revives mother's songs". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Songs of Tribute". The Himalayan Times. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  11. ^ "छोराछोरीले दिए हीरादेवीलाई श्रद्धाञ्जली" (in Nepali). Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  12. ^ Sayeed, Khan Md (2012). "Shyamasangit". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  13. ^ a b c Arnold, Alison (2000). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 851. ISBN 0-8240-4946-2.
  14. ^ Subramanya, Mysore V. (17 March 2008). "DANCE/MUSIC REVIEW - Prabhat Sangeeth". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Homage to spiritual guru". Calcutta, India: The Telegraph (Calcutta). 20 September 2004. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  16. ^ Sarkar, Subhas (31 December 2010). Prabháta Samgiita: A Literary and Philosophical Appreciation (First ed.). Ananda Marga Publications. ISBN 978-81-7252-260-5. OCLC 704229361.
  17. ^ a b c "Mirchi Sarod Sandhya comes rocking! - The Times of India". The Times Of India.
  18. ^ "Kolkata Bangla Band DESTINY - Songs & Interview with Band Members". Washington Bangla Radio. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Someplace Else, Kolkata - Rock Bands". Calcutta, India: The Times of India. 25 June 2011.