A lifelong dedication to songs of soil | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 16, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 16, 2017

A lifelong dedication to songs of soil

In conversation with Chandana Majumdar

Born in the heart of Lalon Shah's akhrabari (shrine) at Kundubari, Kumarkhali in Kushtia, renowned folk singer Chandana Majumdar received pure taleem (training) of the mystic bard's songs from her father Nirmal Chandra Majumdar, a fourth-generation disciple of Lalon. Nirmal Chandra, aged 77, is now involved with Chhayanaut.

“My father wanted me to learn Nazrul Sangeet and classical music. I did so, but later I started singing folk songs intuitively,” said Chandana Majumdar in a recent conversation with The Daily Star. Chandana is a teacher at Chhayanaut's Folk Music Department. Her husband Kiran Chandra Roy is a renowned folk singer and their only daughter Shatabdi Roy is a promising folk artiste. 

“Born in a musical family, I was committed to folk music. I am convinced that young singers at Chhayanaut are interested in folk music. The prevalence of folk music circling traditional festivals like Chaitra Sangkranti, Pahela Baishakh, Poush Parban, Nabanno and fairs is evident in the villages. What we see now, a new beginning of conventional folk music heritage, is taking place in our city life. I personally think that we have moved away a bit from the heritage of our folk music.”

“There are many talents in Bangladesh. Youngsters render our folk music through fusion with modern instruments. This is the trend of our time; but we are performing folk songs maintaining original essence and proper melody. This is our lifelong dedication towards folk music. Now it is our solemn duty to train artistes of the present generations so that they can be true to their roots. This is our first initiative to hand on the original lyrics and melody of folk music to the promising singers.”

“The mystic bards of Bangladesh composed folk songs while a number of unsung instrumentalists have been keeping our folk melodies alive through the Bangla dhol, dhak, dotara, baNshi, ektara, tabla, baya, khamak, khol and more. Many folk songs and instrumental practices are on the verge of extinction. Proper archiving of the songs, conducting research on the genre and patronage of folk instrumentalists are very necessary. It is the demand of the time. One person or a single organisation cannot do this alone. Our concerted efforts and collective cooperation at the governmental and non-governmental levels are required for this task.”

“Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy has now reached to the upazila level. No doubt it's a good initiative. But if we cannot ensure art practice over there with the participation of artistes scattered across Bangladesh, the initiative will bear little fruit.”

“Folk songs composed by Lalon, Bijoy Sarkar, Radharaman and other remind us of the melody of the soil. They attract us spontaneously. My latest album featuring 10 songs of Radharaman Dutta is in the pipeline. Like my previous solo album [records of Bijoy Sarkar's songs], Bengal Foundation is producing the album. I received instant responses and accolades from audiences from my previous albums. As I cannot forget my mother, I cannot forget my soil, simplicity of people and my soul. Folk music represents these things. A Lalon song 'Manush Chhara Khyapa Rey Tui Mool Harabi' clearly says it all.”  

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