Folk music all set to get a makeover


In what can be termed as a major attempt to promote the musical traditions of the country on a larger scale, an organization dedicated to the sustenance and promotion of folk music and musicians is gearing up to organize an international music festival, albeit of a different kind. The Kolkata International Music Festival 2010 (KIMF 2010), scheduled to be held in multiple venues in the City of Joy in December, will be the first music festival in the country dedicated entirely to the promotion of folk music.

KIMF 2010 is being organized by Song of Soul – a NGO in Kolkata which is dedicated to the promotion of folk music as well as the sustenance of its practitioners. Talking about the festival, the festival’s artistic director Kaushik Dutta said, “The Kolkata International Music Festival is being organised to give a platform to the folk and tribal musicians of the country and also to unveil the fascinating character of folk and tribal music of India, a major part of which still lies undiscovered. The primary objective is to make people aware of the lesser known folk and tribal music forms of India and help the rural artistes understand and look at this art form as a promising and profitable venture.”

Exhibitions, seminars, panel discussions, film shows and workshops on folk music would be part of KIMF 2010, which would also witness “huge participation of folk practitioners from all over the country and abroad”. “We will showcase over 60 forms of folk and tribal music from India and abroad. The highlights are the inclusion of foreign performers from Lebanon, Turkey, Korea, Mongolia, U.K., USA, Bangladesh, Ireland and Singapore. Nearly 400 artistes will perform at the festival to be held from December 15 to 18 in multiple venues across the city,” said Dutta.

While many would tend to label folk music as being “outdated” and not in synch with the times, the organizers are betting high on the entertainment quotient. “KIMF 2010 will not be like your normal folk festivals. While there will be display performances of traditional folk instruments and musical forms, a lot of emphasis will also be given to the need for adapting our folk music to suit contemporary times,” says Dutta, a well-known folk musicologist who has been documenting musical folk traditions for almost three decades now. He is also the secretary of Song of Soul, which has been working for the promotion of folk music and the uplift of the lives of its practitioners.

KIMF is likely to be a big boost to our country’s folk musicians and would go a long way in helping our folk practitioners get introduced at the national level, feels Guru Reuben Mashangva, a tribal folk musicologist from Ukhrul in Manipur who has developed his own brand of Naga Blues, and who will be participating in the fest. Kaushik Datta agrees, “We plan to make this an annual affair from now on. And although the theme of the festival may differ, our base will always be on folk and tribal music.”

Many of the tribal folk music forms are dying a slow death with more and more folk practitioners abandoning their art forms to pursue other modes of employment. “Folk musicians are barely able to make even ends meet due to the paucity of performance and low artist fees. Nobody is interested in folk anymore,” rues tribal musicologist Dharam Singh Teron who has been documenting the oral music traditions of the Karbis. Given the sorry state of affairs, we can only hope that festivals like KIMF are able to make a difference.

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Posted on October 8, 2010, in Concerts/ Reviews, Day-to-Day, Musicians/ Bands and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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