Kolkata Music scene attracts diverse audiences


Kolkata: Kolkata, often referred to as the cultural capital of India, has a rich and diverse musical heritage that reflects its historical and cultural evolution. The city’s music scene is vibrant and multifaceted, encompassing classical, folk, contemporary, and experimental genres. Here’s a detailed look at the culture of music in Kolkata:

Classical Music

Hindustani Classical

Kolkata has been a major hub for Hindustani classical music, nurturing many great musicians and vocalists. The city is home to prestigious institutions like the Sangeet Research Academy and Rabindra Bharati University, which have played pivotal roles in promoting and preserving classical music traditions. Notable musicians such as Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, and Kishori Amonkar have strong ties to Kolkata, either through birth, residence, or significant performances.

Carnatic Classical

While Hindustani classical music dominates, Carnatic music also has a presence in Kolkata, supported by cultural organizations and sabhas (concert groups) that organize performances and festivals, particularly catering to the South Indian community in the city.

Rabindra Sangeet

Rabindra Sangeet, the songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore, forms a core part of Kolkata’s musical identity. These songs cover a wide range of human emotions and themes, and they are integral to Bengali culture. Institutions like Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan and various cultural organizations in Kolkata keep the legacy of Tagore’s music alive through regular performances and academic study.

Folk Music

Folk music from the regions surrounding Kolkata, such as Baul, Bhatiyali, and Bhawaiya, is celebrated and preserved in the city. Baul music, characterized by its mystical and spiritual lyrics, has particularly seen a resurgence in popularity, with regular performances in cultural festivals and events.

Modern and Contemporary Music

Bengali Rock and Pop

The Bengali rock and pop scene in Kolkata emerged prominently in the late 20th century, with bands like Moheener Ghoraguli pioneering the genre. The city’s youth embraced these new musical styles, which blended Western rock influences with Bengali lyrics and themes. Today, bands like Fossils, Chandrabindoo, and Anupam Roy Band continue to be popular.

Film Music

Kolkata has a thriving film industry (Tollywood) that has produced numerous iconic songs. The collaboration between filmmakers and musicians has resulted in a rich repertoire of film music that resonates with audiences across generations. Composers like R.D. Burman, Manna Dey, and Hemanta Mukherjee have left an indelible mark on the music of Bengali cinema.

Experimental and Fusion

Kolkata’s music scene is also marked by experimentation and fusion. Musicians in the city often blend traditional Bengali music with jazz, blues, and electronic music, creating unique sounds. Venues like Someplace Else and Princeton Club host live performances that showcase these experimental genres.

Festivals and Events

Kolkata hosts several music festivals that highlight its diverse musical culture. The Dover Lane Music Conference is one of the most prestigious classical music festivals in India. The Kolkata International Music Festival and the Bangla Sangeet Mela feature performances across various genres, attracting artists and audiences from around the world.

Education and Institutions

Kolkata’s contribution to music education is significant. Institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur and Jadavpur University offer courses in music technology and musicology. The city also has numerous music schools and private tutors who impart training in both classical and contemporary music.

Community and Amateur Music

Music in Kolkata is not limited to professional artists. Community music groups and amateur musicians play a vital role in the cultural fabric of the city. Neighborhood clubs, local cultural associations, and schools frequently organize music events, ensuring that music is an integral part of everyday life in Kolkata.

In conclusion, the culture of music in Kolkata is a rich tapestry woven from its classical roots, folk traditions, and modern innovations. The city’s passion for music is evident in its numerous festivals, educational institutions, and the everyday lives of its people. Whether it’s the soulful strains of a Rabindra Sangeet, the energetic beats of a rock concert, or the intricate melodies of a classical recital, music in Kolkata continues to thrive and evolve.


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