Folk music can refer to both traditional types of music and the modern notion of folk music that arose during the 1960s in the United States. Traditional folk music has been around as long as music itself, but the term “folk music” wasn’t really used until the 1800s.
Traditional folk music — sometimes called world music — can be hard to define, but there are several common characteristics that help define the genre. Traditional folk music can usually be thought of as old music by unknown composers that has been passed along orally for generations by the poor, working class.
One of the chief characteristics of the folk music is that it emerges from human interests and needs. Haryana has a rich tradition of folk music which caters to the needs of all sections of our society with a primarily agricultural and martial background.
There is a song for every month, season and for every occasion. ‘Bara Masa’- the songs for twelve months are sung almost everywhere in north India. We find description of clouds of Asadha, the rains of sravana, the lighting of lamps of kartika, the spring buds of magha and the festival of colours of Phalguna. While songs of playing with children and songs of playing at play are plenty, lullaby’s are the finest in our society. Songs connected with marriage rituals have lilting quality about them. There are plenty of songs related to the men toiling in the fields and women fetching water from the village well. Folk songs in Haryana are called ‘Raganis’, although this style has nothing in common with the classical traditions of Raga-Ragani system.
There are many different folk singing styles prevalent in Haryana like Gharwa Gayan, Jhoolana, Patka, Rasia, etc. These styles differ from each other in the way they are sung or performed by folk singers of different areas of the state. Similarly ballads are very important section of folk music. They don’t generally have lyrical qualities of folk poetry as in songs instanced above. They are the unwritten history of community. In Haryana, folk singers sing the glories of their success. Fine examples are war songs of Haryana. These poems are called ‘Dohas’ and are sung by bards, known as ‘Jogis’.
A large section of songs can be classified as religious and festive. The singers who sing these songs are called ‘Bhajans’ and there are many Bhajan parties performing all over Haryana. The religious songs are based on simple tunes sung to the accompaniment of Khartal(clappers), Dholak, Sarangi, Dhol and Harmonium. One quality of folk songs is this, that we do not know who wrote its test and who composed its music, Rhythmic variations of as Teen Tal, Roopak, Dadra, kehrwa are mostly used. Ragas like Bilawal, Peelu, kafi, Bhopali, Bhairavi, Chandra Kauns and Desh from the basis of the musical compositions of the songs. Most of the times, the musical score is based on mixed Ragas, Been or Pungi is one of the commonly used folk instruments in Haryana. Saperas or the snake charmers perform dances on the musical score provided by Tumba (a monochord), Daphli and Been.
Through films and TV, western music influences are gathering around in the urban centers of our State, Consequently western instruments like casio, guitar, congo, etc, have started invading the folk music of north India. This may yet give a new direction to the Indian folk music.
Weddings, births, festivals and the time of harvest are occasions for revelry and folk-dances all over the world. Unlike the more stylized and schematic art forms, folk dances are a more spontaneous expression of emotion. They are open to endless improvisations in keeping with changing times and needs. Haryana too has a long tradition of folk-dances which answer the needs of a people with a primarily agricultural and martial background . The relatively slow encroachment of urbanization on the community life of the people, Haryana has kept the Haryanvi folk-dance forms free of the taint of the Mumbai film.
The songs which accompany the dances have lyrics almost naïve in their directness and are based on the typically Haryanvi folk tunes. The musical accompaniment is provided by instruments like Been, Sarangi, Flute, Shehnai. The rhythmic accompaniment is of the Nagara, Dholak, Tasha, Khanjari (a smaller variety of Daph with bells around it), Jhil, Daph and Gharau. The ‘Tala’ is variation of Roopak, Kherwa and what they call Nakta Dadra. The essential beat is the same but the touch is different.
The costumes of the dancers reflect the love of the people for bright colours and finery. The women wear a calf length Ghagra made from at least twenty meters of fabric. This is topped by a short ‘kurti. Covering their heads and the conical ornament called ‘choonda’ is the ‘Chundari’ glittering with tinsel. On the forehead is a round knob like ornament called ‘Borla’. The ears have thee ‘Karan Phool’. The neck is bedecked with a solid silver neck let called ‘Hansli’ and a necklace called ‘Kanthi’. The wrists have ‘Kangans’ and silver anklets tinkle on the feet. The hands glitter with silver ‘Hathphools’. The men wear ‘Dhotis’ and bright ‘Kurtas’ caught in at the waist with sashes, in contrasting colours. Their turbans of different colours complete the picture.