A Year of Music in the Mother Tongue

In this series of articles, Cuckoo News documents the revival of a music genre, Bangla Khayal, by a musical genius, Kabir Suman.

“Let the sound of Bangla Khayal reverberate from Calcutta to Cairo, from New Delhi to New York, from Mumbai to Manila, from Hyderabad to Heidelberg.” Dedicated to Cuckoo News and our friends around the world on the first anniversary of our series, Kabir Suman’s latest composition celebrates friendship, freedom and that liberating feeling of going back out into the great outdoors. Photo: View of Neckar River, Heidelberg, by Koli Mitra

Cuckoo News is honoured and humbled to have received this gift from Kabir Suman. The audio clip, recorded exclusively for us on the first anniversary of the series on “Bangla Khayal” which we started in June last year gives glimpses into how Kabir weaves the Bengali language brilliantly into Khayal, the classical vocal musical tradition of the Indian subcontinent, which by and large, has been rendered only in a few, esoteric languages. Kabir, a musical maestro who pioneered a movement in Bengali modern songs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, tells us that it is important to highlight that he is not the “inventor” of Bengali Khayal and that there have been renditions of this form earlier too.

However, there are those that argue that inherent in the idea of “creation of a genre” is the endeavour that involves bringing to the fore lost art, infusing it with new creative energy and elements, organising and interpreting it into a composite whole. Indeed it has been said of him, “Kabir Suman is the sole crusader in a lonely quest to revive and resurrect a forgotten musical genre so inherent to our language, with revolutionary strides.”

Kabir has faced opposition from purists who decry what they claim to be iconoclasm but their criticism has been drowned out mostly by overwhelming support for his venture.

One of his well-wishers has been West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who readily responded to Kabir’s request for creating a space for and allowing Bangla Kheyal to be taught as a part of the state’s cultural curriculum.

Our series documents and celebrates Kabir’s extraordinary musical journey.

The first year anniversary occasions Kabir’s wonderful gift, the lyrics of which have been inspired by German poet Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin. It celebrates freedom, friendship and the joy of coming out into the open, which is an especially fitting sentiment right now, as the world starts to reopen after lockdown and we all start going out to meet our friends and rejoin the fullness of life in our beautiful world.

Kabir Suman

Here is the audio clip created for us and our friends in Cuckoo News in Raga Bairaagi or Bairaagi Bhairav, a morning raga which, however, says, Kabir, can be listened to at anytime of the day or night.

Listen in:

Categories: Music

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