Shihab Sarkar |
01 January 2022 20:52:56
Most musicologists call the drum the oldest of musical instruments. There were several types of drums used by early humans. Most were used to announce and communicate with other neighborhoods about impending enemy invasions. Drums have been used in a way modern man uses wireless. The person receiving the news first beats their drum at a particular beat. Hearing the sound, another person in another village beats their drum in the same way to convey the news to another village chief. He then drums to convey the news to the inhabitants of the village next to his own, and so on. Drums are still used by indigenous peoples in many parts of the world — especially in the deep forests of sub-Saharan Africa.
However, drums are used today as an essential musical instrument to help lead performers keep track of the tune of a musical composition. Belonging to the percussion group, the drums have undergone continuous development. Besides their various sizes, large and small, it has taken on a myriad of shapes and names. In the subcontinent, they are known as “dhole”, “tabla”, “bango”, “madol” etc. Although mostly vocal, Bengal music remains incomplete without a percussion instrument. There are also stringed instruments such as ‘ektara’, ‘dotara’, ‘sarengi’ etc. There is also the secular wind instrument of the flute. ‘Dotara’ is the most widely used musical instrument in Bangladesh, indeed all over Bengal. The two-stringed âdotaraâ could be called a typical musical instrument of South and West Asia. Apart from the Indian subcontinent, the use of the instrument extends to Turkey via Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. In the north, the instrument covers all of Central Asia. In many parts of the region, the Bengal ‘dotara’ is known as the ‘dotar’. Folk songs, especially those belonging to the mystical genre, from Bangladesh cannot be performed without a “dotara”. Even in the days of the widespread dominance of the harmonium, guitar and accordion, folk songs cannot be imagined without a “dotara”.
‘Dotara’ can also be played without songs — which is in practice in many countries in West Asia. In Bangladesh, a number of artists have achieved legendary status by playing the ‘dotara’. In this context, the campaign orchestrated by part of the population to banish the “dotara” and all musical instruments from society appeared to be something with disturbing signs. These groups would have panicked the rural mystical singers by breaking their “dotaras”. Thanks to the strong intervention of rural socio-cultural activists, these music lovers ceased their activities.
There is a point to ponder deeply. Unfavorable weather faces the rich heritage of Bangla folk songs. Due to some of the continued propaganda by people against music and all cultural activities, artists who depend on the performing profession for a living may experience difficult times. Long known as a music lover, spending nights at outdoor music sessions, the villagers’ insidious disinterest in music once seemed confusing. For ages, the rural people of the country have shown their passion for the songs of the land. They have shown their apathy for invading alien cultures, calling them something that contains the seeds of social disharmony. That’s right, the waves of Western music and other alien music continue to slam the shores of the country’s rural tranquility. It has its patrons in the neo-rich segments of the rural youth.
Despite being stuck in this confused situation, the decidedly optimistic sections believe that the common people will finally abandon all cultural traits that aim to demean the country’s centuries-old musical tradition. The villagers will not tolerate the banning of the âdotaraâ or the âdholeâ; nor will they allow the urban invaders to vitiate their idyllic peace with heavy metal.