Weaving notes into Goan folklore

Sonia Shirsat | OCTOBER 20, 2012, 07:56 PM IST

I believe, a beautiful way to know the culture of a place, asociety or a civilization, is by learning about the music and art of thatplace. The various forms that prevail, give you an insight into the mentality,preoccupations, understanding of life, priorities, religious beliefs and thestage of development of that society. It is a doorway to understanding the peopleand their ways.

Music speaks volumes. The lyrics give you an idea of what isimportant to the people. Bliss, contentment, harmony amongst the people wouldbe reflected in the words. Sarcasm, mockery and imitation are oft en used tovent out the feelings of the masses.

The music composition, including the melody, instruments used,level of performance, quality of recording, would show the development andstage of progress of the society. Performances, venues, frequency of concerts,audience helps you understand how culturally rich that society is. Music alsohelps you unearth many unsaid facts of the history and past of that place, andhow the society has travelled through time and eventually arrived at its presentstation.

Goa, a tiny state, in our huge country India, also has a lotto tell through her music. Her music that was created by her people from hersoil, the music that was brought by people from elsewhere, that came to her andstayed, as well as music influences brought by her own that returned home fromother lands.

The folk music that prevailed in Goa, like most folk musicaround the world, spoke of the nature of her people, their lifestyle, andmatters important to them. This could be seen in forms of music prevalent inthe Hindu community as well as in the Catholic community. Classical music, be itHindustani, Karnatik or Western Classical, also find their place in the musicscenario of the state.

These require formal training and years of dedication onpart of the students. Semi classical forms like the Hindi Ghazal, MarathiBhavgeet, Portuguese Fado and the Konkani mando, are also popular. Pop music,be it English, Hindi or Konkani, Bollywood music, Jazz, Konkani Tiatr music anddeveloping rapidly now, music by young artists from Goa, with beautifulcreations in English and Konkani, also have an important place in the musicscene of Goa.

In fact, there are regular fado nights held at Cidade de Goain Panjim on a monthly basis, which pay tribute to this unique genre of music.There is also an influence of various other forms of music that comes from allover the world.

Probably owing to the fact that we have been receivingvisitors from over the world and music has been one of the many aspects thatwere exchanged through these visits. And if we regard music as a doorway tounderstand its society, Goa would undoubtedly be understood as a society wheremany cultures merge and progress in harmony.

A society where fusion is inevitable as well as a concretemanner of existence in the future. One such fusion, in music, that I have hadthe pleasure to work on recently, is with fado and Indian Classical music. Thegenres are quite apart from each other. One being a classical and the other asemi classical, coming from two different sides of the world, differentlanguages, accompaniment, voice techniques and styles.

And then I wonder, whether this would have been possible,but for the diverse music influences that one finds here in Goa. Not only fromthe point of view of the availability of resources, like musicians, singers, etc.but also from the appreciation of audiences and support of patrons.

Being able to explore another style of music, to understand thesimilarities and respect the diff erences, to experiment with both the stylesare some of the fabulous things that can be done when you have a platform thatGoa has to offer. Therefore, it is a reason to feel blessed that we have influencesfrom all over, which make us better in our work and help us develop our stylesinto something higher and more evolved, without having to leave our roots.

This colourful background also results in an audience thatis open to this convergence. An audience that accepts and supports newcreations, new styles and forms from lands far away.

However this history also makes them aware, as well ascritical of the experiments being conducted. This in turn, helps the artists toimprove their work and put their talent to task. Thus, both the sections,artists and audience are the reason and result of each other’s existence, thusfacilitating the evolution of music in our state.

The fact that various styles of music prevail in the state,genres intermingle and the audience keeps all this experimentation encouragedand at the same time in check, has resulted in the beautiful, harmoniousco-existence and melodious journey of music in Goa.

Sonia Shirsat is a stage and recording artist. Being Goa’sonly internationally recognized Fadista, Sonia has performed music from thegenre internationally

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