Folk tunes with a twist

Folk tunes with a twist

Stumbling across a band from Kolkata, which is far away from the melodic ‘Rabindra Sangeeth’ or the clamorous metal music, is quite rare. 

‘Folk Foundation’, a five-piece ensemble, is one of those quintets scattered in a state teeming with bands which draw inspiration from classical Bengali music.

Distinctive not only in terms of their genre, but their stage attire and style, the five-piece ensemble arranges rustic harmonies with its roots right from the sandy stretches of Rajasthan and the hills of Assam to the valleys of Kashmir. 

With Dipannita Acharya on lead vocals, Rajkumar Sengupta on guitars, Samrat Mukherjee on the keyboard, Tirthankar Majumdar on the bass guitar and Ritoban Das on percussion; Folk Foundation’s music is like a breath of fresh air.

 Its members work towards archiving and showcasing South Asian folklore to an urban audience so that folk tunes don’t fade into faint memory over the years. 

Often considered the counterpart of ‘Swarathma’ in the North, the band was a big hit when they recently made their way to Bengaluru to present their compositions at BFlat. Loving the  audience and vibe of Bengaluru, Rajkumar describes the City as “great” and the audience here as “even better”. 

 He says, “Bengaluru has a  very matured audience who listen and appreciate all kinds of genres while in Kolkata, you find the lovers of different genres in various pockets.” 

A bunch of true blue folk loyalists, Rajkumar says, “Folk has taken various definitions now. All kinds of music follow the format of folk. The biggest market of folk is in Bollywood, right from the melodies to the grooves, which is later improvised upon. Our band works on folk music in a way that the songs are palatable to the urban audience. However, we don’t take away the essence from it or tamper the music but re-arrange the harmonies so that they reach urban institutions.” 

The band believes that music is a pure expression of life and strives to break the hierarchies between classical and folk.

“People shouldn’t believe in these boundaries and no true musician ever does. These barriers are actually put by record labels but these hierarchies don’t matter to us.”

It’s not only their grounding in music that has developed their interest in folk but also their deep interest to learn and research about ancient tribes and cultures.

 He adds, “Our vocalist interacts with indigenous people so that she can articulate the song perfectly. She is also very old-school in her stage presence and attire and dresses according to the folk theme for that concert.” 

Though the band is quite disconnected from the South, the five are trying to study and research the diverse folk traditions of the Dravidian plateau and hope to present South Indian folk tunes this year.

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