Folk music of Uttarakhand refers to the traditional and contemporary songs of Kumaon and Garhwal regions in the foothills of Himalayas and has its root in the lap of nature. The pure and blessed music have the feel and the touch of nature and subjects related to nature. The folk music primarily is related to the various festivals, religious traditions, folk stories and simple life of the people of Uttarakhand. Thus the songs of Uttarakhand are a true reflection of the Cultural Heritage and the way people live their lives in the Himalayas. The Music and its development have seen various phases of growth and have undergone lots of transformation during the course of time. There are many kinds of folksongs from the area, including ceremonial mandals, martial panwaras and melancholy khuded, thadya and jhoda.
Musical instruments used in Uttarakhand music include the dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora andmasakbhaja. They are the musicals that are synonymous with almost all the songs and dances. Tabla and harmonium are also used, but to a lesser extent.
Prominent Folk Artist of Uttarakhand
The earliest of the singers who left never ending impressions on the folk music of Uttarakhand were :
The most famous personality associated with Kumaoni Folk Music is Mohan Upreti, who is known for his Nanda Devi Jagar & Rajula Malu Shahi Ballad. He is famous for the great Kumaoni song Bedu Pako Baro Masa which for many years has been the identity of the hills of Uttarakahand. It is said that this song was also a favourite ofJawahar Lal Nehru who heard it in a band march as this song is also a popular marching song.
Shri Gopal Babu Goswami who is considered to be a legend in Kumaon for his melodious voice. His songs on the life of the members of the armed forces and their families, like Kaile baje muruli, Ghughuti na basa and many others are legendary, it is said that when these songs were transmitted on the All India Radio, women with their husbands could not help but weep when they heard the soul touching voice of Gopal Da as he was lovingly called.
Shri Narendra Singh Negi who is considered to be the voice of Garhwal and Negi g also No 1 folk singer in Garhwal.
Chander Singh Rahi is another popular singer, a balladeer and storyteller. His recordings are perhaps the most authentic to the hills, and he incorporates many legends and folk tales into his rousing songs.
Heera Singh Rana is identified as a singer and a poet of whose songs are known to describe the pain of the people of the hills.
In the past decade Uttarakhandi Music has seen a revolution as various Music Recording/Cassette Producing agencies such as Rama Video Cassette,Neelam cassettes and T-Series, provided opportunities for young talents from local areas, to make their own Cassettes and to get the songs recorded in the BIGBOSS digital sound recording studio (101, Karanpur, Dehradun Uttarakhand). This has led to a sudden surge in the number of young talents from various corners of Uttarakhand, which include famous personalities such as Fauji Lalit Mohan Joshi, Heera Singh Rana, Kalpana Chauhan, Meena Rana, Anuradha Nirala, Pritam Bharatwan, Gajendra Rana, Arvind Singh Rawat. All these singers have made their contribution to the Kumaoni/Garhwali Music through various hit songs/music albums over the period.
Some famous songs/albums from Uttarakhand include Fauji Lalit Mohan Joshi’s “Maya Ki Yaad”, “Tak Taka Tak Kamla”; Gajendra Rana’s “Malu”, “Rani Gorkhani”, “Leel Ghasyari”, “Pushpa”; Pritam Bhartwan’s “Saruli”, “Rajuli”.
Also, with an advance in the technology and easy availability of video cameras and other recording devices, lots of talents have started producing music albums, which has further led to the popularization of the various folk dance forms of Uttarakhand. In fact, Kumaoni/Garhwali songs have gained so much popularity over the years that they have become integral part of the DJ Music played during wedding and other functions.