Discover the Folk Music of India

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discover the Folk Music of India and experience the culture and traditions of the people of India.


India is a land of great cultural diversity. The music of India reflects this diversity, with a wide variety of musical styles and traditions. Indian folk music is an important part of the country’s musical heritage.

Folk music is traditionally sung by people who live in rural areas and are not professional musicians. Folk songs often reflect the traditions and culture of the people who sing them. They may be about love, work, history, or other topics.

Indian folk music is very different from the classical music of India. Classical music is usually performed by professional musicians, and it often tells stories from Hindu mythology. Folk music is usually more simple and direct. It often uses simple instruments such as the harmonium or the tabla.

Folk music is an important part of Indian culture. It helps to keep alive the traditions and values of rural India. Folk songs are passed down from generation to generation, and they often reflect the lifestyle of the people who sing them.

What is Folk Music?

Folk music is the traditional music of a people or country. It is usually passed down orally (by ear) from one generation to the next. Folk music is usually about the everyday life of the people living in that country. It often tells stories of their history, traditions, and beliefs.

The term “folk music” can be tricky to define. In some cases, it is simply any music that is performed by “ordinary” people (as opposed to professional musicians). But in other cases, it refers to specific genres or styles of music that are associated with a particular region or culture.

For example, there is folk music from India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, and many other countries around the world. Each region has its own unique style of folk music.

In India, folk music comes in many different forms. There are hundreds of different regional styles, each with its own history and tradition. Some of the most popular genres include bhangra (from Punjab), qawwali (from Uttar Pradesh), lavani (from Maharashtra), and ghazals (from Hyderabad).

Folk music has always been an important part of Indian culture. It is often performed at weddings and other special occasions. It is also a popular form of entertainment at fairs and festivals.

In recent years,folk music has become more popular with young people in India. This is partly because more and more people are interested in their roots and culture. But it is also because folk music is seen as a cool and trendy form of entertainment. Many young people enjoy listening to folk songs on their phones and laptops, and there are even some folk-inspired pop songs that have become hits in the mainstream media.

If you’re interested in discovering the folk music of India, there are many ways to do so. You can start by listening to some of the popular regional styles mentioned above. Or you can search for videos of folk musicians performing on YouTube or other online platforms

The Origins of Folk Music

Folk music has been a part of Indian culture for centuries. It is believed to have originated with the people who first inhabited the subcontinent, and has since evolved through the centuries, incorporating elements of various cultures and traditions.

The earliest folk music was probably simple, monophonic ballads sung by peasants as they went about their daily tasks. Over time, these ballads developed into more complex forms, incorporating instruments such as the sitar and tabla, and becoming more elaborate in both structure and lyrics.

As folk music evolved, it began to reflect the various cultures that have shaped India over the centuries. For instance, the folk music of North India is heavily influenced by the music of Central Asia, while the folk music of South India has its roots in the music of the Dravidian people.

Folk music is an important part of Indian culture, and is still popular today. It is often used in films and television shows to bring a sense of authenticity to a scene set in rural India. Folk musicians continue to perform at fairs and festivals across the country, and their music is enjoyed by people of all ages.

The Various Types of Folk Music

Folk music is an important part of the musical heritage of India. It is simple, natural and reflective of the life of the common people. Folk music is usually passed down from generation to generation and is often performed at religious or cultural festivals.

There are many different types of folk music in India, each with its own style and history. Some of the most popular folk music genres include:

Bhangra: Bhangra is a popular form of folk music from the state of Punjab. It is often accompanied by dancing and is popular at weddings and other celebrations.

Ghoomar: Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance from Rajasthan which is usually performed by women. The music accompanying this dance is upbeat and lively, making it perfect for weddings and other festive occasions.

Dandiya: Dandiya is a popular form of folk dance from Gujarat which is performed with sticks. The fast-paced music and lively movements make it a very festive and enjoyable dance to watch.

Kalbelia: Kalbelia is a type of folk dance from Rajasthan that features snake charmers. The movements in this dance are fluid and graceful, and the music is typically quite fast-paced.

The Instruments Used in Folk Music

The folk music of India is rich and varied, with each state having its own distinct traditions. This diversity is reflected in the wide range of instruments used in folk music, from regional variations of the sitar to traditional drums and horns.

The sitar is a popular stringed instrument used in both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, as well as in many forms of folk music. It has a long neck and a resonating chamber that gives it a unique sound. The sarangi is another popular stringed instrument, used mainly in Hindustani classical music but also found in some folk traditions. It is smaller than the sitar and has a more mellow sound.

The tabla is a percussion instrument consisting of two drums, one small and one large. It is commonly used in Hindustani classical music and Folk Music of India, particularly in the north. Another popular percussion instrument is the dholak, a two-sided drum with a deep bass sound. It is often used in religious ceremonies and festive occasions such as weddings.

The harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument that provides accompaniment for vocalists and instrumentalists alike. It is commonly used in Hindustani classical music but can also be found in some folk traditions. The shehnai is another popular wind instrument, typically used in ceremonial occasions such as weddings. It has a distinctive sound that carries well over long distances.

The Lyrics of Folk Music

Folk music often contains amusing and clever lyrics. Folk musicians often write their own lyrics, which are sometimes based on older folk songs. In some cases, the lyrics are simply improvised on the spot. The topics of folk songs can be quite varied, but they often deal with everyday life and love.

The Popularity of Folk Music

Folk music is deeply intertwined with the daily lives of the people of India. It is popular in both rural and urban areas, and is an important part of the country’s cultural heritage.

Folk music is often passed down from generation to generation, and has been influenced by a variety of factors over the years. One of the most important aspects of folk music is its ability to reflect the culture and traditions of a particular region.

Due to its popularity, folk music has been able to withstand the test of time and change with the times. It has remainED popular even as other genres such as Bollywood and pop music have emerged.

There are a number of different types of folk music in India, each with its own unique style and sound. Some of the most popular genres include Bhangra, Sufi, Ghazal, Rajasthani, Punjabi, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

The Future of Folk Music

Folk music has been on a slow decline in India for the last few decades. With the advent of new technology and the globalization of culture, traditional forms of folk music are slowly being eclipsed by more modern genres. This is not to say that folk music is disappearing altogether – there are still many folk musicians who perform regularly and keep the tradition alive. However, it is clear that the future of folk music in India is uncertain.

The decline of folk music is a cause for concern for many people, as it represents an important part of Indian culture and heritage. Folk music is often seen as a way to connect with the past and to keep alive the traditions of India’s many different communities. For this reason, efforts are being made to promote folk music and to ensure that it continues to be part of Indian culture.

One way in which this is being done is through festivals and events that showcase folk music. These provide a platform for musicians to perform and also give members of the public an opportunity to experience this type of music. Another approach is to incorporate elements of folk music into more popular genres such as film soundtracks and advertising jingles. This can help to raise awareness of folk music and make it more accessible to people who might not otherwise encounter it.

It remains to be seen what direction Indian folk music will take in the years ahead, but there is no doubt that it faces challenges. With the ever-changing nature of society, it is important to adapt and evolve in order to stay relevant. By taking steps to promote and preservefolk music, we can help ensure that this important part of Indian culture does not disappear into obscurity

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