There was a tradition of wrestlers living in every village, and while they practised
at the 'Akhara' a music grew around their practice called akhara singing. The drum
plays a very important part in the folk music of Punjab. It provides the basic accompaniment
to most of folk music. The Dhol and Dholik, the male and female drum players had
its own relevant use. The information of an impending army was communicated by the
sound of the Dhol, when information was given to the neighbouring villages through
a particular beat. The instruments used in Punjabi folk are typical to the region.
The toombi, algoza, chheka, chimta, kaanto, daphali, dhad and manjira are some of
the popular traditional folk instruments. As in the rest of the country Sikh religion
is deeply connected with music. In fact a glossary of music and Ragas are given
at the end of the Guru Granth Sahib, the tradition starting with Mardana, who accompanied
Guru Nanak on his travels who sang the bani of Guru Nanak with an ‘ektaara’ and
the ‘rhubarb’. Classical ragas are used in the ‘shabad kirtan’, gayaki of Punjab.
The sixth Guru Hargobind gave patronage to sect of singers who sang only martial
songs. Called ‘Dhadis’, they sing at shrines and festivals, ballads, vars, and about
the heroic feats of the Sikhs. Along with the "Dhad" the ‘dhadi’ also
uses a sarangi, as a musical accompaniment. A strong tradition of the ‘kissa sahity’
of Punjab is very much part and parcel of Punjabi folk music. The legends of Heer
Ranjha , Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnu, Puran Bhagat are sung more in a semi classical
style. The Punjabi ‘kaffi and kali’ are part of this genre. Related to this is the
‘sufiana kallam’ of Punjab as a result of a strong Sufi tradition in the state.
The Heer in particular has a strong sufi base.
A glimpse into the lives and culture of the people of Punjab can be got through
the folk idiom of Punjab. There is a great importance of music, right from the time
of birth to death, of love and separation of dance, of marriage and fulfilment.
Culturally Punjab can be divided into three regions, Malwa, Majha and Doaba. Today
Malwa represents the true spirit of Punjabi folk traditions.
Later in the eighteenth and nineteenth century there started in Punjab a strong
school of classical music centering around Patiala known today as the Patiala Gharana.
The founders of this gahrana were Ustaad Ali Bux and Ustaad Fateh Ali who were great
singers in the Patiala Darbar. Their disciples and admirers were numerous. Notable
amongst them were Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali and his brother Barkat Ali who brought the
Patiala Gharana on the forefront of Khayal gayaki. And thus started the ‘chau-mukhia’
style, which included dhrupad, khyal thumri and the taraana. Each of these styles
too have their particular flavour, the energy and zest of the soil of Punjab...
Parallel to this was the growth of a gharana of tabla playing which is also known
as the Punjab style, of which Alla Rakha the great tabla maestro belongs. No occasion
goes off without the association of music in Punjab. Right from the moment a woman
announces the news of the conception of a baby, songs start. The third month, the
fifth month, and then of the actual birth of baby is associated with joyous songs
about the impending arrival. There are songs which tell about the love of a brother
or a sister. Once a marriage is finalised, and preparations of the marriage start
in the boy's and girl's family. During the process of washing and cleaning the grain,
of making new clothes, and household items, songs are sung by the woman in the family
as they work through the night, that the 'dhol' is not used as the men folk who
are sleeping should not have their sleep disturbed. And then the numerous songs
associated with the wedding. In the girl’s side 'Suhag' is sung, and in the boy’s
side, songs while he mounts the mare, 'Sehra' and 'Ghodi' are sung. After the Barat
is received 'Patal Kaavya' is sung after tea and while the 'Barat' is eating food
together. Jugni, Sammi are basically songs centring around love, in the Jugni normally
the bachelors gather together and sing about their beloved. The Sammi is more a
gypsy dance, which is performed as an expression of joy and victory, around the
fire at night. Sammi is an imaginary female character of folk poetry, belonging
to the Marwar area of Rajasthan who fell in love with the the young prince, and
it is around their love story that the music and dance is set to. In the list of
happy songs are included, Luddie, Dhamal and of course the Giddha and the Bhangra,
which is all set to music,
which is typical of Punjab. Along with the 'Dhol' primarily, are sung 'Bolis' which
can be divided into two categories, 'singly boli' and' lengthy boli'. Centering
around mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law and other character from everyday
life the music of these two lively traditions is extremely enervating.