Re-searching Konkani music

| 08 January 2002 23:35 IST

After facing several aggressions and dynasties including four-and-a-half century long Portuguese colonial rule, Goa, the latecomer Indian state of 1961, has begun its soul-searching – the Konkani music!

Pt Bhaskar Chandavarkar, a national-level luminary in musical field and a Konkani by origin, has provoked the soul-searching exercise, on the eve of the first All India Konkani Sangeet Sammelan, scheduled early next month.

"Find out your roots and reconstruct your identity", he told the gathering of music-lovers in Margao, at a seminar on "In search of Konkani music", held as a curtain raiser for the Sangeet Sammelan.

Born in a Konkani-speaking village of North Canara in Karnataka, Pt Chandavarkar has churned a new thought while also proposing setting up of a Centre for Research and Education in Asian Music (CREAM), for a scientific study in this direction.

Goans have not only served the field of Indian music, but have created their unique place, may it be a versatile singer like late Dinanath Mangeshkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Mogubai Kurdikar, Khaprumam Parvatkar, Anjanibai Malpekar or Pt Jitendra Abhisheki.

The tradition is still being carried forward with the whole Mangeshkar family literally dominating the Indian film music or great singers like Kishori Amonkar or Shobha Gurtu commanding the rich tradition of classical music. Nonetheless, pop singer like Remo has created a place of his own, in the hearts of younger generation today.

In spite of having such a rich tradition for four generations, the Konkani music has still not found its own place in contemporary Indian music. It is either found to have been imitating the Marathi music or the western influence is drifting it away towards new musical trends – both alien to the original Konkani music.

"We need to get Konkani folk music into the mainstream, with the help of sangeet shastra (musical science) to create grammar of Konkani music", states Pt Chandavarkar. He stresses upon systematic research, to identify the real ethnic Konkani music.

The musical scholar however also cautions not to have prejudiced approach towards the research, reminding the Konkani music lovers that western influence is absorbed in the Goan psyche and it is very strong and deep rooted in Goan music.

"Do not try to change history of Goa. It will make the Konkani music poorer", states Pt Chandavarkar, stating that the Portuguese colonisation has not brought European musical trends alone but even African music, especially from Mozambique and Angola.

Observing that the world-famous so called American Jazz was actually a creation of around 20 million African slaves who were travelled down to the America, he said even the Konkani music will have strings of western music in it, which is absorbed by the Goan folk.

Uday Bhembre, president of the state-run Goa Konkani Academy, recalls one such attempt being made a decade ago with their then member late Pt. Abhisheki shouldering responsibility of studying trends of Konkani music. But it could not begin, he admits.

Madhav Borkar, a poet and music scholar, feels that the search of Konkani music cannot be completed without studying anthropology of Goan society. "The search of music is actually finding the soul of any particular linguistic society", he opines.

Adding a caution, Pt Chandavarkar however states that Konkani music will only have its own identity but not an altogether different system than Hindustani music. "Even Hindustani music is a result of various musical traditions coming together over thousands of years evolving today’s musical system", states the scholar.

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