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We believe folk songs were an important means of communicating as a community. To encourage people to exercise music in their daily lives as individuals and bond as a community, we share folk songs, stories and knowledge systems freely for anyone and everyone.

The lockdown had put an end to the park sessions. This pushed us to try the virtual platforms we were using to post small snippets of UFP’s journey. Apprehensive about the effectiveness and reach first, we were overwhelmed with the amount of response. We have received much more than we gave; the kind of interaction and learning we derived out of this was humbling. The online sessions though continue to be a challenge are extremely rewarding. To hear from people of various ages, from different parts of the world, coming from varied class backgrounds drive us to make online content and interaction available.

This series is an ode to Gundamma Mudbi (Shilpa’s grandmother), who started Shilpa off on this journey of collecting folk songs. The ten songs in this series are folk songs from in and around Bidar district, Karnataka. The songs have been curated and explained in English by Shilpa Mudbi in order to reach people world over with the message of love, empathy and togetherness.

Song: Neej neej re

Language: Marathi

Type of song: Lullaby

This Angai (Marathi lullaby) was chosen for our first video for two reasons: to reach people beyond the state of Karnataka and to bring calm to the panic of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the song, a mother is singing her child to sleep, while fussing over the child’s eating habits and imagining a new elaborate cradle for the baby.

Song: Bittida ghaali

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Leisure

Many songs, we hear, sung by women in the villages are simple 2 to 4 lines long to which verses are added spontaneously. Improvisation is an integral part of folk songs and music-making in our daily lives. In this song, the original prose is suggesting a contemplative mood. Where the narrator is observing the wind blow, the dust rises all while her mind is elsewhere. 

Song: Ranga yathaka barada

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Baby shower

This is a baby shower song addressed to a pregnant woman during the 5th and 7th of pregnancy. The song is built based on the gifts she receives. Many such baby shower songs from this region are sung as a reminder that the responsibility of new life has to be shared equally amongst the community.

Song: Su akkanare

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Work (grain pounding)

When physical labour is back-breaking, music accompanied work to make work bearable. The folk songs that were interspersed with the work rhythm are not always about the work at hand. Many ideas, songs and stories prevalent in the lives of women would make way into their work routines. In this song, we hear about the plight of a  soul on it’s last journey, observing the last rites being given to its body.

Song: Yeni hachchalu bannire

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Oiling ritual

Before the influx of petroleum products, skin-care was made possible with ‘oil’. The custom of oiling was ritualised during important ceremonies that denoted right of passage. This song has been traditionally sung by five women who decorate the bride before the main marriage ritual. The women here are inviting others to come shower their blessings.

Song: Thavara mani

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Leisure

Means of travel have evolved rapidly over the last hundred years. Before this period, the perils and permanence of moving away from home, instilled fear in the hearts of people, especially in the hearts of young brides. Here is a folk song about a girl saying goodbyes, before being escorted to her mother-in-law’s house. Shilpa uses this four line structure to compose verses that speak of the plight of the migrant labourers  during the lockdown.

Song: Taayi nenapu

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Leisure

This song is about a woman remembering her mother’s home. It plays on the widely popular theme of motherhood and feminine ties. The song depicts a story of a  woman’s longing to visit her mother in her childhood home. Long after her mother has passed away her visit to her childhood home, only makes her realise that much has changed. It’s not the same home in which she grew up while the mother was around.

Song: Bandara bara hela

Language: Kannada|Hindi

Type of song: Leisure

Around all borders, culture and languages permeate. Here is a song sung by women in the fields while de-weeding. This piece of prose has two different languages in it. One part suggests an invitation and another a complaint to Ranga. 

Song: Ibaara akka thangyara kudi

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Work (grinding stone)

Here is a song sung over grinding grain with a beesokallu (a grain grinding contraption made of stone) composed with concepts of bhakti sangeeth. The grain, the act of grinding, cooking food are all metaphorically transformed to reveal metaphysical trurths about life.

Song: Baare nanna rathana

Language: Kannada

Type of song: Work (grain pounding)

Most domestic agrarian chores involved women doing hard labour. The popular themes were sisterhood, togetherness, fertility, prosperity which helped them picture a better future for each other. Here is a song that beautifully juxtaposes scenes of daily life with one of aspirations and affirmation about the future.

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