Sunita’s raagas-meet-folk concept album on violin strikes a chord
And if you thought that Bihu was all about dancing and merry-making, you better think once again. The melodious Bihugeet, which has long been overshadowed by the associated dance moves of Bihu songs, has finally been brought to the forefront in Assamese fiddler Sunita Bhuyan’s unique concept album, Bihu Strings by Times Music, which was launched in the city by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi last week.
It would not be wrong to call Bihu Strings a first-of-its-kind music presentation in the national and international circuit. For Sunita has used original Bihu melodies, with its thoughtful and socially relevant lyrics, and blended the same with the inherent raga patterns of the classical music world to create an exciting medley of sounds. What makes it even more special is the fact that the songs in the album have been performed entirely on the violin, making Sunita the first ever violinist in the country to do a complete folk and fusion album on the fiddle!
The violin which has had the image of being a western instrument adapted to Indian styles have so far been played in the classical forms i.e. the Hindustani and Karnatic forms in India. This stereotype has finally been broken with Bihu strings as Sunita plays an entirely range of tunes, ranging from classical ragas, Assamese folk tunes, Scottish tunes, jazz elements, et al. “My attempt is to demonstrate the prevalence of the universal seven notes in all kinds of music, be it classical, folk, rock, western jazz etc. The age old Bihugeet, blended with classical ragas and a bit of western folk and jazz – that is Bihu strings for you,” says Sunita, who is the daughter of Minoti Khaund, senior disciple of Pt VG Jog.
The songs in the album too have been thoughtfully penned and each number reflects an inherent facet of Assamese life during the Bohaag Bihu season. The album begins with ‘Bholuka Baahore’, which talks about the sensuous tresses of a girl which are adorned with beautiful flowers. The piece is based in raag dhani – the all pervading raag of most bihu melodies. The next track, “Luitor Baalite” talks about the fun and frolic of two youngsters on the banks of the Brahmaputra, which is a fusion of Bihugeet with Irish folk and rock percussions.
Then there is Ganga Siloni, which is based on Raag Bhupali. The song talks about the heralding of the spring season through the first chirping of the migratory birds. From the expression of teenage love as portrayed in ‘Xosakoi Bor Dhuniya’ to the more subtle ‘Ranga Nadi’, the lyrics in the album touches on an entire gamut of socially relevant issues. ‘Ranga Nadi’, in fact, dwells on the recurring problem of floods, which brings normal life to complete disarray every year in the State but which cannot dampen the spirit of Bihu among the people.
While the lyrics have been written by Gupta Borthakur, a number of talented musicians have collaborated with Sunita in his album. While Rupam Bhuyan and Prasanta Kaur have joined sunita with the vocals, the percussion instruments have been handled by Pranjal Barua, Dibya Jyoti Changmai (tabla) and Diganta Saikia and Lachit Gogoi on the “Dhol”. Noted guitarist Shantanu Baruah has added the western flavor in Luitore Baalite, while the keyboard and sound mixing is by Rupam Talukdar.
The album has been released on the Times Music label and the songs will also be available for download to mobiles and other handheld devices after the album’s digital release in Mumbai next week.