Street Music of India

During our growing years, we Indians are exposed to a lot of rural folk as well as urban street music. It is noticed that the amorphous nature of music has given rise to an unique amalgam of folk music and popular cinema sounds, being performed by musicians on stages and arenas, depicting the cultural experience of urban life and the streets. One can easily relate street music with the multi-dimensions of street culture.

There is an evident cross fertilisation between the two musical forms, with both taking from, and responding to the other. The Indian film music industry has a strong influence on popular Indian culture and while it has shaped public preferences, it has also borrowed from classical music forms. One common belief about street musicians is of them being too lazy to get a ‘real‘ job, harassing people on the streets with ‘inferior‘ or ‘crude‘ acts to solicit money to support a degenerate lifestyle. This perception is not confined to this part of the world only.

Bhajan from Benares :  (Download)

Tribal Song from Rajasthan :  (Download)

Nautanki Song from Kanpur :  (Download)

Street music is perceived as a ‘lesser‘ performing art, an illegitimate musical form. However, it continues to endure this viewpoint, surviving elitist ideas of ‘high‘ art. Moreover, street music is being increasingly absorbed into mainstream musical forms but without recognition. Lack of recognition of this art form, deprive the artists of social and economic benefits that are rightfully theirs.

Jogi Song from Gujarat :  (Download)

Bhajan from Orissa :  (Download)

Baul Song from Bengal :  (Download)

Beggar’s Song in a Street :  (Download)

The homespun, creative and intelligent construction of musical instruments made by the artists themselves, mirror the many dimensions of the artist. Streets and their culture lie at the heart of public life in contemporary India, especially in cities where urban housing is crowded and uncomfortable. Its streets act as thoroughfares, bazaars, theatres and most of all, a setting whose culture is constantly changing and evolving with time.

Comments are welcome.




  1. Ritu said,

    May 19, 2009 at 8:41 am

    I must congratulate you on your stupendous effort to preserve the musicall heritage of our country. You site is a treasure trove. The street singers article is a such a discovery. Please keep the fire burning. Many music lovers like me are going to be very grateful to you.


  2. John said,

    August 20, 2011 at 8:20 am

    (At Ritu) You don’t have to use big words like ‘stupendous’ you fool. I am an indian born in canada. I gotta say, it’s pretty shocking indian females who are born in india using powerful words like that…Bahoot pokha lagta hai

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