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India folk instrument - Saringda
India being a land of cultural diversities, every region has its own form of folk music. Today, this rich tradition of folk music is not only alive in rural India, but also in some of the metro cities, and thankfully I live in one such metro city and am proud to be a part of a Folk Fusion Band. I am the lead guitarist of the band and love mixing various genres. So to speak, the realm of traditional folk music in India is very large and it’s mainly a countryside representation of the urban Indian society.

In Indian Folk music, you will notice the use of varied instruments. A number of percussion instruments, in various forms like Daf, Dholak or Nal, are used to keep the rhythm flowing. The string based instruments used in Indian Folk music are known as Ektara, Dotar, Saringda, Rabab, and Santur. I am fortunate to have also learnt how to play the Ektara and Dotar, which helps me create folk fusion music better. I must say that a lot of time, creativity, artistry, and detailing go into the making of these Indian Folk Music instruments. These instruments are mainly made out of materials such as bamboo, clay pots, and empty coconut shells.

India folk instrument - Ektara India folk instrument - Santur India folk instrument - Rabab
Ektara Santur Rabab
Most of the folk music in India is soulful with some being dance oriented. The band that I am part of tries to create fusion music that is soulful yet groovy, and sometimes a little heavy too.

Guitar fused with Indian Folk Music

With time, Indian Folk music has witnessed a number of changes. Many people have experimented with Folk Music. Indian Folk Music has grown in popularity among musicians from varied genres and backgrounds, from India and from all over the world. Indian Folk music is not only fused with a number of other forms of music in India but is also being fused with genres from outside of India, like rock, pop, reggae, and some others. “Indian Folk Fusion Music,” as is called by many, is catching on like forest fire, with gaining popularity among the Indian masses, inside and outside the music industry/circle.

The one instrument that is constantly being used to play Folk Music is the “Guitar.” Western music is being blended with Indian Folk Music through a number of instruments, where Guitar is one of the primary instruments.

And… yes, that’s exactly what my band members try to do as well. We experiment by fusing varied western genres with the varied types of Indian folk music. For instance, one of our compositions is based on Blues mixed with Baul (a folk form), where we have stuck to the Baul style of singing and punched it with the Blues style of playing (I have used blues scales to give it a different flavor; blues solos, riffs, etc). It’s difficult to describe it, but sounds magical with great response from our audience. Fusion music has become the latest trend and is slowly becoming a successful form of music, and one that is definitely one of my favorites.

I have a composition, where I have played the guitar as well as the Dotar. The composition is influenced by Rajasthani Folk music and has been given a totally new flavor with Gothic scales mixed with it. The more I try out these sorts of fusions the more I get attracted towards it and feel the urge to create more. I want more people (whether musicians or not) to know about these kinds of fusion music that can weave magic and enhance your soul.

India folk instrument - Saringda

A number of well-known bands in India have successfully fused Indian Folk with various Western forms (rock, pop, jazz, and blues) to create music that is magical and soulful. The attempts have mostly been to extract a completely pure and traditional sound out of the guitar while making it the protagonist of the act. Indian Folk Music is no more just a rural art form, but a concept that has being experimented with and given a whole new dimension. The trend is here to stay and is growing in popularity with each passing day.