Posted by Divine Lineage on Nov 17, 2016 under

by Candice Stein

పల్లె రాగాలు, జనపధలు. Palle Raagaalu, Janapadhalu. Village tunes, Telugu Folk Music.

Folk music plays a central role in creating cultural identity. Traditionally folk music is defined as orally transmitted songs or music with an unknown composer. Folk music is often classified as the oldest songs of a culture or the ‘root’ songs from a specific language. Historically in India they have always made a classification between Classical and Folk music however, even most classical music from India has the origin of an unwritten process of learning. 

Though it is challenging to imagine in this modern age of technology, that even a 100 years ago access to listening to recoded music was an infrequent experience for most of the population, the world over. However, art, music and storytelling are the root of all language and human expression, all of which go hand in hand with the creation and preservation of cultural heritage. Humans have always made music, songs and stories to go along with their livelihood, their work, play and to express their devotion to God.

In every ancient culture manual labor often included songs which kept the doer present, songs that reduced the boredom of repetitive tasks, while keeping a pace for production. Songs sung while planting, gathering, weeding, waving, milling. But not excluding songs for calming a child or teaching lessons, giving thanks for the rain that grows the crops, or telling the history of a place or the linage of a people. Folk songs play a deep roll in so many aspects of a daily life filling parts of day to day life that requires repetitive mundane tasks in order to maintain with a sense of ease and joy. Chop wood and carry water the ages old slogan for enlightenment helps bring to light the importance of spiritual songs and mantras in the life of a spiritual person while highlighting the important link to old songs or folk music.

The definition of Folk music varies thought cultural definition, and in many circles, any modern western oriented one, use the definition of traditional folk music by defining it by status or where or to whom it was performed. In our age it is often called ‘World music’ or ‘roots music’.

But in India because of the vast cultural diversity, they have many forms of and categories classically defined such as: Bhangr, Iavani, Dandiy and many many more. Kolattam is the name of one of the traditional folk dances practiced in Andhra Pradesh. In India, and the same the world over, with the arrival of modern “pop” music folk music has lost much of its popularity. However, among saints, spiritual seekers, and poet’s Indian folk music is very much alive and well. 

In Andhra Pradesh and the state of Telangana, the native language is Telugu. These states are in a majority made up of small farming villages. The main occupation of the Telugu people is cultivation, and in a small coastal region also fishing. The Telugu people have an incredible tradition of folk music that has been kept alive, this strong cultural identity is also represented in modern modern Telugu cinema and modern Telugu pop music. 

“The main components of these folk songs are lyric, music and rhythm. Based on the lyrics and the occasions, folk music can be studied under several headings viz. occupational songs, agricultural songs, moral songs, devotional songs on special occasions etc. Every heading has again several sub divisions. There are innumerable songs like philosophical songs, women’s songs, devotional songs, function-songs like marriage songs, ritualistic songs, cradling songs, humorous songs, epic or mythological songs, children’s songs etc. Thus, study of folk music or songs is a vast subject of interest… Thus, folk music of Andhra Pradesh is a vast subject which has a great scope to study and to conduct research on it. Everyone should remember that today’s culture has its roots in the ancient folklore. It is the responsibility of every individual, to safeguard and preserve it for future generations.”1


Please enjoy a few examples of both modern and traditional Telugu Folk Music!










1Dr. A. Anuradha Coordinator, Dept. of Music, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) - India

Not about Nationalism: The Role of Folk Song in Identity Process. Cecily Morrison.

Dr. A. Anuradha Coordinator, Dept. of Music, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) - India



 Candice Stein

is a full-time student and volunteer staff member at the Divine Lineage Healing Center in Laytonville, CA.









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