How “Tipra Idol-2023” is Making Kokborok Music More Accessible

By Dr. Benjamin Debbarma

December 10, 2023

The youth in Tripura, especially among the indigenous communities, are engaging more with Kokborok songs and music through the ongoing “Tipra Idol-2023,” resulting in an increasing presence of young singers on stages. Over the past decades, there have been numerous challenges in connecting younger generations with Kokborok music and video albums, while also promoting emerging talent in acting, dancing, singing, and more. Music video albums, stage performances (mini superstars), and small bands have been working in this sphere for the past 10-15 years. Various popular singers and actors who led the initiative to promote cultural identity and recognition in mainstream music in the state have contributed significantly. The long decade journeys have given rise to many stories.

Traditional musical instruments like the kham (made of wood and animal skin), the sumui (flute made of bamboo), sarinda, chongpreng, Dangdu, and cymbals are highly popular among indigenous Tripuri people.

Evolution of Music in the Blood of Indigenous People:

Tracing the evolution of music reveals that the genre was once considered niche, deeply embedded in the blood of the indigenous people. Renowned singers and music lovers such as S.D. Burman, R.D. Burman (nicknamed Pancham da), and many others played a crucial role. However, over the years, significant gaps have emerged regarding the understanding and appreciation of music among indigenous people. Today, music is an integral part of every progressive society, and people have developed a curiosity about folk music through various platforms, especially on social media.

In the last decade, there has been a shift towards fusion, with modern influences like jazz incorporated while retaining the core of indigenous folk music. Many artists have successfully experimented with these fusions, and separate platforms have emerged for folk, fusion, rock music, etc. Individuals interested in learning classical folk music in its pure form have joined institutes such as Sachin Deb Barman Memorial Govt. Music College, Tripura Tribal Folk Music College, and Tripura State Academy of Tribal Culture.

The Story to Tell: How the Younger Generation Became More Interested in Music in the Last Decade:

In the last 10-15 years, there has been a noticeable increase in the younger generation’s interest in music, particularly rock. This was primarily due to the perception that rock music reflected a Western style and complexity. Notable figures like Sourabhee Debbarma, the first female winner of Indian Idol 4, and Borkung Hrangkhawl, a rapper, singer, and songwriter, have contributed to this trend. Many bands and groups covering various music genres have emerged, and the question of how young adults could make a living from music has been gradually addressed. The last decade witnessed growing interest in music video albums, stage performances, and music bands.

While challenges existed in understanding the potential opportunities initially, today, many artists have enhanced their music’s reach and visibility through digital platforms. Social media has played a crucial role in helping new artists grow and enabling the younger generation to discover them. Additionally, classical music and dance have become more actively integrated into school curricula, resulting in increased attendance of school children at various functions and social gatherings along with their parents.

Is This Platform a Way Forward to Make Younger Generations More Accessible to Music?

Lack of opportunity, access, and space has been a significant issue, especially concerning Kokborok music, where the focus is on cultures, traditions, and languages. The ongoing “Tipra Idol-2023” events have provided a new platform and opportunity for people to experience and appreciate Kokborok music. Many music videos on YouTube have garnered substantial viewership, surpassing 100,000, and gained a significant number of subscribers. This indicates a tremendous interest and focus among the indigenous people, drawing different kinds of music lovers on the path of exploring their interests in music.

The youth have faced numerous challenges over the past decades concerning Kokborok music, but accessibility has been a persistent issue. However, Kokborok music has deep roots, dating back to the times of the monarch Twipra and continuing to the present. Over the past decades, folk music has been sung, and in modern times, various forms of music have become inherent in the blood of younger generations. Icons like Parmita Reang, Rumi Murasing, Sulekha Debbarma, Milton Debbarma, Biswanath Debbarma, Swkang Debbarma, Manik Debbarma, Nuai Debbarma, Novonil Chakma, Bipasha Reang, and many others have become prominent among indigenous people who love music. Numerous well-known performers and singers have spearheaded efforts to promote cultural identity in mainstream music in the state. The lengthy decade journeys have provided plenty of stories to relate.

Dr. Benjamin Debbarma is an academician and an Associate Writer for Yakhrai.

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137 thoughts on “How “Tipra Idol-2023” is Making Kokborok Music More Accessible”

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