On the internet, you'll find lots of new punjabi song 2018 videos to download as well as the ones in the audio format. But has anyone thought about how this popular music genre evolved and the extent at which it is penetrating into the western culture?

Now is the time to get carried away by the unmistakable rhythm of the tumbi to study the origins and evolution of a musical style born of multiculturalism, thanks to the BBC documentary Pump Up the Bhangra: The Sound of Asian Britain.

On August 24, 2018, the hour-long documentary, presented and narrated by Bobby Friction, a DJ working on the BBC Asian radio station and with his personal point of view, was broadcast on BBC Four. We will go into this particular musical style as briefly as possible.

Presenting the history

The history of this phenomenon goes back to the sixties, when thousands of Punjabi immigrants, mostly Sikh peasants, arrived in the interior of Great Britain to work in the factories, in a region known as the Middle Eastern Lands (or West Midlands).

These first generation immigrants worked hard in the foundries and then met in the pubs, like the one in the town of Smethwick, near Birmingham, where this musical expression arose spontaneously.

Among pints of beers, the immigrants gathered there after a long workday and longing for their home, asked the Singh brothers to sing something and using their own hands against the table as a percussion instrument. Hence, bhangra was born.

What characterizes the bhangra?

Bhangra is the traditional Punjabi folk dance. It is a music which combines the rhythms of Punjab but with lyrics that reflected its new way of life in England.

The name bhangra refers to the dance with which the Punjabi peasants celebrated the harvest. It picks up that particular sound of India that is achieved with the tumbi, a traditional instrument with a single string. It was later joined by other more western tools like the accordion, the roofs or the guitar. However, this rhythm is so characteristic of the Punjabi language. This means that even today, three or four generations later, the lyrics remain in the original language, due to the difficulty of adapting this rhythm to the English language.

Already in the seventies this fusion of Punjabi rhythms and lyrics that reflected the difficulties of adaptation of immigrants spread to other areas of Great Britain with a significant presence of population from the Indian subcontinent, being a key nerve center of the neighborhood of Southall Market in London, known as Little India.

However, it is also in this decade that the greatest racial tensions among the Indian immigrants and the skinheads' marches took place that led to enormous violence, producing real pitched battles. When the altercations happened, these events served to unite the different ethnic groups and religions (Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims) in a common cause, and the bhangra helped as an identity element of this community.

The most important of this new wave of bhangra groups was undoubtedly Alaap, creators of the song Bhabiye Ni Bhabiye, which became a true generation hymn. The leader of this band, Channi Singh, who is interviewed in the BBC documentary, is even today an authentic legend and cannot walk around Little India without being recognized continuously.

Pumping up the Bhangra

The lyrics of the famous song, Pump Up The Bhangra, speak about a man who asks his sister-in-law to find him a wife similar to her, a custom typical of the Punjabi tradition. It was precisely at weddings in the eighties where bhangra music triumphed, for its own rhythm of celebrations, elevating bands like Heera. Groups like this, thanks to the innovative vision of the producer Deepak Khazanchi, modernized the bhangra by adding synths, basses and guitars, but also a breakthrough style of the Glam Rock.

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