O Sahiba,Once More

In the ’70s,Miguel and Lisette Cotta were music teachers,and for many years before that,they entertained Goan audiences by singing popular folk songs.

Written by Zaira Arslan | Published: March 22, 2012 12:50:34 am

Once popular,folk music of Goa gets a fresh introduction at NCPA’s ongoing Living Traditions series

In the ’70s,Miguel and Lisette Cotta were music teachers,and for many years before that,they entertained Goan audiences by singing popular folk songs. After their children,Franz Schubert — named after the famous Austrian composer,and Chantale Marie Cotta,were old enough,the entire family began performing on a Portuguese variety programme called Renascenca on All India Radio in the ’80s. This programme was discontinued in the mid-90s and the family then moved to playing regularly at five-star hotels.

Ever since,despite the demand for Goan folk music steadily decreasing even at traditional occasions such as weddings,the Cottas — perhaps currently the best known musical family in Goa—have kept the music alive. On Thursday,the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA),Nariman Point,brings them to Mumbai for the second evening of Living Traditions 2012: Goa Gala and their first performance in the city. The Cottas will perform a number of traditional Konkani songs. Their focus,however,will be on the Mando where Konkani songs are set to Latin-American tunes.

On Wednesday evening,Sonia Shirsat inaugurated the Goa Gala event with Fado — a genre that can be traced back to the 19th century Portugal. “Fado is semi-classical in nature,one that I’d compare to Hindi ghazals,” says Shirsat. The 32-year-old first sang Fado in 2003,but is now one of the only and best known ‘fadistas’ in India.

Nearly three decades ago,Goan folk music was popular at restaurants,hotels and weddings in Goa. Goan music has also been used in a number of Hindi films. For instance,the song Na mangun sona chandi from the 1973 film Bobby is an adaptation of Dekhni — a traditional Goan art form that combines song and dance. The incredibly popular Eena meena deeka from the 1957 film Aasha also has elements of Goan music in it.

However,in recent years,Goan folk has seen a decline. “These days everyone is into popular music,so it has become very rare to see places that play folk music,” says Franz. He says there have been small attempts to revive folk music,but these are few and far between.

Fado has enjoyed more popularity in recent times. For instance,a restaurant in the Cidade de Goa hotel has a Fado night every month. “Fado is now making waves in the West and with some competitions in Goa,it’s making a comeback here too,” says Shirsat,adding,“There is experimentation. That’s good as long as it doesn’t take away from the flavour of the genre.”

Dr Suvarnalata Rao,programming head,Indian music at the NCPA,believes folk music still has its audience. “It is alive in small pockets in Goa,but having said that,it is also evolving everyday so some of the repertoire is lost,” she says. Of Goa Gala at the NCPA,she says the idea is to familiarise people with not just the music,but the music as a part of the city’s cultural identity. “We will also have introductions to the events,talking about the influence of Portuguese culture,” she concludes.

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