Get a 101 on Goa’s Folk Song Forms

March 21, 2012 8:29 am by

The Cottas.

If you missed attending Goan singer Sonia Shirsat’s concert at Blue Frog in September last year, then you will be pleased to know that she will perform in our city today, Wednesday, March 21, as part of Goa Gala, a two-day event organised by the National Centre for the Performing Arts to showcase the folk music traditions of the state. Shirsat will perform the Portuguese song form of fado, of which she is perhaps the country’s best-known exponent. On Thursday, March 22, Franz Schubert Cotta, who will accompany Shirsat on the Portuguese guitar, will take the stage to play a concert of traditional songs from Goa, as part of the Cottas, the band that also features his father Miguel, his mother Lisette and his sister Chantelle.

The Cottas family band, in which all four members share singing duties, will present three different Goan folk music forms, namely mando, dulpod and dekhni. Of these, the mando is the most popular and is most similar to the fado. Though the lyrics are in Konkani rather than in Portuguese, the mando shares with the fado predominant themes of longing and unrequited love. However, unlike the fado, which is usually sung solo, the mando is rendered in two or more voices, in harmony, said Franz Schubert Cotta, who described it as an “aristocratic music and dance”. Another distinctive feature of the mando, he said, is the use of the Goan percussion instrument known as the ghumott, which is traditionally an earthen pot covered with skin of the monitor lizard. Miguel Cotta will play the ghumott at the Cottas’ concert, during which Franz Schubert will play the mandolin and violin in addition to the Portuguese guitar.

Though the Cottas have been performing together in Goa for over two decades, this will be their first public concert in Mumbai. The next time you visit their home state, you can catch them at the Cidade de Goa hotel and at the Ramada Caravela Beach Resort to hear more of their repertoire, which apart from Konkani folk, also includes songs in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and English.