Exploring Goa through its Music: Guide to a Melodious Holiday

To a tourist, Goa is only about beach parties, water sports and affordable tipples. But a true traveller knows how to look beyond. The discerning holidayer will tell you to find Goa’s history in its architecture or cuisine, but few know that the legacy continues in Goan music as well. Avoid the tourist traps and discover the culture and heritage of the smallest state of India through its music. You’ll be surprised to learn that there is a side of Goa apart from Sunburn or EDM! Presenting, a selection of Goan music genres and some recommendations on where to enjoy them:

#1 Fado

A live Fado performance in Goa (Courtesy: Joe)

Fado is a unique musical form that finds its place on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage items. A fado performance is generally melancholic in its theme. You will find a single female vocalist (the fadista) flanked by a couple of male guitarists during any live performance. At least one of the guitars is a fado guitar. The show is always intended to be intimate and not a crowd puller.

Only a handful of venues in Goa hold fado nights. Keep an eye out for the schedule and try your luck at the following locations:

  • Alfama (Cidade de Goa) at Vainguinim Beach
  • Madragoa in Panaji
  • Casa Portuguesa in Calangute

#2 Folk Music

When you think of music in Goa that dates back to the pre-colonial era, you’ll probably find yourself reminiscing about Konkani songs (mostly made popular with some Hindi lyrics added to the mix by Bollywood). While there are hardly any places that will let you hear the jovial folk tunes of the fisherfolk, you will occasionally find cafés and bars that hold a night of traditional music and dances.

You’ll often get to watch Carnatic and Hindustani Classical performances on the same evening as a Konkani gig. Catch the action live at:

  • Rudy’s Bar and Grill in Chapora
  • Gaia Hostels in Anjuna

#3 Jazz

A saxophonist during a jazz performance (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Jazz fans have plenty to look forward to in Goa as there is both a niche audience for this musical genre and talented artists who do justice to this artform. If you are new to jazz, remember that this form is usually devoid of any singing (and lyrics, per se). The purely instrumental performances focus on the skill of the musicians (and not on the oomph of the lead singer). Be ready to be swept off your feet by the power of the saxophone though!

While in Goa, you will find a plethora of venues to relax with some soothing jazz music in the evenings:

  • Firefly on Benaulim Beach
  • Soro – The Village Pub in Assagao
  • The Patio at Pizza Delizia in Arpora
  • Café Jazz in Candolim
  • The Rice Mill in Morjim
  • For The Record – Vinyl Bar in Panaji
  • Ciaran’s on Palolem Beach
  • Trevor Jazz Café in Vagator
  • Cantare in Saligao
  • Hideaway Café and Bar in Vagator
  • Jazz & Grills in Calangute

#4 Goa Trance

Goa Trance at a music festival

A spin-off of the western EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Goan trance is synonymous with psytrance (psychedelic trance). In fact, Goa is the birthplace of Goa Psy Trance – a subgenre that effectively captures the quintessential Goan style of partying. Expect a lot of synthetic music created by the DJs, with remixed beats and layered melodies on loop, coupled with some Arabic tunes. Trance parties are generally held away from the neighbourhoods and in areas well known for their party vibes. Along with the music, there is a significant amount of visual effects and dynamic light art on display at the clubs, which in themselves add to the mood of the night-long parties in Goa.

Several clubs and venues in Goa are known for their trance nights:

  • HillTop in Vagator
  • Showbar in Sinquerim
  • Shiva Valley in Anjuna
  • Club 9Bar in Vagator
  • Leopard Valley in Agonda
  • UV Bar in Anjuna

#5 Reggae

A reggae performance at the Goa Sunsplash (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Longing for something similar to jazz but with some lyrics to go with the music? Reggae is a genre you will love! Not so melancholic like your regular Blues, reggae can make you both think and groove at the same time. The lead singer aside, you’ll have a whole band of drummers, electric guitarists and bassists at any reggae concert. The popularity of reggae in Goa has also resulted in the Sunsplash Festival which is dedicated solely to this genre of music.

You’ll easily find places to listen to some live reggae music in the state:

  • Cohiba Bar & Kitchen in Candolim
  • Ciaran’s on Palolem Beach
  • Guru Bar in Anjuna
  • Reggae Haven in Cavelossim
  • Riva Beach Resort in Pernem

Other Genres in the Goan Music Space

Goans (and holidayers) are known to enjoy a range of musical genres. While the choices look similar to one another at times, the subtle differences between every two artforms go to show how discerning today’s audience is. Keep an eye out for R&B (rhythm and blues), hip-hop, blues, epic trance technopop, nitzhonot, psychedelic rock and even sufi music.

The music culture in Goa has grown so much and so rapidly that there’s no telling when a new sub-genre will pop up on the scene. Thanks to the ever-growing influence of travellers from all over the world, this tiny state has made a big impact on the country’s live music arena. You only have to visit Goa and spend hours at different music venues to discover how the musical landscape is changing here.

For further details, log on to https://goa-tourism.com/.

Have you experienced the music scene in Goa yet?

Got any recommendations on other music venues in Goa?

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