Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Gurmat Sangeet

An extract from an article from about the inaugural Gurmat Sangeet Darbar held 29-30 October, in Boston, USA.

The tradition of Gurmat Sangeet has been evolving from the times of the Gurus to the present. Historically this has largely been an oral tradition, which has been handed from generation to generation often from father to son in families that have been associated with Gurmat Sangeet since the times of the Gurus. The absence of a written tradition and the lack of a consistent framework for the documentation and preservation of Gurmat Sangeet has had a devastating effect, as this centuries-old system for the transmission of the tradition has broken down under the pressures of the modern world.

Baba Mardana Ji, first Kirtani in Sikh history, who accompanied Guru Nanak Dev Ji and did sewa of playing the Rabaab (rubeck) while Guru Ji sang Gurbaani.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji teaching handicapped persons how to play traditional instruments (Saaj), some which were actually designed by the Gurus themselves.

Drawing by W. Carpenter of Sri Harmandar in 1858, showing the Guru's Court open and Kirtani doing Raag Kirtan using traditional Gurmat Sangeet instruments.

Fortunately, at the turn of the century, a system for musical notation invented by Pandit Vishnu Narain Bhatkhande was adopted for use by S. Gian Singh Abbotabad, who under the auspices of the SGPC, produced two volumes titled Gurbani Sangeet in 1961. These volumes represented the first notable effort to document centuries old compositions that define Gurmat Sangeet and preserve them for posterity. This work was followed by other notable works by Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh as well as Gyani Dyal Singh of the Rakab Ganj Kirtan Vidyalay.

Despite these excellent efforts, Gurmat Sangeet suffered the onslaught of ‘modernization’, driven largely by the lure of popularity and financial gain, particularly in the last four decades. Ragis increasingly switched to popular tunes which required less effort and could be plagiarized from readily available sources such as film music, discovering that pandering to popular taste was often the shortest path to popularity and riches. The problem was exacerbated by the ready availability of very cheap mass marketed recordings, which further strengthened the grip of the banal form of Kirtan to the detriment of the Gurmat Sangeet tradition.

In recent times, particularly in the Sikh Diaspora, we have been fortunate to witness a reanissance of sorts, where young Sikhs in particular are beginning to show interest in understanding and preserving the traditions of Gurmat Sangeet.

Some Kirtan in Raag in accordance to the title Raag, which Guru Sahib wrote and intended it to be sung in:

Mouli dhartu mouliya akash
Manmmet Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Satpreet Singh

Raag Basant

Preet preet guriya mohan lalna

Manmmet Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Satpreet Singh
Raag Soohee

Har jas gavoh bhagwan

Rupinder Singh, Nampreet Singh, Shamsher Singh
Raag KaanRa

Har charan saran gobind dukh bhanjana
Bhai Gupal Singh
Raag Dhanaasri

Gun nad dhun anand bhed

Sonia Kaur
Yaman Kalyaan

Ramiya hou barak tera

Sonia Kaur
Raag Aasa

Halt sukh palat sukh

Amrit Kaur, Mehr Kaur
Raag Dhanaasri

At pritam man mohana
Amrit Kaur, Mehr Kaur
Raag BihaagRa

For more info on Gurmat Sangeet or to download Kirtan visit:

1 comment:

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