The Rise of Gurmat Sangeet

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As I was randomly going through youtube clips a few days ago, I came across the above video of a group of Sikh children in Fremont, who learn kirtan in classical raags. Despite the poor audio, its obvious that they are good and I know this also from having heard them (and some of their contemporaries) in person they are GOOD.

A couple of weeks ago Jodha reported on an article that brought to light the fact that Sikh children are practicing the tradition of kirtan, but what I think we didnt discuss there is how this generation of Sikh musicians has really become one of classical musicians, learning stringed instruments of old and performing keertan in the Classical or raag framework. The growth has been obvious, especially in recent years with the rise of institutions such as the The Raj Academyin Great Britain and the Gurmat Sangeet Department at Punjabi University Patiala, which specialize in providing instruction in traditional (classical) kirtan, and even the Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar of which the Chardi Kala Jatha (classically trained professional Sikh musicians who happen to be American in nationality) is a product.

But, aside from those larger scale organizations, the growth in local interest is also very apparent. As a teenager I remember competing in kirtan competitions and being one of a handful of musicians whose performance was based in raag. However, now, when I attend the very same competitions I it is hard to identify a performance that is not classical in nature. The shift has been amazing. On top of this, many of you may have noticed the growth in the teaching of traditional stringed instruments in the Sikh Diaspora: Khalsa Schools and private organizations across the Sikhdom are placing a greater emphasis on kirtan in raag and in teaching young Sikhs stringed Indian and Sikh instruments.

So the point is its awesome that this generation of Sikhs and those growing up after us have the opportunity and the will to learn Gurbani in conjunction with Gurmat Sangeet the form that the Gurus gave it.

NOTE: I keep using the word classical so I suppose a note is in order as to what I mean: Classical in the context of Sikh music is what is known as Gurmat Sangeet and refers to music performed in accordance with the raag framework of music. From my understanding Gurmat Sangeet is rooted in Utar Baratiya Sangeet (Northern Indian Classical). Our Gurus wrote Gurbani in raag (musical scale) and taal (metre) and therefore, Gurmat Sangeet is most often used to refer to the set of raags and taals in which Gurbani is composed.


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18 Responses to “The Rise of Gurmat Sangeet”

  1. I have also noticed this. My parents say that when they were of my age (20),there was no Sangeet Academy in the area and around but now there are 3 Sangeet Academies in the radius of just 10 kilo meters. A number of Sangeet Smagams take place and a number of young and teenaged kirtanias perform in them.

  2. I have also noticed this. My parents say that when they were of my age (20),there was no Sangeet Academy in the area and around but now there are 3 Sangeet Academies in the radius of just 10 kilo meters. A number of Sangeet Smagams take place and a number of young and teenaged kirtanias perform in them.

  3. Singh says:

    I think the emphasis on Gurmat Sangeet is up in general, partly b/c we are becoming more established as a faith. People are more comfortable with sharing thier faith and expanding their base of Sikh knowledge to include Gurmat Sangeet.

    On a related note to what you shared – the annual Classical music festival Harbaluv (in Jalandhar?) has more Sikh participants each year from what I hear – many even going from abraod to compete, where only a few years ago, the Singh Bandu (a pair of Sikh brothers – now in their later years) were among the few known to attend.

  4. Singh says:

    I think the emphasis on Gurmat Sangeet is up in general, partly b/c we are becoming more established as a faith. People are more comfortable with sharing thier faith and expanding their base of Sikh knowledge to include Gurmat Sangeet.

    On a related note to what you shared – the annual Classical music festival Harbaluv (in Jalandhar?) has more Sikh participants each year from what I hear – many even going from abraod to compete, where only a few years ago, the Singh Bandu (a pair of Sikh brothers – now in their later years) were among the few known to attend.

  5. Dalsher Singh says:

    I would like to add the Gurmat Sangeet Project to this list of institutions or organizations which have nurtured Sikh youth in the art of classical kirtan. They are located in the Boston area. You can visit their website at: http://www.gurmatsangeetproject.com/

  6. Dalsher Singh says:

    I would like to add the Gurmat Sangeet Project to this list of institutions or organizations which have nurtured Sikh youth in the art of classical kirtan. They are located in the Boston area. You can visit their website at: http://www.gurmatsangeetproject.com/

  7. Phulkari says:

    These kids are awesome … very talented! I know sometimes people think of keertan in raag as, unfortunately, boring (that's why we have keertan to bollywood beats); but these kids definitely put that stereotype to rest. I hope they continue learning and sharing!

  8. Phulkari says:

    These kids are awesome … very talented! I know sometimes people think of keertan in raag as, unfortunately, boring (that’s why we have keertan to bollywood beats); but these kids definitely put that stereotype to rest. I hope they continue learning and sharing!

  9. harpreet singh says:

    We have to do something about initiating Gurmeet Sangeet at large, its very important, to preserve our tradition.

    Harpreet

  10. harpreet singh says:

    We have to do something about initiating Gurmeet Sangeet at large, its very important, to preserve our tradition.

    Harpreet

  11. Akali Phoola Singh says:

    You are only partly right when you write: "Gurmat Sangeet is rooted in Utar Baratiya Sangeet (Northern Indian Classical)"

    Hindustani and Carnatic are generally known as two distinct styles of raga system of music. Carnatic is older than Hindustani and claims to be more static in its practices over time. Whereas Hindustani has evolved quite a bit imbibing influences of local folk traditions brought in by gharanas.

    However, Gurmat Sangeet is the third distinct tradition in the raga system of music as it not only has distinct ragas not to be found either in Carnatic or Hindustani systems, there are styles of singing (like parhtaal) which are unique to Gurmat sangeet. Even more interestingly, the raga names common between Gurmat Sangeet and other traditions have different notations when compared with Hindustani or Carnatic traditions.

    Finally, the major point of difference is that in Gurmat Sangeet, it is Gursabad which is pardhan and not the raga. Raga is the vehicle that Gursabad rides to reach the hearts of the devotee.

  12. Akali Phoola Singh says:

    You are only partly right when you write: “Gurmat Sangeet is rooted in Utar Baratiya Sangeet (Northern Indian Classical)”

    Hindustani and Carnatic are generally known as two distinct styles of raga system of music. Carnatic is older than Hindustani and claims to be more static in its practices over time. Whereas Hindustani has evolved quite a bit imbibing influences of local folk traditions brought in by gharanas.

    However, Gurmat Sangeet is the third distinct tradition in the raga system of music as it not only has distinct ragas not to be found either in Carnatic or Hindustani systems, there are styles of singing (like parhtaal) which are unique to Gurmat sangeet. Even more interestingly, the raga names common between Gurmat Sangeet and other traditions have different notations when compared with Hindustani or Carnatic traditions.

    Finally, the major point of difference is that in Gurmat Sangeet, it is Gursabad which is pardhan and not the raga. Raga is the vehicle that Gursabad rides to reach the hearts of the devotee.

  13. Mohan Singh says:

    This is very true. Gurmat Sangeet is on a resurgence. Recently I found the following blog which is pretty good if you are interested in Gurmat Sangeet in particular and Gurbani/Music in general: htttp://shabadkirtan.blogspot.com

  14. Mohan Singh says:

    This is very true. Gurmat Sangeet is on a resurgence. Recently I found the following blog which is pretty good if you are interested in Gurmat Sangeet in particular and Gurbani/Music in general: htttp://shabadkirtan.blogspot.com

  15. Mohan Singh says:

    Oops the link should be: Reply

  • HARMAN says:

    A REVOLUTIONARY CONCEPT in Gurmat sangeet

    BY SIKHNET " GURBANI MEDIA CENTER "

    SANGAT PLZ VISIT http://www.sikhnet.com/gurbani

  • HARMAN says:

    A REVOLUTIONARY CONCEPT in Gurmat sangeet

    BY SIKHNET " GURBANI MEDIA CENTER "

    SANGAT PLZ VISIT http://www.sikhnet.com/gurbani

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