In Sikhism, a specific tradition of Shabad Kirtan has been prescribed with the sole mission of disseminating the holy message of Shri Guru Granth Sahib. The entire musicology of this tradition follows the music tenets of Shri Guru Granth sahib. We can define the music, that flows in tune with the Gurmat or the ideology of Sikh Guru, as Gurmat Sangeet or Musicology of Sikh Music. In Sikh Musicology, the pivotal importance of the Shabad lies in its being elevated to status of the Guru. Specific musicology for shabad kirtan has been established in Shri Guru Granth Sahib with a view to spread the message of the shabad so widely as to cover the whole mankind. The historical development of the Sikh history is a testimony to the practical relevance of the same. The tradition of Shabad Kirtan has existed in Sikhism down the centuries. Apart from the divine recitations of the saints and seers preceding the Gurus and their contemporaries the special original ragas, the different forms of the raagas, the forms of classical and folk singing styles, special music sings of Shabad Kirtan, kirtan chaukis, stringed instruments, kirtan taksals and kirtaniaas constitute specific musical elements to illustrate the musicology of this tradition.
Based on the main motive of carrying across the message of the Divine Gurbani through the cosmic language of music, to the vast sea of humanity irrespective of caste or creed, he Sikh musicology distinguishes itself from the other musical traditions of India, or the world for that matter, due to its character of originality. The voyage of the development of this exclusively spiritual tradition can be viewed as the predominant music movement of India music.
We can identify Sikh musicology from the Shabad Kirtan composed according to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Based music pattern and prevailing original and practical tradition. It is with this purport in view that the author of this book, for the first time, has endeavoured to highlight the importance of Shabad Kirtan in accordance by composing and singing 31 Raagas and 31 Raaga-forms from Shri Guru Granth Sahib. The musical notations of these 62 raagas compositions do not, nevertheless, now remianhidden as Musical notations but have transformed into an audio recording in the form of cassettes and 6 C.D.S By RPG-HMV.
Dr. Gurnam Singh has to his credit a very long experience of two decades which witnessed him as engaged in constant research of teaching as well as functioning as Head, Department of Music, Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab (India). A true inheritor of the Gurmat tradition of music, Dr. Gurnam Singh who received his primary training in music from his father, Bhai Uttam Singh Patang, elder brothers Dr. Jagir Singh and Dr. Bachittar Singh. Formal and systematic understanding from Sangeet Acharya Prof.Tara Singh. Padam Shri Ustad Sohan Singh of Agra Gharana, Baqar Hussain of Patiala Gaharan and Principal S.S. Kareer who made him familiar with the mystic quality of music. He has made commendable contribution to the world of music by enriching it with 14 original books. 25 edited books, 27 research papers as also several musical compositions, signature-tunes and by giving background music. As an approved Radio artist Dr. Gurnam Singh has added 14 audio and 2 video cassettes and many musical compositions to the world of music. He added another feather to his cap by recording 10 audio cassettes and 6 C.D.s containing 31 Ragas and 31 Raaga-forms from Shri Guru Granth Sahib by the Gramophone Company of India Pvt. Ltd. RPG-HMV. He has played a great role in getting Gurmat Sangeet recognised as an independent subject by the Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab, India.
The ancient and comprehensive form of the Indian tradition of spiritual music is a unique asset in the domain of world of music. The systems of folk, classical and spiritual music developed their respective rich traditions in the main stream of Indian Music. An unending interaction of their mutual exchange has its own independent existence. Although the musicologists failed to make any substantive effort in synchronising different forms of Hindustani and Karnataki music patterns till 13th centrury, yet the message of saint and bhagat poets of southern India reached every house on the wings of the melodies of music. The traditions of Kirtan found great acceptability in North and South at the hands of Vairagis and Saint devotees of Sarguna and Nirguna faiths of Ramanuja sect. Experimentation in several forms of music is available in the spiritual music of Guru Nanak Sahib’s times and prior to him also, but in no religious philosophy it has any distinct identity established according to specified musicological norms. In Sikhism, all the Gurus made Shabad Kirtan an integral part of the Sikh way of life by endowing it with a distinct identity. Sikh music in its current traditional form is known as Gurmat Sangeet. The elevation of Guru Granth Sahib as an embodiment of Guru and the musicological format of the holy scripture deserve a special mention in this context. The compilation of the whole Bani in different ragas, raga-forms, music-sings and a number of music directives, is a unique example on the world music scenario. This endeavour is not confined to the written word only. The practical Kirtan performances made on different occasions in the form of Kirtan Chaukis have infused life in to this form of music. This practical music tradition based on the tenets, enshrined in the Sikh Musicology. Till date, Sikh Music (Gurmat Sangeet) has not been able to create a niche in the India and World music as an independent branch of Musicology whereas it has all the fundamental characteristics of a full-fledged musicological system in its comprehensive theoretical and practical perspective. Music has a multi-dimentional role to play in Sikhism. Beside the Raagas and Kirtan Chauki tradition of Shabad Kirtan, it also encompasses the Dhadi tradition, Var-singing and folk style Kirtan tradition (Vaariaan da Kirtan, Jottian da Kirtan etc.) based on folk music. Here we shall discuss only the Guru Granth Shib-bashed central and fundamental music lore of the Sikh music. A study of this tradition is possible under Sikh musicology from different angles viz. theoretical, historical, formative and analytical.
This book is an endeavour to make an elaborate study of the Raaga system of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in view of the Sikh Musicology. There is a great background of various movements of Indian music prior to Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The classical music tradition of Indian music and different traditions of spiritual music (Bhakti Sangeet of Bhakti movement, Kirtan traditions Sufi music etc.) deserve special mention, Sarguna (existential) and Nirguna (formless) Kirtan traditions relating to the Bhakti movement existed before the Gurus period. In particular, the Raga-governed Bani (Divine recitation) of Nirgunite saint poets was in vogue before Guru Nanak Sahib. The Guru beside employing several poetic devices, also established a tradition of Sikh music (Gurmat Sangeet) by assimilating specific musical devices and a good variety of Indian musical traditions. The Raga was accorded a place of central importance in the musicology of this tradition. The introduction of Sikh music in practice and establishment of Sikh musicology based on Shri Guru Granth Sahib is a remarkable and laudable contribution in this context. Sikh music was a contemporary tradition of the Mughal period of Hindustani music, known as golden age of music of this period, which exists even today. The Raagas prevailed in both the traditions but due to the difference of spiritual and artistic purposiveness, a lot of difference in the forms of singing also came to the forefront. And it was due to this that Sikh music came to be established in its original form This Raaga tradition found place in the Rababi Kirtankaras and the Sikh devotess of the Guru period.
The Kirtaniakaras of the abode of Guru Kept the traditional forms of Raagas intact by keeping themselves immune from the change that affected Shudh Thaat from Kafi scale’s notes into Bilawal scale’s notes though in 1850 A. D. and the controversies over Raagas and Raginis. With the passage of time, these forms got deviated from the Raagas of Indian music and a vast Raaga-bashed treasure of Shabad Kirtan compositions remained in vogue which contributed to the popularisation of several forms the Dasam Granth and more than 253 Raagas in Sarb Loh Granth are an ample evidence of a great tradition of Raagas relating to the Sikhism. In 1991, Sant Sucha Singh of Jawaddi Taksal, Ludhiana, Punjab constituted a Raaga Nirnayak Committee under the stewardship of Sangeet Martand Pandit Dalip Chander Bedi. This committee determined the original Raagas of Shri Guru Granth Sahib in their authentic form. Thus, the following sources of the Sikh musicology came into limelight.
1. Practical Raaga forms in vogue, travelling down the generations in Gurmat Sangeet tradition.
2. The Raaga forms mentioned in the Gurus’ contemporary books on India Music.
3. The Raaga forms as propounded by different scholars of Sikh Music in various books.
4. The Raaga forms in the musical notations of the Raagis, Rababis and other Sikh Kirtankaras.
5. The forms prevalent in the contemporary Indian Classical music.
6. Raaga forms determined by the Raaga Niranayak Committee.
It was on the basis of the above sources that the author has composed all his musical creations based on the Raagas of Guru Granth Sahib which have been prescribed in this book. Apart from the 31 Raagas and 31 Raaga-forms of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, these compositions have been sung in original style of the Sikh music tradition. Besides, there is an accompaniment of Sikh Music stringed instruments with the Shabad Kirtan. The Gramophone Company of India Pvt. Ltd. (RPG-HMV) has launched these musical compositions in the form of 10 Audio Cassettes and 6 C.D.s into the horizon of music. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar, a premier Sikh institution has described this accomplishment as unprecedented in Sikh history and the world of music. The main motive behind preparing these compositions in music notation and the following digital recording is to establish the identity of Sikh musicology in a distinct manner. Certainly, the music researchers will be able to enrich themselves with the latent secrets of Sikh musicology from this herculean task, and for the students f music it will prove to be a great source of inspiration and learning. This is a humble attempt to identify the great as well as rare Gurmat Sangeet traditions of Sikh Music for the sagacious judgement of the music-loving readers and scholars.
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