Here’s a little tribute to my favorite recordings of the magnificent, incomparable, Ragi Samund Singh Ji.

My little recording is a mish-mash of Raag Bin Shadja with obvious hints of Rag Hameer (but avoiding MA tivar). Some subtle hints of Raga Bilawal also showed up.

Aside from in old school Kirtan, Taal Firodust – 14 beats – is not commonly heard in Indian Classical music anymore. It was challenging to get the hang of, but was very rewarding once I was able to.

Make sure you’ve got good headphones on.

Sanu Ik Pal Chain Na Aavey

Sanu Ik Pal Chain Na Aavey – Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Tere Bin Nai Lagda Dil Mera Dolna – Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Tu Maane Ya Na Maane Dildara, Assa Te Tenu Rab Maniya – Wadali Brothers

Inspired by the above 3 tracks, and played according to my limitations.

Included some improvisations – couldn’t copy U.NFAK’s alaaps .. not even close! Going to keep trying.

Sanu Ik Pal Chain has been stuck in my head for a week or so. Decided to play it , then decided to record it , and the other two also sort of flowed in.

It’s pretty relaxing – maybe because I was pretty relaxed when I recorded it.

Rohanpreet Singh’s Kirtan Program

Rohanpreet Singh was on holiday in Bangkok last week.
I got to accompany him on Esraj for his Kirtan program.

[download id=”58″]
[download id=”59″]
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You don’t really get an idea of how good his voice is because of the distorted sound in the recordings. The speakers in the Darbar Hall were too loud, and my recorder is too sensitive.
I’ve uploaded one file from the practice session as well so you get a clearer idea of how well he sings. Please note that it’s a very informal session that just happened to be recorded. Bhulla Chuka and Interruptions Di Maaf Karna
[download id=”61″]

Right click the links and choose “SAVE AS” to download to your computer.

I wish God blesses him with fantastic success in his music career, and I hope he continues to happily do Kirtan Seva like he does now.

Bhai Gurmit Singh Shant – In Bangkok 2010

I got the chance to accompany Bhai Gurmeet Singh Shant during his visit to Bangkok.

to download – Right click the link(s) below and choose the option to ‘SAVE AS’

File 1: 2 Shabads.
#1 Semi-Light Raag – I don’t know what it’s called.
#2 Raag Malhar
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File 2: Raag Asa
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2 more files from 22nd August 2010
There are Shabads in Raag Bilaval, Raag Vadhans, and more.
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I could barely keep up with him – but really enjoyed the attempt. Bhai Sahib sang beautifully.

New Recording from 29 August 2010. Raag Bilaval , Raag Soohi.
Bhai Sahib used a Surmandal instead of his vaja – the overall effect is much nicer if you compare it with the previous recordings.
[download id=”57″]

Gurmat Sangeet guidance

Someone asked me for guidance on learning to play Gurmat Sangeet on Esraj or Dilruba.
I am no scholar or historian. My ‘proper’ knowledge on the subject is limited.
I can only share my listening preferences with you by telling you what sounds good to me.
If you like the ideas, feel free to use them.

As far as I’m aware , the Esraj is not directly linked to Sikh history.
It could be called a sitar-saranda hybrid, or a dilruba-saranda hybrid. I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know what came first.
I like it because my Esraj is easier to play than my Dilruba. I get better sound from it. That’s it.

Being able to create a nice meditative atmosphere during Kirtan is slightly more important to me than the historical authenticity of the instruments being played. Unless the particular event is a historical showcase.

Ideally – the instruments played in a program should be historically authentic in terms of their link to Sikh history and played well. But If I have to choose one over the other, I would choose a non authentic instrument that is played well.
The Bani and your state of mind matter most.

The harmonium will slow down your progress as a singer if you get too attached to using it.

As far as I’m aware it has no real place in Sikh History either. It is a european invention that came to India not too long ago.

I like harmoniums that have a heavy bass type sound. They’re nice as support to fill out the lower frequencies.
Ideally, the volume on harmoniums should be low. So the harmonium should b played softly, almost like a drone to help fill out the lower sounds.

Some Ragi Jathas get too excited with their harmoniums and play too loud, all the time.
They have to be sure to project their voice even louder than their harmonium. If they can’t, then their voices get drowned out. Either way, it gets annoying quite quickly.

Take Turns
Instrumentalists and vocalist should take turns, as if the session is a duet so the Sangat can get involved and sing along.
To the audience/Sangat – everything becomes a monotonous drone if it’s repeated the same way too many times.
My dad pointed this out to me – and asked me to listen to different recordings to confirm whether it makes sense or not – I did ; it does.
Variety is a good thing. It keeps people’s attention.
Take breaks, take turns.

Alaaps & Filler Tunes
I think these are great.
If it’s a Kirtan session, I prefer that the vocalist does Parmaans instead of alaaps. I hope I have the correct word. It’s where they recite a few lines from different Shabads that address the same topic as the one they’re singing.
Long “AaaaaaAAAaaaaAAAAAAaaaAaa” type alaaps are distracting, unless it’s a purely musical event. Short ones are ok.
Parmaans are so much better because you get the same contemplative type mood as an alaap, but you have the infinite Substance of Gurbani to back it up.

This is just my Opinon, so there’s no right or wrong here. You’re very welcome to have a different viewpoint.

Gurmit Singh Shaant with Ustadji Maiya Singh

Kirtan Program at my place in Bangkok, Thailand
15 Jan 2009

Bhai Sahib Gurmit Singh Shaant
Ustadji Maiya Singh on Esraj
Bhai Manjit Singh on tabla – he’s using the big tabla that sounds like a Phakavaj, but a regular Duggi.

in 3 raags and 3 different Taals: Panj Taal 15bt, Ik Taal 12bt, and Tin Taal 16bt.
Shabad + Meaning: Basant Chariya Phooli Banraie.

I think it’s Raag Bihagra. Roopak 7bt.
Shabad + Meaning: Ratte Ishq Khudaaie Rang Didaar Ke

Raag Tilang. Tintaal 16bt.
Shabad + Meaning: Meera Daana Dil Soch

Thumri . Sounds like it’s based on Raag Patdeep – but he uses every note and every combination of notes possible. Too good!
Shabad + Meaning: Har Bin Bail Birani Huihai



Audio Recorded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – for the 300 Saal Guru De Naal program. Shabad: Tu Thakur Tum Pai Ardaas

Didi (*is a casual title given to females you consider your sister) Arungeet Kaur is singing. We were blessed to have Sahib Singh, KL Malaysia Wale, on tabla. Several people told me he’s the best Tabalchi among Sikhs in Malaysia – I believe them. He didn’t do much fancy stuff in this recording as we had just met. He did a lot more in the following days after we requested he go all-out.

I’m using my friend Bakshish’s Esraj. It’s a RajMusicals teak wood Esraj.. smaller size than mine.  I had to borrow it becuase mine came with a cardboard box, and he has a proper hard case. I didnt want to risk taking mine on the plane.

Imagine, he LET me borrow it. Bro, if you read this, know that I’m very grateful, really.

As usual, kindly pardon my mistakes.

Ok here’s the file already: [download#19]
SAVE AS to your computer please – do not let it stream off this site.

Practice for an upcoming program.

I just learned this Guldasta from Aruna Didi (Arungeet Kaur).

Guldasta = a Raag Mala = More than 1 Raag is used in the composition.  It’s not like “Mishr” though, because you are not bending the rules of the Raag.

In this particular composition, every line is set to a different Raag.  Anyone care to guess + list which ones are used ?

I’ve got a lot more practice to do – I keep missing notes. It’s very confusing and it’s in a different scale from the one I’m accustomed to using.