Dhrupad in Gurbani Sangit ~ Crowdfunding

Research Project ~ documentary on the Sikh musical tradition of Gurbani Kirtan.


Kirit Singh and Jasdeep Singh are two artists (see profile below) who specialise in the genres of Dhrupad & Dhamār . They perform Gurbani Kirtan in this traditional style, staying true to the vocal and percussive lineages to which they belong. The style and musicality which they bring to the sacred tradition of Gurbani Kirtan is both rare and yet timeless, and their determination and devotion to it represents their individual, inspired musical journeys to date.

Please support our unique Research Project involving the production of an
unprecedented documentary on the Sikh musical tradition of Gurbani Kirtan.
Learn more and donate at http://crowdfunder.co.uk/sikh-music

"We hope to portray the richness of the Sikh musical tradition in its former glory, prior to the influence of colonialism, the rise of Bollywood music, and the catastrophe of Partition. Our aim is to raise awareness and inspire a change in attitudes towards one of South Asia’s richest musical traditions."


Jasdeep Singh

Jasdeep began his musical training in the Khayal style of singing under Ustad Surinder Saund, and then later went on to learn the Dilruba from Ustad Gurdev Singh. He started his training in Tabla and Jori from the world-renowned Ustad Sukhvinder Singh 'Pinky' at the tender age of 13.

In order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the Benares style of Tabla, he spent 3 years studying from Pandit Sanju Sahai, the head of the Benares Tabla tradition.

More recently, he has been studying Gurbani Sangeet, from the Sangeet Natak award-winning Ustad Harbhajan Singh Namdhari, Pakhawaj, from 13th generation Pakhawaj Maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar Upadhyay and further rhythm and aesthetics from the leading Punjab Gharana exponent and academic Pandit Yogesh Samsi.

Jasdeep is also actively involved in research within the fields of Gurbani Sangeet and the percussive tradition of Punjab and is currently mentored by internationally recognised musicologist Saqib Razaq.


Kirit Singh

Kirit initially underwent a western classical music training and studied to play the piano from the age of 9.

He then became interested in Indian classical music in his teens, through his encounter with the Raj Academy. He took up playing the Sarangi and went on to study Indian classical music and Gurbani Sangit from Ustad Gurdev Singh Namdhari and later with Ustad Harbhajan Singh Namdhari. The genres of Dhrupad & Dhamar, however, had a particularly profound effect on him, in particular when he met his guru and a leading torchbearer of the Dhrupad tradition, Pt. Uday Bhawalkar. Over the past few years he has been spending considerable time in India studying music with his guru ji.

Kirit also has strong academic interests in the field of Dhrupad and Gurbani Sangit and having completed a masters in Ethnomusicology he is now working, with the help of Jasdeep, towards a PhD in music.

Dhrupad & Dhamār
Dhrupad & Dhamār constitute one of the oldest surviving forms of North Indian classical music which traces its origins to the spiritual and devotional forms of music employed in the temples of premedieval India. It is characteristically majestic in nature and tends to be syllabic in style, meaning the shabd, i.e., sound and word, are of utmost priority. It is typically heard in sacred contexts, such as in the traditions of Haveli Sangit and Gurbani Sangit, but also enjoyed popularity amongst the royal courts of India where it was willingly patronised as an art form in the medieval period. Dhrupad is considered to have given birth to all the other modern classical traditions of North India.

Gurbānī Sangīt
Once upon a time, Sacred music of the Sikhs, or Gurbānī Sangīt, was widely sung in the style of Dhrupad & Dhamār . The sacred poetry of great saints and gurus of the medieval period is naturally suited to a style of music in which the word maintains utmost priority and sanctity. Today, however, Dhrupad & Dhamār are rarely heard in the domain of Gurbānī Sangīt, a sad reality which inspires us to bring about change. The effective nature of Dhrupad and the power of its sound, the ras and bhav evoked by Raga music and the beautiful and universal truths expounded in Gurbānī, when combined, offer a unique and uplifting experience.


Ancient Tradition of Dhrupad Music- Origin Evolution and Presentation
Dhrupada is possibly the oldest surviving musical form of North India. The word Dhrupada is a combination of the two words Dhruva & Pada. Dhruva which means structured fixed or rigid, that does not alter its course, and pada, means word or syllable, a metrical foot, denoting the composition. The word Dhrupada, therefore, means a composition in which the padas or words are set in a definite structure or pattern.

If one searches for the roots of this form, one would definitely go back as far as the Sama Veda chants..... more

Brief History of Dhrupad
Famous proponents of this form - Tanna Mishra (Miyan Tansen), Baiju Bawra both of these received guidance from Swami Haridas.

DHRUPAD ~ Glimpses from the Past

Gurbani and Dhrupad - Alap and Shabad - Dhrupad Days 2014

Published by: Dhrupad Music Institute of America on Jun 5, 2014
On last day of Dhrupad Days 2014 in Seattle, Padmashri Gundecha brothers performed kirtan in traditional dhrupad. It starts with alaap in raag Kalyaan followed by first shabad in raag Kalyaan - "Gun Naad Dhun Anand Baid". The second shabad is in Raag Shri - "Tohi Mohi Mohi Tohi Antar Kaisa". Akhilesh Gundecha's pakhawaj is worth listening along with improvisations by Umakant and Ramakant ji Gundecha.
Video courtesy Manjit Singh

ਕਥਾ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਸੁਖਦਾਈ ॥
August 9, 2015
A powerful Tabla played by Bhai Mohinder Singh ji with Bhai Balbir Singh ji
DhrupadVid (350K)
A great performance of a very traditional rendition of playing Jori/Tabla (predominantly kulle bol - open handed phrases/ rudiments).
This was the original concept of accompaniment with the original Dhrupad style of Kirtan as prescribed and developed in Sikhism and by our gurus.
Traditionally there would be no harmonium just stringed instruments and raags and even talas would be followed in accordance to the specified 31 Gurbani shabads raags in our Guru Granth Sahib.


Swaami Haridaas (1480 -1575), mentor of legendary Taansen and Baiju Baawaraa, was a reputed saint-singer of Dhrupad and developed the pada prabandha style of sung poetry. A contemporary of Guru Nanak, he composed many four part dhrupad compositions as sthai, antara, sanchari and abhogi. According to some online sources, Swami Haridas was a student of Bhai Mardana. Pandit Ramakant Gundecha mentioned that Taansen has referred to Lord in his compositions with words like ‘Kartar’ as practiced by Guru Nanak Sahib.

Majority of shabads in Guru Granth Sahib have asthai (defined as rahao) which is used as verse to start from and return after singing each pada in a shabad. During Sikh kirtan, utmost importance is given to the clarity of the words in shabad which is always sung in prescribed raga. In dhrupad practice too emphasis is given to correct and clear placement of words and swars. In his analysis of Sikh music, Dr. Gurnam Singh (Professor of Gurmat Sangeet Department at Punjabi University, Patiala, India) comments that a large percentage of Sikh hymns were composed and rendered in dhrupad.... more

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