Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm back...

Wahe Guru ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh

I'm back (though I did not go anywhere, I was always here). I was quiet and observing things. Just reading the blogs of the people around and seeing what they were doing.

I had a short trip to india and bought myself a 6 inch "chathu", realy neat , tuned to G on pehla kala. It has a deep pakhawaz sound and is REALLY heavy. I also had a chance to meet Surjit Singh ji's son (Gurtej singh). He helped me choose this chathu.

Angad is also in India at the moment as I write this blog. I also had a chance to see his Dilruba when he brought it once to my house few days ago(we tried tuning it and broke one of the strings :) ). That is alright. It's hard to break a tabla, but if it was fragile enough to be broken, I would have the highest number of records in that.

Anyway, the last few months have been quite intresting, life has smashed me couple of times in the face. It's been tough going. You dont want to make mistakes and in your effort to avoid, you end up making a blunder. I think that is how life goes on (it's a never ending learning process).

On my tabla front, I had to skip couple of my classes as I was house hunting. I resumed my classes just a few days ago. Yesterdays class was quite intresting, for a long time masterji has been trying to start the ticker in my mind (tabla rhythm and count) and yesterday I kind of understood what he was talking about.I mean this takes time, to tune your mind to play with your hands "the bols" in between the beat and remember the count. Blink of an eye and you have lost it. It would be easy to balance a needle on an another one than remembering that (for me it's THAT difficult right now). Well, there are people who have mastered it and few months ago Amardeep ji shared with me an article on "LayaBhaskar" Khaprumama.

I read it a couple of times and heard the recordings, if you are a budding tabla player it is quite difficlult to catch the beat and then there are variations on top of it which are being played in the middle, makes it all the more difficult to understand. But things like these make you feel that such kinds of complexity is possble in playing ( I mean you can write it down on a piece of paper and make it as complex as you want , but playing is a different ball game all together.)

Within the same article it also talks about Ahmad Jan. (Ahmad Jan ’Thirakhwa’ - solo on tabla) Now you have to hear his solo and if you concentrate a little bit you can catch the beat and count it all along ( dont let anybody disturb you when you are doing this) . He is playing Ek taal (12 beats). Liste to it , its is truly amazing. The best thing that Iike the clarity in his playing. I can imagine him play. Out of this world.

Lehkari is the spine of tabla playing and should be started at an early age, it takes a while to understand it. It is not difficult, just that you have to get the hang of it. Just that maths (I'm not scaring all you guys out there). You get so mad in this lehkari thing that you start imagining about this in everything. When I'm in the train going to office, I'm couting the beats in my fingers. Humming a shabad and counting the number of beats that fit in it. Slowly you also start making your own combinations. Start with a teen taal , play the first eight beats just like they are supposed to be and then start replacing the last 8 with something else.

You have to be careful in making such combinations ( I would not play any of these right now in public, till I know if it is correct to play anything like that).

Another web link that I would like to share is this. Taalmala - THE RHYTHM OF MUSIC AND DANCE. It has a bunch of taals starting from 6 beats to 28. Nice cheat sheet in case you hear of a taal you dont know of. I dont know how many taals there are in total, there are scores of them, books and books filled. This link is for us (the beginners). Let me know if there is somtehing more intresting out there on the same lines.

Dhik Chak, Dhik Chak,Dhik Chak, Dhik Chak... that is all I hear to what people are listening to nowdays on their Ipods. (I listen only from the point of view of the beats). Take any song, any language that is going around now days, slow or fast, it is nothing but 1..2..3..4.x1..2..3..4..x...( I feel that is really simple, there is definately melody and the voice of the person to enjoy in that )

I dont promise to be regular in writing, but would try. I dont know how many people read my blog, but that is fine. The idea is to capture the thought in my mind right now. Somebody might find it intresting.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Heavy Stuff..

Phew.. that was heavy...I just finished reading Angad's blog. There were some really unrealistic questions posed in that article and some very clear and detailed answers.

Reading that article, I feel happy that I'm to a lot extent ignorant about sikhi.. I'm happy that I don't know much abt sikhi.. and because I dont know much abt it, I would never ask such questions. I would not discourage the person who has asked the questions, I think he has done a brilliant job, but in the wrong direction. I dont get it, isnt it really simple, do paath be good and there you are !! God will show you the way... how many wives Guru Gobind singh ji had?? , can sikh eat meat, who dies out of chicken pox or malaria.. I mean is that all left for someone to dig out of sikhi today.. Sorry to say, but I feel disgusted.

Human beings will never be perfect, the bani is for us, to find our way out. For me personally more than the bani it is the Kirtan. Though practically we are singing the bani while doing kirtan, I think music plays a big role. The reality is that gurmat sangeet is the thread putting all the bani together.

I was born in a family where listening to music was discouraged, playing any instrument was a waste of time..(forget abt music classes). (Please be careful when you read the above line, I'm not blaming anybody or my parents, whatever they did, was with clean intentions). It was not just my family but also people whom I met when i was growing up (usually my relatives and frds) who also felt the same. They all thought, "hobby hai bachey nu, koi nahin". Well, the hobby is turning out to be something that has conquered my body and is wrapping my soul today. If you are a father/mother/brother/sister who is reading this.. and if somebody close to you has a hobby of listening/playing music, take it seriously. Help them grow in the right direction, I believe we would start the much needed "change" that Sikhi requires today.

Tusi sarrey soch rahey ho gaye.. what is this guy writing. Well, let me make a short story simple.. Guru Granth Sahab ji is written completely in a format that would be BEST understood if you have some knowledge of music. Now music here could be for a beginner anything, but I think in todays date, we have enough Indian musical instruments to learn and practice. We need not learn the drums or the guitar, I think they are too easy. Pick up an Indian instrument and start.. Love it like your kid, Funny how can you love an instrument? Answer:- Just like a chef loves his cooking, just like a soldier who loves his rifle. Try it and you would understand what I'm saying.

Gaal sarri maan di hai, if you have committed yourself, there is no stopping you. I'm toooo young to say or write anything abt Gurbani, but the ounce of exposure that I have got from Kirtan has already blessed my soul. It is your turn to get blessed.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Wadbhagee har kirtan gaeeai

Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa.. Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

The feeling is of joy...mood a little somber (as they are not here right now, I still feel that I have to wake up in the morning and go to the Gurudwara to listen to them). What great Guru's musicians, each and every one of them. The last few days in my life would be by far the most treasurable experience I have had in this journey of walking on the path of Gurmat sangeet.

Raj Academy aka Prof Surinder Singh has done a great job in preserving Gurmat Sangeet and my first hand interaction with his team reveals the motive very clearly.

I attended all his session/workshops and kirtans except the one that had on 23rd Evening. Could not make to that and I would repent on that forever. These are golden chances to meet some great musicians and Guru’s blessed Sikhs. I know one thing for sure, Guru should have his blessings on you to understand what has been correctly written in the SGGS.

The workshops were great and eye opener for me and a lot of people sitting there. Got to see a lot of mood swings in that 5 hours session amongst the audience. Where some were happy to see such a collection of instruments/musicians, there were people who were not as happy as their work was openly criticized. Whatever, all said and done, Gurmat Sangeet is the only way kirtan should be done. There are no two question on this, no if’s and but’s on that. We have no right to change anything from the SGGS. I would say, lets not customize our religion. This would not make anybody happy.

As I write, I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts, there was so much to see, learn and share and the irony is that we had a only a few people in the Gurudwara.

Lal Lal Mohan Gopal tu…

Look at Waheguruji’s charisma, how we all got to meet Chris Mooney Singh, the only Sikh Rabab player. Chris has been staying in Singapore for a long time. Though I was aware of this and a few other people were also aware, there were things that made Chris stop work on his Rabab revival project few years ago. He was very humble in accepting the invitation by Amardeep Ji to come over to his house for Lunch, and that was it, Prof Suninder Singh’s long time wish came true. They both met each other for the first time, and I would not stop in saying that, this was a moment that will change the face of Gurmat Sangeet in the next years to come.

Next day in the Gurudwara all 6 instruments were used to sing the bani (Taus, Saranda, Jori, Rabab, Sarangi and Dilruba), another moment that would be a big role in Gurmat Sangeet. Something that has not happened in the last few hundred years. A sight I was lucky enough to see from my own eyes.

What should I tell you about Chris, you have to meet him personally to get to know how much work has been done in the Rabab Revival project. I have spoken to him only a few times, and his sweet voice wins over your heart. He is one person who single handedly revived the Rabab. The gift of Guru Nanak Dev Ji to us was lying in Mandi Sahab Gurudwara for the past few100 years and nobody bothered to think in that direction. Chris not only reached Mandi sahib, he took the lead in bringing it back.

Mubarak to everybody that could make to it to such an eventful Christmas “Sikh style “ J .A Christmas that I would never forget.

After leaving them today at the Silat Road Gurudwara, where they boarded a bus for Malaysia for their next program, I knew I would be missing them and all the blissful music. The three days were not enough to fulfill the hunger of my soul. The impact is so huge, like an explosion, I still can hear the kirtan in my ears even when I was trying to go to sleep in the afternoon after I came back from Gurudwara.

I’m now finding it very difficult to move back to normal life, but nothing can be done. I have to earn for my bread and butter. The hukum is to live a “grahast life” and remember his name always. Now that would be a challenge J .

Hre Joo Rakhe Leyho Pte Meyri

For pictures please click here

(These are just some of the pics, we are in the process of uploading all. It would take atleast a day or two. So please keep checking. I would let all know once done.)

Wishes to everybody that I met in the last 3 days.

Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa.. Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Makes a lot of Sense !!!

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa.. Waheguru ji ki Fateh

I haven't been regular in updating my blog and would apologies for that.. I have been extremely busy... work has completely taken me over.. Things are becoming slow now.. so here I'm back on the blog. Past two weeks have been good and Asa di Var also has been going on well. For the next two weeks we would not be doing Asa di var as Amardeep ji is not in the country. I think this is the best time to sit and learn. Every time I make an effort to learn something or read a book about Gurbani gets lost somewhere in the way. I have seen that I have to make several efforts before I come back to where I had left. I'm going through the same effort right now while trying to read the book "Ujaro Dipa" by Prof Darshan Singh. Till what I have read.. it makes a lot of sense..No BS.. no own written sakhis. everything from SGGS I think one should be very careful in deciphering Gurbani, especially when have just plunged into it at an age at which I'm right now. I think the best age to get exposed to Gurbani is when you are young ... there aren’t many questions that come in your mind.. and when they start coming you know enough to find the answers yourself. In the last few weeks since I have met everybody.. I remember the discussions/responses that we have all had regarding various topics and they keep repeating in my head. Some of them made a lot of sense and some a little less. The only question that came into my mind time and again is how true was/is our History. Can we blindly believe it.. and before it reached a phase that I strained my brain thinking, I had the answer.Very simple.."Use Guru Granth Sahib as a touch stone to check if what you heard is true". Again made a lot of sense !!! Well, I haven’t read the SGGS completely..but I think it would be a worth an try to see what I have ever heard about(Sakhi's..etc etc) is true or not. The idea is to catch the underlying message and not to look for the sakhi in SGGS. But I think that would happen on phase 2 of my journey. As days go by I'm getting more and more exposed to Gurbani Kirtan .. And the thing that facinates me the most is the enormous amt of raags.. taals and different gayki styles that are mentioned in SGGS. One life is not enough to practice all these. I sit and imagine .. our Guru Sahibs must be amazing musicians.. SO much gyan !!! SO much Kirtan.. SO many rags and they are all so neatly tied together in SGGS. I was completely unaware of all this. Music has been given such a high platform in is an art of practice and learn all this. Guru sahab has left us an treasure.. treasure that will never end... The only sad part is that some part of that treasure has been lost, some raags and taals are now gone forever....forever...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

pootaa maataa kee aasees.

I was never like this before. People lookup and ask me what caused the change in me.

I would only say that it is the blessings of my parents that has brought me here. It is the blessings that is making me walk this path. Blessings that will take me a long way. I know there is no way to pay it all back to them..but I can surely pray for them. For me this is my prayer for them.. this is my way of telling waheguru ji, please take of my parents. Please be with them all the time, as they be with me like my shadow.

We are not born in this world to correct people and that is where we go wrong. Emotions take over our mind. That is the beginning of the end. Something that you dont want to start ever in life. As for me.. I have come very far with this.. I'm rewinding now and going back, to start from Zero.

As far as todays kirtan is concerned.. I would point you to Angads blog. He done a good job of capturing todays Asa di Var.. After the Asa di var we sat down for sometime with Amardeep ji and had some knowledge sharing session. That is also mentioned there.

Hope you all enjoy reading it.. Thankx Angad for posting everything..

Friday, October 07, 2005

Concentration !!

I don't know how people write their blogs..I mean do they prepare a draft or they spend time thinking or something like that, I would just go ahead and pen things down as they come into my mind.

Today was the second time that I played the Asa Di Var..and I think I did much better the first time :) . No special reason over why I think so...

Looking at my pictures playing the tabla gave me the title of this part of the blog "concentration". I never realised this but I could see in the pictures how much concentration goes in playing the taals and making sure you dont do any mistake. It's quite a challenge to keep pace.

Of what I remember Amardeep ji sang 3 shabads in teen taal, 1 in Sulfaq and 1 in Jhaptaal and the toughest of all was the Jhaptal.

Singing Gurbani in the format in which it is supposed to be sung has this magical feel. It is not just beating the tabla or singing the raags with the right sur.. I think is the only way to get closer to God. After all that is the reason why Guruji's wrote all the shabads in raags.

Understanding that format and exploring that, is the motivation for me to learn more. Learning the tabla as a saaz (muscial instrument) is just one thing..putting it in action with the raags that were written couple of hundred years ago.. makes you feel you are there... there where he wants to take you. You all might think that I have gone crazy :)) but I'm perfectly allright.. I'm just telling you what I really feel.

It's truly magical. Atleast I get to the state of Nirvana !!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Me doing the Asa di Var


Today for the first time I did the Asa di var with Amardeep ji at the Singh Sabha Gurudwara. It was a memorable experience and I think it would be worth if I could do this every week.. Would need Waheguruji's kirpa...Here is the picture that we took... For some reason the other pictures did not turn out that well. So I have only one picture to share . :(

Anyway, I got a chance to play some taals that I had never played before. Amardeep ji sang a shabad with 10 matra so I had to play Sulfaq. It was good. For the last few months I have started to work on understanding the framework of Gurmat Sangeet and I think I'm lucky that I met Amardeep ji and we touched some topics that were of intrest to both of us. Gurbani is written in a particular fashion and understanding that is equally important. My journey has started on that path, have met some intresting people and I would share this journey with all of you out there... Gur Fateh !!

I met Angad and Puneet today and it was very nice to meet them too. I see young sikh youth moving in that direction... feels nice. I'm sharing Angad's blog with everybody I know so that they can see the pictures that he took at the seminar that Amardeep ji gave few weeks ago on Gurmat Sangeet. I hope Angad does not mind. .