Gurmat Sangeet Classes
Gurmat Sangeet or Shabad Kirtan has been an integral part of Sikh worship from the very beginning. Hymn-singing was in fact the earliest form of devotion for the Sikhs. Even in the time of Guru Nanak, the disciples assembled together to listen and sing shabads, i.e. hymns composed by the Guru and thus to render praise to the Lord.
Kirtan has since been appropriated into the regular gurdwara service. But Sikh kirtan abstains from all outward expression or frenzy in the form of clapping and dancing. Praise is offered to the Supreme Being who is without form (nirankar) and not to a deity in any embodiment or incarnation.
The texts of the shabad kirtan are those that comprise the Holy Book of Sikhs known as the Guru Granth Sahib, or Adi Granth, compiled by Guru Arjan in 1604. Probably no other religion shows a closer relationship between music and its scriptures than does Sikhism. The Holy Book is organized according to ragas, 31 in number, to which the poetic hymns belong.
Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend and Kent Kirtan Project are dedicated to gurmat parchaar in Gravesend and the surrounding areas. We have weekly Gurmat Sangeet and tabla classes running and also invite parcharaks (preachers) to come and give programmes on a regular basis, mainly at Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend.
For more information please contact the class-co-ordinator Parvinder Singh Lalli.
Parvinder Singh Lalli
Harkiret Singh Bahra
It is beneficial to have your own instruments so that kirtan can also be practised at home, however during the class, students may use the instruments provided.
Every Saturday evening there is a Kirtan Darbar from 6.45pm which is open to all.
The tabla is the most popular percussion instrument used in the classical and popular music of the northern regions of South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, northern India, Pakistan).
The term tabla is an Arabic word which means “drum”,The origins of the word tabla come from the arabic word, “tabl,” and this attests to its status as a product resulting from the fusion of musical elements from indigenous Hindu and Central Asian Muslim cultures that began in the late 16th century.
The history of this instrument is at times the subject of heated debate. Reliable historical evidence places the invention of this instrument in the 18th century. Another common historical narrative portrays the tabla as being thousands of years old, yet this is mere conjecture, based on slipshod interpretations of iconography.
The different traditions of tabla playing go back to the 18th century. The transformation of the tabla from a religious-folk instrument to a more sophisticated instrument of art-music occurred in the late 18th or early 19th centuries, when significant changes took place in the music of North India.
In public performances, tabla players were primarily accompanists to vocalists and instrumentalists; however, they developed a sophisticated solo repertoire that they performed in their own musical gatherings
The two drums of the tabla are called the dayan and bayan, the names came from the words dayn and baya which mean right and left in hindi.
The smaller drum, played with the dominant hand, is called the dayan It is made from a conical piece of wood hollowed out to approximately half of its total depth.
The larger drum, played with the other hand, is called bayan. It is a bowl shape made of metal (or sometimes clay or wood, although not favored for durability). It has a much deeper bass tone.
The playing technique for both drums involves extensive use of the fingers and palms in various configurations to create a wide variety of different sounds. On the bayan the heel of the hand is also used to apply pressure, or in a sliding motion, so that thepitch is changed during the note. This “modulating” effect on the bass drum and the wide range of sounds possible on the instrument as a whole are the main characteristics that make tabla unique among percussion instruments.
Both drum shells are covered with a head (or puri) constructed from goat or cow skin. This skin is bound together with a complex woven braid that also gives the entire assembly enough strength to be tensioned onto the shell. The completed head construction is fixed to the drum shell with a single continuous piece of cow or camel hide strap laced between the braid of the head assembly and another ring (made from the same strap material) placed on the bottom of the drum. The strap is tensioned to achieve the desired pitch of the drum. Additionally, cylindrical wood blocks are inserted between the strap and the shell allowing the tension to be adjusted by their vertical positioning. Fine tuning is achieved by striking vertically on the braided portion of the head using a small hammer
The Harmonium is a small, manually-pumped musical instrument using fixed reeds to create the basic sounds. There are two main types of harmonium: a foot-pumped version that resembles a small organ, and a hand-pumped portable version that can fold up for easy transport. The hand-pumped portable version is very popular with Kirtan Jathas along with the Tabla and these form the main type of instruments used by Ragis during the performance of Kirtan.
The Harmonium was invented in Europe in Paris in 1842 by Alexandre Debain, though there was concurrent development of similar instruments elsewhere. During the mid-19th century missionaries brought hand-pumped harmonium to India, where it quickly became popular due to its portability and its low price. Its popularity has stayed intact to the present day, and the harmonium remains an important musical instrument in many types of Indian music, as well as being commonly found in Indian homes.
In Indian music, the Harmonium is considered to be one of the most versatile instruments. The harmonium is used in classical, semi-classical, and devotional music. It is usually used as an accompanying instrument for vocalists in classical music. However, some musicians have begun playing the harmonium as a solo instrument. One of the largest pioneers of this style is Pandit Tulsidas Borkar of Mumbai. More and more music students are learning in this fashion.
Harmoniums consist of banks of reeds (metal bands which vibrate when air flows over them), a pumping apparatus, stops for drones, and the keyboard. The harmonium functions mostly like an accordion. In order to play the instrument, one must pump air into the instrument and press the desired keys. The sound of the harmonium is unique, and improves over time as the instrument ages.