Capturing the fascinating story of gurbani kirtan

Two Sikh musicians all set to capture knowledge and memories of elder generation of gurbani kirtan as part of their PhD project

Kirit Singh

Two Sikh musicians from the UK are on a great adventure to preserve the Sikh musical history and eventually produce a documentary on the fascinating story of the gurbani kirtan.

They intend to capture the knowledge and memories of the elder generation of the Sikh musical history as part of their PhD project.

But they need funding. As of today (20 July 2018), they are at about mid point of the £20,000 they intend to raise at crowfunding platform Crowdfunder. The campaign, entitled ‘Sikh Music Research & Documentary’, ends on 28 Aug 2018.

Kirit Singh and his music partner Jasdeep Singh intend to collect and immortalise one of the most vibrant and rich musical histories of South Asia.

Kirit is currently undertaking his PhD, titled ‘Kirtan and Kala: Patrons and Musicians of Gurbani Kirtan and Hindustani Music in Punjab, 1801 to 1947’, at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University, London, under the supervision of Prof Richard Widdess.

The study is the first of its kind to explore in detail the tradition of gurbani kirtan in relation to Hindustani music in the Punjab region, during the unique period in which both traditions came to enjoy significant patronage from the Sikh princes and aristocracy, according to the entry at the Crowdfunder page.

The study aims to document the outcome of the interactions and exchanges in such environments by drawing on written sources and oral histories. It will also focus on the major religious centres, such as Amritsar, which fostered a flourishing musical environment, it added.

On his part, Jasdeep was initiated into the Tabla and Jori by a leading maestro of the Benares and Punjab traditions, Ustad Sukhvinder Singh ‘Pinky’. His research interests lie in the gurbani kirtan tradition and, especially, the percussive aspects of the Jori, Pakhawaj and Tabla.

The funding will, among others, alow them to conduct two fieldwork trips to India and Pakistan respectively, to conduct the necessary archival and interview work for the project.



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  1. SGPC should consider funding if it is in SIKHI relevant and the report becomes property of SGPC to be shared freely by all Sanggat.

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