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Has Kirtan lost touch with younger people?


Guest Aman Singh

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Guest Aman Singh

I just wanted to make my first post here because this has been playing on my mind for a while now. I feel like Sikhi Kirtan does not have the same passion I hear from other religious musical pieces, and as a result its not inspiring young people. I feel like the popular Kirtans are easy, dull, follows Bollywood/punjabi tunes and therefore lacks originality/identity/spiritualism. I have been listening to Islamic sufi music, Christian hymns and Hindu Kirtans - which I find all sound different and beautiful in their own way. With Sufi music drawing me in the most - even Bollywood adaptations like 'Kun Faya Kun' sound beautiful.  

With young people, I don't expect Kirtan to modernise, it doesn't need to. Indian Classical Music is and will always remain timeless, if played with passion, dedication and training, then you can draw in anyone no matter where you live. This is why Ravi Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan broke internal barriers. 

Unfortunately most of the kirtan tunes these days sound like outdated Indian/punjabi pop music

It doesn't help that only Sikhs can play kirtans in many Gurdwaras around the world. Collaboration inspires creativity - isn't that was sikhism was about? Openness to all?

Here is a kirtan I think is nicely composed - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHJtedXR5v4  

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I agree to a certain extent. Learning the classical methods is an art that requires time, specialist instruction, etc. The desire to do so should stem from a love for the medium as well as the "source" being venerated by the music itself. Do you really see any of these qualities in the average Punjabi Sikh?

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On 2/26/2021 at 1:11 PM, Guest Aman Singh said:

and as a result its not inspiring young people.

The truth is sadly, that young Sikhs are not into kirtan in a major way. Very few Young Sikhs understand the language or the raag etc especially in the west.

 

It's one of the aspects that I have been thinking about recently. How the Gurdwaras should do a year of nothing but english talks in Gurdwaras in get younger Sikhs more engaged. Kirtan, Dhadi waran, Kavishri and Katha in Panjabi, rare young Sikhs are interested in these. Maybe it's time to focus on something different that will actually make a difference.

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On 2/26/2021 at 1:11 PM, Guest Aman Singh said:

I just wanted to make my first post here because this has been playing on my mind for a while now. I feel like Sikhi Kirtan does not have the same passion I hear from other religious musical pieces, and as a result its not inspiring young people. I feel like the popular Kirtans are easy, dull, follows Bollywood/punjabi tunes and therefore lacks originality/identity/spiritualism. I have been listening to Islamic sufi music, Christian hymns and Hindu Kirtans - which I find all sound different and beautiful in their own way. With Sufi music drawing me in the most - even Bollywood adaptations like 'Kun Faya Kun' sound beautiful.  

With young people, I don't expect Kirtan to modernise, it doesn't need to. Indian Classical Music is and will always remain timeless, if played with passion, dedication and training, then you can draw in anyone no matter where you live. This is why Ravi Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan broke internal barriers. 

Unfortunately most of the kirtan tunes these days sound like outdated Indian/punjabi pop music

It doesn't help that only Sikhs can play kirtans in many Gurdwaras around the world. Collaboration inspires creativity - isn't that was sikhism was about? Openness to all?

Here is a kirtan I think is nicely composed - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHJtedXR5v4  

sometimes I listen to Tanti Saaz kirtan and I feel like did we ever hear true kirtan in our youth?

just a jugalbandi but still so rich :

asa di vaar:

 

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Guest Gleeclub

Honestly some people need to take singing lessons. At Punjabi school we were taught the words, but not how to hold a note, how to project our voices or how to sing in tune. 

I can't tell you how many times my ears have hurt. Either because they haven't got the mics balanced properly or because the people on stage can't sing. 

It's honestly embarrassing when Mr Singh can't sing. 

There was one group  in Dubai gurdwara who used to sing in harmony. Harmony has been used for centuries in western choral music, but not really used in India. The men in Dubai really added something with the harmony and it really touched my soul. 

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3 hours ago, chatanga1 said:

It's one of the aspects that I have been thinking about recently. How the Gurdwaras should do a year of nothing but english talks in Gurdwaras in get younger Sikhs more engaged. Kirtan, Dhadi waran, Kavishri and Katha in Panjabi, rare young Sikhs are interested in these. Maybe it's time to focus on something different that will actually make a difference.

Gurdwara don't have that facility- how can they?  the Granthis/kathaks usually don't speak that good english.

Knowledgable English speaking sikhs need to volunteer to do these things.  its not fair/right to say "Gurdwara should do this/Gurdwara should do that".

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Sant Baba Nand Singh Ji Maharaj Kaleran Wale (Nanaksar) used to say that kirtan should be done in raag, as that is how the Baani came. If you are unable to sing raag, then do kirtan in straightforward "dhaarnaa" (as Sant Isher Singh Ji Rarewale, Sant Attar Singh Ji Mastuanawale did). But one should never do kirtan in these filmy/vikaari tunes. (This is from Anand Chamatkar, written by Bhai Gurmukh Singh Ji).

Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening these days. Certain jathas/kirtanis do this. No use/understanding of traditional instruments either. No wonder the youth are losing touch with kirtan...

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On 3/3/2021 at 2:03 PM, Guest guest said:

Gurdwara don't have that facility- how can they?  the Granthis/kathaks usually don't speak that good english.

Knowledgable English speaking sikhs need to volunteer to do these things.  its not fair/right to say "Gurdwara should do this/Gurdwara should do that".

Sangat should know punjabi/gurmukhi. Not granthis/kathakars learning english.

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Many Sikhs in the West like listening to guitar Kirtan or acoustic kirtan, while in India they like Kirtan sung on filmy tunes.

tbh, as Sikhi spreads into different cultures the style of kirtan will change. Different continents, cultures and generations have a different taste in music. Its why you see White Sikhs mostly using a guitar when doing kirtan, its just how they connect to it.

But, at the same time I'm seeing a revival of old Sikh culture. Puratan Kirtan, art and literature, especially younger Sikhs. 

Sikhs seem to be heading two different directions 🤔   One group trying to revive old Sikh culture and ways, while the other trying to project Sikhi through liberal Western ways.

 

Not sure if it exists in Sikhs who know how to play classical Indian instruments, but talented people tend to be quite possessive about their talent and skills. In the past I've been around some talented and creative people (Non Sikhs + 1 Atheist Sikh) and they tend to be very unforthcoming, not wanting to share their skills. 

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3 hours ago, puzzled said:

a guitar

Abaolutely ruined catholic mass back in the day. Instead of reverent chanting or singing suddenly we had absolutely untalented acoustic guitar player and friends just massacreing hymns with their happy brandy chords. 

At least the guitar I've seen with Kirtan is better done or at least the singing Gurbani saves it. 

I like the traditional insturments. I know they're ornate and probably expensive but you simply cannot even begin to compare guitar and rebab etc.

I like accapela Kirtan too. Almost the best really. 

Sort of interested in combining vocals, and the playing of the tabla parts or music by thumping Shastar and making vocalalized sounds and noises or chants of Vaheguru in different tones...then you could have a group doing Kirtan while two people in the middle do Shastar Vidya and you don't even need insturments.  

Also if I had the money I would pay the local Paiute Shoshone tribe to sing a selection of Gurbani in their vocal style. 

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1 hour ago, GurjantGnostic said:

Abaolutely ruined catholic mass back in the day. Instead of reverent chanting or singing suddenly we had absolutely untalented acoustic guitar player and friends just massacreing hymns with their happy brandy chords. 

At least the guitar I've seen with Kirtan is better done or at least the singing Gurbani saves it. 

I like the traditional insturments. I know they're ornate and probably expensive but you simply cannot even begin to compare guitar and rebab etc.

I like accapela Kirtan too. Almost the best really. 

Sort of interested in combining vocals, and the playing of the tabla parts or music by thumping Shastar and making vocalalized sounds and noises or chants of Vaheguru in different tones...then you could have a group doing Kirtan while two people in the middle do Shastar Vidya and you don't even need insturments.  

Also if I had the money I would pay the local Paiute Shoshone tribe to sing a selection of Gurbani in their vocal style. 

Yeah I get what you mean, guitar kinda kills culture. I've listened to some Orthodox chanting and Middle Eastern Christian music and it sounds so ethereal! 

I personally love listening to kirtan with classical Instruments. Most the kirtan on my phone is classical.

But these days most people connect more to guitar kirtan and acoustic kirtan etc 

I think introducing the harmonium did not help! it replaced the traditional instruments. The harmonium was introduced to India by European Christian missionaries during the Raj. They used to play the harmonium and sing hymns!    The guitar now might end up replacing the harmonium!

 

 

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10 hours ago, Sikhi4Ever said:

Sangat should know punjabi/gurmukhi. Not granthis/kathakars learning english.

beause sikhi is in the world and our Guru ji is Jagat Guru our parchaariks and Granthis should be able to explain to seekers of truth in that country's language or at least in English which is the most widely known . That's also why homegrown parchaariks are important.

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