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Bhai Baldeep Singh at Harballabh 2009

Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari (Tabla), Asit Kumar Banerjee (Rudra Veena), Bhai Baldeep Singh, Murad Ali (Sarangi), Pawitter Singh (Tanpura), Parminder Singh Bhamra (Pakhawaj)

In a recent presentation on Gurmat Sangeet at the Parliament of the World's religions in Melbourne, we presented Bhai Baldeep Singh as the Renaissance Man of the modern Gurmat Sangeet Tradition. With unbounded energy and a sweeping vision, Bhai Baldeep Singh has emerged at the forefront of the efforts to document and preserve the Gurmat Sangeet tradition.

Bhai Baldeep Singh has descended from a long tradition of masters of the Gurmat Sangeet maryada, and today is the 13th generation exponent of this tradition. In 1989 he renounced a promising career in aviation, choosing instead to devote himself to the study of Gurmat Sangeet. He started studying with his granduncles, Bhai Gurcharan Singh and Bhai Avtar Singh, who were among the foremost purists of the Gurmat Sangeet tradition. The vast knowledge that they bequeathed to Bhai Baldeep Singh included masterpieces that were first composed by the Sikh Gurus themselves. From the highly distinguished and eminent Bhai Arjan Singh ‘Tarangar’, he learnt the system (silsila) of pakhawaj/mridang playing known as Amritsari Baaj. Today, Bhai Baldeep Singh is the prime exponent (khalifa) of this gharana of classical percussion of Punjab.

During his long journey he pursued masters all over India, Pakistan and indeed the world, seeking any fragment of the Guru’s tradition that might be still remembered. Many of these teachers had fallen into obscurity or were in the twilight of their lives. Fortunately, their knowledge has been preserved in the imprint they left on Bhai Baldeep Singh. Bhai Baldeep Singh honed his musical skills under the guidance of Ustad M. Hafiz Khansahib of the Talwandi Gharana and Ustad R. Fahimuddin Dagar of the Dagar dhrupad tradition.

Following Gurmat Sangeet exponents of yore, who often included instrument making in their repertoire, Bhai Baldeep Singh sought out master craftsmen to learn their art. Among them was the legendary Gyani Harbhajan Singh who helped Bhai Baldeep Singh develop his skills as an instrument maker. The rich fallout of his encounter with this master luthier resulted in Bhai Baldeep Singh undertaking an astounding project to revive almost all the instruments from the Gurus’ times by personally handcrafting them. Today, he has the unique distinction of having carved the nomadic rebab (also known as the dhrupadi-rebab), saranda, taus, dilruba, tamburni (tanpura), jori and pakhawaj - mridang. In January 2002, he made a violin based on the Stradivari violin in Spring City, Utah (USA), under the guidance of his friend Paul Hart, a renowned bow instrument maker.

Bhai Baldeep Singh's recent performance at the 134th Harballabh Festival was a watershed event. After a haitus of almost a century, an exponent of the Gurmat Sangeet Maryada was invited to perform at this premier Classical Music festival, which attracts the best Hindustani Classical musicians in the world. Bhai Sahib Jwala Singh Ji, the father of Bhai Sahib Avtar Singh Ji and Bhai Sahib Gurcharan Singh Ji was most likely the last Kirtaniya to be so honored.

The performance also marked the brilliant debut of Parminder Singh Bhamra, a rising star on the Pakhawaj, who has been studying the Amritsari Baaj under the guidance of Bhai Baldeep Singh for six years. Bhai Baldeep Singh was supported by a brilliant ensemble; Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari on Jori, Pandit Asit Kumar Banerjee on Rudra Veena, Murad Ali on Sarangi, Pandit Ravishankar Upadhyay on Pakhawaj and Parminder Singh Bhamra on Pakhawaj.

The Gurmat Sangeet Project is proud to present recordings form the event.

Note : Due to the extremely loud volume at the venue, the recordings are a little distorted; they will not sound good on low-end headphonesor laptop speakers; please use a good audio system with decent speakers to listen; the recordings will be replaced when official recordings are received form the Harballabh Organizers

Shaan Shankara Pancham Sawari
Alap & Manglacharan Sri Raga (Kafi Mel)  
Math jaan sehi galee paaeiaa Sri Raga (Kafi Mel) Chartal