In the book, Gurbani Sangeet, the ragas are arranged in the order in which they appear in Siri Guru Granth Sahib. There must be a reason Guru Arjan Dev Ji chose to begin with Sri Rag (after the initial prayers). Sri Rag is a raga of the yogis, the renunciates. The ascending scale is pentatonic and the mood is introspective. Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh chose to begin their book with this song in chartal from Guru Nanak, “Make good deeds the soil, and shabd the seed. Irrigate it continually with the water of Truth.” This first song offers guidance for preparing the mind and heart to sing, to “become such a farmer that faith will sprout.”
I have heard this shabd and recordings are available, so beginning to sing is not difficult. If you would like to hear Bhai Avtar Singh Ji sing this shabd, here is a link.
The universe seems to be supporting this New Year’s resolution to sing these songs. I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of family and friends. And it’s great to have a teacher that can offer musical instruction as well as technical support for starting a blog. Many thanks!
The second Sri Rag shabd is from Bhagat Kabir Ji and the raga, in teental, moves a little differently. I found a partial recording from a demonstration by Bhai Baldeep, the rest is learning from the notation. After a few repetitions the song is coming and it is a beautiful melody. “The unstruck melody plays on the strings, by his glance of grace, lovingly absorbed in naad”. Kabir compares the yogi’s union with the process of distilling the essence of a pure nectar. I wouldn’t have understood this metaphor before, but now that I’ve watched Gurumeet’s process of distilling essential oils, it is an imagery I can grasp: capturing the steam in the golden dome, trickling onto the tongue, drinking the intoxicating essence.
“You are me and I am you–what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet or water and the waves.”
There are two compositions given for this shabd, one in jhaptal and one in teental. I have sung and listened to the jhaptal melody before, and there are recordings available. This could easily become a favorite. The teental melody is unfamiliar, so I work it out with the notation. After singing it several times, the rhythm and placement of the words in the antaras still need some work, so I’ll sing it again tomorrow.
I’ve decided to try to sing the songs at the raga’s own specific time. Sri Rag is an evening raga, to be sung between 6:00 and 9:00. The habit of evening practice is a new one to cultivate.