In 2010, I composed a simple melody for Guru Arjan's shabad Charan Kamal Prabh Kay Nit Dhiyaoon, Guru Arjan Dev's shabad focused on continual remembrance of the scented path of the Beloved. The composition was made in raag Bilawal in such a way that the chords repeat in a 4-bar cycle. That way the music meditates while the singer sings every line of the shabad. Many of the melodic elements are also repeated throughout the shabad. Even when we are singing different words, in different melodies, there is a continuity in the music, a humble attempt to depict melody and music losing their own ego.
Collab with Janapriya Levine and Kimberly Foree
While I have been singing this shabad at different venues over the years, I have never released any studio quality recording. This year we are launching a new arrangement and video of this shabad. Much of the work on the arrangement and the video was done by American multi-instrumentalist and video producer Janapriya Levine. Janapriya has intimate knowledge of ancient raagas as well as pop arrangements. His music videos often feature Indian fusion music(1). Additionally, Kimberly Foree has played the Oboe and provided inspiration throughout the process of creation and editing. Both of them really poured their love into this production. We hope that you will enjoy this as much as we have enjoyed creating this. We will be singing this shabad live in various kirtans and hope to see some of you there ...
Bilawal is a raag which uses all "shudha" notes, and is designed to evoke feelings of remembrance of love, the remembrance of one's spiritual guru. Guru Arjan Dev reminds us in the shabad, "let me never ever forget you." Most of the popular compositions in this raag are in an alternative form of the raag called, Alhaiya Bilwal, which uses both Ni's in addition to all shuddha notes. This composition is truer to the older and more stricter interpretation of the notes of the raag. But there is one important difference and nuance ... While the raag is uttarang, much of the melody of the shabad is poorvang; this was intentionally done to create a sense of continuity desired by the words of the shabad.
Charan means feet, and Kamal means lotus. Hence Charan Kamal literally means Lotus Feet. The most important message from this poem is to remember the scented path of the beloved continually. Following is a translation:
Charan Kamal Prabh Kay Nit Dhiayaon
I meditate continually on the lotus feet of love.
Kavan sumat jit preetam paaon
What wisdom will lead me to attain my love?
Kavan Sanjog milaon prabh apnay
What blessed destiny will lead me to meet my love?