Ramneek Singh: Hitting all the Right Notes

By Mohamed Khaki

Ramneek Singh was the featured artiste at Sur Sangum Foundation’s inaugural concert under the Sampurna series earlier this year.

When she announced that she would start with a bada khayal in raag Puriya Kalyan, I was impressed.

Puriya Kalyan is not an easy raag to render. It requires a special delicacy of handling to stop it from sounding like a bipolar mishmash of its two source raags, Yaman and Puriya. It also requires a superb control of raagdarithe gradual unfolding of the raag through its various movements – from the alaap (unaccompanied sketching of the raag outline), through the vilambit (slow) movement where the tabla accompaniment comes in, and ending in the final drut bandish, a fast composition leading to the finale.  

Ramneek sang the raag beautifully, showing complete mastery over the raag and totally captivating the full-house audience. The meditative style of her singing is reflective of the Indore gharana, the tradition of the legendary maestro the late Ustad Amir Khan. At the concert she also showed her skill at the lighter forms of music ranging from thumris to bhajans and sufiana.

At the concert,  Dinesh Bhatia, the consul general of India, and his wife Seema were among the chief guests who helped launch Ramneek’s much anticipated cds Saanjh and Bandishein

“I haven’t released any cds since 2013,” Ramneek told me. “All my previous cds were produced in India. Since then I had a lot of ideas and had created my own compositions. These cds are a labour of love.” 

Recorded and published in Canada, the cds are a lovely addition to Ramneek’s published oeuvre. Saanjh, which means dusk, features the evening raag Puriya Kalyan and two self-composed pieces, a thumri in Kirwani and a Kabir bhajan in Bhoopeshwari.   

The second cd, Bandishein, has seven different raags, and Ramneek has confidently tackled each with an awareness over her material that shows that she is no dilettante when it comes to shastria sangeet. “The idea was to bring out the various moods and emotions of the raags through the lyrics and the challanthe pace and movement of the compositions. I want the listener to explore and experience the navrasa in the compositions.”

Ramneek is referring to the nine rasa, which literally means juice or essence, but the term is used in referring to emotions or moods that can be evoked by certain raags and compositions. The nine rasas are Shringara (love or beauty), Hasya (laughter), Bibhastya (disgust), Raudra (anger), Karuna (sorrow), Veera (heroism), Bhayanaka (fear), Adbhuta (marvel) and Shanta (peace).

The accompanying artistes taking the listener through this emotional journey are Dibyarka Chatterjee, the son and disciple of Pandit Samir Chatterjee and Sanatan Goswami, a brilliant harmonium player from Kolkata.

Ramneek expects that the tracks will eventually be available through iTunes, but for the present, music lovers can order the cds by contacting her through her website www.RamneekSingh.Com.

Be prepared to be taken on an emotional journey of raag music.

Mohamed Khaki is the President of Raag-Mala Toronto.