Raga and music in the Sikh Holy Scripture makes an interesting subject for interrogative study of because of the characteristic uniqueness of the subject itself. It is also a novel area for investigation considering the fact that it has not yet been subject to much scrutiny. It is the distinct melodic movements and sounds along with the particularity of musical notes that, as mentioned in the ancient scriptures, perturb one the most. The inter-relationship of the ancient Indian hymns, raga and vani is also very interesting to speculate.
Within the Indian context, music and poetry go hand in hand. One look at the history of Indian music is enough to project the fact that Indian poetry has always been based on particular musical specifications. The gurbani, kissa kavya and sufi poetry that evolved during the medieval times as part of Punjabi literature are perfect examples of the seamless amalgamation of poetry with music. All the aforementioned forms follow raga, dhun and other such musical specifications to the core.
It is also widely known that the Guru Sahibs, the Bhakti and Sufi poets of the middle ages, all those specific musical forms for the delivery of their teachings through poetry. The musical forms of that era can be divided into two groups: classical and folk. Based on this, the selection of raga can further be divided into Margi and desi. The Margi form followed the defined structure and rules of classical music while desi music could be sung by anyone from women-folk, cowherds, children to kings according to their own fancy without the shackles of confining rules and regulations.
The use of ragas by the Sikh Gurus spans over more than 500 years. A thorough analysis of the philosophical and historical nature of music defined in the Guru Granth Sahib would help reach an altogether new level of understanding. Even though the intervention of popular music has had a pejorative effect on Sikh Kirtan as a whole, there are still authentic kirtan performers.
The entry of Gurmat Sangeet into Sikh history was a watershed event. It has since then had an immense influence on the art of music in general. A speculation of Gurmat Sangeet would help gain an entirely new vantage point for understanding North Indian music. Gurmat Sangeet has not only been a vehicle for the delivery of gurbani but it is also a body of seminal melodies and tunes that is based on specific ragas.