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ISSN 0974 â€“ 9128
Vol 07 Issue 03 - May 2014
India's National Pan-Genre Music MagazinE
Tales from the Underground
Avartan Music Festival
sounds of India in a land far far away
Good genes: Sanam & Samar Puri
Yamaha Powers BAND OF THE MONTH
From one-man-army to fullfledged band of boys.
and Siddharth mahadevan One father-son duo to rule them all. Also Inside: Casio Keyboardist of the month Subir Malik â€˘ Auro 3D
Director, Strategy and Planning Ajay Prabhakar Director, Business Development Pragash VM Associate Editor Kanika Mishra Honorary Editor Sidharth Vipin Editorial Advisor Nikila Srinivasan Head - Marketing & Operations Sneha Ramesh Head - Sales & Events Sai Adithya Creative Director George Vedamanickam Lead Designer Anila DJ Social Media Coordinator Vishakh Iyer WebMaster Daanish Millwalla
the edit PAD
Our special issue this month features the sensational Shankar Mahadevan and his son Siddharth Mahadevan in a semi-joint interview on the cover. BlackStratBlues is our Band of the Month, and, as always, is supported by Yamaha. A feature close to my heart this month is the one on one with Mr. Wilfred Van Baelen of Auro 3D. For those of you who missed him in Chennai, catch his passion and enthusiasm in our pages. In our May issue in association with Casio we have launched a new segment ‘Keyboardist of the Month’. Our first feature under this segment is deservedly the indomitable Subir Malik from the band Parikrama.
On another note, it bothers us when talented musicians fish inappropriately for publicity through our medium. The Score Magazine is an independent Media and we try to envelope and chronicle the whole of Indian music scene month after month. We detest doing PR for any particular band or individual and we remain largely neutral and we show absolutely no favouritism In a bizzare incident, a particular musician took offence when we refused to tag him as “India’s greatest jazz musician”. The said musician went no to become abusive in a series of email. Another one of his crazy claim was that he was cover material. Enough Said. In short, we don’t do personal favours. Musicians are always welcome to ask us for coverage and we will oblige. The key take away here is the awareness of what ones “limit” is and what one should ask for. We are not obliged to print anything and we are nobodies PR.
Director - Business Development
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The Score Magazine is proud to support the Mother Teresa Foundation and urge our readers to join us in giving back a fraction of what we have been given.
i nside Band of the Month POWERED BY YAMAHA 32 Often touted one of the best guitarists of the country, Warren Mendonsa’s brainchild, Blackstratblues has come a long way from his solo days. Dig in for our scoop on the band!
Shankar & Siddharth mahadevan
Shankar won over the whole country when he started out. Following in his footsteps is his own son. How alike have their musical journeys really been? Find out right here!
Young Drummer Siddharth 50
Here’s bringing you the best of Indie and Film music, all in one place, Score style.
Siddharth Vipin, our honorary Editor, is back once again with all the information you need to make your own music!
Cut Time: The Comic Segment
Wondered what it’s like holding the award for the fastest drummer in one’s country? Find out from our very own child prodigy, Siddharth!
We all have our notions about what music is. Ever wondered what ISN’T music? Flip away at the pages to find out!
This month’s Classical segment takes our readers all the way to the Avartan Festival in America. Read the low-down inside!
This month’s Tech Segment features reviews for both the audiophile (speakers) and the musician (drum kits).
This month, we bring to our pages some serious eye-candy in the form of these unbelievably genetically gifted brothers.
The True School of Music: Where Education meets Opportunity. The last 5 years have seen a phenomenal growth in the entertainment and media sectors. The Recorded Music Industry in India is currently worth $150 million. As far as independent music goes, around 1000 live gigs and 3120 DJ gigs take place every year. In terms of music production, over a 1000 ﬁlms and about 19,000 ads are being released each year; and the number is only rising. What this country’s growing music industry really needs is for people of the right caliber to meet it’s rapidly increasing demands. The True School of Music, India's ﬁrst comprehensive institute for contemporary music, aims to do just that. The teaching methodology has been crafted to inculcate real world skills in students; skills that will help them thrive in this competitive ﬁeld. With state of the art facilities and top faculty from around the world, the True School of Music endeavours to be the vanguard of providing music education of the highest caliber, helping students take the initial steps or continue their journey to higher levels in the music industry.
TSM has strong support from music industry icons like Ehsaan Noorani, Salim Merchant, Shubha Mudgal, Louiz Banks, Indian Ocean, Ranjit Barot and Monica Dogra. The school is intrinsically rooted in the Indian Music Industry, giving students the opportunity to learn, work on real live projects, build relationships and be part of an inspiring yet professional environment and work ethic. Music as a career is here to stay. And a quality music education will ensure you stay too.
A quick look at the courses The True School of Music offers:
"I looked at Berklee and other top schools and wondered when will we have something like that. I wish I could just stop my music career and join TSM for an advanced course" - Salim Merchant
Pro School Get certiﬁed as an industry ready music professional. Guitar| Bass | Drums | Keyboards | Vocals | DJ | Music Production | Audio Engineering
Pre Pro Program Go from novice to musician, equipped for further music studies. Guitar | Bass | Drums | Keyboards | Vocals | Music Production
Foundation School A hobby class with quality curriculum and focus on ensemble playing. Western: Guitar | Bass | Drums | Keyboards | Vocals | DJ Indian: Tabla | Harmonium | Vocals | Bansuri
ADMISSIONS OPEN FOR JULY 2014
For more details: www.trueschool.in | email@example.com | 022-66243200 107 Sun Mill Compound, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013
Like father, like son. Shankar & Siddharth Mahadevan Within just a year Siddharth Mahadevan has already made his mark in Bollywood with hits in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB), Dhoom 3, D-day and 2 States. There is no doubt that this budding talent has inherited his musical sensibilities from his father. Now, with father and son singing together in Bollywood for the first time, we see a beautiful blend in every tune they have rendered in Hulla Re. They get talking to us about the bond they share, their respective musical paths and more.
From Breathless to now. How has your journey been so far?
It’s been a long journey of twenty years. I only feel blessed to have interacted and reached out to the veterans of the music industry all over the globe. It has been a satisfying experience. As long as you enjoy your work and you are recognized for it, that is more than enough. Unlike many in the Bollywood music industry, you are not only into Bollywood but have also collaborated with noted singers and musicians in India and abroad. What propelled you into this? I’ve never thought Bollywood to be my main path of music. Right from the start I was into carnatic music and collaborated with other musicians. Bollywood just came my way. Training in Classical music gives a strong foundation, and I use those fundamentals to compose music. How easy or how difficult is it for you to give original tunes every time and that too in different languages? We’ve been singing and composing for over fifteen years and so it is now a very easy process. Thankfully we’ve had massive hits in all languages. Testimony from a master in that particular regional language, like tamil lyricist Vaira Muthu or even telugu lyricist Ramajogayya Sastry, boosts our confidence. You have been in the Bollywood industry for over a decade now, had many hits. You have received 3 Filmfare and 4 national awards. Is there any song close to your heart that you felt deserved an award but did not make it? Also, what is your take on award functions? There are films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Lakshya and Tare Zameen Pe (TZP), which I feel could’ve deserved more recognition but not necessarily through awards. I got a national award for TZP for the best singer but the composition was equally good and a tough one. I feel happy when I get recognized, but awards are just a matter of personal choice and not the end of the world. The best award is when the public at large appreciates my music. I’ve had strangers coming and telling me “Appaka voh Maa vala gaana sunke, humare annkho mein aasoo aagaye” (After listening to your song, we had tears in our eyes). As a singer and a composer how do you handle competition in the industry? Competition is very healthy with regard to all the musicians. The industry is full of people who give offers and all of us have enough work and when you are busy with work, it really doesn’t affect you. We genuinely appreciate each other’s work. We believe that one can grow as a musician only if we compliment each other. For instance Vishal called me to say that he liked the songs in BMB and we did too for his Zehnaseeb of Hasee Toh Phasee. How do the three of you--Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy-- work on a song? How different are you three in personality? Music composition is an abstract form of art. We come about with a song only through trial and error, jamming by not letting our initial spark or idea to die down. Sometimes I have a classical idea, Loy has something in English and Ehsaan has a guitar tune, we blend all our ideas. We are completely poles apart not only in the choice of music but also in our personalities, temperaments and in life as a whole. While creating our music, we see it in three different
angles and dimensions. When we look at an object, we place three different cameras, and that is definitely a blessing. You have composed for most of Farhan’s movies. How has it been working with him? It’s all about being comfortable and respecting each other’s work. We know for a fact that whatever we compose, Farhan will surely like it. We understand each other’s sensibilities and over the years Farhan and myself have become friends. We're like family. How easy or tough was it for you when you entered the industry to get a break? Has it been easier for Siddharth? I’m blessed as I always had work and ran behind deadlines. It was easier in those days as it wasn’t so competitive. Siddharth has been lucky in a way as he knows many people in the industry, but on the contrary it will be tough on him as he will be constantly be compared with me and has to face a lot more competition than what I faced, so he has to really work hard. He has got the right exposure, always has my support and has got a break in the industry, but he has to sustain it. Irrespective of whose son you are, the director has to have faith in him. But I am happy, it has been a good start for him. Your debut in movies as a singer was for a Marathi film Vahinichi Maya in 1985. Was it a coincidence that even Siddharth’s first debut in filmdom was a marathi film, Swapna Tujhe Ni Majhe? Oh! My singing debut in movies was a marathi movie? It was so long ago and I have kind of forgotten about it. Yes, it could be a sheer coincidence. Feels nice (smiles).
A complete man: Shankar Mahadevan A workaholic to the core, he has collaborated with renowned musicians and bands and continues to give great music in Bollywood with Ehsaan and Loy but always has time for his family. On his wife Sangeeta: a constructive critic for my compositions On Shivam, his younger son: Supremely talented On Siddharth’s RD Burman award: Proud and delighted Siddharth’s childhood talent: He started to do a lot of mouth percussion at the age of two. Ranjit Barot and I realised this and would give him musical phrases and he would complete them with the right rhythm. Take on Music reality shows: It is a good platform for young children to feature their talent and get a great exposure. Upcoming projects of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy: Hands are full with loads of movies--Tamil movie Indrajit, Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, Shaad Ali’s Kill Dil, Rakeysh Mehra’s Mirza Sahiba. His vision for Shankar Mahadevan Academy: To make it the Harvard of Indian Music. You can log on to http://www. shankarmahadevanacademy.com The
Siddharth won the RD Burman Filmfare award for his first Bollywood song Zinda from BMB. How does it feel? What do you have to say about his talent? We are extremely delighted and proud of the fact that his talent is being appreciated. He even advises me on the technology and new electronic gadgets. I am enjoying all such moments with him. How was it working on your first duet song--Hulla Re from 2 States--with Siddharth? Karan suggested that Siddharth should sing with me for Hulla Re. We had many takes in the studio itself and it took us about forty minutes to complete the whole song and we enjoyed it. I am happy with the outcome of the song.
Shivam is also very keen in singing and wishes to follow his brother’s footsteps. When can we see a live performance show with you and your sons?
on at any point of time all around the globe by our teachers who take classes using online video conferencing software.
What has been the response to the academy?
It’s been three years since we started and the response has been phenomenal. We have students from the age of 5 to 75 from 47 countries. Some big corporates want to tie up with us. We have tied up with Indus International School based out of Bangalore to incorporate music in their academics. We are looking out for talented teachers who could join this program.
What do you have to say about the advancement of technology in music editing and recording and its impact on upcoming singers? Do you think it has become easier for them? It’s definitely had a good impact and has become a lot easier for upcoming singers. But it depends where and how the technology is used as even a besura singer can sound very good. So it is important not to misuse the technology and use it for creating great music.
Yes, Shivam can possibly sing most of the tough songs. However we have never made him feel that he is someone with special talent. The three of us performed at an award ceremony. We were to performz in eight cities in USA but it could not take off. We do have a plan for a public show sometime.
You recently took to entrepreneurship. What inspired you to start up the online Shankar Mahadevan Academy?
Initially Sangeeta and I thought of starting a physical academy, but we felt that online would be better as it would have a wider reach. It is an extension of my music creation and I’m proud to say that it has grown without any funding since the start.
How do you manage and give time to your portal? We have a full fledged corporate office based out of Bangalore and our team is headed by my business partner Sridhar Ranganathan and twenty talented teachers. There’s always a class going
What he enjoys most Something we don’t know about you I am a self-taught percussionist and love to play the drums
Singing and Composing. It comes naturally to me.
Role model apart from his father Michael Jackson is one among the hundreds. He was such an all round performer--great singer, lyricist, music composer and an amazing dancer.
Like his father who is an epitome of humility to all his close ones, Siddharth is the boy next door to his close-knit school and college buddies. When you get talking to Siddharth, there is no air of being a celebrity’s son or a celebrity himself. He believes that a celebrity background is not what makes you a star, but talent and hard work is what brings success in the long run. Shankar is happy and proud of his son’s attitude at this initial stage of his career. “With a song like Zinda, he has developed his own style and people are calling him for his talent.” It is very natural for the child of an artiste to follow their parent’s footsteps. Did you feel any pressure to get into the same profession?
There has been no pressure, ever. I grew up in a home where musicians frequented often. The interest in music came naturally to me and my father realized the potential very early. I used to do a lot of mouth percussion. When I grew up, I realized music is my passion and wished to pursue the same.
Apart from your father, from who have you learnt? For how long were you trained in classical music? Dad was very busy with his recordings when I was young. Although I have heard him sing at home and at the studio, I could have no formal training from him due to paucity of time. I trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music throughout my childhood. I believe that classical music knowledge is a necessity to give a strong foundation.
You recorded for Breathless when you were a child. Share the experience with our readers?
I was three years old then. I remember that I was very nervous and refused to sing. My father asked everyone to go out, switched off the lights, and assured that no one was there. I sang and that was recorded. It was really a cute and innocent moment that will be etched in my memory.
You said that your father has a massive influence on you, and considering that SEL composed for BMB, did he have any role in getting you to sing for the movie? Not at all. It was all because of Rakeysh uncle that I got to sing Zinda. I had sung a song for him earlier in a video for Greenpeace organization. He was confident that I could pull off this energetic song as well. I am grateful to Rakeysh uncle for this amazing break.
Being a veteran singer’s son, you may have faced a lot of comparisons. How do you
handle them and is it a blessing or a curse being a celebrity’s son?
Comparisons are bound to happen and I can’t run away from it. I take it positively. It drives me to improve my overall performance. It’s definitely a blessing being his son. Subconsciously I may imbibe much of his style, but I don’t wish to copy my dad. If people want Shankar Mahadevan, they will contact him and would not require junior Shankar. So far it’s been good, however I have a long way to go.
How did Farhan Live happen and how was it performing with them?
Farhan Live happened after BMB. It was so exciting to perform with them. Farhan is an excellent performer and has so much of energy on the stage. There is so much to learn from him, especially the way he connects with the audience.
When can we see the duo of father and son performing live?
We have performed for corporate events but are yet to have a major public performance. We hope to give a huge performance some time.
You have said in your earlier interviews that you enjoy playing the drums. Any plans of to perform with other groups? I’ve taken some Trinity level courses for piano to master my music sense and I am a self-taught drummer. I haven’t thought of associating with any group as such but I have some other plans.
Do your brother, your father and you get time to sing at home? Any chances of your younger brother Shivam following in your footsteps?
We do have our quality family time at our farmhouse. There are times when we sing for hours nonstop and my brother, who is an avid classical music lover, joins in. He knows all of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs and enjoys doing a lot of aalaap. Shivam performs with us and wishes to pursue a career in music as well.
What are your upcoming projects?
Since entering the industry, I’ve been fortunate that I’ve got good projects. I’ve done a few Marathi movies where I’ve sung and composed with my cousin brother Soumil Shringarpure. There are a couple of untitled Hindi and regional movies which I’m singing this year.
Do you ever wonder if someoneâ€™s musical taste depended on his personality? You know, if some light could be shed on intrinsic qualities of a person using music as a litmus test? We do have a tendency to classify people based on their musical tastes. The delinquents listen to rap and hip hop. The preppy cheerleaders listen to pop. The soulful listen to classical. Well, letâ€™s see if these stereotypes have any underlying truth. Research in this area has recently become quite popular and weâ€™ll delve into a bit of the known.
Christina Stephenson First of all, let’s look at a tad of personality psychology. Gordon Allport, who was one of the first psychologists to focus on personality, defined personality as “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought.” A number of theories of personality have been derived over the years. Trait theories are those which focus on a number of objective traits that remain stable over a period of time. These traits vary along a continuum from one extreme to the other. Allport devised his theory based on central traits and peripheral traits. Raymond Cattell based his on 16 “primary factors” and 5 “secondary” factors. Hans Eyesenck stuck to 3 traits: extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism. Lewis Goldberg was the man behind the “Big Five” Theory. This was based on five dimensions of personality: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These are just a few of the trait theories developed over a period of time. Trait theorists believe that one’s personality consists of a conglomerate of traits or dimensions, each at different points on its continuum. Type theories were originated from the work of Carl Jung. These sets of theories explain behavior with fixed opposite characteristics. Meyer Friedman developed the Type A and Type B Personality Theory. Type A individuals tend to be hard driven and ambitious, while Type B individuals tended towards relaxation and less competition. The Psychoanalytic school of thought was founded by Freud. He proposed that personality was divided into the id, ego and superego. The id acts according to the ‘pleasure principle’, the ego acts according to the ‘reality principle’ and the superego falls in line with the ‘morality principle’. He believed that psychic energy could be converted into the manifestation of behavior which could explain inner conflicts. While I could go on about personality psychology, I’m sure you’re wondering when I’ll get to its influence on music. So I shall cut short my delineation of theories and pounce on the music aspect. Many researchers in this area have used the Big Five model when testing musical tastes against personality. A number of studies conducted across nations show that each of these five dimensions gives rise to a certain preference. Those rated high in the dimension of “Openness to Experience” showed a liking for rebellious, diverse, novel and complex music. One study examined the progressive disliking of certain music after repeated exposure of those high in Openness. In a 2010 paper, it was also seen that these individuals enjoy analyzing complex musical compositions. The same paper shed light on the second dimension, “Extraversion”, and its influence. Extroverts prefer happy, upbeat and conventional music, as well as energetic and rhythmic music, such as rap, hip hop, soul, electronic, and dance music. One study by Young and Steele (2011) examined music teachers and music therapists, and showed that music teachers were definitely higher in extraversion, due to the fact that they like and study music. The dimension of “Agreeableness” gave rise to an interesting finding from Ladinig and Schellenberg from the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts- Those rated high in agreeableness tend to have more intense emotional reactions to music. Research done on The Big Five and musical habits showed that those rated high in the dimension of “Neuroticism” tended to use music for emotional regulation. Those high in the “Conscientiousness” dimension show a negative correlation with rebellious music according to Langmeyer
and her colleagues on their work entitled “What Do Music Preferences Reveal About Personality?” One of the largest, most cited studies on personality and music correlation was undertaken by Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. It involved 36,000 people all over the globe who were asked to rate 104 musical preferences and answer questionnaires that measured aspects of personality. North, who is a music psychology aficionado, has carried out extensive research dealing with the relationship between pop music culture and deviant behavior in adolescence, music and consumer behavior, and the role of musical preference in everyday life. His findings propose the following results: Blues- high self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease Jazz- high self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease Classical music- high self-esteem, creative, introvert and at ease Rap- high self-esteem and outgoing Opera- high self-esteem, creative and gentle Country and western- hardworking and outgoing Reggae- high self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease Dance- creative and outgoing but not gentle Indie- low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle Bollywood- creative and outgoing Rock/heavy metal- low self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease Chart pop- high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but not creative and not at ease Soul- high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease The purpose of this large scale study, according to North, was the fact that he wanted to study why music is so integral to one’s identity. “People do actually define themselves through music and relate to other people through it but we haven’t known in detail how music is connected to identity,” he says. “We have always suspected a link between music taste and personality. This is the first time that we’ve been able to look at it in real detail. No one has ever done this on this scale before.” We propagate our musical identity in so many ways: clothing, slang, certain hang out spots. “We really got the sense that people were selecting musical styles to like that match their own personality,” North expounds. This study enlightens us on why people are so defensive about what their musical taste is, as it is subtly derived from their frame of mind. We see from this research why certain people bond intimately over music. An interesting conclusion held by North was that classical and heavy metal music had listeners of similar personalities but dissimilar ages. Younger individuals of the personality group tended towards heavy metal, while their older counterparts prefer classical. This sheds light on their basic motivation: to hear something dramatic and theatrical, what North called a “love of the grandiose.” Well there you go. Our musical habits are seemingly slyly affected by our personality. This has a number of implications when it comes to research as well as therapeutic techniques. I wonder, is it also the other way around? Does music influence personality? Research seems to be taking a turn into that direction as well. Anyhow, the next time you put together a playlist for your morning run or shower or whatnot, remember your ever pervasive personality. The
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" Photo Credits: Soham Matilal
The reason I picked up the keyboards was John Lord and Ray Manzarek , I really do not think I even need to mention what I liked about them, its understood.
Parikrama is undoubtedly one of the most popular Indian rock band. Formed in Delhi in the year 1991 and with over 3000+ shows they have inspired a generation of musicians. Parikrama do not fancy the studio too much. They live to play live and make music which is inspired by deep feelings. With most of Parikramas influences being from the 60’s and 70’s they do not really dive into all the technology that is being used in the music scene today but keep it real and old school. Parikrama's Keyboard/Organ player and Manager Subir Malik spared some time to talk to The Score Magazine and share some interesting things about his career, equipment and memorable moments during his gigs. Being a “Dewarist” Subir Malik had some great insights to share. He acknowledges that sometimes musicians have to think about money over passion but is glad that he was not that someone. When was the first time you picked up the Synthesizer? How did you know that was the instrument for you? Well it was the 7th grade i guess and my parents bought me a small Casio VI 1. I still am a bassist at heart though. Always will be.
How did you learn playing the Synth? I learnt everything on my own.No formal training nothing. Back in the early 90’s I used to experiment quite a bit with MIDI. I really like things to be very simple. A few good pianos should be the best instruments, the rest is fine.
Did you always know that you were going to be a musician one day? Not really I wasn’t even in my school's music scene till my 12th grade, and infact was to join the family business after college. Parikrama’s first ever rehearsal happened after I passed out from college and for the first 16 years of the band (1991 - 2007) , I did my family business from 9 am - 8 pm and the made time for the band around it.
You are one of the 3 chosen ones from India to be named a “Dewarist”. Who is a Dewarist? Basically, a Dewarist is a person who goes against the tide and changes things.
Can anyone play the Synthesizer or is it a talent Saif-ali khan has also toured with parikrama at you are born with? one point. what was it like having him around? I think its a bit of the both. With proper training it can get out the hidden talent in a child . Of course, some are born geniuses not only in this field, but in every other field.
Parikrama has done More than 3000 gigs. which one of those is your favourite and why? There are too many of them. The pick of them though would surely be our trip to the UK supporting Iron Maiden. Last years Parikrama 22 was brilliant. Let me announce to you for the first time ever: Parikrama 23 will start this June and will cover 15 cities.
Growing up, who were your influences? The reason I picked up the keyboards was John Lord and Ray Manzarek , I really do not think I even need to mention what I liked about them. It's understood.
With the advent of technology in music do you feel that the art of Making music has changed? As I mentioned, I am not really into that at all and by choice,I'am much happier playing the synth as it was in the 60’s and the 70’s, thats my feel.
We once got a call from a company called Rams who asked us if we would like to jam with Saif Ali Khan and being our usual selves, Instead of asking “Why?” , We stuck to our "Why not?”Saif is a brilliant guy who enjoys his favourites AC/DC and Deep Purple. He knows his music. It was a good fun.
The Parikrama school of music (PSM) has been there for quite some time now. How has your experience of donning the teacher's hat been? Actually, I am not into teaching at all , PSM is basically Sonam's (Sonam Sherpa- The guitarist) solo project and he handles it totally.
live music has evolved dramatically since you started in 1991. What's your take on the current scene? It's the best time to be a musician in India today. It has changed dramatically.
What is Parikrama Inc. all about? It's an artist management company which mainly associated in promoting bands.
Any message for your fans reading this? Rock N' roll. Peace.
What would you advice some one who wants to pick up the synth/organ? I suggest they take up formal training from an early level. It is very important to get your basics in place for example your finger position and other major things that matter.
Star of the month:
Utkarsh Kale (Kah-lay), better known as Karsh Kale, is one of the pioneers in redefining Indian classical and folk music with a thrilling electronic influx of rock and hip hop while creating a whole new genre of progressive global fusion. We got to talk to him about all this and then some. Dig in to find out!
Radhamohan Rajani/Manisha Bhat You come from a different background as compared to most Indian artists. You’ve lived abroad most of your life. So, how does that affect your musicianship and if it did, did that give an edge? I think it definitely did. My career began in America. So by the time I came to India I’d already established myself in other places in the world. Incidentally, it was my Indian side that gave me an edge over there.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
My number one influence has always been Zakir Hussain. He’s more than just a tabla player. As an artist he’s willing to push his own boundaries of what he’s learned and bring them together in a great way. He does that as a philosopher in life as well, even spiritually. If you ask him what his religion is, he says music. He knows how to communicate with the world.
What about now, any newer influences?
There are a lot. People like Peter Gabriel, who was a big influence on me while I was growing up, listening to him and watching what he was doing with Real World Records. I was a big fan of his before I started working with him. On one track there’s William S. Burroughs, Zakir Hussain and Bootsy Collins, which is crazy.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of Indian artists by now. Are there any artists that you haven’t and you’d like to?
‘I’d love to work on this album. Unfortunately I just started The Police tour so I don’t have time to write anything. So you guys have to write the song.’ For me that was like my college thesis, like writing a book for Shakespeare, all my music and emotions came out into that. We sent him the song that we wrote. It was great to be praised by him and told that it was a very well crafted song and that the lyrics were great. When he came out of the vocal booth and gave me my lyrics sheet. It had 80 over a 100. I was like, “What is this?” He was like, “You get a 100 for song writing and 80 for spelling.” That was one of those moments that I’ll never ever forget. And the other one was playing with Zakir bhai on stage. It was that moment where it took everything that I’d ever known or learnt, a lot of it from him,and to play on that day in front of 17,000 people with Zakir bhai looking at me and challenging me.
Are there any other interesting projects that we don’t know about yet?
I’m doing a project with Gaurav Raina of The (Midival) Punditz and Ankur Tewari. Right now, it’s called the Little Whale project. I don’t want to say much about it. It’s more of a performance. The music is very ambient. I’m doing a live tour in the States with Alam Khan and Aditya Prakash who’s another singer who used to sing with Ravi Shankar and I. There is Max ZT who is a student of Shivkumar Sharma. The four of us are doing this electric shakthi kind of a thing. I will be collaborating with Indian Ocean and their album. (in their album) I’m also always performing with Blackstratblues which is like family to me.
Last year when I was asked this question, I said I would love to work with Alam Khan and in a month I played with him. I’d say Srinivas is somebody I have always wanted to work with. He’s somebody On Purism in Music who just blows my mind when I see him perform. And he’s brought that whole People always ask me if I think Indian art from to a whole other level. Classical musicians tend to be purists. I
When you switch from India to the West do you have to reorient yourself musically?
Yeah. It’s funny, it’s actually reverse. When I’m in the States, I’m retaining think the most purist attitude I find is in the my Indian elements. Over here it’s You’re actually quite diverse genre electronica scene. Classical musicians are more about pushing everything else. willing to let it flow and see where it goes. wise, you’re everywhere. Is there a I tend to pull away as soon I start And that is why the music is where it is today. particular genre that you’re trying working with artists rigid in their What’s happening with EDM now, according to focus on, or trying to get deeper space, even Indian musicians. The to me is a joke. With these big festivals into, or are you just happy with old school mentality with the view where 50,000 people are showing up to see being everywhere? of classical music being the best, Swedish House Mafia stand there at the table I think that I’m always pushing in wondering, ‘What is this pop music? full of gear. This EDM scene is becoming a different directions. Jazz?’ They’re all different. If you think mockery of itself. Once I come back from doing all these about anything else, like movies, that’s different collaborations, I’m playing not the case. It’s not like, I only watch drums on one set, singing on another and playing tabla on action movies, I watch movies. Music to me is exactly like food. another set and then I bring all of that back into the studio and You crave variety. when I’m writing music. I just want things to be progressive, that’s it. There is no pure form of music. For me, my fusion of Right now, what’re you listening to that you enjoy the styles is the things that have been brewing inside of me for a most? long time even before I implemented it into a track. It’s more of My mind is blown by this record that Zakir bhai did with Bela a stew, a brew. When it’s done, you can’t take it apart. Fleck and its called The Melody of Rhythm. When you listen to something like that, you stop thinking that you’re a musician. What’s your most memorable musical moment, both I’ve recently been listening to this artist called Aakriti Joshi, studio and live? she’s a classical vocalist from Mumbai, and a student of One was working with Sting. I always grew up thinking it’d Pandit Jashraj. There’s something about her voice. I was in be great to play drums for Sting, or even tabla with Sting. He’s love with Saleem’s Coke Studio stuff for a while. Some of it, one of my favorite song writers. When we were working on the I’ve known for years, and they finally did it live. I still listen to album, Breathing Under Water, Anoushka asked if we should Blackstratblues. It’s the kind of music where you can play the called Sting and we immediately did. He wrote back saying, whole album and it scores the day for you. The
bOllywood SONGS Whistle baaja (Heropanti) This season’s guilty pleasure is here. RDB member Manjeet Ral composes a foot tapping number that is extremely addictive. This is earworm material indeed!
Hai apna dil (The Xpose) With the movie’s story supposedly set in the 60s, Himesh makes a fairly good job of incorporating the yesteryear style of music into the album. Yo Yo Honey Singh’s surprisingly low key singing in this particular track and a lovely tune makes for easy listening.
Party toh banti hai (Bhootnath returns) Meet Bros Anjjan seem to have their hit song generating machine well oiled and running to perfection. After their 'Baby Doll' high, they get Mika to sing this one, who rarely gets it wrong when it comes to fun dance numbers like this one.
Mast Magan (2 States) SEL always have a penchant for composing beautiful melodies and this song is no different. This song is right up Arijit Singh’s alley and with Chinmayi crooning it, this song grows on you.
Sawaalon Mein (Samrat & Co) Ankit Tiwari had the entire nation singing his tunes with his chartbuster ‘Sun Raha Hai Na’ from Aashiqui 2. He sustains the immense promise he showed in his debut venture with this beautiful melody from Samrat & Co. The haunting tune stays in your mind for long and it has Shreya Ghoshal at her mesmerising best.
The 5 that almost made it
Mohan Kanan’s (of Agnee fame). His singing alone makes this song a must listen.
Yeh Beete Din (Purani Jeans)
Besharmi Ki Height (Main Tera Hero)
Ram Sampath is by far one of the most underrated composers in the music industry. This soundtrack is a rather youth oriented one, and this song stands out from the rest for its touching lyrics and a neat guitar driven sound.
Despite the absurd lyrics, the song works because of some hyper energetic singing from Benny Dayal and an addictive techno rhythm.
Sahib (Bhootnath Returns) Ram Sampath’s second song on this list is a must listen for its beautiful tune and some soulful rendition to boot.
Chaandaniya (2 states) Very few voices today are as deep and powerful as that of
Banna Banni (Revolver Rani) When it comes to folk numbers, composers don’t have to look beyond Rekha Bhardwaj. And she rarely ever disappoints. The ’Kaafi Nahi’ track aside, this song is the pick of this album.
Nenjukulle Nee (Vadacurry)
Debutants Vivek Shiva and Mervin Solomon start off their composing careers with a fine album. Vijay Prakash is accompanied by reality show contestants Ajeesh and Diwakar who ably carry this fabulous track that has an addictive rhythm.
Kollywood SONGS Naanum Unnil Paadhi (Arima nambi)
Dumeel (Damaal Dumeel)A track that is so
trademark Thaman – punchy beats and mild autotuning. But the star of this song is Usha Uthup who makes the song rise beyond its predictability into an energetic dance number. A solid comeback for the veteran singer.
Percussionist Sivamani makes a confident debut with Arima Nambi. This track in particular is a strikingly different one in terms of sound, with a Latino base and some fantastic vocals by Rita and Alma.
Unnidam ondrai (Vaarayo vennilave)
Nee enna periya (Ennamo edho)
Karthik Raja is back. For a composer of his talent and stature, his career really didn’t take off the way he’d have wanted it to. He makes a comeback of sorts with this soundtrack and this song in particular is a beautiful melody with Karthik Raja at his experimental best.
The 5 that almost made it Maanja (Maan karate) The song that is dominating the airwaves today. Anirudh’s music might have started becoming mildly predictable in terms of his style but he comes up with a likeable tune and his vocals add the extra bit of catchiness to this song.
Neeye (Arima Nambi) The second Arima Nambi song on this list, Shreya Ghoshal is at her fantabulous best in this track. The highlight of this track is the splashing water droplets background sound that adds an ethereal feel to the melodious tune.
Anirudh is on a purple patch here. D Imman chooses Anirudh to handle the vocal department for this one and he aces the song with his characteristically nonchalant singing. The hilarious lyrics and the catchy tune add to the song’s youthful appeal.
reign in Tamil cinema. His trademark violin backed sound and a lovely tune are an absolute delight to listen to. In short, pure Ilayaraja magic.
Idhayam (Kochadaiiyaan) It has been more than a month since the album’s release but the songs keep getting better every time you listen to them. Idhayam is a personal favourite. Chinmayi’s enchanting vocals takes this song to a different level of awesomeness.
Azhagu (Saivam) Playback singer Unnikrishnan’s daughter Uttara makes her singing debut with this song. GV Prakash creates a splendid tune but the kid Uttara’s vocals takes the cake.
Eeramai (Un Samayal Araiyil) This song takes you back to the good old days of Ilayaraja’s The
Mind-altering bhakti rock, minimal electronica to rock you to sleep, instrumental progressions from a dream world, a confluence of Hindustani and jazz and a rude awakening to 20’s throwback with electro-swing; this month’s Indie Reviews are a coalescent cauldron of traditional-twists and the unconventional.
Queen Between - Susheela Raman Susheela Raman’s latest album Queen Between is a wild, eccentric nod to Raman’s musical sensibilities. The album is a concert of collaboration between Susheela Raman and a dynamic cabal consisting of the RizwanMuazzam Qawwals of Pakistan and Nathoo Lal Solanki, Kutle Khan and Rana Ram Bhil from Rajasthan. Queen Between opens with a feral, rhythmic rendition of Sharabi followed by the dramatic Corn Maiden, each giving us a taste of her aforementioned collaborations. The album follows a distinct vein of haunting vocals and elaborate melodies backed by Sam Mills’ guitar as heard in North Star. The Rizwan – Muazzam influence really shines through in the tracks Sajana and Riverside. The title track Queen Between is one of her stranger compositions and her rendition of Taboo is a neat, trippy summary of everything Queen Between is as an album. Susheela Raman has always been one to take her fusion experimentations to a new level and Queen Between is as good an example as any.
Recommended: Sharabi, Sajana, Riverside
A Game of Notes - Jason Zac The Jason Zac Band is out with a new album, A Game of Notes. This 11-track EP is a playful mix of genres and features a long list of collaborators each adding to the album with their individual influences. A Game of Notes is a genre jumper, from folksy country melodies in Black Forest Rag, old-school soul solos backed by Nathaniel School of music choir, rock n roll riffs on Full Circle and dramatic chord progressions in the title track A Game of Notes; at the centre of it all is Jason Zac’s piano virtuoso. Gone Forever & Leave It Behind feature Sujay Harthi on the Vocals. The title of the tracks capture the essence of the music well, It is easy to picture a knight on a quest during The Path of the Relentless Knight and a sunny spring day with butterflies for The Sun Shines in the Autumn sky. A special shout-out to Ashwini Varaghur for the tracks The Soothsayer Says So and Through Thick and Thin, her Indian Classical Flute solos add much-needed texture to the numbers. A Game of Notes is not everyone’s cup of tea, purely instrumental albums tend to be relegated to the elevator music pile, but the generous list of guest musicians lend a varied soundscape to this album.
Recommended: Leave It Behind, The Soothsayer Says So.
Sabrina Gulmohur Adeni
Culture Code Landscape - Adi+Suhail Delhi –based, Alternative Fusion act Adi + Suhail with their debut EP Culture Code Landscape are my happy discovery of the month. I have a soft spot for electronic-influenced renditions of classical music and the first track Naina was the perfect open into the mood of the album. The bluesy version of the folk song Dil Tere is wonderfully accompanied by Adi’s bendy guitar sound. Suhail’s dreamy vocals and soothing sarangi make the track Laage Re a predictably popular number. They immediately break out of the predictability with Jogiya, electronic jazz meets sufi. With Qalandar, all I can say is: wait for it! This incredibly catchy and upbeat track comes out of nowhere, promising to be a crowd-pleaser at live performances. Don’t be surprised to find yourself humming Zindagi like I did, it has powerful lyrics and a memorable melody. Adi + Suhail are an electro-folk outfit who complement each other’s styles very well and Culture Code Landscape is a strong and eclectic result of their partnership.
Recommended: Naina, Zindagi, Qalandar
Manifest - Klypp Klypp, made up of Faheemul Hasan & Karthik Basker, is an electronica experiment and Manifest is their debut EP. A 4-track album with minimal, deephouse influences, Manifest is an easy, soothing listen. The opening track, Be, is a downtempo recording laced with trippy vocals that really sets the tone for the EP. Be is followed by Dissolution, which builds up and plateaus quite neatly with clean percussions and smooth voice-overs. If Track 3, Thoughts, is meant to represent a wandering train of thought, it does so perfectly, the gentle bass and linear vocals do the track justice. Manifest closes with the ambient recording Weather, reminiscent of Tycho; this track is a soundtrack to rainy days and autumn. Klypp’s firstborn Manifest could seem unremarkable, but it captures the essence of the stripped-down, basic nature of minimal electronic. All in all, Manifest is an album to daydream to.
All Ball - Madboy/Mink Madboy/Mink are a funk/electro swing duo comprising Imaad Shah and Saba Azad. All Ball opens with Alley Cats, a shining example of electro swing, with catchy lyrics and a strong retro swing vibe. Track 2, aptly named Lemonade, is a khatta-meetha fusion of a disco bassline and flirty vocals. Parov Stelar is an audible influence in the next track, Taste Your Kiss. A special shout-out to the solo at the end of Taste Your Kiss, ties the track up nicely. Right off the bat, Funkenstein, lives up to its name, a monster child of old school funk and synth, but the repetitive lyrics somehow make this track forgettable in the mix. The album closes with Pimp the Disco, an interesting experiment in sampling and dirty-electro on Madboy’s part and Minx really nails her punk, Parisienne vibe in this one. Imaad’s fervent, funky melodies and Saba’s coy, playful vocals lend a perfect retro spin to this record; All Ball could easily be the soundtrack to a Gatsby party.
Recommended: Alley Cats, Lemonade
The type of
you meet at
When you can’t keep up with a boring gig and the fan following below the stage, retreating to the far end of the bar with a beer in your hand is a fairly good way to spend time. Not only does it give your ears some rest, but also allows you to take in the crowd. In this segment, we present to you the very many types of people you’re most likely to find at a gig.
The True Fan Then there’s the true fan. Watch out for the guy or girl with the loudest cheer who’s also the first one to start a group activity on the floor. They’ve been secretly spying the band’s movements from the airport to the gig, practicing all their songs, hoping to catch a few words. They writhe with excitement with every song, and glare at crowd behaviour around them that is even remotely milder than their own. If you’re not in the same universe of excitement as them, it’s sensible to move away lest the flailing arms and legs knock you down.
The Photo-guy They’re all over the place, and subjects of much envy, as they enjoy a tad more freedom to roam the area than the normal crowd. They crawl their way behind the stage, within the band area and inside their backstage rooms, a glass of whiskey and camera in tow, always getting to mean business.
The Geeks Music tee: check. Beer in hand: check. Arms folded: check. Razor sharp eyes and ears waiting to catch that one flaw in the guitar solo: check. The tough-to-please geeks are mostly stoic in their demeanour, and have much insight to offer, for instance, about how the repeated use of the word ‘my’ followed by ‘dear’ in the band’s lyrics was so obviously indicative of where they were going to tour next, or how the hole in the vocalist’s jeans could be a sign of a possible fallout at the end of the gig. You’ve gotta keep talking to these fellows!
The Techie There's the software developer who was all upshot about coming to the gig with a fellow debugger, but the debugger had to cancel last minute, courtesy a bug too big to go gig. So, clad in formals, the sweet chap trudges to the gig alone, only to find a sea of developers, debuggers, associates and analysts who don’t talk much and enjoy the music while sipping their beers quietly in remembrance of their friends who couldn’t make the nearly impossible journey to a weekday gig. Not to forget the slyly planned calls from bosses that cause mini-hysteria mid-gig.
The Dude Music tee: check. Beer in hand: check. Arms folded: First up and easily visible as you enter the gates to the venue are the overly friendly dudes. These guys know by name, address, and credit card pin, everyone from the guard to the drummer’s ex wife’s band’s manager who also happens to be at the venue. Striking up conversations is just a handshake away and so is a round of free drinks if you happened to all but shrug them on your way to the washroom. Not bad, eh?
The Woo Army As the gig starts, beware of the woo army – the strongest, most resilient and accepting sweethearts around. Woo is born when an unstoppable, often unrequired declaration meets an immovable, definitely unrequired, affirmation at the frequency of eight seconds or an utterly trivial group moment, whichever is sooner. The woo family, many a times unaware of the purpose of tonight’s gathering, generally breeds at the spur of the moment, and gains strength from the triviality of each other’s woos. Woos are great news for the band, organizers, other crowd members and often humanity. And in return, they ask for nothing – no details about the song or the band, or the drinks their friend ordered for them. Bless their souls.
Photo Credits: Roycin D'Souza / The Gearhouse Sessions
Band of the Month
What started as a solo project by Warren Mendonsa, often touted one of the best guitarists of the country, is today a force to reckon with on the scene. We got to talking to the boys about all things Blackstratblues. Join in on all the fun! Blackstratblues is an odd name. How did the name come to be? My (Warren’s) main guitar is a black Stratocaster and a lot of what I do is based in the blues. Every time I recorded something I used to tag it ‘Blackstratblues.’ So that’s how it happened.
How was it to play in local bands back in the 1990’s? It was fun, but the scene was developing at that time, so we didn’t really have too many venues to play in. There were probably two places in Bombay that we could play in. When we went out of town, there were college gigs; they’d have their annual festival and then they’d have a competition, which they still have these days. Those were some of the few limited opportunities for upcoming bands to play. And yes, it’s gotten much better since then.
How hard was it making a footing in the industry in that time? Independent music was not all that popular back then. If you were just starting off as a band, it was harder then…very few bands stayed past three years. Most bands would’ve formed during college or school; by the time you got out of college you got a job and that whole idea of having a band would just fall apart. But these days we see a lot more bands that are doing
it full time as a profession. Also, at the time we started the Internet had just started too, and more people were online and networking and stuff like that. We were a Bombay band, when we’d come to Bangalore to play we’d meet a Bangalore band and connect, all because of the Internet. There was this forum called gigband.com that helped a lot of bands to network. There were a lot fights also but it definitely helped a lot. Looking back at it, it’s a lot easier now. Also, we used to travel everywhere by train.
Warren, you have been a producer aside from your famed guitar prowess. Which do you prefer the most? I think I’m happiest playing the guitar. But it’s also fun in the studio to help someone else realize his or her creative vision. In playing guitar, the more creative aspect of your brain gets used; in the studio it’s both, the technical and the creative. You can have a lot more fun in the studio than on stage, but in a studio you’re isolated from the crowd. There are pros and cons to it. But playing the guitar, I’m happiest.
Nights In Shining Karma…shed some light on the title? It’s a very bad way of rephrasing Knights in Shining Armor. The different thing about it is that different people can interpret it differently…that’s what we like about the name.
Manisha Bhat The second album, The New Album, came out two years after Nights In Shining Karma did. Why is it taking so long for the third? We started recording this album almost a year and a half back, it’s one of those things where you do a little bit and you get busy and then you have some more free time so you come back to it. It’s very hard to take three weeks off and then fully devote your time to it. It comes to a point where you say, “Okay, let’s just put it out!” It should be out soon, all the mixes are done, and it’s only the mastering that’s left.
Warren, how did you find the music scene in New Zealand, judging by your time there? It’s awesome, actually. There are different forms of music, it’s not like it’s just one genre that’s popular. There’s a lot of Jazz, there’s acoustic folk and a lot of electronic music. I got to interact with a wide variety of musicians and all of them were at a pretty high level so that actually got me to work harder and not be complacent. When everything is at a high level, you can’t really afford to slack off in any way.
So, is the scene there better than India’s? The thing is, here there’s a lot more people in terms of population. In NZ, even if you have 200 people in your gig it would be a really good gig there…so in that sense it was a lot harder there. As a band, you have to take your own sound and light systems and you’re pretty much doing everything yourself because the place you play at just provides the venue. We have it a lot easier here.
Any plans of collaborating with any artist soon? Yeah, that’s what we’ve done on this album. Karsh (Kale) played drums on half of the album and Jai played drums on the other half. Nikhil is singing on a couple of songs. The opportunities of collaborating are high for us as well, because we are mainly an instrumental band. If we are playing at a festival where other bands play, sometimes other artists join us…like Vishal (Dadlani) from Pentagram has been with us; and the band itself is quite versatile, so it can sway in a variety of directions. We’re always open, we welcome everyone, and it’s a change of pace for us as well.
Top five Blackstratblues songs: It’s like asking ‘which is your favorite kid?’ or something. We’ll list the songs that were the most fun to make…there’s a song called Bombay Rain, which Zorran wrote. On our next album, there’s a song called Ode to a Sunny Day, which is a ten-minute song, which was fun to make. There’s one called The Happy Billi Song. On the next album there’s also a song called Folkish Three, which is one more of those long songs that have movements and stuff like that. Karsh played drums on that.
On promising upcoming bands: Spud in the box…they’re amazing, then a couple of young bands at NH7. It’s really heartening that the standard of bands that are just starting off now is way higher than when we were starting off. You can actually see that the quality has risen. There are good bands and bad bands everywhere you go, but the younger bands are taking their songwriting very seriously. If you have a good song, your playing level also rises.
Plans for 2014: This year, hopefully, our next album should be out. And we should be doing a tour around the country and we’re looking to play in cities that we haven’t played in. Because right now, we’re just in the metros…we haven’t really gone out of those six cities. Hopefully, we can go play in smaller towns in the future.
in studio with
SIDHARTH VIPIN MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a system designed to transmit information between electronic musical instruments with real synthesizers such as the Waldorf Q or Access Virus. MIDI allows computers, synthesizers, sound cards and drum machines to control one another and to exchange system information. MIDI does not transmit nor receive audio from your synthesizers. This can be done with external equipment like audio cables connected to your soundcard's line in port. There are some home studio owners who will never need a MIDI controller. If you’re doing 100% recording and never need to sequence any keyboard parts or pads or synths or drum parts, then you wouldn’t need it. However,the majority of us need keyboards in our songs from time to time. Most of us will not have an expensive keyboard or a piano lying around in our home studio Since that’s the reality for most home studio owners, a MIDI interface and some virtual instrument plugins become a worthwhile investment.
MIDI CONCEPTS: Midi consists of: NOTE: This consists of note-on and note-off messages. If you hit a key on a MIDI keyboard, the keyboard transmits a note-on message and after releasing the key the note-off message is sent SYSEX: is used to send saved patches from the PC to your synthesizer. You probably can use this to update you're synthesizers boot rom or operating system in case your synthesizer supports this in general. META DATA: This is data describing data. Channel Aftertouch Key aftertouch
How to pick a MIDI controller Playing a musical instrument, even one that lives inside a computer, is a physical activity, so the physical feel of a controller can make a real difference. Here are some factors to think about when choosing a controller: Wobbly versus solid. Knobs and sliders that wobble just don't feel as good as those that are solidly anchored in the panel. Slider length. With a short slider, it's too easy to make sudden jumps in the sound, even when you don't mean to. Data jump. With short sliders and tiny joysticks, you may not be able to access all of the possible MIDI control change values between 0 and 127. While modern software synths can usually smooth out sudden jumps in controller
SAI ADITHYA data, "data jump" sucks. Any MIDI controller should be able to transmit a smooth contour of values. Many of them can't. Smooth versus stepped knobs. Stepped (detented) knobs have the advantage that you can "tick" them precisely from one value to the next, and in any case MIDI data is always stepped, not continuous. But stepped knobs just don't feel as good for expressive sweeps. Infinite versus single-turn knobs. A rotary encoder or infinite knob (turn it as many times as you like) sends "+1" messages when you turn it clockwise and "-1" messages when you turn it counterclockwise. In other words, it transmits relative values rather than absolute ones. With compatible software, that avoids the problem of having the parameter you're controlling jump to a radically different setting. Unless the controller has a display, though, such as a ring of LEDs around the knob, you won't be able to determine the parameter's value by looking at the knob. Some mixing control surfaces have infinite knobs, but on MIDI controller hardware single-turn knobs are far more common. This type of knob "pegs" at 7 o'clock on the left and at 5 o'clock on the right. Dead zones. Joysticks and pitch bend wheels sometimes have a "dead zone" in the middle where no data is transmitted. The problem with a dead zone is that you can't play a smooth contour from low to high. USB power. Some MIDI controllers can be powered directly over the USB bus. If you're using a laptop, however, that will drain your battery quickly, so you may want to shop for a model that also has its own power adapter or can run on batteries. Keyboard size. The smallest, most portable keyboard controllers have short mini-keys, and may have only a twooctave keyboard. Such a keyboard is adequate for data entry, such as recording bass lines and MIDI drum parts, but is not ideal for live work, especially if you're a real keyboard player. Multi-channel output. MIDI defines 16 channels for music data. The simplest controllers always transmit on a single channel. More powerful controllers let you assign knobs and sliders, individually or in groups, to various channels. If there's a keyboard, you may be able to split it into several zones, each of which transmits on a different channel. Depending on the features of your software, you may be able to control several devices at once even with a controller that transmits on only one channel, but multi-channel operation can come in handy. Message choices. The MIDI messages available for controlling synthesis parameters include Control Change, Channel Aftertouch, Polyphonic Aftertouch, and Pitch Bend. A controller that limits you to Control Change data is less desirable than one that gives you more choices. When defining buttons, you'd like to be able to send not only program changes and notes but also Control Change messages such as Sustain Pedal. A few controllers let you define message strings to transmit with a single button-press. A message string could be a single system-exclusive message or a series of program changes on different channels, for example. Buttons may also be able to operate in toggle mode, which is
a cool feature: Alternate button presses send maximum and minimum values for the same controller, thus allowing you to turn a parameter on with one tap and turn it off again with a second tap. If you're using a consumer-type General MIDI (GM), GS, or XG synth, look for a controller that will send GM-standard RPN (registered parameter number) messages, which let you access parameters such as filter cutoff and attack time. Not all hardware supports this more complex message type. Control message scaling. Many controllers always give you a full-range response: Pulling the slider all the way down or turning the knob all the way to the left will send a control change message with a value of 0, and pushing the slider all the way up or turning the knob all the way to the right will send a value of 127. A more flexible system allows you to define the maximum and minimum values that will be sent. (You may also be able to define maximum and minimum values for the controller response in your software.) If you can assign two or more message types to the same physical knob or slider, you can use message scaling and inversion to create complex sonic changes with a single gesture. For instance, by assigning volume (CC 7) data on two different MIDI channels to the same slider and inverting the data on one channel, you can turn the slider into a crossfader. Software support. Some of the newer and more complex hardware controllers come bundled with editor software, which makes creating presets easier. Also, keep your eyes open for bundled software, such as an entry-level DAW, which may be included in the package. Motorized faders. Some high-end controllers designed for mixing have motorized faders. With motorized faders, when you switch to a new set of functions (for example, assigning the faders to the levels of tracks 9-16 rather than 1-8) the faders will scoot up or down to display the correct settings. Other functions. We're starting to see high-end MIDI controller hardware (such as the M-Audio Ozonic and Novation X-Station) that also includes audio I/O for the computer.
Ways of connecting the MIDI • MIDI IN/OUT through the sound card's joystick port • USB MIDI hub with basic and advanced MIDI IN/OUT • PC-serial-port to MIDI IN/OUT converter hub
Suggested brands M-Audio Novation Yamaha Korg Casio Arturia Information to better sound cannot be exhausted. In the next issue, we take you from the world of MIDIs to the synthesising world of VST’s and plugins. Stay tuned. The
String Temple Records striving to establish itself among the best worldmusic labels, has been revered with the association of some top-class musicians. In its ongoing campaign String Temple brings in the most versatile and labelled percussionist Dr. Ghatam Karthick where The Score magazine transcribes his remarkable acumen on the world music scenario and his experience working with some highly accomplished international musicians. What has been your experience collaborating with world musicians, and what have you learned/taken back from them? What have they learned from you?
A lot. Listening to each other is the first thing I learnt from them. When we play with other musicians from other genres we develop mutual listening skills. That is, as you listen to their groove you can reciprocate well. I became a better listener with such experience. One great thing about Indian music is, everything that is there in other systems is already there in ours under a different name. Generally in Carnatic concerts, where I play the Ghatam, I need to listen to all the other accompanists and play in sync with them. That is why, the percussionists can gel well with world musicians, because they are already trained or may be forced to listen. The concept of Pakkavadyam itself is that, you are accompanying the main artist. You are not playing on your own. Youâ€™re playing FOR them. Youâ€™ve to listen to them first and then see how you can enhance it further. Thatâ€™s the key.
ANANYA ASHOK What was the west's perception of Carnatic Music when you first began collaborating with them?
They were at first overawed because of our complex system of thala. In a normal league, playing 4-4 or triplet is standard for them. Instead, with Carnatic music, 5, 7, and 9 per beat are all very normal. In cases of thirupugazh you even have fractions like 17½, 10¼ or so. These are some amazing elements, which differentiate our music system. The greatest thing about our system is subdivisions, counting within the rhythm. The other thing is the way we perceive rhythm is entirely different. Here we don’t play grid by grid but pulse by pulse, aksharam by aksharam and maathra by maathra. Even one single 16 note makes a huge difference. There was this instance where we played somewhere in France. This guy who was especially awed, said, "It’s so mind boggling". Again the Sarva Lagu aspect, which they call “groove” in Jazz is the greatest thing. We give so many variations to it, which is the plus for our music. Their plus is harmony. In our music while playing you have to internalize rhythm, which is what westerners love about us.
Manodharma is a unique aspect of Carnatic music. How do foreign artists perceive this? Manodharma is the key thing that makes Carnatic Music as close to jazz. In Jazz they have grids in 16 bars or 12 bars blues like the pallavi in Carnatic music. After playing the melody they always come back to that one line and improvise on it. That is more like the concept of Manodharmam. Except in Carnatic Music we stick to the ragas. For example here if we go with mohanam we stick with mohanam. There they have more freedom and don't restrict themselves within the scales. Artists like Cole Porter, Charlie Parker & Johnny Coltrane are great examples of Jazz musicians. They sound really great.
Korvais, another unique aspect of Indian Music (even more so with South Indian music) are anywhere from simple to complex rhythmic patterns. Is there a similar concept that you have come across in other forms of music? If so, where? They have something like that in Hindustani music. In western music, they go with patterns & progressions. But for us much Math is involved. Lets say 188, and if I want to play something 3 times, I can't because it’s not divisible by 3, but if it is 189 I can. Rhythm is a very abstract subject; you can't explain it. You just can’t understand but only feel. Similarly you can't play the rhythm. You feel it. My friend used to say “play with feel, don’t feel after playing though”. There are people who play technically correct but it doesn’t touch your heart. “Sangeethamum, samayalum annaniki amayarthu thaan". In western if there is a sonata being played by any musicians, it has to be the same. Whereas for a Nagumomu by Thyagaraja, each musician has a different take. T.N.Seshagopalan’s will be different from a Balamurali version. Balamurali sir says, “I don't sing Carnatic Music, I sing Balamurali sangeetham”. Which is why Indian rhythm reaches to people. A white guy once said, "I don’t know how you people don’t have anything in
front of you”. Because we play by instinct, by reaction… for example, the great Kanjira artist Harishankar used to play such complicated things spontaneously with a lot of mathematical variations. He is an inspiration even today.
Which form of music other than Classical Indian Music in your opinion has been the most enriching for you?
Any good music. Illayaraja music is the ultimate for me in fusion music. It has folk, western, European elements, koothu paatu, lyrics, feel, and complicated rhythms. He is above so many greats. He takes elements from different genres of music. In my view, if there is any music that is pleasing to the ear, it is Carnatic Music. In Sanskrit it means, “pleasing to the ears.” I’m always thankful to my father (who wasn’t a musician), who always said - Accept and appreciate the good things in all forms of music.
Which foreign artist do you respect the most?
Buddy Rich, Dennis Chambers, Jackson, Phil Collins, John Coltrane, Elton John and more recently Victor Wooten There are so many. We only knew Michael Jackson growing up and of course as I grew up we came to know of these other great people.
Which country in your opinion is the most open minded in terms of listening/appreciating Carnatic Music and World Music as a whole?
Tough to say. I can tell you which country I'd Like to go to: South America, because it is filled with rhythm lovers. So do many places, but they have beats for everything, including funeral drums!
If you could delve into another genre of music what would it be? Who in that genre of music would you want to collaborate with? I’m already working with all the musicians I want to work with. I've played for films and dance. I always like to collaborate with heavy metal guys. Ghatam and Heavy metal so we can call it earth metal!
Tell us about your experience working with Mr.V.S.Narasimhan on his album Raga Fantasy.
I felt very fortunate to be part of the album and I've told him, the fact that he called me to work with him in itself is a prestigious thing. I've seen his work in person and I've worked with him in an Indo-Belgian orchestra. We all went to United Nations and performed for KLM 50th anniversary called "bridging the world". He isn’t very talkative, but he talked to me. We would go on walks and chat, not just regarding music, but about life. He would in turn talk to me and explain how one should take failure and disappointment. Some tell you their opinions irrespective of whether you asked, but with him you have to ask him to get his opinion on something specifically. He's very well respected even in the West. Just by the look of the man you’ll know why. Visit www.stringtemple.com
› Is India a great target market for the audio industry considering we churn out so many movies and music every year? In your experience, how receptive is the Indian market toward new technologies? The Indian market is very interesting for the entertainment industry as it adopts new technologies very fast. So if a technology is not successful in India, it can be hard to obtain a worldwide success. The Indian market is a huge market and due to economical reasons, each technology has to be thoroughly investigated to be sure it is viable, and at the same time attractive enough to create a substantial added value for the consumers, for instance: a totally new experience. I believe that’s the reason Auro-3D® is getting such great feedback from the Indian market. › How did you come up with a concept of 3D sound? Was it because you wanted to achieve the perfect audio experience that you kept trying till a brain wave came up? Auro-3D® just happened to me. Being a pioneer in 5.1 Surround sound for music, I came in contact with the 2+2+2
new audio experience into all entertainment markets on existing platforms like Blu-Ray, DCP without the need of changing any specs and in uncompressed audio quality as well. › How complicated is it to set up the system? After having installed 5.1, installing Auro 9.1 is very simple: it is just adding 4 height speakers, each located above the corner speaker of the existing 5.1 system. It is generally much simpler than installing a 7.1 system which is requiring speakers at the sides that often presents a practical issue (having to place it into corridors or in front of doors) while above the corner speakers, there always seems to be enough room. The height needed to achieve the 30° angle is typically around ceiling height in an average home cinema. More difficult would be to install overhead channels directly above the listener, but those speakers are not necessary in a small living room. The third or Top layer makes more sense in a large room like a cinema theater to create a hemisphere. Although, it is mainly the Height Layer (Auro-3D®’s unique second layer) that creates the immersive effect since human beings are less sensitive for sounds coming from above. Additionally, there are almost no reflections or direct sounds located directly above us in nature anyways.
Revolutionar y Sound Wilfried Van Baelen with 3D Audio Pioneer
format, a format used for classical music recordings using the same amount of channels as 5.1 but with a completely different speaker layout based on quadraphonic setup with 2 extra speakers added on top of the front speakers. I was very surprised how much more natural that classical music was sounding in that format compared to 5.1 Surround. So in 2005 I did a pop production in 7.1 based on 5.1 Surround sound with the addition of the 2 front height speakers in order to deliver Stereo, 5.1 and a 2+2+2 master. It was already an improvement although I immediately felt a very unnatural balance between the 5 speakers in the front and the 2 speakers in the back. By adding 2 back height Surround speakers, that magical moment felt like a miracle as I had never heard such a natural reproduction of sound, it was like being in a cocoon of life-like sound, not hearing the individual speakers anymore. That was the basics of Auro 9.1, which I launched at AES Paris and San Francisco in 2006. Everybody was sure that this was the next big thing to happen. The question left was when, because the technology to bring that format to the market was missing. It took my team and I about 5 years to develop a groundbreaking technology allowing to bring this exciting
› Suppose I’m a studio owner who works with a 5.1 set up. What would I have to do to mix tracks in Auro-3D®? Will I have to change the entire system or are minor tweaks enough? Music production studios only need the addition of the extra Height speakers to get a certified Auro 9.1 studio and the Auro-3D® Creative Tool Suite which can be used on the existing DAW stations. This means that no extra hardware is needed, except for the speakers, to create native Auro3D® content. For professional film mixing studios, the Top Layer (directly above the audience) is required since we need that in bigger rooms like cinema theaters to get enough definition into fly-over effects. › Why is the Beautifier™ app not yet there for the Android systems? Our engineering department, counting over 40 people in the meantime, does have this planned on the roadmap. However, there are other priorities at this moment.
Technology in this decade is reaching a new zenith every single day. Auro-3D‰ is no exception, but only testimony to this fact. Wilfried Van Baelen has spoken to us in the previous issue explaining to a layman the working of his brainchild, Auro-3D‰. In this month’s print, we learn more from Van Baelen about the conception Auro-3D‰ and the knowhow to set up this mammoth of a system.
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System 10 Digital Wireless Systems Audio-Technica’s System 10 is a digital high-fidelity wireless system designed to provide performing musicians and presenters with advanced 24-bit operation, easy setup and clear, natural sound quality. Operating in the 2.4 GHz range, far from TV and DTV interference, System 10 offers extremely easy operation and instantaneous channel selection. Up to eight channels may be used together without any frequency coordination problems or group selection issues. System 10 receivers and transmitters offer an easy-to-read digital ID display.
Features: Digital 24-bit/48 kHz wireless operation for ultimate sound quality and dependable performance 2.4 GHz range – completely free from TV interference
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Three levels of diversity assurance: frequency, time, & space Automatic frequency selection for seamless, interference-free operation Extremely easy operation with instantaneous channel selection, sync, and set-up
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like wearing everything, but I prefer wearing slim fit, or anything that compliments my body and face to amplify my personality. But a smile makes anyone look good. A real one though (laughs). I don't like to follow or copy anyone. I like to create. I believe in originality and uniqueness. Can't waste my life trying to be like someone else.
KANIKA MISHRA Coming from an evidently stellar gene pool, this month’s Fashion Segment features two brothers who have stolen hearts with their voice and sharp looks. If the latest by their band (called Sanam!), “Main Hoon” for Spiderman 2 hasn’t given you a serious case of the swoons already, we present to you Samar and Sanam Puri at their dapper best! You have our permission to ogle. (Men and women alike!)
tyle is one's own expression. I don't believe in following trends and try to bring a personal touch to the clothes I wear. If you are comfortable wearing something, you should just go with that. I don't wish to emulate anyone's style. I believe in being myself, original & unique.
you and I may not agree on much.
You might deride my favourite bands cuz of the way they dress Or for the stuff they smoke
We might not even agree on what music is.
But I think we can agree on what it is not.
What was the story behind the birth of Musee Musical? Musee Musical was convergence of three places. Madras, Gujarat and Europe. In 1842, Miquith and co began selling and servicing western instruments for the European population here. The second involved London, where in 1877, Rev.Henry George Bonavia founded the Trinity College of music. The college was founded to spread formal learning of western music throughout the British empire. In 1901, it came to Madras. In 1935, E.A Prudhomme a French citizen and a businessman bought Misquith and co and renamed it “Musee Musical” He ran it with Amy De Rozario. In 1932, Mr. M. Giridhara Das joined Musee Musical. In the next 20 years, Musee became an establishment of reputation in the Raj and were appointed by the British Government as official banquet impresarios In the 1950’s, Prudehomme and Rozario sold their shares to my grandfather. In 1966 my father. Mr.M. Haricharan Das presided over the shop after grandfather’s death.
Musee Musical from time immemorial
Musee musical is nestled in a corner on busy Anna Salai in Chennai. A place which was earlier an elephant stable has been the home of Musee Musicals since 1932. A place which has seen a lot and has epitomized the changes India has seen from pre independence to now. We met Kishore.H Das(CEO and Director) and Sachin H Das (International Executive of Trinity College London, representing the Indian Sub-continent) who took time off their busy schedule to share with us the heritage of the store and how it has changed significantly over the years.
What are the memorable moments in Musee Musical’ time line which has made it what it is now. There are lot of stories. For example, back in the days of the British. Musee Musical were official impresarios for the governor and had to check if the banquet set up was right. So once My grandfather a through Gandhian went to check the place with his Gandhi cap on as always. These checkswere made before the governor arrived. On that particular day, he had come earlier than usual. He saw a man walking with a Gandhi cap on and the governor enquired about him. The people at governor’s office were used to him and told him that this was a routine before the banquet. The governor sent his people to tell him to remove the cap and continue working. They came to him and asked
SAI ADIT YHA him to remove his cap and then continue working. My grandfather, a strong Gandhian and refused and said “If you have a problem with the cap, please report to my boss. What I’m wearing is a personal choice.” and came back to do his accounts. Prudehomme then called up the Governor and told him to go out somewhere so that my grandfather could come in and finish work. After independence a lot changed.We were newly independent country and the people wanted more Indian-ness in their music again. They wanted no more instruments from the west and wanted only Indian equipment. At this of time onwards, the importing was banned and western equipment’s also as well. It was very important as we could retain the culture of western music in India.
What were the challenges you have faced in running Musee Musical across generations? There was not so much in my grandfather’s time. My father’s time (Mr.M.Haricharan Das). He brought in the Indian production of western equipment. He had to keep up the quality of the equipment the cost and factors in check .With great difficulty he imported a guitar stringing machine in the late 60’s and we started producing our own guitar strings. In the late 80’s and the early 90s the labour was a constraint and this was when father decided to encourage people in Calcutta. For example the Givson guitars were made by an artisan who used to come and see how the guitars were made and we encouraged him to start the same in Calcutta.
Musee Musical is well known for its strong sense of values. Is that of greater importance than commerce for you? As much as commerce is important, we have come so far because of people and our values. We strongly believe that we have inherited the philosophy where we believe the feel factor is more important than the money. There are small instances where in people would come and then buy an equipment because of a certain constraint, we would
recommend a cheaper alternative which we might not have but someone else in the city might. The industry as such should enjoy the fruits. This whole industry work on “relationships”. Musee is not one or two people. It is a coming together of a many forces at the right time to sustain so long.
170 years ago Musee Musical was established
How did your father spread music education in the city? My father thought firstly, the people in the industry should be able read basic music forms so that they can produce quality work. Since there was no one else in that time teaching music, we were the default school but we always taught quality music. Our teachers have always been particular about quality.
How does the future of Musee Musical look? It looks very bright! We have already established branches in Pondicherry and Hyderabad. The current store is being renovated and when it opens up it will be one of the biggest music stores in this part of the continent. It’s roughly ten 10,000 sq.ft. We will be having around 350 acoustic guitars alone on a fifty feet wall and also have planned exclusive corners for brands. We are looking to open this sometime around July hopefully.
A generation of tradition An early B&W ad for Musee Musical
2005 A. R. Rahman takes a trip down memory lane
What are the future projects with Trinity music school in the near future? Our major thrust is on teacher development. We have been investing a lot on actual teaching methodologies of music. They have this summer course in Greenwich. On our request they will be doing the same course in India. A 7 day, thirty three hour master teacher training course here.
2006 Inauguration Of Musee Musical At Somajiguda
What would you like to tell aspiring musicians? You come in to music because you follow your heart. I would suggest that they follow their heart and stick with music. It will definitely take you to where you want.
Today Musee continues to reinvent itself for every generation
Asia’s Fastest Drummer
Siddharth Nagarajan Siddharth Nagarajan has been associated with various awards and accolades – Youngest drummer, Asia’s fastest Drummer and Amazing Kid to name a few. Stay with us as we find out just what makes Chennai’s own child prodigy click!
You’re Asia’s fastest drummer. Must feel great. What was the selection process like? I had to do this continuous video with a judge in attendance. I had this electronic pad, with a meter connected to it. The meter is called the drum-o-meter, on which I had to tap. I was given 60 seconds. After that I had to play again, that was recorded and sent.
Was it a single chance or a set of 3 like in the Guinness Book of Records? I had 3 chances. It was a video and I was facing a judge. The first time I did 1600 something, and then 1900. So I got it in just two attempts.
Are you a part of any band, or do you play solo? I play for both. I am basically a freelancer. I play for everyone. I am now playing with Mandolin Rajesh uncle; we have a band that consists of Murali Uncle. I have formed a band with my friends called Jigar Dhanda. We’ve had one show and we started only a month ago, playing all kinds of genres. Other than I do solos too. I do 40-45 minute solo depending on what the people want.
Are there any bands that you want to play for? I’m a die-hard fan of Dream Theatre. I started listening to them when I was 6-7. It’s my dream to meet Mike Portnoy. I went to mood indigo just to see him live!
What does your drumkit consist of? My kit consists of a double bass drum. Not many people in India have it due to the expense and travel limitations. A double bass drum is different from a double pedal drum. I also have other ancient African, Asian drums. As my dad is a rhythm programmer, it incorporates elements of world music in my drumkit. I use a Mapex, which is a very good brand, and I’m very happy with this drumkit. It is adaptable, and is fitting to all my genres of music. But there is no Ideal kit. Any drummer can play on any kit. It is the technique that defines you.
Do you play any other percussion instruments? Yeah, I can play all the rhythm instruments. I learned the
Mridangam from Chinnan Kutty Uncle’s son. I play all the African, Latin, and other native instruments, thanks to my Dad.
Do you feel inspired or threatened by the newer crop of very young musicians? No, no. In fact, I’m glad they are taking over and continuing the journey of drumming. Nowadays, a lot of electronic sounds are in vogue, and acoustic sounds are getting lost. The keyboardist plays almost all the sounds. So I’m not against it but it’s wonderful to find younger musicians playing different instruments. Traditional instruments like Jaltarang and Xylophones are no longer played by individual musicians. I accept electronic music, like dubstep and other sounds, is here to stay but actual orchestral work is a far richer experience.
How many hours do you practice per day, or before a show? It’s not about the hours, but about the focus that you bring to work. Even 15 minutes of preparation time is enough sometimes. It’s about focusing and concentration. I don’t go anywhere and practice. Wherever I am, I am thinking about beats, and doing this (he taps his foot to his own rhythm). I also compose my own music; all my compositions for my drum solos are my own compositions. I also do a lot of live stuff.
How has your family supported your passion? I owe it all to my family. Without them, I wouldn’t have even known that I have such a talent. My mom managed my affairs until recently and done everything for me. They had to bear all the noise, manage the neighbors etc. I have Siddarth Uncle as my manager now, who handles things and has changed my style. My father has nurtured my talent, taught me, and shared his knowledge with me. Actually and virtually he has influenced and taught me a lot. My sister also sings my compositions. She is a very good singer. They have helped me balance my work and school. So yeah, I owe it all to them.
On playing for Kamal Hassan Playing for Kamal Haasan Uncle was an experience. The first time was for his birthday, and he wanted a drums solo. Then 5-6 years later, he came up with a concept of a skit for a performance in Hyderabad. And he called me to showcase my talent on this show. It is always a beautiful experience playing for him.
My Moto You don’t need a kit to play music. I did a show called Ram de where I performed my solo using kitchen utensils and an automobile. My dad made that kit. I also used broomsticks, which was interesting because I used to sweep the house while tap dancing. We took a Maruti 800, ripped it apart and had about 10 people playing on different parts. These experiences collectively formed my motto - rhythm is everywhere.
On playing for Abdul Kalaam I played for him in 2004, on his birthday. Fascinating experience. We were called by the President’s office to play at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. I was very young at the time, and I did not know I was playing for the President. I had made a greeting card for him, which he accepted. At the end of the performance, he said, “these tender hands gave me so much joy in the last ten minutes”.
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Avartan Music Festival A Celebration of India’s Rich Musical Heritage
What makes LA-based Avartan Music Festival unique is that it celebrates the very youth who spend their lives practicing and preserving Indian classical music in the US. As the mission statement of the festival says, “Though the music finds its roots in our homeland many miles away with many centuries of tradition, the music remains intact with the new generation of musicians that are capable of taking this music further than it has ever gone before.” The yearly festival that was started at the University of California, Los Angeles by Ethnomusicology student Gaayathri Kaundinya features talent across the US; from talented Hindustani and Carnatic vocalists to instrumentalists. Gaayathri, a Hindustani vocalist herself was a student of the late Ali Akbar Khan and largely attributes her musical experiences for creating this festival. Anirudh Venkatesh (Vocalist), Vignesh Venkataraman(Mridangam), Guhan Venkataraman (Veena), Hari Sivakumar (Tabla, Mridangam), and Shishir Rao (HIndustani vocal), who are just a few of many participants of this year’s festival were gracious enough to have a chat with Score Magazine about music and the festival that brings them together. What was your inspiration behind starting the Avartan Music Festival? Gaayathri: Growing up, I had a huge interest in Indian classical music. Studying with my Guru, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, I had many Gurubhais and Gurubehens - but most of them were significantly older than me. In fact, for a long period of time, I didn’t have many friends my own age that pursued classical music. As I got involved with more music projects, I started meeting people my own age who had the same interests that I did. I realized that all of us shared the same goals. I realized how much talent we had right here in the US, and decided there needed to be a better way of bringing all of the youth who were pursuing the art together to give them a space to connect with each other and share their art form. Thus, Avartan was born.
What does Avartan mean to you and how do you feel this festival impacts the Classical Indian Music community? Anirudh: Avartan is a beautiful celebration of music I eagerly look forward to participating in each year. I view it as a special time during which I get the unique opportunity to come together with brilliant peers of my generation from around the country to share and appreciate music, as well as forge life-long musical friendships. Movements such as Avartan are of key importance to the Indian Classical Music community. There is no disputing that the future of Indian Classical Music lies
ANANYA ASHOK in the hands of today’s youth, and festivals like Avartan that are run by the youth, for the youth, should be applauded for empowering the younger generation to be torch-bearers of this rich classical heritage.
Gaayathri, what is your goal for moving forward with Avartan? Where do wish to take this movement? Gaayathri: A big problem musicians face is politics and rivalries that take away from the pure form of the art. The biggest goal of this festival is to start from the youth and rise upward in bringing about a change in attitude to making the music about music itself. The music is something so peaceful and pure that it is a great tool to bring people together from all around the world. As per our name, “Avartan” is aiming to be a full circle from our roots to us. In addition to other things, I would like to make this a platform for an open, honest, crosscultural dialogue between everyone who shares a love for Indian music with a pure focus on the art form.
Where do you see the state of Classical Indian Music in America in the years to come? How do you feel initiatives like Avartan contribute to its awareness? Shishir: I think the art form is growing. In one way, more classical musicians are collaborating with musicians around the world to take our art form to the global stage. Second, with better technology and access to digital recordings of the greatest musicians of our art form, we are able to learn and be inspired from them. Avartan presents some of the youngest yet accomplished musicians in our artform, and furthermore, the organization encourages others to join and contribute to the art’s great legacy.
How do you balance work and music? Hari: However hard studies and work get, it’s impossible to work all the time. At the same time, it’s pretty hard to motivate oneself to practice without a community or some performances to look forward to. What really helped me at that time, then, was being part of a group of Indian classical musicians in college. At Michigan, Indian Classical Music and Dance (now known as Michigan Sahana) was really instrumental in motivating me to practice. We would put up really good shows on campus to showcase Indian classical music and dance to the campus community. At UCSB, I started a similar group called Agni. When we practice as a small group of people, we feed off each
other’s energy and are motivated to try new things. Most of us are busy, so we practice in the evenings.
Vignesh and Guhan, You’ve grown up in the US but your gurus are based in India. How did you manage to become proficient given the distance barrier? How has technology been beneficial/a setback? How did you tackle setbacks? Vignesh & Guhan: It has been a difficult journey for both of us. Neither of our gurus believed in substituting a physical presence with any form of technology, and thus, all of our learning has happened in India on our (typically) yearly visits. When we are in India, we usually have class 5 days a week at a breakneck
pace; after we return stateside, we internalize everything that was taught to us. The revision and absorption process
takes much of the rest of the year, and then, the process begins anew. The obvious pitfalls are if there are any doubts or uncertainties, or if we unknowingly practice something all year and find out that it is incorrect. But those are minor quibbles when compared to the experience of learning from living legends in Carnatic music. The process has actually helped us grow as self-sufficient musicians.
What are your thoughts on musicians pursuing allying careers? Gaayathri: I don’t think it is a problem for musicians to choose an allying career if they have a talent in music. However, I think it is important that whichever career a musician chooses, it should not be something that takes away from the quality of their art. For those with an interest in allying career to music such as ethnomusicology, or perhaps performance of other styles of music, film scoring, music production, etc., while there is some overlap in these careers, it should be kept separate from their Indian classical music. In order to keep the traditional music about self-improvement, inner peace, and a way of meditating, it should not be linked to money. What often happens when people try to pursue music, as a career, is their music becomes about the money or making a living - which can degrade the quality of the art, and can bring politics into music. In this day and age, where we have no Kings or Sultans to fund our artistic careers, it is important that no matter which career we choose, we keep it separate from our pursuit of this ancient art.
The festival enters its third year this year and will be held at Schoenberg Music Hall at UCLA on May 10th.
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The massive stack of options available in today’s market is bound to confuse the novice drummer. There are copious considerations to be made while buying a drum kit. Are you playing for fun or do you dream of drumming glory? What’s your budget? What music do you want to play? Are you going to take classes or just YouTube your way to rock and roll hall of fame? Dig in to find out the solutions to all your dilemmas!
TAMA Rhythm Mate Rhythm Mate is TAMA’s entry-level kit. Precise bearing edges provide easy tuning that beginners might need and the wide tuning range that pros demand. TAMA’s original Accu-Tune Bass Drum Hoops offer lighter weight and faster, more consistent tuning than traditional metal hoops. And if that wasn’t enough, the hardware is equipped with double-braced legs for increased stability. TAMA Rhythm Mate drums are breaking all the rules for entry level kits. The Rhythm Mate comes with a 16x22 Bass Drum, 7x10 and 8x12 Toms, 15x16 Floor Tom, 5x14 Snare Drum; and equipped with a double tom holder, snare stand, drum pedal and a drum throne. This kit does have a drawback. The cymbals are sold separately. Our recommendation in terms of cymbals would be to buy used pro cymbals like Zildjian A Custom or Paiste 2002 rather than cheap cymbals which you’ll end up throwing away after a year. If the instrument isn’t of good quality and doesn’t give back to you what you put in, you end up losing interest and stop playing. The Rhythm Mate rules out such a possibility with its exceptional quality and sound. You will not regret buying this instead of some other cheap kit.
DW Jazz Series Drum Kit “I love being a drummer. Everyone thinks you’re dumb. What they don’t realize is that if it weren’t for you, their band would suck.” -
Dave Grohl has, on more than one occasion, captured the world’s attention with not just his music, but his words. Wondering why the ex-Nirvana drummer suddenly came up? Well (and it’s fun-fact time here at Score) this next kit is the set-up used by Grohl himself with his new band Them Crooked Vultures (definitely check out their Self-Titled Album). And we decided to do a special bonus review for this month’s issue for our beloved readers (aren’t we nice?). Coming back to the DW, these drums have a really awesome high warm tuning range. They do that bebop thing really well, the New Orleans jazz funk theme. It comes in very traditional sizes (7x10, 8x12, 14x14, 14x20, 14x5). The toms tune up nice and high, lot of rim to them with really nice clean open tones. To sum it up, this kit has got a really cool old sound to it. We’re absolutely in love with it!
DRUM FOR THE M
Pearl Limited Edition VBA The set comes with a 22x18 undrilled Bass drum, 10x7 and 12x8 Toms, 14x12 and 16x14 Floor toms and a matching Birchply Snare drum. As far as set up is concerned, understand that you are getting a “boxed” kit, so be ready for some assembly. If you are not familiar with “building” a kit from shells, get someone experienced to assist you. Sound is what you expect from Pearl, and it has been delivered with this kit. Very musical, fairly easy to tune to pitch and the two ply heads make the kit sound better than it has a right to. All of that is complemented with Pearl’s 890‐ Series Hardware Pack. The LE VBA delivers full Pearl Birch quality in Artisan II finishes you’ll have to see to believe. This being a birch kit, it is noticeably louder than the Maple kits, and I mean LOUD, so get ready to send shockwaves down your street. Although this comes highly recommended for all drummers, if this is your first kit, then you’re better off with an entrylevel Tama kit, the only caveat being the price. The first drum kit normally suffers a lot of abuse since you’re just learning.
Mapex Voyager SRO Mapex Voyager offers focused tones and ample projection for that first band. It features a 7.2mm poplar bass drum, tom and snare shells; all available in durable Road Tuff finishes. The drums also feature newly designed chrome or black lugs and 1.5mm steel flanged hoops. To ensure functionality straight out-of-the-box, this set includes cymbals, tom mounts and a double tom holder that accommodates an auxiliary cymbal placement. One very useful feature is that it includes a Drum Throne, a solid one at that. The cymbals, especially the crash-ride, that come with the Voyager need to be upgraded for better sound, unless you’re okay with them sounding like overtones coming out of frying pans. The snare drum on this kit is a favorite. Loud, cuts through, and sounds rude when not tuned. If you get to play this kit tuned up, you’re in for a real treat. A small suggestion that we suspect will make this kit sound even better are the Evans G2 coated heads, that is once you’ve ready to start upgrading. This 5-Piece drum kit also includes a heavy-duty, doublebraced Mapex 330 Series Hardware Pack which includes an S330 snare stand, an H330 chain-drive hi-hat stand, a C330 straight cymbal stand, a B330 boom stand and a P330 single kick pedal. With a limited warranty on both the shells and hardware, this drum set is a great option.
ENERGY TAKE CLASSICS 5.1
Energy has been leading the industry of speaker systems in quality since 1973. The Energy Take Classic is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I can sell these speakers to you in just three words – Cheap, small and brilliant sound. But since I have got your attention, let me tell you a bit more. The Take Classic is a six-piece system with four satellites, a center speaker and a 200watt sub-woofer which accommodates both speaker-level and line-level inputs. The speakers look fantastic with an elegant piano black finish which will definitely style-up your living room. Very compact, weighing around 2.9pounds, the speakers give you the option of wall mounting. The most satisfying attribute of this system is that it sounds bigger than it looks. The first disc I try with any new system is Exile on Main St. by Rolling Stones. Watts’ drum solos were solid and packed a good punch. And let me tell you one thing, Take Classic doesn’t mind if you turn up the volume (which coincidentally also seems to agree with Keith and Jagger). On pure sound, Pioneer’s SP-PK21BS has a slight edge, but the bulkiness of that speaker system compared to the compactness of Take Class is a point in favor of Take Classic’s. All in all, Take Classic’s 5.1 provide a combination of excellent sound quality and stylish looks at an unbelievable price, making it a definite winner in the market.
Monitor Audio Bronze BX2
This one is my favorite pair of bookshelf speakers. These speakers are dressed to impress, boasting an attractive finish that is hard to find. You’re reminded of better times when people were ready to put up their real estate for good sound (you might find similar words in Life Philosophy 101). The Monitor speakers come with a flawless vinyl finish and magnetic grilles that add a neat touch to their entire aesthetics. The Bronze BX2s have a superb dynamic range and the mids are crisp and clear. It’s safe to say you will be discovering new sounds in your music collection that you never realized were there, and with the effortless balance they provide, you have a good chance of reaching musical euphoria (it doesn’t hurt their cause if you’re on a little something. Just kidding). During “Hold me tight” from “Across the Universe” Beatles musical, Bronze BX2s fill the entire room. The song is performed by a band in a dancehall, and these babies will take you right in the middle of that very dancehall. With a powerful amp, you can rock the house. I must warn you though, get ready to ward off neighbor complaints if you buy the Bronze BX2s.basically means this setup is officially certified to knock your socks off! The only thing we have against this offering from Logitech is that it’ll force you to loosen up your purse strings.
speakers for t When my beloved F&D speakers started sounding like the neighbors’ cat, I was faced with the tough decision (read: responsibility) of buying new speakers. Now, I’m a music enthusiast, meaning I really want to hear every note of that solo and every bass line. There was only one problem when I was looking for speakers, I was like a kid in a candy store, and I wanted all the candy. Simple policies like ‘the louder, the better’ (I was picturing windows shattering and chairs moving because of the vibration) made a lot of sense, at the same time monetary conditions held a veto on all my dreams. It took me more than a month to finally land on my sound system (not a very nice 30 days). Should you find yourself in a similar predicament, here is a list of some of the best in the market. You might want to paste this one on a wall somewhere for future reference.
The Z-5500 Digital set comes with four satellite speakers, a center-channel speaker, a colossal subwoofer, a wireless remote control, and a swanky control module with both analog and digital inputs. Now there’s a reason this one comes top of the list. The Logitech Z-5500 boasts an impressive collection of jacks that allow you to connect as many as 6 source devices simultaneously, including optical as well as co-axial digital inputs along with three 2.5mm (1/8inch) analog jack inputs– a testament to the flexibility of this setup. Featuring both Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, the Z-5500 speaker system puts you in the middle of the action with true 5.1 surround sound. The system even incorporates Dolby Pro Logic II, transforming your favorite old 2-channel stereo movies, music and games into realistic 5.1 surround sound. Horror movies take up a whole new dimension which will send you jumping under the bed if you have this setup, trust me! For all of you who have a special relationship with your couch, this setup comes with a convenient digital control center – The Digital SoundTouch™ Control Center (the loud music may just have knocked the creativity out of their heads right there). Although small, this well-designed remote will let you control all the magnificent features. What’s more? Logitech Z-5500 is THX-certified, which
Next up we have the JBL Pulse! A compact, wireless Bluetooth speaker which delivers amazing volume, but that’s pretty much what we expect from JBL. What are special about this piece are the visual effects. The integrated multiLED light show is, quite simply, hypnotic, even without smoking anything. It does show certain similarities in shape to the JBL Flip, but Pulse has a 2x6-watt speaker as compared to a 2x5-watt in JBL Flip and Charge, and it has a slightly better base response. The JBL Pulse comes with a built-in rechargeable battery which will give you around 10 hours of battery for sound, but only a mere 5 hours with the lights. The Pulse charges with a standard Micro-USB connection, so you don’t have to through the whole process of safeguarding the AC adapter. In other specifications, it has a 3.5mm input jack port for you to connect all your phones/iPods. Soundwise, the Pulse is in the same ballpark as the Bose SoundLink Mini (which is pretty effin’ good, I tell ya!) The X factor though, is the light show. You can even download the JBL music app on your smart phone and change to different visualizations with just a flick. It’s a delight to watch the multi-coloured equalizer dance to the tune of your songs!
the AUDIOPHILE The
interactive and experimental