Thursday, December 16, 2010

True team spirit!

The word "team" is so commonly used but often misunderstood. A team must comprise of a variety of people with complimentary skills, and working in synergy such that the combination of their forces results in the overall progress towards the larger goal. There is no "competition" between elements of a team and no heirarchical or feudal dictatorship - but pure collaboration and a strong passion for achieving the end goal.

Here is a recording symbolising the teamwork of four different elements, collaborating to create synergetic music. While the rhythm track (reggae style beat) provides a strong foundation, the lead track (guitar) adds melody, the trumpet adds the interlude music and the strings provide a chorus. Presenting my first recording using multi-track sequencing (i.e. playing one track at a time and then overlapping them).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tribute to the great guru...

Pandit Rambhau Bijapure, repectfully known as "Vijapure master" is a true guru in more ways than one. I regard him as THE BEST harmonium artiste of the century, as has been evident from his concerts even at the age of 90! As a person, his down-to-earth attitude and simplicity has earned him tremendous respect in the musical fraternity. "Simple living, high thinking" seems to be the vision with which he has trained hundreds of disciples and performed at many many concerts without ever worrying about publicity and glamour. Probably this is a common trait among many great men - very high intellectual and atristic capability and yet extreme simplicity.

I have had the good fortune of touching the feet of this great guru and receiving his blessings and I believe that his blessings have influenced my musical skills. The unforgetable Harmonium Habba 2008 in Bangalore where the maestro was felicitated, is an event that is etched in my mind forever. Panditji, after sitting at a corner in the audience throughout the evening concert with an unassuming aura, walked to the stage for the finale - Raag Des and a concluding Bhairavi, mesmerising and so divine!

He instantly connected the audience to the raga so effortlessly, the "flow" in his music was enlightening - beyond what words can express.
My first learning of pure harmonium has been by listening to some of his audio CDs, and from his live performances and that of his disciples. Unfortunately, I have not been able to take formal lessons from any harmonium guru in the typical guru-shishya paramparaa so far, but that is a long held dream. Until then, I would probably have to follow the learning style of Eklavya!

Pt. Bijapure passed away in November 2010 at Belgaum, again without too much media coverage and news broadcast beyond Belgaum. But the thousands of people whom he has so deeply inspired, know that it is an irreparable loss to the Hindustani Music tradition. This blog post is a modest attempt to pay a tribute to Pt. Bijapure.

For the rasiks looking for more information about the guru:

A recording of Raag Bhairavi posted on youtube by his fans:

An event diary written by Shri Kedar Nafade:

Friday, October 29, 2010


DON, the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan hit-film, is a recursive film (in the sense that I can see it any number of times, resulting in the same level of contentment). The plot is very well-structured, where every scene is in place for a reason that unfolds later in the story.
What stays lingering in the mind for the next couple of days is the theme-music that Kalyanji Anandji have composed so thoughtfully. The songs from this film are diverse and include cabaret, folk (Banarasi) and hip-hop.
The remake of the film starring Sharukh Khan, revolves around the same plot, though with a different ending. The focus on pure art and theatre forms is replaced by technology and gadgets in this version. Here's a foot-tapping party number from the (new) DON...

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Julie is yet another 1970's movie embedded with a treasure of melodious songs. It belongs to an era where instuments like the African Congo drums and the lead guitar were used to create subtle effects in background music.
Here is an attempt to play the lead guitar using the keybord, with an effort to focus on note-resonance and chords, and cutting away any "gaayaki" patterns which are not naturally playable on a stringed instrument like the lead guitar.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Shankar Mahadevan is one of my favourites in the list of present-day singers. Among his numerous skills, the one that amazes me the most is his versatility - the ease with which he sings in both Hindustani as well as Carnatic styles of music. I need not elaborate on how difficult it is to accomplish a feat like that.
His recent songs in regional languages are another reason for us - his fans - to say "hats off" to him. Here is one such Marathi song called "Man Udhan Vaaryaache" from the film"Aga Bai Arechaa" played on the Grand Piano...

Music versus noise...

This song is an out-of-the seuqence number, just to beat the monotony of the elegant and evergreen category of the 1970's songs that have been posted so far. To set the stage for this, imagine that a wedding baaraat is passing through a crowded market in a townplace and the dulhaa hopelessly trying to maintain his balance on a horse (a ghodi to be more precise), his slippery kolhapuri chappals make the stunt even more challenging. As they proceed towards the shaadi-ka-mantap, there is a wagon behind them, with the members of the brass orchestra tightly packed into it and some of them pouring outside too, the orchestra comprising a bulbul-tarang, a brass trumpet, a dhol, huge cymbals, and the like. The ambience is such that no one in the audience really bothers to appreciate the music, rather everyone is enthusiastic about the event to follow and is busy dancing to the tune or clearing up the road ahead so that they reach the venue in time. Hence, there is no provision for sophisticated music and subtle effects, even the sound system does not have speakers but only cone-shaped megaphones. With all that in place, each musician dutifully ensures that his instrument is heard with the loudest volume in the whole orchestra.

Trying to play this kind of noisy music in a noise-filled environment is quite a challenge. To play this on the Yamaha E-403 is even tougher, because by nature the keyboard has very sweet and soothing musical tones. Searching for a sharp and noisy tone was a task by itself, then the touch-response was completely disabled, a noisy and cluttered rhythm (called Goa Pop) selected and the notes played by leaving aside the gaayaki style of modulations. All this to create the feeling that the enthusiasm of the baaraatis on such occasions owerpowers their urge of lending a keen ear to listen to and appreciate the music played.

The idea of this post is to bring out a rustic, a raw musical style without any subtle effects, typical of a bulbul-tarang, and to take the reader (listener) right into a baaraat! Hope the reader has a good trip! This song is also an evergreen song, but more so, as a dance number - Kombdi Palaali! Enjoy...

Monday, January 18, 2010

As the dark night unfolds...

The movie "Amar Prem" is literally a treasure-house of some of the gems amongst Hindi film songs. My favourite song from this film is "Rainaa Beeti Jaye", for the sheer melody in its musical notes. There is quite some confusion about the raga on which this song is based. Most of the literature points that it is based on Raga Gurjari Todi while some other sources opine that it is a composition of Todi, with a tint of Lalit in between. I prefer not to get involved in the argument, but to enjoy the song itself! The "Grand Piano" sound on the Yamaha E-403 adds a subtle mood of loneliness to this song...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Exploring the Thumri Style...

"Kaa Karoon Sajani Aayenaa Baalam", a popular Thumri originally sung by the celebrated Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan saaheb and a semi-classcical version of which has been subsequently introduced into the movie Swami (1977), is an evergreen gem of a song. When playing this song on the keyboard (the "Swami" version), the attempt is to bring out the gaayaki style of playing the harmonuim, where swift key movements, good volume control (touch response) , sustained notes and modulations suggesting the vocal style in the song, are the prime focus. The light classical style of Indian music (Thumri, Ghazal, Chaiti, Dadra, Jhoolaa, etc.) brings out these aspects very well.

Friday, October 30, 2009

For the not-yet-so-lucky friends...

On posting the blog titled "Dedicated to my lucky friends", the other friends who do not belong to this lucky category (or seemingly lucky cateogry should I say? :-) ) complained and questioned about why I was posting music compositions only for that category of friends. I completely empathise with them, since I too belong to the not-yet-so-lucky category! So here is something that they (we) will be happy to hear...

I've been trying my hand at playing the accordion on my keyboard for quite some time now. As portrayed in an earlier post called "Swabhaav - The nature of instruments" it is obvious that playing in the accordion style is quite a jugglery of chord-work along with swift and nimble key movements. That reminds me of a rare concert that I attended in Bangalore - a harmonium accordion jugalbandi by the renowned Pt. Ravindra Katoti and M.B. Prakash / P. Ravindra.(

"Mere Sapnon Ki Rani" is an evergreen song composed by S D Burman and sung by Kishore Kumar. Being an avid traveller, the picturisation of this song at a breathtaking hillstation in a Willy's jeep is also very touching!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dedicated to my lucky friends...

Many of my close friends are in this very special phase of life - probably THE best phase in life. They have found their respective life partners, some are engaged and about to get wedlocked while others are newly married. This song is dedicated to all such friends.
A popular number from a 1970's film (Ghar) with music notes set by the legendary R D Burman jee and sung so melodiously by Lata Mangeshkar / Kishore Kumar, as I play this on my keyboard I keep wondering how such evergreen compositions were created by these motivating and celebrated artists!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ride to Chikmagalur - June 2007

Chikmagalur is a place one must visit - or that's what I had been thinking for a very long time. Somehow the plan for this trip never seemed to be made. So we decided to do an unplanned trip to this place.

Vikrant, being an avid trekker, traveller and a meticulous photographer, jumped with enthusiasm on hearing the idea. The two of us started off on a Saturday morning and visited the historical places of Shravanbelagola, Belur and Halebid on our way. By the time we reached Chikamagalur, it was dusk and we thouroughly enjoyed the scenic route to this quiet town.

On Sunday morning, we scaled the Baba Budangiri range of mountains and were witness to a picturesque sunrise at the top. To add to the beauty of this place, you have numerous mountains painted in different shades of green. On visiting the dargah and the peetha on the peak, we started our return journey to Bangalore, which took about 7 hours at cruising speed and several breaks.

There was a third member who accompanied us on this trip and

in fact, was THE reason behind
having such a memorable trip - my dependable Yamaha Gladiator.

Here is one of those excellent snaps clicked by Vikrant on his digital SLR (Nikon D70) - that camera was our most valuable possession during the whole trip!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Swabhaav - The nature of instruments

Instruments are like people. Different instruments have different "personality traits" or swabhaav. While a santoor carries a pleasant character, a saarangi probably carries with it a mood of separation and melancholy. That may be one of the reasons why certain raagas sound better on some instruments than on others. A keyboard intends to integrate the sounds of all instruments on a single medium of expression (the set of keys), but it is left to the artiste to conserve the unique character of every instrument while playing it using the keyboard. These days, I am trying out some experiments on the keyboard, to see how best it is possible to "simulate" the original instrument on the keyboard. Some of the useful learnings from these experiments are:
1. The importance of timing i.e. how long to keep a key pressed by trying to play a particular instrument
2. The frequency of swtiching notes - how fast to swtich between keys depending on the limitations of the natural instrument
3. Volume control (a)- How to simulate breathing patterns when simulating a wind instrument (e.g. a flute or a saxophone) by varying the volume using the touch sense feature. Some high-end keyboards boast of an amplitude profiler where one can create sounds that are closer to the original instrument. The PSR-295 does not have this one though.
4. Volume control (b)- How to simulate bellows of the harmonium by using touch sense and the harmony feature on the keyboard.

I would be posting some of the audio clips of my learnings on this blog soon...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reggae turns blue...

There is this happy-go-lucky rhythmn which was called "Reggae" on the Casio SA-1 (that's my first keyboard on which I learnt basic "notes"). On the Yamaha PSR-295, it's called 6/8 Blues (Style #070). Songs like Main koi aisaa geet gaoon (Yes Boss), Dil Tadap tadap ke keh rahaa hai (Madhumati) and Mohd. Rafi's Pukarta Chalaa hun main go very well with this rhythm, especially with accompanying chords.
SA-1 now seems to be in the fag end of its product life-cycle and is being replaced by trendier models. But it's a great little instrument to develop a ear for music.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A soft-tabla for your daily riyaaz

For those of us who miss the accompaniment of a tabla as we practise on the keyboard/harmonium/vocal, here is a good option. There are some softwares that generate a variety of taalas on the PC / laptop, and you can even vary the tempo or create your own taal. Here are two useful links: A free download with a few preset taals and ability to generate your own. A free 14-day limited trial edition, but worth buying the software (available in three versions).
I'm sure there are many more available on the internet, you just have to search with the correct keywords in Google. Of course, a dedicated hardware product like the taalometer or the taalmala from the innovative Radel Electronics is sure to create a near-live experience of the tabla, and those with a keen ear for music may find this a better choice.
And finally, the footnote to this article: There's no substitute to a real tabaljee when it comes to live music and serious riyaaz.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Visit to the Himalayan Paradise

Trekking has been a hobby for many years now. And the best of all treks that I've done till date, is the Himalayan trek to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. I would have loved to describe the experience myself, but Ajit has already done it in a much better manner. Here are the links...
A diary of our planned trek
Notes on an unexpected detour
Some photographs

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A musical horse ride

One of the most creative musicians of the evergreen era is undoubtedly O P Nayyar jee. And the horse-riding rhythmn in some of his songs, is simply magical. If you hum songs like Maang ke saath tumhara, or Aankho hi aankho mein ishaara ho gayaa, you'd instantly know what rhythmn I'm referring to. It's simply such a cheerful beat that anyone would automatically start swaying to it, without any conscious effort.
This rhythm is brought out very well on the PSR-295 as OffBeat Style (Style No: 006). Simply start this rhythmn and see the number of songs that you can think of. Long forgotten numbers will automatically start coming to mind. That's the power of the horse-riding beat.

Also try the variants by toggling the A/B button and with ACMP ON and
pressing some chords.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Sound of India

Apart from other benefits, the internet has immensely helped improve my knowledge on the raagas of indian classical music. Recently, I happened to hit a goldmine of information at this site called Sound of India. The content and presentation is simply perfect for people like me, who're in search of basic lietrature. I am specifically impressed with the sections on Raagas, Songs Archive and Lessons in Harmonium

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blog Disclaimer

This blog is a personal diary and the thoughts documented here are strictly the author's personal opinion and may not be related to any organisation or institution associated with the author. Further, the author's thoughts may change without notice or mention on the blog itself.
Also, the author takes no responsibility of the contents of other websites/links mentioned on this blog.

Monday, November 27, 2006

How this blog was created...and why

This may sound like an irrelevant piece of history to most readers who happen to read this blog, but it is my entry-point to the blogworld.Last Sunday, my friend Ajit and I had been keyboard-shopping and we got a PSR-295 for Ajit. No, it's not the keyboard that is beside you while you're browsing this article, this was a musical keyboard. I was keen to see a writeup about Ajit's possession on his blog, but that didn't happen. Instead what happened was a deep motivation
(from Ajit) to start my own blog to scribble down such significant events. And here we are..By the way, the above description of Ajit as "my friend" is pretty unjust and I would also prefer not to list down his qualities. In one line, he happens to be the youngest among those whom I consider my 'gurus'. I would recommend the reader to follow his blog regularly to get a glimpse of the man.You will soon see a link on this blog where some of my personal experiences on the PSR-295 are recorded.

Thursday, November 16, 2006