Sunday, April 24, 2005

Chal musafir!

Yesterday was an awesome one! My friend Anando came over; he's the one I compose songs with. He brought with him a sheet of paper with the lyrics (carefully torn off a spiral-bound diary so that 15 years from now, this "original manuscript" sells for millions :-P).

He had the tune in his mind as well. The song's called Chal Musafir (Move on), and it's a motivational song about a traveler being advised to keep moving.

Now the funny thing is that he writes the lyrics and composes the tune, but he has no idea about chords and harmony. That is supposed to be a virtue, because then we come up with songs that are not tied to mathematical formula-like structures. But the hard part has started now!! I have to figure the chords based on the melody, then think up some nice arrangement and record that. After the music is done, we get down to recording the vocals. This is our peculiar approach to composing songs, and it works well.

Our recording days are great! It's almost a custom for Anando to not be in a mood to sing during the first session (we record in my home). He then invariably asks for some 'scintillating' stuff (if you know what that means) and we usually wind up with nothing recorded. ;-) The next day is when the magic happens - we record, edit, cut, paste (he needs at least 100 takes to get a song right) and mix the song. This usually takes up a whole day.

But the end results are nice... at least for us. :-)

So off I go to figure out the chords...

Friday, April 22, 2005


So I picked my guitar again today, and sat down to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. It's a piano piece in C# minor, but I had a tab of it transposed to A minor, which is a lot easier to play on the guitar. How I failed!

These are times when your own inadequecies and those of your instrument make you feel so daunted: when you want play that beautiful piece yourself instead of listening to a recording - but you fail miserably. I love the sound of a piano but I don't have one, neither a keyboard - limiting me to this second-hand guitar that I have. It is cheap, has tight steel strings (couldn't find any other brand here) and the frets are horribly out of tune. The action is so high that one needs superhuman force to be able to play it at all. One of my friends recently bought a new professional Yamaha guitar, and I had a chance to play a guitar other than mine for the first time. And what a difference that was! The strings were soft, very close to the fretboard, and the sound was heavenly. If only I had had such a guitar since the beginning, I could've been at least an average player by now. (They say that if you practise 4 hours a day, then in 10 years you will become an average player!)

I was playing the sonata while looking at the tab on the computer screen, and not much of it sounded the way it should've been. So I kept jumping from stanza to stanza and every now and then, one familiar part of it started sounding... it is an unreal feeling when you follow directions.. fret 1, string 2, fret 5, string 3... and the heavenly sound of your favourite sonata springs out almost involuntarily!

If only I had something "real" to play it on...