Nobody Appreciates my Music ☹

It’s the World Music Day today ! It comes suddenly. It’s not on my list of holidays, even at my home studio; nor have I ever celebrated it by going for a concert, or even listen to my favorite playlists. I get to read it in magazine section of the newspaper, where our favorite musicians world over are ruing over their trysts and struggles than celebrating their success. This is how my heart bleeds too and I feel for once, I am part of who’s who, whatsoever I may be seen as, by the world around me.

But am I qualified? This is an unasked question by music fraternity of whom, over the years alongside of my long corporate and professional engineering career, I have been faced with.

Why am I happy? Because at 60+ now, I started learning nuances of music at age 52 when I gave up a full time job to record a music album. As it stands, the album is still in making as the race between capital that goes into doing one independently and what I might use to run my life and family is endless. But sure, it has allowed me fantastic improvements, to master songwriting, composing, playing many instruments, programming music digitally, mixing and mastering it – all by myself as I carry a briefcase studio to my core jobsites! It does not guarantee keeping up with the massive technological and marketing transformations that the music industry goes through.

Ten years ago, I was recording one of my compositions in voice of the well known singer from south N. Srinavas himself an engineer by profession before he gave it up to be amongst the top playback singers, singing Bollywood hits from ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Yuvraj’, etc. He said that even sitting in office in initial stages of his career, he had made up his mind where his heart is. Story of Shankar Mahadevan and many others is similar. So in my case, this 50-50 life between my 50s and 60s was fraught with ‘ugliness’ to say the least!

Taking my daughter to A. R. Rahman’s K.M School of Music when I was living in Chennai; the lady in charge said that here we encourage our students to have an alternate profession and not give up their studies until they are sure they have made ‘the mark’; she was voicing Mr. Rahman’s belief, as one who has collaborated with genius he saw in musicians from diverse sectors, countries and genres. There it was, I came in touch with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan through his sons and his words ring in my ears too “if we have not learnt how to live our life, we are wasting our time doing music”.

Today, that I am wiser, I think this is what musicians and singers are ruing, ‘cribbing’, mourning in their fate as musicians “does the public even understand what they are doing?” Even a successful composer like Amit Trivedi says that constantly dealing with rejection is part and parcel of being even popular and successful. With aspiring classical musicians around me in Delhi, who despite best of training have stories that can often even be grim and saddening.

I occasionally sing and record myself to Bollywood tracks, experimentally most of the times. I post them on YouTube if a particular track has some ‘special quality’ mainly for closer friends, family and seeking critique of professionals. I sang “Moh Moh ke Dhaage” recently after seeing videos of how difficult it was for composer Anu Malik to put this song together and repeated trials with singers Papon and Monali Thakur who took time to do it ‘perfect’, but have made a name with this song. I wanted to see why was it so difficult. Recording myself, with nobody directing; then mixing it on my own was very challenging even technically, as resonance-frequency conflicts tend to make tracks sound out of tune in places. But it was too much work so I kept perfection asides. But an associate classical musician calling the whole of me “besura” (tuneless) as a singer itself followed by the advice that I should give up music – was height of critique. It does of course energize me to leave no stone unturned in finishing my “Main” productions, whenever that shall be!

So all I can request is “bear with us please”, understand our specific circumstances. To make a song like Bollywood costs lakhs and lakhs of rupees to get heard and a video of cinema quality must accompany it for a now impatient world entangled in euphoria to make it worth even listening. But that cannot stop a man for whatever age and mettle – as life has the journey as its subset and my kinds enjoy the journey!

We are on the path just to that, but we work for no guarantees just like the infrastructure and power projects I have done in my life, that took more than ten years of follow-up as a business development professional and then to come for tendering; then we competed with the best in the world to see profits, or losses and yes, even many careers rolling downhill! Let’s face the RISKS of a blessed life with dignity; for people like us, who toil towards their own respective state of “perfection” and combined perfection of equally talented and dynamic teams. And yes, I was and am, a very special man….and music is just another “business” to me!


Crowded on ‘World Population Day’?


Today is world population day, wow!

The ‘wow’ is of course satirical because, “well, which day is not?”

As I am growing older and older I am feeling I am getting crowded more and more by the day and that’s even during periods when I have literally locked myself in to my work place.

The population speaks to me through the pings and birdy tunes of social media punishment I face each day through messages streaming into my cell phone and I bear for you who is reading me….”sir / madam…apologies for the strain” but I like it when you do, so thanks!

Everybody has a view on everything nowadays, be it Good Mornings and there was yesterday even a ‘Close Friend’s Day’ and the saddest part was that only ‘one’ person wished me and who knew about that…or was he lying? Yes I do feel blessed for the good things, but take this one I received from one fine gentleman this morning……“Relation is like glass. A scratch on one side will reflect on the other side too because a scratch can never be removed. Good Morning!”

My eyes popped out as it comes from a 5% friend, 10% business associate and 85% ‘daily-juice’ of awkward interaction, which has actually gone on for a year somehow. A mole or a hole in my professional enterprise; a man whom some day, some time I inadvertently punched on wrong side…so many things that I am wondering as I reply “Man…was that a threat or a wish?”

Then there are “groups”. I signed off some more intimate ones for I was afraid an error could ‘scratch’ a relationship. But there are groups like my local resident groups where I am just curious to know what’s going on, but they will crowd on me if I say something against somebody’s local policies and MCAs or MLA’s scouts would crowd up on me.

I post informal music ‘scratches’ of my in-process works at times to certain circles whom I imagine respect or enjoy musical endeavor from a man within whom so many careers and passions. I don’t mind worst of critique unless it tells a story of grudge or frustration of somebody else’s in their individual quest and so I never walk out of an argument or a discussion. Like today I finally took to tell this learned musician friend who persistently tells me I am out-of-tune for mere ‘scratches’ and keeps mum on others. I remind him that it was me who approached him for friendship because he is trained, learned and it was my desire to meet him more often as a source of improvement. The basic trust in anybody’s good intentions is gone truly gone and I have made my upper limits of patience too on my acceptance like others as to when I crowd them, so arguments may not be endless.

The ‘phenomenal diversity’ translates to my expressions through Blogs and Music on social media, leaving it to the WWW to take it to whosoever it matters. Even this has become highly technical and I am told there are paid ways to get a ‘million likes’ and that I should subscribe through the right channels, but that research takes away my time from the path so I haven’t so far ventured in that direction.

Then I turn the clock back to childhood dreams and realize that I am actually doing what I always wanted to do by this age and by that period in life – hurray! The whole problem here is that it is not only a more crowded world, it is also a lot more connected world. Not everybody likes a happy old man carrying on with kiddy stuff called aspirations and that I actually fight to better my own self and it’s not that my posts are ‘bragging’ some achievement. This is called mid-age crisis coming late or perhaps I am still younger than I ought to be –  is a query, better without further analytics.

A guy posting ‘stupidity’ or some oblique trick of photo-shopping designed to create an impact has more of a chance to get the ‘views’ and ‘likes’ than a God gifted writer or singer who is not yet known – that also depends on multitude of factors and a degree of luck or fate. Yet, I also realize that there is an available benchmark to how good is good and today, I can honestly claim through a regular tryst with social media, I have found that vision and target that I can aspire to, so I am not searching for compliments nor would I stand affected by that hint of ridicule.

Yet, the days go by, as fast as they do ,when we are not following which day it is, but that dream or a target; we wake up to realize, that an entire phase has passed us by and new trends have developed, the race around us for our objectives is again being lost.

Frankly I am enjoying the ‘race’ than dreams of the destination and the visible enjoyment in my quests would seem quite unrealistic otherwise. Of course, many are certain I have gone mad, must be!

I have even come to terms that there is no destination like ‘today’. So many who condemn my musical or other entrepreneurial efforts silently or vocally are seemingly quite perplexed even as I know there are so many well wishers in my life who are also praying for me to excel and succeed in these constant endeavors through social media to actually crowd an already crowded worldscape!

The point is this…that even in a crowded world we need to spot our own trajectory and the onus to crowd the crowd with our enthusiasm, glee and interest in life, the world and all that happens around us becomes a lot more attainable in these times of utmost chaos.

And this is to sum up what I have to say for the booming Indian and world population in times when as many are getting killed for frivolous reasons; it is astounding that we are no more hidden. So might as well be be open and inhumanly transparent with what we do and how we think. Uncle Google has us in tight grip anyway!

I don’t mind baring my weak sides for I believe that strong sides can always be dressed up to catch likes, but everybody cannot resort to being part of “the blooper’ gang. An established celebrity of any kind has every right to get his due but as people befriending people directly or through social media it is mutual encouragement of our progress and paths to success that makes a better and wonderful world.

No I am not an idealist. So I will carry this work, fight, or whatever and more of those benchmarks of ‘greatness’ in today’s world – the petty thumbsup called “Likes” will have to be somebody’s natural gut feel for recognizing g.o.o.d. people do which of course, is like finding THE hairpin from a cowshed full of hay….. Cheers!!