Sajni: The beginning

This is going to be my first diary entry which would describe my entire journey through the world of music in the last 5 years. Let's jump straight to the story.

I started playing guitar for the first time in April 2014. It was the time for class 12th boards and JEE mains. But, for me, learning something beyond studies was important. Everyone at my home was really disappointed when they first saw a guitar in my hand. I practised for 1 hour every day. Every day, I would start with the same high e string and practice the tune of National Anthem (frankly speaking even after 5 years, I had not mastered it yet). Thanks to my friend Satyendra Choudhary for lending me his guitar as well as helping me tune the guitar every day. The guitar was broken. It had to be tuned again and again.

Satyendra is a budding musician. He is passionate about creating original music tracks and singing. The only problem is - he lacks confidence. On the stage, confidence is much more important than the number of hours you invested in practising. Everyone lacks some confidence. But he lacks a lot.

The tuning part was a nightmare for me. I had absolutely no sense of music. I watched youtube videos and blindly followed the exercises. I think this is where you need a music teacher. They can tell you if you are doing it right. I practised so many times on an untuned guitar. I was doing it all wrong. But, I never gave up practising music. Slowly it became a drug. It relaxed me when I failed in Physics. It was all that I had. I somehow managed to save money and buy a new Pluto guitar (cost INR 3500) which was my favourite for a long time. Within 4 months, I was beginning to play some basic bar chords and easy strumming patterns. After January 2015, I discontinued and decided to play after JEE advanced. Mom bought me a new Pluto guitar (jumbo size - cost INR 6000) on my birthday.

After several months of depression over the choice of college, I finally picked up my guitar again in August 2015. At that time, I was getting a feel for music. Beatles and A.R. Rahman were my favorites and I used to play their songs most of the time. It was also during this time that I started composing some small tunes. I was good at melody. But I was very bad at the most important thing that every musician must know - Rhythm. Metronomes used to give me nightmares. Lukka Chuppi, Blackbird, Roobaroo, Mother nature's son were some numbers that I played very well.

It was during this time that I met PratitAman, and Pradeep. They are the ones who were going to be a game changer for me. Pratit was into hard rock music. His primary love was a heavy metal drum. But deep down he was also a fan of soft Bollywood songs. He used to sing a lot of such songs like Ae kash ke hum and my personal favorite in his voice Tumhe jo maine dekha. He had a perfect sense of timing and rhythm. For him, the most important thing was to never go off beat. Aman played acoustic guitar. He was good at vocals too. Pradeep was an encyclopedia when it comes to music. There is not a single genre in the world that he has not listened to. He knows all the music - from classic rock to coke studio to classical music.

Fast forward a few days. I met more musical talents. First among them was Abhishek Kujur, who was really good at fingerstyle guitar. I was always a fan of his fingerstyle version of Titanic theme. He was very generous. Next, I met Anuj who was going to be another game changer in defining my music career. He used to sing Gulabi Aankhen like 40 times a day. Lastly, I met Akarsh who is my partner in crimes in duos. Anuj and Akarsh played for a band in their school. They were way ahead of others. They had a good sense of rhythm. They were good at sound check. Music drove them. With time I met others - Nivedita, Shobhna, Samadrito, Monal, Anant, DJ, and Manish.

The first Live Jam that we ever witnessed was on 21st Sept 2015. Live Jam 1.0 was not so impressive for us. The speakers were only making distortion sound. Where is the music? Is this how people perform here? Pratit told me that it is always difficult to control distortions on speakers, especially when they had to be placed so close to each other. He was, indeed, sharply learning from mistakes made by our seniors.  We saw them for the second time in Pantheon. This time we had a better impression, especially by Atal bhaiya and Sparsh bhaiya. Also, for the very first time, I saw Somnath Mukherjee (the person I respect the most) perform on tabla. Anant was an experienced guitarist. His father is a guitarist and his mother is a Sitar player. He got a chance to rock on Pantheon's stage. As far as I remember, he was not even auditioned for Dhwani. He got a direct entry for his talent. Rest all of us has to go through a two-step audition. I almost spoilt my audition, until finally, when I played Blackbird to save my day and impress Abhishek bhaiya.

The second live jam was held in the month of November. And this time, Dhwani rocked it. I realized the potential in the K12 batch. My love for classic rock music started that day. I could have never imagined Highway to Hell being performed by any BITian. When he turned towards me and said 'You say! Highway to hell!', it was one hell of a moment. Utkarsh bhaiya and Atal bhaiya were my favorite singers now.  I started listening to classic rock bands like Led Zepellin, Pink Floyd, Queen, Red Hot Chillies Pepper, Limp Bizkit, etc.

Anuj, Abhishek, Akarsh and I jammed together several nights before we were offered our first performance in Nov 2015 (Well Anuj and Abhishek had already performed at Dandiya night, where, their performance was hugely praised). We occupied a corridor and jammed even at 2 AM. Popular numbers were - Madari, Paani da rang, Tum ho toh, etc. We had to perform for Radio Capriccio - college's radio on LAN. Akarsh performed Mera Mann & Bakhuda tumhi ho while Anuj performed Paani da Rang. Our performance was appreciated. But I was blamed for raising the tempo. Motivated by this performance, I decided to buy a keyboard. We had our first exam in creative arts. I barely passed by somehow managing to sing Raag bhairav. In the month of Dec 2015, I asked INR 5000 from my grandfather and bought a new keyboard. It was an amazing piece.

I joined the keyboard workshop on Jan 2016. I was mentored by one of the greatest musician in the history of BIT Mesra - Rohit Philip Mathew. He taught us western music reading and, most importantly, he introduced me to the concept of rhythm and timing. I didn't believe when he said I was doing this all wrong till today. He asked me to take up a metronome and practice from the very beginning.

Soon we got a chance to perform for the first time in a Live Jam. It was 25th of January 2016, a few days before Spring Fest. Two new bands from the fresher year were going to perform. Indus Wave consisting of me, Anuj, Akarsh and Abhishek & The Unknown Genre consisting of Pratit, Pradeep, Preetam, Sumit bhaiya, Aman, Kushal, and me. Indus wave performed two slow numbers - Atrangi Yaari and Tum ho Toh. Both were acoustic and very nicely performed. It has never been difficult for me to coordinate with other guitars in the band. The real problem with me was to sync up with the drums. The next performance was of  The Unknown Genre. Aman had bought a new electric guitar and we were ready to rock. I was on acoustic guitar. All set for Take a look around. Aman started off. The crowd cheered at the top of their voice. 

Now, let me describe music through words (I know only musicians can hear me). Aman was supposed to play three notes in one bar. He was so nervous that he slid his fingers and only two notes were audible. He was supposed to play Ga Re Sa and he plays Ga ...., where ... is the note we are still trying to figure out till date. I was on acoustic. It was not even audible to me. It was like, I was miming. Pratit forgot lyrics midway. Everyone got nervous as the most dreadful thing happened - the thing that must never happen in a music performance no matter how much stage-fear you have - We missed a beat. And now we continued the song off beat unless Kushal somehow gained back control. The final song was Sinbad the sailor. My keyboard was sounding like Bulla brass band party. WTF!. It was very bad. I just waited for the performance to end somehow. I got a feel of how easy it is to perform off stage and how the difficulty rises when you are on stage.

It was Papon Live at Spring Fest 2016. It was the first concert that I had watched in my life. It was an awesome night. Banao Banao and Jiyein Kyun were my favourites. Indus wave performed at Lakeside dreams. We performed Let her Go and Wake me up When September Ends. Abhishek was under trauma for some stupid reason. Anuj carried my keyboard throughout Spring Fest. On the drums was Amrit Kujur - one of the finest drummer of K15. Akarsh and Anuj were on vocals. The time limit was too strict. For the first time, I realized that they turn off the sound system as sos the time ends. That was so rude! I missed my solo. We did came 3rd though (or we believe we did). It was Amit Trivedi next at Spring Fest. I spent an amazing night with Anuj and Sumit bhaiya. We enjoyed.

At Bitotsav, the Unknown Genre decided to be back on stage. I was not a part of the band this time. They were joined by the great Suprio Dubey.  He was a tabla player. He had a good sense of rhythm and timing. The sound check was done (the band members had learned from our past mistake). Aman was ready to roll off his riff which he was practising for a long time. Drums rolled. Aman's guitar started to make some fart sound. Sumit bhaiya stood up to see what happened. Pratit asked to raise the level of guitar (he was trying to cover the mistake that Aman committed). The sound check guy said, and I quote, "Hume kya bol rahe hain, sab full hai, Aapka guitarist hugg diya hai!". The Unknown Genre was out in the prelims round. Oh, BTW, they performed Marghat. Divyansh (DJ) played acoustic guitar whose presence was hardly noticeable. Next, it was time for a duo performance by me and Akarsh. We performed Allah ke Bandeh in Acoustic alchemy. The performance was well appreciated by the audience. Next, I also rolled Beatles' Blackbird in a solo performance. This time only Abhishek applauded. I was so happy that day. Monal bagged the second position in the same competition by singing Jar of Hearts. I can still hear the echoes of her beautiful voice. I thought that I had got quite good at music. Akarsh won Solo singing competition. He sang Saiyaan. Mrinal Pathak was extremely impressed by him.

Pratit, Yash and I joined to create our own composition in Make a Jam during Bitotsav. We secured the first position by singing a terrible song with great lyrics and guitar riff. That remains the only achievement of Unknown Genre in music. Pradeep, Nikhil KD, and DJ were in another team and they lost.

We were all so much excited for our first hostel night. I got to perform Ye dooriyan on the keyboard by sitting on the stage floor. DJ and Aman gave most performances. Also, it was during this semester that Yash asked me to teach him how to play the guitar. I told him a lot of times that guitar is not so easy to play. He bought my favourite Pluto guitar (I needed money to buy keyboard) and I taught him basic chords and rhythm. He practised religiously and finally, he was able to play basic songs by the end of the 2nd semester. I got myself my first student in music. I had two pluto guitars. I sold off both to buy a keyboard. Later, in the month of February, I bought a cheap Givson guitar which was actually good.

The first year ended. It was time for me to raise my level in music. I practised scales all through the summer of 2016. I tried playing short solos and also learned to play Neele neele Ambar completely on Guitar. Also, I played the keyboard. I almost mastered Hey Jude on the keyboard. Yash was my student during this time. He is the only one who has been able to learn music under my guidance.


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