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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Monday, May 09, 2005

My Musical Journey

Warning – A lengthy post with a bit of flashback thrown in

Early Days

During my school days I was crazy about Drums. The drummers were the cynosure of all eyes during most of the School / College Culturals. I was looking for some place (in Chennai) to learn Drums. Through some contacts, we managed to reach out to a guy who is a close friend of music director Deva. This guy told us if I want to learn drums, I might have to accompany their troupe in some of their performances. He also told my mom that most of these musicians booze a lot and that might have an adverse impact on a studious chap like Kaps!! Since Drums was ruled out, I decided to learn keyboard (not from professional musicians but from a music school).

First Keyboard

In May 1995, I bought my first keyboard (Yamaha PSS 290). Like most people in Chennai I bought this from Burma Bazaar for a price of Rs. 4500. Life changed for the better ever since I started playing the keyboard. I enrolled myself in a music school in KK Nagar. I started taking lessons for First Grade of Trinity College, London. Although I tried to learn it formally my mind was not receptive to reading all those musical notes. As most of you know, the notes are written in a book, which resembles the print of a Kinder Garden notebook. Since I was about to enter college, I decided to discontinue the Piano lessons half way through. By that time I had learnt only 50% of the First Grade lessons. I didn’t get a grasp of the sharps, flats, minors and majors in music. Since I learnt to fiddle with the keyboard I started playing on my own. Since I practiced regularly, I managed to play all the popular film songs with ease.

My First Keyboard - Yamaha PSS 290 Posted by Hello

Show Time

Once I entered Loyola (Evening) College, I hooked up with guys in the Commerce Department and we won the Intra College Culturals (Kolahal) for two consecutive years.Playing Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali (Muthu) in front of a packed audience at Bertram Hall was a great experience. We played this song in Nov 95 (I think Muthu had just released around that time). During the Loyola days I also got an opportunity to perform some light music for a Doordarshan program. My musical journey continued in IIMB as well. Yours truly performed during all the major events @ B-School (Aarambh – Freshers welcome party, Anth – Farewell party to the outgoing batch, Sambhar Mafia Nite – Cultural Event of the South Indian group, UNMAAD – Inter-college culturals, insti events like Independence Day, Republic Day).

The much needed upgrade

In May 2001, I upgraded my keyboard. I bought a Yamaha PSR 550, which I own till today. The Burma Bazaar folks agreed to buy my 6-year-old keyboard for Rs. 3000. I didn’t believe that I could sell my old keyboard for such a high price. Not sure what they do with the old ones. After mid 2002, life’s priorities changed and keyboard took a back seat. I have made a sincere attempt to spend more time on my keyboard since the beginning of this year. The results have been favourable.

What next?

I always wanted to learn more musical instruments. One of them is a string instrument (preferably guitar) and the other one is a wind instrument (sax, flute etc). The fact that I need to know how to read the “notes” is a big deterrent for me. When one of my friends called me recently and asked whether I would be interested in taking Sax lessons, I was more than happy to say yes. This friend is a good flautist and has an amazing collection of wind instruments, which he has collected from countries across Asia. He has managed to pool in few more like-minded guys and we intend to have a brainstorming session this weekend. Although I don’t know how an Alto sax is different from a Tenor sax and a Soprano sax, I intend to learn more about these as I go along. I also want to find out about the kind of physical effort that a sax player is required to put in. If any of you have any idea about the same, please let me know. My friend has informed me that buying a sax would set me back by SGD 1000 (INR 25K). Hence I don’t think I’ll invest in the sax as yet. For the time being, I plan to borrow it from some of the guys who own the instrument. Based on what happens during the brainstorming session, I’ll make a decision about taking up the Sax classes.

Music as a career

If I had been good enough, maybe I would have pursued music as a career. But the question is, how many of our parents are willing to allow their kid to pursue a career of their choice (that too in the arts field)? How many of us are confident of convincing our parents of a career in Arts, Sports or Literature? We seem to be more comfortable treading established paths, as the social acceptance factor for these career paths is quite high.

Technology in Music

Till the late 80’s violins were used extensively by music directors like Ilayaraja and MSV. They even had a huge contingent of violinists as part of their troupes. The advent of digital / computerized music has eliminated the need for using violinists in music compositions. The use of rhythm pads for drums is slowly eliminating the need for the traditional drum kit. In the earlier era, they had to do many retakes for a song so that the co-ordination is perfect (even a slight mistake made by a musician or a singer would result in the song being recorded all over again). But in today’s age, we very often hear that Yesudas sings a song sitting in the US and this is then integrated into the original sound track by the music directors. Singers Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan fly down from Mumbai for one night and they don’t even see the faces of fellow musicians. They will get to see the final product only when they listen to the CD. Stage performance was a breeze for the maestros of the yesteryears as they were anyway putting in the co-ordinated effort during the recording sessions. They didn’t have to go that extra mile to ensure that the live performances met audience expectations. Take current day composers, they struggle a bit when it comes to live shows. The simple reason being that these composers are not doing this as part of their daily routine.

Learning keyboard the fun way

Learning keyboard can be a lot of fun. Creative Technologies has simplified this a lot. Creative Technologies CEO Sim Wong Hoo is a music buff. His company has a musical keyboard, which is integrated with the computer keyboard. To know more about this click here.


  • Phew ! Sambharmafia is so musical.
    I didnt know you were too much into music. Thats great, pal !

    By Blogger keerthi, at 10:13 PM  

  • Kaps evalao periya alla neenga,
    record some nice song and upload it in your blog.

    By Blogger sen, at 10:22 PM  

  • @Keerthi,
    If I take a movie, I'll double up as the Music Director as well. I'm looking out for a Producer:-)

    I tried recording some songs....however since I'm technologically challenged, I couldn't figure out the way of Podcasting / posting them on my blog. Maybe I need to get help from Thennavan as he has put up some songs on his Chennai Central blog.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 12:03 AM  

  • Of all the instruments..I find Guitar the most romantic..and i wish to learn to play it....:)

    By Blogger Sangeeta, at 2:35 AM  

  • Nice post Kaps. Hope you will remain in touch with your keyboard( the musical one) for the years on the roll.

    BTW, was your KK nagar musica school called shiva's music school or was it the oneopp to Padma Seshadri school.

    By Anonymous Lazy Geek, at 3:02 AM  

  • LazyGeek,
    Thanks for dropping by. I studied at Shiva's School of Music (Opp Pondicherry House). Not sure whether they have changed the location now.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 3:12 AM  

  • That one was nice kaps! Sambhar Mafia Sangeetha Mafia-va, ungal isai payanam thodara valzthukkal.

    By Blogger வெங்கி / Venki, at 5:47 AM  

  • Tamil film world misses you...

    It is Ok. When we find a producer, let me do the script & direction, you can be the music director ... :-) :-)


    By Blogger Ram.C, at 6:05 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Ram.C, at 6:05 AM  

  • BTW...are you able to go to my blog? I am not able to view it from my laptop as well as desktop...screen remains white.

    same fate for adengappa - tringtring blogspot...

    hope it is only temporary problem...

    By Blogger Ram.C, at 7:12 AM  

  • Nice post, Kaps. btw, the 290 was my second keyboard! I was lucky enough to have someone gift it to me.
    I'm not sure I understand why it'd be difficult to record & upload songs. A sound card/recording software alongwith a wav->mp3 converter should be all you need, I think. Let me know if I can be of any help. Good luck!

    By Anonymous Manoj, at 10:24 AM  

  • Thats cool! No performances in Singapore?

    By Blogger G3, at 2:13 PM  

  • @Venki,

    Your dreams are never ending!

    I hv recorded something and hv stored it in MP3 format in my laptop. However I don't know how to upload them on the Net and post them to my blog

    Performance in S'pore has to be in front of MRT....nice way to collect some change. On a serious note, I hv not been able to find like minded "light music" folks here.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 3:34 PM  

  • Tamil film's gain ( by losing Kaps ) is Singapore's loss ( by gaining him) . 0ne of the "fortunate" few who have heard him play


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:42 PM  

  • I too wanted to learn Drums in my school days as it seemd real cool and hep. My parents made me learn Mirudnagam. Gave up after 2 yrs.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:58 PM  

  • kaps

    try these out.



    By Blogger Ram.C, at 4:16 PM  

  • hey.. i have a yamaha keyboard at home thats so big, its spooky.. me plays the guitar a leetle bit :-))

    and hey.. sax is absolutely cool.. absolutely difficult too :-)) so good luck on that!!

    By Blogger chikuado, at 4:59 PM  

  • Chikuado,
    Thanx. Not sure whether I hv it in me to become a sax player.

    What sort of guitar do you use - Spanish / Acoustic? What sort of songs do you play?

    BTW who uses the keyboard @ home?

    By Blogger Kaps, at 5:29 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:33 PM  

  • Kaps,Fantastic post,probably your best till date. Good luck, man.

    By Blogger Venky Krishnamoorthy, at 11:41 AM  

  • -- BTW who uses the keyboard @ home? ---

    This is one way to find a use for it at home! :) Though not as dedicated as Srikanth, there are quite a few of us that indulge in this kind of stuff in our crampy apartments.

    By Anonymous Manoj, at 12:03 PM  

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