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Welcome 2000!

(Published in "Studio Systems" March-April 2000 issue)


The last few months have been hectic for the music industry. The so called winter season in Mumbai is the occasion for many yearly activities, music festivals, trade shows. Concerts etc. Things have slowly started coming back to normal. However, I guess I speak that relatively ,as the years before have been dismal. The recession had hit the entertainment industry in a bad way and the poor law and order situation had made it even worse. The film industry has seen a big hit with "Kaho na pyar hai" and although the festivities were dampened with the shooting of Rakesh Roshan, the Industrial Q3 results showed 30% growth. Does this mean that the recession is behind us? I sure hope so! The "millennium" fever passed off without a whimper, unable to be propped up by all the hype surrounding it. What a damp squib! There must have been more than 200 shows in Mumbai itself, and from what I hear, most of them did rather poorly. The Mumbai roads, which are normally heavy with traffic on that night, were relatively easier to travel on and it seemed like any other New Year's Eve.

Went for the All Vocal Jazz Yatra at the open air Rang Bhavan. Truly a wonderful venue for an international festival! The Jazz Yatra has been a habit with me since its inception in 1978, and I have had the pleasure of seeing some of the world's finest jazz musicians there. I don't think that I could ever forget the very first Jazz Yatra, where I heard a Jazz Big Band live for the first time in my life and was totally bowled over. There is just no other audio experience more powerful than a great Jazz Big Band in full swing! I have heard 100 piece Western Classical Orchestras but those 25 musicians with trumpets, saxs, trombones, clarinets, flutes etc. truly provide a powerful, passionate and emotional experience. They say that Opera has that magic, but unfortunately when I am abroad, I am too busy catching up on the rock, pop, jazz and Broadway acts to take that in. Maybe, with the inauguration of the new Bhabha Opera House at the N.C.P.A., we will get the opportunity to listen to a truly world class Opera company.

The first Yatra also had sound by the German Dynacord Company, and they had truly displayed their very best. Handled by their very own engineers, the sound, at that time, was definitely the very best that one had heard. Unfortunately, what I heard this year was a tame and poor representation of the good old days. The acts were uneven and there was hardly any jazz. I also had the misfortune of seeing, for the first time, Kathak with jazz! Truly a sad commentary on what was a truly pure event, untouched by crass commercialisation. I have no objection to "fusion experiments" as such, but this was truly a new low! The desperation of the organisers to please was obvious, as the turnout was also low compared to other years. Incidentally, obeisance to Indo-Western cultural experiments seems to have become the norm in Society circles. Even the American Consulate concert on Country Music, which is truly an American tradition, saw the introduction of a tabla player.

I attended two technical seminars organised by the AES India Chapter. Air Conditioning Systems for Digital Studios and Super Audio CDs were the subjects of these seminars and the information shared by H.V.A.C. consultant P. V. Chitale and Daman Sood respectively, was indeed invaluable and India specific. I have always felt that the getting together of the Audio fraternity is long overdue and this void can now be successfully filled by the AES India Chapter. At the present moment, AES is Mumbai centric, as a lot of major players are based in Mumbai. However the enormous Audio Industry that exists outside Mumbai make it imperative that AES spreads its wings to embrace the rest of its clan throughout the country. In fact, this was a major topic of discussion at its Annual General Meeting held on 27th Feb.2000 at the InSync Studios terrace, where a record number of members got together and discussed the fate of their profession. It was felt that in order to make a difference and get the required clout in Government circles and otherwise, it is important to enlist the support of the entire Audio community throughout India . There is no way that anybody in the world can take you seriously as an organisation unless you have a membership strength of thousands. The AES India Chapter is already five years old and has had an excellent record under the aegis of such members as V.V.Merchant, Daman Sood, K.J.Singh, Avinash Oak etc. It is time that all of us join in droves, so that we make this Society worthy of its parent body AES(US) which is considered the premier audio organisation in the world. AES(India) future plans include numerous technical seminars and dependant on demand, some of them will also be held in Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai etc. In fact, if there are more members, each city could have its own division. For those of you who would like to know more about AES, you could access their site and for activities in India contact K.J. Singh

Received an interesting email from an aspiring Delhi musician, Sandeep Dahiya. I thought his questions were thought provoking and the answers could prove beneficial to the readers of this column. Here goes!!

1) A person who is into sequencing should be a multi-instrumentalist. Is it true?

You don't need to be a multi instrumentalist to be a sequence artist although an understanding of how other instruments work will make your creation far more credible especially if you are trying to sound like a real orchestra/band. In fact, in the Techno, Trance and avant-garde movement this inability can prove to be an advantage as the synthesiser affords you the capacity to play one musical instrument in the style of another i.e. toms like a flute melody etc. However in the real world, you do need to have a good idea how a lot of instruments sound and are performed. For example, the breathing of a wind instrument should be considered when you sequence a sax line so that it sounds more credible etc. However, you can only get into all this after a lot of sequencing experience and what you need is totally familiarity with your sequencing software. A lot of us have stuck to old sequencers just because we cannot get through the process of learning a new one, even if it is more powerful!

2) Is it true that a musician who cannot express the melody through his vocals (but can play it on an instrument) can never become a successful music director?

Vocal ability is not necessary to be a successful music director. I have heard quite a few horrible sounding music directors who insist on singing. There is no doubt that a good singing voice can help sell a song to the client. Your best bet is to get a singer to demonstrate your songs so that they are properly highlighted. Also a singing music director can help the singer to deliver the song to the client's satisfaction and even take it further. Every musician brings his own musicality to the project to enhance it's inherent worth.

3) How many music directors in Mumbai have perfect pitch? Is it an eligibility for a good programmer?

Perfect pitch is not at all necessary to be a musician and I am not aware of any famous music director in Mumbai who have this gift. I'm sure there are people in the film industry who do but that has not made them superior to the one who do not. A few musicians do have perfect pitch and it is very handy to have them around. However relative pitch is extremely important and essential both as a composer and a musician. Please develop this as it can help you at all times.

4) Is it acceptable to use midi-files or pre-recorded music for documentaries or corporate movies?

This is an ethical question and involves the use of copyrighted material illegally. Unless you have the permission of the copyright owner, it is a definite no no. Not that it stops anybody in "Mera Bharat Mahaan"! Kenny G would have become a millionaire just on his earnings from India!

5) How are these swirls and sweep sounds created?

Swooshes and Swirls are created with the use of the noise waveforms that you have in your synth banks and the use of the ADSR envelope in combination with the VCF envelope and Resonance filter. I'm sure your synth manual has all the details on how to use these functions. Try and build a sound from the waveform upwards. The different envelopes will determine how your sound will travel over time. This requires a lot of experimentation on your part but it is quite easy when you get the hang of it. I'm sure your synths already have patches that sound somewhat like what you want. Go into the parameters of the patches and see how their envelopes are build. You need to interact with musicians who use your main axe and there are numerous mailing lists on the net where you can interact with like minded souls. Try www.

Thanks to all for the email response. Its nice to know that there is someone on the other side, who cares as much as I do!

Nandu Bhende

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