Monday, February 27, 2006


I watched this movie last night and was totally impressed with it. It's a movie that talks about the racial tension in LA and illustrates this with a multitude of characters. There is Brendan Fraser as the DA and his wife, Sandra Bullock who despise the hispanic community. There is Don Cheadle as the detective who has an affair with a Latino woman, who also works with him. There are scenes that show the racial tension between a persian guy and a mexican locksmith. There are of course scenes depicting the tension between white cops and black men. It takes a lot of courage to come up with a movie like this. On the whole, the movie has been very tastefully done. It's very beautiful, actually. It is so adaptable to many societies and many cities. I totally loved the scene towards the end of the movie where it actually snows in LA - it also coincides with the restoration of calmness amongst the many characters. Sandra Bullock realizes that she needs people and even her best friend wasn't around to help her out when she fell off the stairs. There is a big sigh of relief when you realize that the little girl is still alive, even after being shot. The daughter of the Persian store owner is portrayed as an emotionally balanced, loving daughter, who is also a doctor that treats Don Cheadle's dead brother. Well, it's a great movie to watch. As usual, I am amazed at the level of creativity and courage :) No wonder it has been nominated in quite a few categories - even best film, best supporting actor, best editing and so forth. It's worth watching.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Talents of Next Generation

By next generation, I mean all the people who are at least one year younger than me. There seems to be so much talent around that I feel totally ashamed for not having done anything worthwhile in my first 21 years. Yeah, I did academically well. All the limelight season was over when I graduated from 12th grade. From then, it's been mostly a downhill when it comes to personal satisfaction. Which is probably why I have end up with spiritual books and what not. There is a fire within me, and I am wondering how to unleash it at the right time. I don't know of the ways I would do that. I see around me people who make albums with big name singers, drummers, who write for newspapers, who make movies, who are major businessmen, consultants, musicians, etc. What can I say for myself? There are a few things, yeah. I don't want to be totally self critical and not award myself some credits. I shouldn't do that and kill anything that's budding inside me. As you can see, this blog is a little impulsive. I see some people having done some recordings with major music directors - not just one, but quite a few. Why the hell are they here and what the hell are they doing here? I guess they think that music won't pay them as much as engineering does. But the time will come when reality bites them and makes them regret their career choice :)


Yet another weekend is going to end. I did a bunch of stuff. Not that much. We watched a 10 year old tamil movie - Ullathai Allitha with a couple of friends at home on friday night. It was very nostalgic. I enjoyed it. It's a full length comedy movie and I remember laughing so hard for it 10 years back. The director hasn't done that well after that. He directed a movie with Rajni though - that ran pretty well. We had a long rehearsal on Saturday and I accomplished only half of what I wanted to. You've to deal with some crap with some people, but what can you do? It's there all over the place. People didn't come prepared - that kind of slowed down the rehearsals. Some people are very understanding and cooperative, but some are not. Anyways, the evening was spent at home, doing some work. We then went for a house warming party. It was a big house, with six bedrooms and all. I wonder why anybody would need that much space. I guess you'll need it when you're a totally busy man. If I had that big of a place, I would help my drummer friend by keeping his drums inside my house. I'll have a big studio in one of the rooms. I'll neatly decorate it with the help of my wife. anyways.

Today was work and lunch with a friend. he's newly married and they had prepared some nice lunch. Nothing much. Back to work now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The thing to do is to do the thing.

Too many things are ambiguous right now, and I have to admit that I am not too tolerant of this state. On the other hand, they say that I am moving very fast if things seem out of control. But then is my situation in control now or not? There surely is too much work to do. Really, a LOT! I don't even know how the hell I am going to manage my time in the next two months. The music rehearsal is another thing. Though I am superficially not too worried, it is not really coming out all that well. Nobody is putting good enthu. The situation is very unlike last year. Last year, it was perfect. Everyone took up responsibility for their parts. The drummer figured out all the drum tracks, the guitarist was very enthu about picking up chords, etc. This time, not much enthu from most of the bunch. I have to somehow motivate them. I have been working on the midi files and generated some kind of sheet music. I think I have both the tamil and the hindi songs under control. I have to examine the gujarati, marati and the bengali song in great detail. There are not that many weekends left for practice, so I better hurry up. I am just going to do something, there is not much time to figure out what's good and what's bad. The thing to do is "to do the thing".

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Finding Chords

You know I used to be very obsessed about finding chords for a song and considered that as a severe limitation when I was not able to. I have grown out of that phase, but it did take me a long time. In fact, my only goal when I began playing keyboard was to play chords with my left hand and the main melody with my right. I am glad to say that I have reached there, but only to find that the goal itself was nothing great to begin with and I was obsessed about something silly. Harmony is what people concentrate on, not necessarily chords. For the early musicians in Indian Film music, who used a live orchestra to record songs, chords was a very simple way of adding harmony to songs, so you found them in almost all the songs that were recorded in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Since the advent of Rahman, musicians have pretty much switched to using synthetic instruments and the word recording took on an entirely different meaning. Now recording almost means that it is definitely not done live - to the extent that recording is the opposite of a live performance, where nothing is done impromptu. It's like switching to the abacus and then to the calculator to do the math though we all wonder how the hell the early men managed without these two!

I have also found that the harmonic content in Indian film songs have reduced in general. Musicians and composers are more concerned about churning out a peppy number with exotic beats, fancy synthetic instruments, etc. My evaluation of a song, for good or bad, begins with finding out whether there is rich harmonic content or not. If there isn't, then I don't consider it as that great of a song though the melody might be great. In my opinion, creating a great melody is something by itself, but having the same melody with an amazing harmony is a totally different experience. It's like if you have heard the best, why settle for something less. Indian Classical music doesn't have any harmony in it though there are accompaniments. Western Classical music is full of harmony, but it doesn't have the hundreds of scales that Indian Classical music offers. To me, both these represent the supreme forms of music. Everything has to evolve from here - otherwise they won't be called "Classical Music".

Without knowing officially what it is, I have always been appreciating harmony in Tamil film songs. At that time, when I was in my 8th grade or so, I had no clue as to what all went in making a film song, but since the day I have realised it, I've developed amazing respect for Ilayaraja. Harmony, in my definition, is two or more voices going together at the same time to produce a meaningful piece of music/sound. I think it is also the official definition. Now, lot of amateur musicians in India might think use harmony and chords interchangeably. But harmony in the song can be made up of multiple instruments, each adding one note to the frequency spectrum. The bass could give out the root note, a shrill violin could give out the 3rd and the cello could give out the 5th note and you would essentially have a regular major or minor chord except that each note is played by a differnet instrument. Now, bear in mind that the melody falls on top of it. So, if a melody note that is 7th from the root falls on this harmony, it might give the feeling of a 7th chord, like C Major 7th or Minor 7th. That of course doesn't mean that you have to specify CM7 as the guitar chord when you are trying to find out the chords for that song.

I used to be a big time visitor of this site - - it has quite an amazing collection of songs with the chords identified for them. I am assuming that some guitarist set up this site and various guitarists from all over the world have contributed tabs and chords for multiple songs. If you look for a similar Indian version, there are some sites also. I used to blindly follow the chords given by such amateur guitarists and always used to wonder at their skill/talent as to how in hell they figured out that there is a "Fsus4 major 7th" chord in a simple song like Pehla Nasha. The answer to that question is that I've been entirely naive and ignorant and innocent. If somebody had a skill like that, they wouldn't be contributing to some stupid geocities website, which has a lot of pop up ads and all that. They'd rather be making money with their musical talent and skills. I think amateur guitarists get excited sometimes and pour in all their guitar knowledge in trying to find out chords for simple songs. What these guitarists or keyboardists overlook is that the harmony could be achieved my various other means. No Indian composer goes about composing a song and specifically wanting a sus4 or aug9th chord in the 16th measure of their 4/4 measure song! That's not how composers work at all. It is possible that these amateur musicians/guitarists/keyboardists are learning to play a particular chord and desperately want to see it being used in some song and hence come up with all these 'show off' chord structures and post it on some websites. Most of them are wrong also. I have a strong feeling that they don't even listen to the original song all that much. They just pick up the melody and add their own chords as if the composer never took pains to add the relevant harmony to the song. They are very funny actually. There'll be chords where there are no chords in the original song, and to everyone's wonder, they'll also be changing the chords left and right some 4 times in a measure and all that! I bet they are doing this with an untuned guitar. Otherwise, why would a Cmajor feeling become a Cminor chord, particularly when there are no chords!!

For develop a deeper sense of harmony and see how chords can be effectively used in any song, people should listen to a whole lot of Western Classical music, particularly Bach's, Mozart's and Beethoven's. Of course any western classical composer has a lot to offer in harmony, but these three are geniuses, as everyone knows. What most people don't know is that there is another living genius that can combine complex Indian Classical Ragaas with the harmony a western classical piece can offer (hint: he is Ilayaraja). One could listen to his music also. I wish all the budding and trained musicians listen to him to find out what all he has to offer academically. They'll be blown away and that's guaranteed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Some Memorable Quotes

I came across these great quotes today, that I particularly appreciate:

  • “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.”—William James
  • “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”—Oscar Wilde
  • “Make your life itself a creative work of art.”—Mike Ray, The Highest Goal
  • “People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of
    something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they
    trust.”—Howard Schultz, Starbucks
  • “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”—Gandhi
  • “If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”—Mario Andretti
  • "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." --Michelangelo
  • "Vision without action is daydream; Action without vision is a nightmare" - Japanese Proverb

So, if things don't seem under control, I should feel happy, 'cause I like to go really fast!

Living to Live (a.k.a Existing)

I have been thinking about this for a long time now - most of us live just so that we may live. In other words, we are born and we start living and doing things just so that we may continue to live. If we choose to ignore the routine things, we'll get screwed no doubt. But then how many of us really get that extra time or have that extra motivation to go and do something beyond the ordinary? If you look at the things a person is supposed to take care of beyond 25 years of age - it is virtually limitless. The one thing that constantly troubles me is my lack of interest in developing a good acument for my own finances. It is a necessary evil. Fortunately, a lot of people are motivated by money, so they all do it very naturally. Observing myself, this doesn't seem to be the case. Sure, I'll like some money, but I know not of any ways to multiply my money except put it in the bank.

We grow up, get married so that things may be normal when we reach 35. Then we have kids so that things may be normal when we reach 60. Beyond that, we probably start counting our days. The biggest question mark one may have is how long they are going to live and how much to save up to go through all those years. It may quite happen that a person who saves up so much money very vigorously may not live up to enjoy all that and a person who doesn't save anything at all has a really long life and has to endure those last several years in relative poverty. So who knows the answer to this question? We all do our best, in the end. We do what we know to do and what we are good at. I bet quite a few people become so spiritual in their 60s mainly because they discover so many fundamental truths about life. What if you know all those now itself? It may make you feel old, but it may also give you an edge. It will open up your eyes to look at a lot of other unconventional opportunities that have always existed that we have ignored.

What's going to come out of working your ass off during this age? Life now is very competitive. To lead a basic life, one needs to do so much. In a populous country, this inevitably leads to corruption and rowdyism and what not? In one sense, if we look at humans as animals, we do our best to procreate and survive. Men hunt for food and wealth and tend to go to extremes to attain these. It's men's fundamental instinct to survive and take care of the family that comes into play. Of course humans are more intelligent than other species (at least that's what we would like to think), so we have women doing the same thing as well. Yet some books out there claim that we are all born for a purpose and we may not realize it even when we are very much in the act of doing it. I wonder what it is for me, of course.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What about this weekend

Here is what I am thining I should do:

  • Songs, midi files, meeting with instrumentalists
  • taxes
  • finances
  • work
  • books

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Something is better than nothing

that's what this particular blog is about. I don't have much time to write and didn't want to stop writing altogether. I have been very busy at work. I have a tendency to type "ahve" instead of "have" all the time. My fingers always reach for the letter 'a' first. Is that useful piece of information for you? I guess not, but that's the kind of crap that I am going to write about. I started doing the midi file for 'telephone manipol'. We are planning to do that song. The song is almost 85% complete. I have to figure out the interludes and chords. Wonder how the drummer is going to manage all these. He is a great drummer but still it is a lot of work for him. The guitarist would have lot of work....I was interrupted here, so I lost my train of thoughts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Deja Vu again

I can't fully describe the situation, but I had a brief deja vu again. I was thinking briefly about the music practice and what to assign to the instrumentalists and all that :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Flicker Spells!

R2EST 020DSC00053Blue NuntitledIOne Letter / NM.OT squareneon sign iON_01

You could do the same by visiting this link.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Things to do this weekend

So many things are happening right now that I am wondering whether to take them all as a challenge and accomplish them or give up on a few of them. The two main things that are competing for my time are office work and the work required for putting up a music show in April. It's great in one sense that I am busy, but these things leave me with so little free time, in particular so little free time for 'myself'. I can clearly see why some people backed out from organizing the music show. It is undeniably a big pain - asking everyone to assemble in the auditorium at a specific time, assembling the drums, converging on song choices, instructing the instrumentalists, wrapping up the reherasals and then following up on the 'homework assignments', creating midi files, oh my!

I also wanted to travel here and there this year, but with this kind of a schedule in my hands, I am not sure if I'll get the time to even think about it, literally. We have president's day coming up and I have simply not thought about what to do then, assuming that I can indeed take the day off and so something. The flight deals might get expensive if I wait any further. Unbelievably, everything comes and piles up in the weekend, at which point of time, it is too tempting to succumb to one's whims and fantasies and ultimately end up wasting time without accomplishing much. Thinking about it, it takes quite a LOT to be in control and drive your life the way you want it to go. Yeah, you don't have that much control and all that, but seriously, if you want to get anything done at all, discipline and ruthlessness have to enter the picture somewhere. When I saw 'ruthlessness', I only mean ruthlessly denying time for something that also seems more important, but not nearly as exciting.

This is where I think one should take some time and plan things according to what Stephen Covey says. THE URGENT BUT NOT IMPORTANT things are something that we should not worry about. Let me think what these are for this weekend:
  • Attending the western classical concert tomorrow at 8pm
  • Meeting with my friend
  • May be calling another friend for dinner, who was promised a dinner two weeks back!
  • Taking care of finances, reimbursements, etc
  • Planning a vacation
  • Shopping
  • Getting some office work done
  • Prepare for the music rehearsals
  • Creating midi files for the instrumentalists
  • Finding a Bengali singer
  • Call my friend and wish him for becoming a father :)
  • Think and plan for life :)
  • Publish papers and write patents
  • Go to the gym
  • Call family
  • Meet friends and ex colleagues for lunch
  • Pay registration fees and insurance for car, motorcycle
  • I somehow don't concentrate on these - it is hard to come up with something to write under this column.
Anyways, that's all I am going to write now. A few people will be leaving my previous company. They are all trying to recap what all happened in the last five years :) Looks like they just grew older, became cynical and....a few other things they weren't supposed to become :)

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I have been to a conference in san francisco for the last four days. I went there on saturday and returned only last night. I met with my friend on saturday and we watched brokeback mountain. I couldn't understand the language one bit for the first half hour or so. It was a completely different accent and I am not used to that. People have done well in that movie, but I was not so impressed with it. The remaining days were spent in the conference, attending talk sessions and presentations. It was a great conference and I'm glad I went 'cause I met people from my undergrad days, grad days, previous companies, etc. So many of them, yet they all form a small world in my industry. Now I am back to work and as busy as ever.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bustling Day

Today has been one of those busy days, full of email exchanges and planning and what not. Tomorrow we will have our first rehearsal for the music show. Nothing has been prepared on my side. I'll do it tonight. I am also leaving for a conf. later in the afternoon tomorrow. I'll have to pack for that tonight. I will have to help the drummer to move his drum kit tomorrow to the auditorium where we are going to hold our practice. The singers have been notified. I'll audition another drummer this evening. He said that he plays the dolak and the octopad, which will come in handy for the marati and gujarati songs that we are planning. Absolutely nothing has been done about the Bengali song as of now. Will work on that.

Next week, three days I'll be at San Francisco, attending this conference. I'll lose time to work on some important stuff. There is so much work to do, both at work and towards the music show that I am kind of overwhelmed at this point, but I shall not complain because being busy is good. They say that if you want to get work done, give it to a busy person. So, I am assuming that I'll get work done because I seem to be busy. I am writing this blog out of compulsion. It is always good to write. These small articles and essays will amuse me one day, I am sure.

I wrote so many emails today and gave instant replies to the ones that I got. That's something I haven't done in such a long time. These days I've reached a point where I just read the emails and kind of wait and think to see if I should respond. All those spontaneous replies I used to give lasted a little longer after I came out of grad school. Today was the exception. I went back into that mode. I wrote extensively. I feel great about that. You just pour out all your thoughts - whatever comes to your mind and don't worry about criticism.

Lot of work to do, so I'll let my fingers rest here. Will talk later.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I don't know what's the craze behind this tagging, but they all seem to write up the following:

Four jobs I've had in my life:
  1. Research Assistant
  2. Teaching Assitant
  3. Intern at a Tech company
  4. Full time Engineer
Four movies I can watch over and over:
  1. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  2. Mouna Raagam
  3. Michael Madana Kama Rajan
  4. Baasha
Four places I've lived:
  1. Chennai
  2. Los Angeles, California
  3. Westlake Village, California
  4. San Diego, California
Four TV shows I love to watch:
  1. Seinfeld
  2. Everybody loves Raymond
  3. Sex and the City
  4. Curb your enthusiasm
Four places I've been on vacation:
  1. Maui, Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. Yellowstone
  4. Florida
Four websites I visit daily:
  1. BBC news
  3. Businessweek
  4. Yahoo!
Four of my favorite dishes:
  1. Onion Sambar
  2. Potato Curry
  3. Pav Bhaji
  4. Parota with Kurma :)
Four places I would rather be right now:
  1. London
  2. Switzerland
  3. New Zealand
  4. Australia

Stress Strikes

I think it is beginning to strike. There is a cart load of work to do. Both personal and professional. It'll be a real big challenge to come out of this. In the middle of all this, I wonder how I am going to manage the music show. I really hope that works out well, because the results are measurable immediately and my reputation is rolled up in it. I was apparently recommended for doing this, so I should get the other guy a good name as well. This weekend, on saturday, I'll be leaving for san francisco for a conference. That'll take more than three days of my time, in which I would lose out both on work and on the music. I have to somehow manage. I haven't been reading much in the last couple of weeks. well, well. we'll wait and see how this works.