Friday, 16 December 2011

An Interview with the music-composer Salil Bhayani

Have you ever tried to come up with a tune on reading a lyric? A majority of you will have no as an answer. Well, some of you may have. And in case you had, you would agree with me when I say that it's one of the most difficult thing to do. But, not if you are gifted.

Presenting the most different interview till date of a super-talented and extremely humble music composer, Salil Bhayani, who is also a final year student of UICT, pursuing B.Tech, a vocalist, a pianist and a writer with passion towards philosophy, music and science.

Salil Bhayani performing jazz piano at NCPA
Let us read what he has to say about his life and his passions:

1. You are a final year Student of UICT -Mumbai, pursuing B.Tech. in Oils, Oleo chemicals and Surfactant technology. How do you find yourself fitting in with this, don’t you feel like being completely devoted to music?
=> I have a great liking for science and I think science and math would be a part of my life throughout. My friends who have never seen me study in my four years of college wouldn’t agree to that but I have never considered what I am made to do as part of fun. Fun is what I do voluntarily. It can be the same thing that I found boring earlier, but it has to be voluntary.

I  do feel like devoting myself completely to music. I shall be doing it in a matter of few months.

2. Give us a glimpse of your background. Do you have anyone in your family who has been related to music in any way?
=> My grandfather is a great musician but he was more of an academician and never pursued music as he could have. My father never got a chance to learn though he is a natural. My mother has learned a bit of music too. So it’s in the blood.

3. You started composing when you were just 13 years old. What made you think of giving music composition a try?
=> My mother is solely responsible for me being a composer. She saw a friend of mine who is an artiste create a painting interpreting one of the poetries written by APJ Abdul Kalam. She thought that if one can paint a poetry, why not compose music to it? That’s when she gave me my first song(A gujarati prayer), which I consider one of the best I have done till date. There is a lot of innocence and devotion in it.

4. You have composed about 30 songs of Gujarati and Hindi languages. Tell us about one experience in the journey of so many compositions that you can never forget.
=> The journey has been really picturesque. I have seen myself paint on an aural canvas. The art of composing has been very different than singing or playing piano. The process of evolution is very different. In performing arts, the skill is directly proportional to the no. of hours you put into it, but with composing, your first composition can be way better than what you composed today. It’s just like writing a poetry. But I have been able to connect myself to my compositions and there is a very high amount of honesty in each one of them.

5. Which is the first song you scored music for and which is your favorite song among all your compositions till date?
=> My first composition as I mentioned above was a prayer in Gujarati. I have no favourites as such. I have a select few which I like the most, but no particular song is a favourite.

6. You are learning vocals since the age of six. What is your first memory of being inspired by music?
=> Since I have been into music since a young age, I can’t recollect my first memory, but there have been infinite instances of inspiration.

7. How do you come up with a tune? Is it through the process of experimenting with an instrument or you are just knowing what to play?
=> 99% of the times, I just sit with a keyboard or simply a tanpura and try different tempos, time signatures, permutations with notes before I come with something definite. So it is a process of experimenting, but more so with my vocals rather than an instrument.

8. What's the best piece of advice you have received in the field of music composition?
=> Fantastic question. The best advice I have received is to be honest and rest all will take care of itself :)

9. Music is something where you have endless things to learn and practice. Tell us about your Guru Shree Sanjeev Chimmalgi, and what you are learning from him?
=> I learn Hindustani vocal classical music. There is nothing I can say about him that can describe the magnanimity of his persona. I say this with a perception of him both as an artiste and a guru. And he is a genius at both. Very rarely does one come across people who can be great artistes as well gurus at the same time. Learning under him is not just an honor, but a true blessing. I only pray to God to give me the capacity to imbibe his teachings to the fullest.

10. You are also learning Western classical and Jazz Piano under Mr Clifton Rodricks who is a jazz and blues pianist. What made you decide to learn this specific instrument?
=> Piano is an extremely dynamic instrument. Learning piano teaches a lot about orchestration, owing to it’s wide range of frequencies(Harmony aspect) and it’s percussive mechanism(Rhythm aspect). Moreover, I have seen my grandfather playing a harmonium. I had a small keyboard myself which I still have. So I can relate best to the instrument. It’s very necessary to be able to relate to the instrument to learn music, rather than just developing a skill set to play it.

11. You have lately performed jazz piano at NCPA. How did it go?
=> It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. One, because of the grandeur that place has, and second, the grand piano, which has a stupendous sound and touch. A real pleasure to play on.

12. You have won several awards and appreciation from great legends of the music industry. How do you feel about everything you have achieved so far? 
=> I don’t really know how much I have achieved. I know how much I want to. And these appreciations and accolades have made me sure that I will achieve what I want and to keep at it no matter how much time it takes and how much disappointments are lying in the path.

13. What advice would you give to other musicians who are trying to get off the ground?
=> I really am not in a position to give advices to anyone.

14. Do you compose music for lyrics or vice-versa? Or is it a mix n match of both?
=> I do not compose lyrics. So it’s always music for lyrics.

15. Apart from the fact that you inherit the legacy of music from your family, who else had been a source of inspiration for you to enter the music world?
=>Mr Narayan Parasuram has been the greatest source of inspiration for me. He is one of the finest music directors(Music Director for the film Jajantaram Mamantaram) and musicians, and he has never spoken inspiring words to me about doing music and achieving things. He has encouraged me by assuming that music is what I am going to do, which is a rare kind of inspiration to get.

16. You also like reading and creative writing. Tell us about what you like reading and what do you like writing about?
=> I am deeply interested in philosophy. Rather than describing what exactly I like reading, I shall just name a few authors which will make it self explanatory: Ayn Rand, Harper Lee, Richard Bach, Rabindranath Tagore, Alice Miller, Desmond Morris etc to name a few. I also like reading science. I write about music, philosophy, life and preliminary technical articles related to science.

17. What all do you see yourself doing in 2012?
=> I see myself working for a lot of music related projects and preparing for my Trinity Guildhall Piano Exam grade 5 and ABRSM Jazz Exam Grade 3.

Rapid-fire round:
Q: Who is the god of music direction in India according to you?
=> No Gods really. I would say Mozart/Vivaldi if they were Indian.

Q: Your style of music?
=> Classical, Indian and Western.

Q: Favourite singer?
=> There are lots.

Q: Favourite instrument?
=> Again, nothing in particular.

Q: Favourite place for music.
=> An anechoic room.

Q: What do you like being more: a music composer, a pianist or a singer?
=> Definitely music composer.

Q: Who is your role model in music industry?
=> Shankar Mahadevan.

One of the Hindi Compositions by Salil - Mera Mann

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