Digitizing Memories with a Techno-Bhajan Mix

The year was 1995, the place, Berlin. The Berlin Wall collapse was still in public memory, and a personal wall was collapsing for me in the form of my first stay abroad. As a twenty-something year old young man, this trip opened new doors for me – exploring the WWW, developing personal friendships with Europeans, attending live classical concerts and an Opera, and buying 50 western classical music CDs to bring back with me (as they weren’t available in India then).

There are many unforgettable memories of those days. My partner from India was a Jew, and we once searched for the only synagogue in the capital of the Nazis. On wandering unsuccessfully in the area near the address, we finally gathered courage to ask a couple of security guards outside a government building. The guards were holding the most lethal weapon I had ever seen up close, and since my partner couldn’t speak German, I had to do the deed. We finally discovered that that building itself was the synagogue, and it was closed on a Sunday, and the guards were part of routine 24×7 security.

I made many friends during my stay. Wild weekend partying with a couple of graphic artists who spent half the year working in Germany, and the other half partying in Goa. A French colleague who programmed, cooked, sailed his yacht in the Atlantic, with whom I discovered common interests like astronomy, philosophy, and quantum mechanics. A gentle German friend who played the Moonlight Sonata for me in his living room, and showed me videos of Herbert von Karajan rehearsing with his orchestra. Techno music was the ‘in-thing’ in Europe at the time, with all the pubs and discos grooving to it.

Another colleague, Stefan, told me that he too played the Tabla, and I was taken aback. It turned out that he had it as one of the instruments on his synthesizer, which he had also hooked up with his PC. When I visited him, I fiddled with the keyboard and soon my Dhumali bhajan taal (rhythm) had his curiosity piqued. He added a cool techno beat to it. I then added some Tambora with a twist, and he added some drums. A flute, some vocals, and some techno sound effects completed the track. It was Stefan who finally used software to edit and give structure to the track, but this was my first (and only) experiment with composing music!

I recently played a real tabla after a very long gap of over 20 years, and realized that if I wanted to play anything worthwhile, I’d have to give up working and blogging!

This is a low fidelity MP3 version created from a 1995 audio cassette, using the recording and noise filtering technique described in my first article on MakeUseOf.com. Now, I couldn’t pass up plugging that could I? 🙂

Disclaimer: This techno-bhajan is not meant to offend the religious sentiments of any ultra-conservatives, including all types of human or ape ‘Dal’s and ‘Sena’s. Clicking the Play button absolves the author of any moral transgressions.

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25 thoughts on “Digitizing Memories with a Techno-Bhajan Mix

  1. If it is truly the only track ever, then this is a part of a rare collection. 🙂

    I doubt if you will have to give up working and blogging. Just working should be enough! 😉 You will need to blog about it, won’t you?

    Hope you find the right group soon, to make something new!

  2. That was very good music! Living in Germany in 1995 must be fun and very different, I suspect. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mahendra

    Wow, that was more than just a mp3 file. Really cool memories and all.:) Did you say 1995 and WWW? Boy, I had seen a computer once by then!

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 minutes. After that it just got too much Technoish. 😉

    And its great that you are playing again. Really cool! Won’t you ask for a rating? LOL

    Priyank.

  4. 🙂 Thanks! I’m not looking for a group, and do not have any plans to start composing. Right now, all compositions are for writing! 🙂

  5. Priyank, I was using PCs with a single floppy drive and no hard disk in 1986. 🙂

    Yup, the techno-heavy part towards the end was added by Stefan afterwards…

    I’m not playing the tabla again…just happened to play at an amateur gathering. And no, no more rating requests for you! 😀

  6. Well if you simply picked it up and played it after a gap of 20 years and the people did not run away, I’d earnestly appeal you to resume learning again. You don’t have to be a Zakir Hussain, and hobbies (esp classical music since I am biased) are never a drag. Oh don’t give us silly excuses now.

  7. Oh no, the people didn’t run away! 🙂

    No, no silly excuses. I continue to nurture my passion for music, but have now started with a keyboard!

  8. Mahendra

    That you had to write that post-script makes me sad and angry at the same time. (in English I doubt there is one word that captures the Hindi/ Sanskrit “kshobha”…).

  9. //This is a low fidelity MP3 version created from a 1995 audio cassette…//

    Ok, I’m relatively new to this whole blogging thing, so at the risk of sounding completely *d-uh* – where’s the file? Is there an “attachment equivalent” or something? I read this post 3 times only to look for a link; last resort clicked on those pictures (don’t laugh)!

    From your description, it sounds very interesting; would love to hear it.

    On another note, Pune + Germany in ’95 – do the names Rajeev D’thali & Aparna P’kar ring a bell? If you know them, I’m sure you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about 🙂

    g

  10. Oh…it was more an attempt at sarcasm, intended to bring a smile to readers like you. My blog’s readers are all of the ‘hatke‘ kind! Thanks for the concern anyway. I think the closest word to kshobha is agitation.

  11. Hey, there’s nothing ‘d-uh’, ok? Check if you can see the small speaker/play icons – clicking on play will let you listen to the music. This is WordPress’s audio player, and looks the same on all WordPress blogs. Check http://support.wordpress.com/audio/ if you want to do the same.

    No, this was not Pune+Germany. I am originally from Bombay, moved to Pune in 97. But those names sound eerily familiar anyway! Maybe the Pune IT world is a small world after all.

  12. Can’t see any speaker/play icons. Not even sure where I’m supposed to look 😛 Top right corner? Within the post? Scrolled up/down, looked L/R, nothing 😦 I can’t even get myself to say “never mind”; there’s a keeda in my head now 🙂

    Rajeev/Aparna aren’t IT. But the German circle was very small back then – and assuming anyone going to Germany would learn the basics of the language, one just had to know these two 🙂

    Long comment. I’ll look up the WP audio help closely tomorrow. Thanks, Mahendra!

    g

  13. Looks like your browser settings need to be updated to display scripts/objects/something like that. I’m not too sure what technology WordPress’s audio player uses. Just like your keeda, I now have a keeda that you must listen to this! 🙂

    Hmm…no, I’ve no connection with the Pune German circle…Japanese yes, German, no. 😦

  14. Here’s the direct MP3 link to anyone having a problem with the WordPress audio player:

    [audio src="https://dl.getdropbox.com/u/764381/Techno%20Bhajan%20128kbps.mp3" /]

  15. क्षोभ and ‘break the leg’ of the भ – I can’t reproduce that in Quillpad.

    Really? You got hate mails for that post?! Wow.

  16. I throughly enjoyed reading this post.. more than the music, it is the mix of cultures and the opening of a whole new world, the awe of which you have so aptly captured, makes the post.. i dont have the speakers and couldn’t listen to the experiment though.. 😦

  17. Mahendra, nice to get a glimpse from your past. About your wanting to play the tabla, it’s strange isn’t it how many things blogging prevents us from doing!

  18. Hey, hope you enjoyed it Nita.

    Yes, with as prolific a blogger like you, I wonder how many things you would have done otherwise! 🙂

  19. Loved the music, but then I love fusion a lot. LOL @ disclaimer….. !!

    ps – wild weekend partying hmmmmm …..!!

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