The Dargah of Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (Qutub Sahib)

Sharing a quick video tour to the Dargah of Hazrat Baktiar Kaki also popularly known as Qutub Sahib.

Riding Past a Dreamland

A simple Lounge/Chillout track that I created today for an audio-visual creation. The sounds of bicycle pedal and chain and bell were recorded live at the street nearby to my home. It was fun 🙂 It’ll be more fun if u close your eyes and imagine cycling through your dreamland as u listen 🙂 Cheers!

(PS- The image used has been sourced from the internet..just using it for representational purpose).

Aapki aankhon mein kuchh..

Sharing some music from our late-night jamming sessions 🙂 Here’s an ultimate song of LOVE from the Hindi movie GHAR (1978). Magical music by RD Burman, playful lyrics by Gulzar. Chk out as me and my sis Arunima bring to you this beautiful song. We’ve tried to retain the simple retro feel.. and the melodious sound of Pancham da 🙂 Hope you’ll like it.

Nirvana – a farewell to self

Sharing some recent meditation-music created at my studio:

Given below are a few ideas that I’ve heard about the word “Nirvan” ..details given in a previous blog “Angulimal’s Nirvana” :

Nirvan literally means the extinguishing..the dissolution..going off of a flame.  This can be understood with the following example…

A person sitting in the corner of a dark room…unable to see anything around..it’s totally dark…but he has a dim lamp with him…the only support that he has…he holds onto it tightly…. With this lamp he can merely see things that are just a step away…nothing else is visible. And suddenly this lamp goes off…and as his eyes acclimatize to the dark surroundings..he notices that there actually is a window nearby from which faint moon-light is coming in from a slit. It was always coming in…but he didn’t have the courage enough to explore beyond the light of that small little dim lamp…and thus kept focusing on his lamp itself… in a way..the dim light of the lamp was stopping the moon-light from coming in…at least this was so for this man. But now..with the extinguishing of the small lamp…this man has experienced light coming in from the window…it won’t take him long now to reach the window and open it..and let more light come in…or rather…find his way out…so that he can be totally drenched in the moon-light!

Hence..the word Nirvan (or Nirvana) is used in philosophical and spiritual terms to represent Buddhahood!…to represent someone whose limited being has extinguished and hence given way for the total ..the supreme to surface out from within him

 

lotus

Home Studio Discussions

keys1

Over past few months some of my friends out here in India have asked me about my home-studio, music making gadgets, some random discussions about MIDI etc and also suggestions about how they should go about building a home-studio for themselves. Though there’s no fixed correct ways to do so..but I shared my experiences with them..and they found it helpful. I am providing the text (our interactions) below..as I felt this may help someone who is looking for a similar info. Thanks and best wishes for your musical explorations!

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Discussion 2 (January 2013)

Question

Hello Aditya
I’ve taken a decision to buy a soundcard for composing stuff.
Could you guide me in helping me choose a decent one, not too expensive at present?
Very soon I’m going to buy Macbook Pro too.

Thanks.

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Answer

Hi,

The choice of your soundcard also depends on what you intend to record ? Typically for home studios people buy a soundcard that enables them to record  atleast 1 Mic and 1 instrument (Guitar etc.).  There on..depending upon the budget and requirement you can choose a soundcard with more channels…e.g. 2 Mics and 2 Guitars…and so on.

I use Apogee Duet for my music works. This provides me 2 channels in which I can plug both Guitar and Mic. (Apogee products are designed for Apple computers though).

There’s an Apogee product with one channel as well..called Apogee “ONE”

You can explore the following for yourself :

Apogee “ONE” or “DUET2” :  http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/

I checked with my friend who also has a good home-studio.  He uses RME Fireface 400. (This product line is for both Macs n Windows.)

RME Audio : http://www.rme-audio.de/en_index.php 

Both Apogee and RME are successful products of professional quality.
I’ve also heard good things about Line 6 products. You can choose from UX1 or UX2 ..

UX1-  http://line6.com/podstudioux1/

UX2- http://line6.com/podstudioux2/

Apart from all these… most home-studios typically need a small MIDI Controller. (Soundcard enables you to do the Audio work…recording  Mics…electric guitar etc AND MIDI enables you to play any digital synths or sampled pianos, pads, drumkits etc.) Often people straightaway buy a combo product which provides them a small MIDI controller with 2 Audio channels (Mic and Guitar both).  M-Audio (www.m-audio.com/) used to offer these  Combo Controllers (called Keystation)…but I don’t see these on the site now. You can chk with some music-shops if they have these in stock.

One catch with the Midi Cotroller+Audio channel product is that its obviously bigger in size than just a soundcard..and hence less portable. If you only have a soundcard (like Apogee ONE suppose)..you can easily pick your Mic, your soundcard, your Macbook Pro…and you are ready to record..anywhere! This will be little cumbersome with the Midi Cotroller …though u’ll save money !

Hope this helped. Feel free to ask further.

Best wishes!
Aditya

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Thank you Aditya for such a detailed and thorough answer.
This will really help me. Now I shall get into action mode.

Regards.

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Discussion 1 (September 2012)

Question

Dear Aditya,

I heard about you from a friend of mine..he’s the drummer in our band.

These days I am looking to record acoustic/electric guitar + vocals + background score at my home. However, I do not have much at my place. I have a normal HP laptop with a good enough RAM. I use a small analogue-USB converter pin. And I have Korg AX5G guitar effects processor.

With the electric guitar, I can record well on my laptop. I have attached a one minute sound clip for your review. So, I don’t have much problem with the electric guitars. I use Fruity loops and Audacity.

It is the acoustic guitar recording which I am struggling with. I do not have a microphone. And I don’t want to use those low quality acoustic guitar pick-ups. Now, I found out certain things from the online search about microphones for acoustic guitar.

1) I need to have a condenser Mic. I have checked out Behringer C-1U at a local shop here. It needs Phantom power so they could not get it running. And they didn;t have much information about microphones anyways. I also thought , may be, the microphone of a good digital camera could be used. But there’s no information on the net about what kind of microphones are there in digital cameras. I have Canon Ixus 115 HS. Decent and sensitive microphone. But there’s humming.

2) Dynamic mics are best suited for live performances. They are sturdy. Condenser mics are suited for vocals and instrument recording in studio or home. And they can also be used for performances.

I am sorry for this longish mail. But I thought I need to tell you the background before asking your opinion.

Starting from a budget of 5k to 10k, how would you set up a home recording set-up, considering there is a decent laptop, acoustic and electric guitars, good effects processor and fruity loops. My aim is to record the songs I compose at home. So I will be looking at vocals recording as well.

I will be thrilled to get a response from you. I have heard your recordings from the site and the blog. And those are amazing. I would like to try something of that quality. Would love to hear your feedback on the attachment.

Thanks a lot.

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Answer

Hi,

I am glad you heard my music and liked it as well. Thanks.

Regarding your queries :

Ya, I remember your drummer texting me about your questions.
For plugging a Mic or an Electric Guitar into a computer you need an interface device that takes care of the signal before it enters the computer. Directly plugging the Mic/Guitar into the computer sound-card doesn’t give good enough levels and also may have a slight latency in some caes. Such interfaces essentially consist of electronic stuff like Pre-Amps ..A/D converters..and external sound-card in some cases. Some interfaces also have the capability of providing Phantom power in case a condenser Mic is attached to it.

Have a look at this..may be what you are looking for :  http://line6.com/podstudioux1/specifications.html

I heard your recording. The guitar playing is good but I felt the sound to be weak which, I felt, is because of the missing interface in your setup.

The link mentioned above shows a product that supports 2 inputs. You’ll also get cheaper versions with single input..but I would suggest that you go for atleast 2 simultaneous inputs because as you progress with acoustic guitar recordings, soon you will feel the need to record your guitar in stereo..and that needs 2 channels at once.

I haven’t used any such product for my needs..so can’t give you a review in that. But I’ve heard from some of my friends about this Line 6 product mentioned above..and they liked it.

You’ve mentioned that you also want to do background-scoring. For that you would need a MIDI keyboard. These come separately and you can explore this link for the same : http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.family&ID=USBkeyboardcontrollers

Now..from my experience of a typical life-cycle of a new music producer who is developing a home-studio for himself, I would suggest a third kind of device for you…that, I believe, will help in a very long run! I think you should rather wait (if that’s possible)..gather some more money and buy a device from this range (the link is no longer available on their site) : http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.family&ID=audiointerfacekb

These are combo devices that give you a good enough MIDI keyboard + a 2 channel audio interface that supports Mic and Guitars both..and has all typical features like Phantom Power…external sound-card thats suited for music. With this, you shouldn’t need any other device for a basic setup.

Now, for the Mics. You are right in a way in your explanation of the 2 kinds of microphones. However, I have experienced that investing in Condenser Mics is worth enough only if you have a very quiet (if not sound-proof) recording room. These are very sensitive mics and they catch even the minutest sounds. Dynamic mics are not just for Live performances. There are some very good quality (and affordable) dynamic mics available in the market that are used globally. I do have a decent collection of condenser mics ..still I use my dynamic mics often for many projects..and the results are quite good.
I would suggest that you buy a dynamic mic for starters..you can go for a Shure SM58 which would serve good for both Vocals as well as Guitars/other instruments. And that is not a very costly mic..despite being the favorite across the globe. In case you want to save some money here..you can go for Shure SM57 (more suited to instruments..can manage vocals as well).

Digicam Mics : The mics on Canon IXUS are good and sensitive…but the major problems that I anticipate is.. the sample-rate of these recordings sometimes differ. And this affects the processing that you may need to do on these sounds..like FX, EQ etc. Have you tried importing these audio-files into your FLStudio projects ? I anticipate that they’ll either run faster or slower in there (and accordingly pitch may also shift). You can fix this by converting the sample rates either within FL or using some freeware available online. Another drawback is that since the opening of the mic is very small..just a small dot on the face of the camera..due to this theres a lot of wind-noise in the recordings. Even if your ears may find the air around to be quiet..the camera will catch lots of disturbances.

You’ll also soon need a mic-stand.

Within the budget that you have mentioned..may be you’ll get a 1 or 2 channel audio interface and a decent dynamic mic..but from what I have observed..you may very soon feel the limitations of these..and then typically folks start looking for options to sell these stuff off to be able to buy the next in the line devices. So if there’s no urgency at your end right now..I would suggest that keep making new melodies and recording them using your present setup…gather money side-by-sie..and then go for a Shure SM58 Dynamic Mic + MAudio Audio-Interface Keyboard and a decent Mic-Stand. That should be it for you to explore your music further! Do read there tech-specs first to match with your existing setup. Some devices may connect to the computer via a FireWire400 or 800 port. Though most modern upgrades now come with a USB option. But..before buying a firewire device..do chk if you have a free firewire 400 or 800 port on your laptop.

I hope could answer your questions.

Best wishes for all your efforts.

Cheers,
Aditya

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Question

Hi.

I can’t express how much your reply is helping me. I am still exploring in the direction you gave. It seems I should indeed wait and save money instead of buying random stuff in a hurry. Makes sense.

Thanks a lot.

I was wondering if I know the use of a MIDI controller keystudio well. I used to think “since I play the guitar, I will not be using a keyboard to play chords or backing melodies etc.” But now I think slightly differently. Now the meaning of a MIDI keyboard for me is that I can create backing instrument tracks without the complexities of making it on the software. And then I can also use the keyboard as the audio interface for my acoustic and vocal recordings. And having that keystudio 491 will add value to my songs in the form of – saving time, more freedom to use different instruments, more intuitive playing and recording tracks.

Am I thinking correctly here?

Thanks again. Sorry for the added questions. I hope to meet you soon sometime.

Regards.
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Answer

Hi,

Well, here’s a bit of theory on controllers and MIDI..may help you in re-orienting your thinking:

See..a controller keyboard is a kind if gesture-recognition interface between a human and a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Different keyboards have different capabilities to recognize more and more human gestures…depending upon the prices ofcourse. Whenever you press a note..typically a controller senses which key you pressed.. how hard you hit it.. for how long it remained pressed..any finger movement while the key was pressed (vibrato – after touch etc.) ..how and when did you move to the next key.. and a million other parameters. Accordingly it enables you to even play slides, bends, tremolos etc on string instruments..even with fingernoise (sliding) sound. Unlike simple “keyboards or home synthesizers”, Keystudio49 (and also other MIDI controllers of any brand) are capable of identifying all these human gestures.

MIDI is a way of recording all this information in the form of very simple text files onto your computer. These files are editable at any moment.. you can even correct a wrong note that you played…or lengthen/shorten its duration in case you played wrongly… and even suppose you play a part on a piano..and want the same tune on a flute as well..you can simply invoke a flute onto a new channel in FL studio and copy the piano MIDI part here..and you won’t need to play it again !

So these are just a few use-cases that get enabled with a MIDI Controller in picture.

Sound/Sampler libraries inside any DAW are designed to be used with a MIDI controller … e.g. your FL Studio Acoustic Guitar instrument must be having the sounds of finger-slides and capabilities to support bend..tremolos..hammering etc..but those you can use only if you have an apt controller. Otherwise even to play a simple bend note…you’ll have to do tedious editing with your mouse!…which breaks the flow of music.

In simple words..with my experience I would say that ..you MUST have a MIDI controller. It’s a necessity..and not a luxury.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,
Aditya

Sufi Rang

One of my favorite Sufi (fusion) compositions that I created in early 2011. Recently mastered  the track again.

The lyrics are as follows:

Lyrics by Hazrat Shah Niaz

Hori hoye rahi hai .. Ahmad jiyo ke dwar
Hazrat Ali ka raang bano hai ..Hasan Husain khilar
Aiyso hori ki dhum machi hai .. chahun or pari hai pukaar
Aiyso anokho chatur khiladi .. raang dinyon sansar
Niaz pyara bhar bhar chhidke .. ek hi raang sahas pichkar

होरी होए रही है अहमद जियो / जिया के द्वार
हज़रत अली का रंग बना है  – हसन हुसैन खिलार
ऐसो होरी की धूम मची है चहुँ ओर  पड़ी है पुकार
ऐसो अनोखो चतुर खिलाडी रंग दीन्हो संसार
नियाज़ पियारा भर भर छिडके एक ही रंग सहस पिचकार

MUSIC – Newer perspectives that I came across

I’ve loved listening/reading about a few newer perspectives on MUSIC. Compiled some of them here:
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MUSIC COMES CLOSEST..

Music has tremendous power. It can possess. It can almost make you ecstatic.
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To me, music and meditation are two aspects of the same phenomenon. And without music, meditation lacks something; without music, meditation is a little dull, unalive. Without meditation, music is simply noise — harmonious, but noise. Without meditation, music is an entertainment. And without music, meditation becomes more and more negative, tends to be death-oriented. Hence my insistence that music and meditation should go together. That adds a new dimension — to both. Both are enriched by it.
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Music has been used by many religions as an approach towards prayer — because music will make your ears more vibrant, more sensitive. One has to become more of the ears and less of the eyes.
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Real music helps you to transcend your biology, your physiology, your psychology. Real music takes you to the world of the beyond — what Buddha calls the farther shore, even beyond the beyond.
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Music comes closest to meditation. Music is a way towards meditation and the most beautiful way. Meditation is the art of hearing the soundless sound, the art of hearing the music of silence — what the Zen people call the sound of one hand clapping. When you are utterly silent, not a single thought passes your mind, there is not even a ripple of any feeling in your heart. Then you start, for the first time, hearing silence. Silence has a music of its own. It is not dead, it is very much alive, it is tremendously alive. In fact, nothing is more alive than silence. Music helps you from the outside to fall in tune with the inner. Music is a device; it was invented by the buddhas. All that is beautiful in the world, all that is valuable in the world has always been discovered by the buddhas.
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There is much more than music, because music is after all sound, and there is silence too. Music is beautiful but you should not forget silence. Dance is beautiful, but there is something beyond it: an absolute unmoving state of consciousness… no dance. There are beauties and beauties… and there are categories. Music and dance are very physical. As far as they go they are beautiful, but one should not get stuck with them, one should not be stopped by them. They should open the door for the higher realm. For example, if you are really a lover of music, soon music will be forgotten and you will be entering into silence. If you are really in deep attachment with dance, soon the dance has to disappear, so that you can be in an unmoving state of being.
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When you are listening to music, what really touches your heart is not the sound but the gap between two sounds. How to bring that gap to your heart is the whole art of music. But if a man can bring that gap just by his presence, and you fall into deep silence, you will know the real music. Then you will know that what you used to think of as music was only a preliminary training. And the same is true about dancing, the same is true about every creative art. What it appears to be is not the reality; it is just a device so that you can become aware of something intangible, hidden, beyond. But to love music is good, to love dance is good, to play music is good, to dance is good — but remember, that is not the end. You have to go far — away from music, away from dance — to understand the real beauty of any creative art. Every creative art brings you to your innermost being where there is just calmness, utter quietness, absolute silence.
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Sometimes you hear music and the mind stops. The music surrounds you, you are drowned in it. You are no more there. Just a transparent presence: the music goes through and through. In that moment, it is not only music that is happening; it is religion. But you don’t recognize it.
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Music will make you silent, will make you disappear, will make you almost absent. Only the music will be there, not the musician — because in meditation the musician cannot exist. And if you are listening, soon you will find yourself melting, disappearing. It will create a new space within you. It has come out of meditation, and anyone who listens to it will feel something of meditation.
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Music helps you from the outside to fall in tune with the inner. Music is a device; it was invented by the buddhas. All that is beautiful in the world, all that is valuable in the world has always been discovered by the buddhas. Only they can discover because they have traveled the inner country, the inner, immeasurable universe. Whatsoever they have found in the inner world, whatsoever they have experienced in the inner world, they have tried to make something similar on the outside for those who can only understand that which is objective, who are not yet able to enter the interiority of their own being, who are not yet even aware that there is an inner world. Devices can be created on the outside which can help.
Listening to great music you suddenly become silent — with no effort. Falling in tune with the music you lose your ego with no effort. You become relaxed, you fall into a deep rest. You are alert, awake, and yet in a subtle way drunk.
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Listening to the music of the winds as they pass through the pine trees, what can you understand? Or listening to the sound of running water, what can you understand? Or looking at a beautiful sunset and all the colors spread over the horizon, what can you understand? What do you understand? But something happens which is far more precious than understanding. You fall in love, you feel it, you become it.
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If you want to enjoy classical Indian music you will have to learn. You cannot just go and enjoy it, it needs a certain preparation in you, it needs a certain receptivity in you. It is not vulgar. It needs a certain understanding in you… a deep understanding of sounds and silence — because music consists of sound and silence. It is not only sound, it contains silence in it. The music becomes higher and deeper when it contains more silence in it. When it provokes your silence, when it penetrates your heart and releases your inner silence, when listening to it your mind disappears, your thoughts stop…. But then you will have to learn, you will have to go through a certain discipline, you will have to become more meditative. One day you will be able to enjoy it. But if you want to enjoy it right now and you are not ready for it, don’t blame it.
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A song has not to be thought about. If you start thinking, about a song, you are already missing it. When you listen to music, how do you listen? Do you bring your mind in? If you bring your mind in, where is the music? Music and the mind both cannot exist together. That is the mystery of music: you have to put your mind aside. You cannot argue with music; you cannot nod your head in agreement or disagreement. You cannot say, “Yes, I agree,” or “No, I don’t agree.” There is no question of agreement or no agreement. With music you simply become one. If you want to feel it you have to put your head aside. The heart has to open towards it. It goes directly to the heart, it showers on the heart. It helps the flower of the heart to open and bloom. It is a nourishment for the inner lotus.
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Gurdjieff used to call real art “objective art.” Modern art is not, in that sense, objective art. In the past the awakened masters have used all kinds of devices: painting, sculpture, music, dance, drama. Every kind of device has been used to help you, because there are different types of people who can be helped in different ways: somebody through music, somebody through painting, somebody through poetry.
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Most of these quotes are sourced from various dicourses by Osho. One particular series that I loved is “The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 12” .
Thanks and best wishes.
-Aditya