Monday, November 24, 2008

Technically Speaking - Recount of our PA trip by Venky Krishnaswamy

Vaidi has been bugging me to start blogging...on "technical" aspects of music, no less. For some reason, I'm saddled with the reputation of being JR's "technologist". The responsibilities that come with such a role are somewhat nebulous, but I'm good at making up rules as I go along, so I'll probably be ok with it in the long run. Re: blogging, well..never done it, terrified to death of the prospect of inflicting myself on the world at large. But, what the heck, I'm among friends so might as well give it a go. At some point, if I ever get used to the idea, I might even make up some fanciful title ("Off key - by Venky" maybe?) but for now, it's one step at a time. So here goes...
On Saturday, Ram (my fellow noodler on the keyboard) and I hopped in a car, piled up the boards in the back and set off for Harrisburg. Mission - knock the socks off the Tamils of central PA with some rockin' music. A confirmed Illaiyaraja fanatic (viz. Ram) and a Rahmaniac (viz. me) forced into close proximity as we hurtled down the highway at 79.5 mph. The iPod was mine - so Rahman it was, providing the musical backdrop as the trucks on I-78 whizzed past. The conversation got pretty "technical" - how do we figure out chords, how to eq pads so that a mix doesn't turn to mud, how to use studio effects as a musical instrument - that sort of thing. (hey, I've got 3 potential topics for future blogs. Cool!) Not sure if Ram was awake through the whole thing, but I was glad for the company anyway. In Easton, we (or maybe it was just me?) marvelled at how Rahman creates a fluid reggae groove in "Chinna Chinna Aasai", using a tasteful echo on the high hats. By Allentown, we were trying to deconstruct the off-key pipe that hovers just behind the singer in the prelude to "Chillallava". Nearly missed the exit to I-81 trying to concentrate on the atonal chord progression in "Swaasamey". Switched to "Gurus of Peace" by Nusrat and ARR. Listened in peaceful silence - obviously, in deference to the guru himself. Exit 70 on I-81, ten miles from our destination in Mechanisburg, wails of "ammaaaaa..." start to pour forth - the prelude to the modern patriotic classic, "Vande Mataram". I hear a rumble. Hmmm - Rahman's percussion is unusual and varied - but I don't remember that particular drum roll at that point in the song. The car vibrates. Hello! True - if you listen to this kind of stuff with the bass turned all the way up, some amount of shaking and rattling is to be expected. I'm discovering nuances to a familiar song that hadn't struck me before. By itself, not an unusual thing - Rahman songs do tend to grow on you, revealing new layers and subtleties with each spin. But this was far from subtle. Were we going over speedbumps, I wondered as I sub-consciously moved to the right lane. A single tire sped past as I watched idly, thinking to myself - now, that's funny, who's fooling around, rolling wheels down the interstate?
Fast forward, 3.62 seconds. Car ground to a halt on the shoulder. Ram and I coming to grips with the fact that we left NJ with 4 wheels, but currently in possession of only 3 - not nearly enough to get us through the rest of the journey. SOS to Raj Manian, who dispatches Karthik and Prabhu in his usual efficient manner to conduct search and rescue operations (aside - they should make him CEO of Citi instead of this Pandit guy; he'll fix this financial crisis in a hurry). We make it in time - and the rest is history, as they say. Just ask the Harrisburg Tamil Association.
Today, as I was driving home from work, I heard a report on the radio about a derailment on the Long Island railway. Thank god I wasn't on that train. Would most probably have been listening to "Chikku Bukku Rayiley" on my headphones and wondered - did I hear that beat right?

1 comment:

  1. gud one Venky....

    PS: I was wide awake n well listenin...wuld nt miss out on the gyan frm u :)