Music means a lot to me. Music has an extremely powerful impact on me. Music does something to me that nothing else or nobody else can. It can make me cry, it can make me want to jump around, make me calm down, make me angry, motivate me, literally anything. I honestly cannot imagine my life without music. Music is the most satisfying activity for me. I love music so much that I have to listen to it every day and on the days that I don’t I end up feeling unnecessarily upset and cranky. The effect that music has on me is probably the effect that a drug has on a person.
But I can’t get myself to pick one genre or a few genres of music to be my favourite. I can’t get myself to dislike a genre also. I think that that is because music is related to what I think and feel. It can literally control me. I like Pop, EDM, rock, Carnatic, Hindustani, Folk music, Country music and Jazz. They all make me feel different things. I like Pop and Classical Carnatic instrumental music a lot. Maybe like a forty- sixty. Classical Carnatic Instrumental music does something to me, it can literally control me. I’ve learnt Carnatic vocal also but I honestly haven’t experienced anything thing like this. I was introduced to Carnatic instrumental music when I was 14 years old. I played the Veena for the first time then and it made me extremely happy, so happy that I cried. I don’t know the reason behind this but it definitely did something to me. Playing the Veena is my soul food. I used to have Veena classes on every Tuesday and Thursday. I used to go to class in a kurta and tights and open my music book, keep it in front of me, my teacher’s Veena on my lap, apply Vaseline Petroleum Jelly on the fingertips of my left hand and start off. I initially found it very thrilling to be able to play the simplest of swaras like Saralivarase but then grew to find it pointless that I can play simple and basic pieces when I struggle with even the letters of later and a little difficult ones. I grew as a person in Veena classes. I learnt patience, I learnt to be committed and I learnt to put in the best of my efforts. If not for this experience, I would have been a completely different person. Nothing had had such a huge impact on me before that; not even failing those math papers. This has been my most personal experience with music so far. But then with exams and a shortage of time I couldn’t do justice to it and I remember crying about that and when I decided to leave. I had learnt to play till Hamsadhvani when I stopped. I still play the Veena, I learn from YouTube and play at home for myself but it isn’t the same anymore. I literally miss how my fingers would get cuts because of those strings. They don’t anymore and it hurts me more now. I think I love Carnatic Instrumental Music. I think playing the Veena is what I love. But I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite genre because the word favourite, I think, that will put that genre on a pedestal and make it seem extremely special.
I’m not inclined to music as such. I can’t sing. I used to learn but that was only to help me play Veena. I began learning music when I was six and I hated it back then, I remember telling my mom that I didn’t want to go because it wasn’t cool but I wish I knew back then that, what is cool is not necessarily what matters. I wish I had someone to tell me that like I tell my younger brother and my cousin sister who wants to learn Bharatnatyam but who also doesn’t want to. If I had someone to tell me that back then, I’d definitely be a different person today. So I stopped eating my lunch as a sign of protest, this was approximately eight months after I started, and then I stopped learning music. And six years later I fought and insisted on going back to learning music.
It was in 2014 that I realized that the music we listen to, both English Hindi, is in some way a really adulterated form of music because it caters to the people, the mainstream way of thinking and I don’t think that that is right. I’m not referring to all pieces or songs but like some of them only. I’m sure that I’m not the one to judge whether it is right or not but I don’t think it is right. It was then that with great difficulty I made a conscious effort to listen to different kinds of music. I came upon Beatles then, though not for the first time, but it was then that I realized the magic in it. I love their song “Norwegian Wood” and “She Loves You” and the others and the songs by George MIchael and it is because of these that I’ve become such a calm and composed person. I listen to the songs by Beatles all the time. When I’m baking, when I’m reading, when I’m cleaning my room, when I’m upset or when I’m crying my eyes out. These songs to me are like my pillow, that without which I cannot sleep. These songs to me are that comfort and warmth. It is like I’ve found a new version of myself. I love this me so much and know that I don’t regret the fact that I changed and that I never will.
I really like how music has impacted me so much and how it has taught me more than any book or person has. It feels good. Music, I’ve come to believe, is a part of everyday life, not only referring to the fact that I make a conscious effort to listen to music on a daily basis but in a way that music is a part of life. Music has changed over the years to mean something that I can hear and that I like to hear because it makes me feel positive. I’ve started doing certain things just so I get to hear things, just so I get to listen to certain things that make me feel the way music does, that can control me the way music can. I wake up at 4:30 in the morning and make coffee for myself, listening to the dogs of my neighnourhood bark and howl. I then sit with my coffee in my balcony, watch the sky fill with colours and hear the birds chirping and then listen to the newspaper delivery boy’s cycle which he slows down in front of every house and throws the newspapers in, making me wonder how he manages to aim that well that it is not disturbed by the force of the wind or the height of the building, and I listen to the milk man come in on his scooter, that he stops after every five houses and keeps the one liter or half liter milk packets in the windows of people’s houses and yells out, “Haal ittideeni thogoli.” After which I hear my mom yell, “Shriya come inside and bring your mug, don’t leave it there.” And my day begins…
I’ve come to think that what may sound like music to you and to me, is nothing but a means of communication for another. Maybe birds that are flying out of their nests are telling each other things like, “Have a good day, take care, I love you” or maybe “Wait for me, we’ll go together.” Wouldn’t we know that the newspaper has been delivered even though the delivery boy doesn’t tell us or yell out that it has been, because we hear it fall on the ground of our balconies or in our house? Wouldn’t we know that the milk has been delivered just by hearing the sound of the engine of the milk man?
So I think music is all about communication. Music is nothing but certain stimuli that tell us something. And I think what we make of it is entirely dependent on the situations that we are in. In my case itself, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed sitting in the balcony and listening to all of this early in the morning if I had to make everything for myself: my breakfast, my lunch and clean the house. Maybe I do now, because I can relax and leave the rest to my parents. I don’t think I’ll enjoy these in around 8 years from now. Things change and what music is to you today will also change. Not easily. The change won’t be fast. But change is bound to happen. Music will change. My opinions on music will also change, slowly. No matter how much I don’t want anything to change, everything will change.