Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Archive for January, 2015

Notes of a Nobody: In The Music Store

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on January 18, 2015

Barring an uncle from my father’s side, there was none on either side of my family who could lay claim to proficiency in music of any degree. My father often claimed that he was a good singer although I have never heard him sing a full length song either to accept or deny his claim. Once or twice, I heard him hum a hindi song arrestingly well. He often claimed he lost his singing to a bout of bronchitis which he suffered from for a while. I can vouch for this suffering though. The wheezy, tinny, heaving metallic breath in the calm nights from his bed and the resulting sleeplessness to him and to us are all familiar memories even to this day. In his early fifties he was miraculously cured of his bronchitis. Along with it, we also saw the vanishing of his claims of him being a singer. Looking back, it appears that in general music never figured in things that was a priority in our families. None spared energies to rise above the humdrum of life to achieve anything noteworthy in music. Part of the reason was also due to the lack of financial strength. Lack of notes of one kind suppressed the rise of notes of another kind in our houses

But things have changed

Kids of younger generations have started to learn music. It is as part of this change I found myself in a music shop one evening trying to buy an electric guitar for my son. It would probably be a more accurate description, if I had said that I was there to pay the bill for an electric guitar as against applying myself to the tasks of evaluation and a final selection. Peers of my son and hours of sifting information on the internet have already done all that had to be done. For every ignorant question that I had, my son had a ready answer making the need for a shop assistant redundant. Despite feeling embarrassed at his father’s lack of basic knowledge, my son grit his teeth and answered all the questions patiently. It was then I realized that besides knowledge, money is also power. It was decided that it would be a black Ibanez electric guitar with a clunky amp as its companion that would force its way into our flat and stay with us for a few years. For a brief while there was a discussion in the shop about RMV, maximum output and clean output reminding me of the grueling stuff I went through in one of the mandatory electrical engineering courses that I had attended as part of my education.

But what really caught my attention was the degree of technological sophistication the instrument and its companion amplifier oozed from their beings. Sitting among dozens of varieties of other musical instruments in the shop, they looked like a gleaming pair of shiny sci-fi beasts with impeccable builds – both part of a larger attacking horde of an unknown and malevolent power. The tautly stretched alloy strings of an evolved metallurgical process, the beautiful chrome plated supports for the strings, the electrical sockets which appeared hungry for a connection, the array of rotatory knobs – each a master in its own right to control some aspect of sound and the minion LEDs eager to indicate the performance of their masters imparted a transcendental touch to the instrument beyond the material. Here was something that represented a technology sophistication which will always be subservient to the call of human heart.

There was almost a sense of reverence with which my son touched the instrument and started playing a riff a bit hesitatingly. Very soon he looked as if he was ready to get transported into another world without his own knowing. I was a little surprised at the felicity with which he played the riff: it was coherent and demonstrated a confident sense of control which I was under the impression never existed in him. It also reminded me of the fact that our children may grow in front of us but the exact nature and content of that growth is without our complete grasp, knowing and understanding. How accurate Kahlil Gibran was when he said “children may come through you but they do not belong to you” ! I kept wondering at the riff which to me was a pleasing product of a human heart, mind and passion delivered through a musical instrument which was a product of highly evolved agglomeration of technologies. For a brief moment, I experienced the fleeting beauty of the wholesome balance of inspiration and technology. And in that same moment I wished my son sustain his interest and learn a skill which he can claim his own till the end of his life. A skill which I wish I should have explored in my younger days

Despite the hole it burnt in my purse, I paid the said amount and walked out of the music store gladly

Posted in Musings | Leave a Comment »