Dhanak Din: Monsoons with Music Basti
Several members of the band are involved with a Delhi based organization called Music Basti which brings the arts into the lives of street children, living in homes run by the NGO Aman Biradri.
Music Basti has just launched the album ‘Dhanak Din’ featuring songs sung and even partly composed by the children themselves based on the theme of the monsoons.
Suhail, puts down his thoughts on how the recording went.
I clearly remember the day when I started working on the song with the girls. I was definitely very excited about the idea of composing a tune with them because so far we had been teaching popular songs or other classical music but had never created something new. Composing with the kids was a great challenge for Abhishek and I. We had certain ideas in our minds of not preparing anything beforehand, and creating something directly with the children, but it can take much longer than anticipated to start something new with them and connect with the creativity of their young minds. The idea was also to allow the creative environment to evolve and allow the children to feel comfortable in sharing their own ideas and thoughts. To put it simply, I now think that it was us who had to adjust to their creativity, rather than them to ours.
When I started working on the rain song I asked the girls to think about a day when there are really beautiful clouds in the sky, a cool breeze is blowing and the sweet smell of the earth wafting through the air (a very typical Indian kind of monsoon day actually), and what helped us imagine all of this was the very hot afternoon in May as we sat in the room, exhausted out of our minds in the 40 degree weather. All the children immediately connected with this idea of imagining a really cool and rainy day capable of bring some coolness to the mind too. So they started throwing very intelligent phrases and ideas at us related to this scene which we noted down and created lyrics from.
The second biggest challenge then that stood in front of us was that of composition for the lines that we had written. So for that I started composing some melodies and gave the girls some options, and based on what the children liked we made changes and additions, and finally ended up composing the whole song. Yay J!
Recording of the song was again quite an experience since children had no idea how to sing in a recording studio, and how to control their voices in front of the microphone. In fact, if I’m not wrong they were even scared to see so many microphones around them and kept wondering what those funny looking things did. But it was the genius of Mr Anindo Bose (who was recording the music) who is not only a fantastic musician but an amazing sound engineer. He made the girls so comfortable and decided to mic them in such a way that the mics were not really in front of them. So as a result the kids kept singing over and over again without being self-conscious of the recording, and that’s how we ended up recording with the kids. After few days I had gone to Anindo’s studio to lend my voice to the song. I enjoyed singing on it so much that I clearly remember the moment during recording when with eyes closed I felt as if there was a conversation happening with the clouds. The honesty in the innocent voices of the children helped to pull all kinds of emotions from my voice almost effortlessly.
To end I would just like to say that it was an experience which was very special for me, and something I will never forget in my life. I don’t know how it will sound to others, but when Anindo had sent me a rough mix of the track (that at the time was very simple) when we were planning to dub the sarangi in it too, after listening to it carefully dropped the idea because to me the song sounded so perfect and complete, and brought tears to my eyes, a feeling I did not want to take away.
Also for the first time you will hear me play the Harmonium in a song and not play the sarangi. Something I have contributed for the first time in a song as a musician.
COMING SOON! Dhanak Dhin, the album launches online at www.dhanakdhin.com on World Human Rights Day, 10th December 2011.