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World Music Day: Delhi musicians trace their pitch perfect musical journeys

From sarod maven Ayaan Ali Khan to singers Kavya Trehan and Sanjeet Bhattacharya, here are young Delhi musicians and their note-worthy stories.

music Updated: Jun 21, 2017 12:55 IST
Etti Bali
Some musicians in the Capital tell us about their musical journeys and annoying habits they wish people in the audience wouldn’t do.
Some musicians in the Capital tell us about their musical journeys and annoying habits they wish people in the audience wouldn’t do.

It’s World Music Day today (June 21), and to celebrate, we are putting the spotlight on young musicians from Delhi. From artists who have travelled the world only to discover their true calling, to musicians who were born into the art — we ask what their journey has been like. While some mavericks are putting a rock spin to classical music, for others, music is a way of life.

Ayaan Ali Khan, sarod maven
Son of sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ayaan’s induction into music was a natural one. “I was very fortunate to be born in a house where music wasn’t a profession, but, a way of life. So, it wasn’t something outside the box — it was just like having a meal or drinking water. The atmosphere, the essence and the energy around my father and generations of people telling me that they are waiting to hear me, made me realise the depth and seriousness of music,” he says.

Ayaan Ali Khan believes it’s important for the audience to be a part of the musical journey. (Inni Singh)

Growing up with music, he remembers his father’s principles as being his main mantra. “He used to say : Do your best and the best will come to you, be humble and work hard, and, have patience and tolerance. My own philosophy is just do your best with blinkers on, without expecting anything,” he says.

Anything that irks him while performing? “Vibrations make a very big difference when you are on stage. It’s very important for the audience to be a part of your musical journey when you perform,” he says.

Dhruv Visvanath, guitar player and singer
The 25-year old geography major is an acoustic guitarist. “I always wanted to do music, and everything else was a distraction. I was taught the piano when I was very young, but when it came to the guitar, I taught myself,” he says. Dhruv was 13 when he picked up the guitar. Any inspiration? “Michael Jackson was one of my biggest inspirations,” he says. While performing, he gets annoyed when people walk right up on the stage. “I don’t like it when people don’t respect someone [who is ] on stage. They will come right up and interrupt your performance. But, this is not to say that everybody is like this.”

Dhruv Visvanath, who studied geography in Delhi University, is a self-taught guitarist. (Aryaman Dixit)

He took up music professionally two years back, and a piece of advice he always remembers is: “One must always be willing to try, be a little adventurous, and make music whole heartedly.”

Kamakshi Khanna, singer
Kamakshi was 13 when her voice was discovered in school. “I owe my experience with music to the people I have met,” she says. She likes singers Lianne La Havas and Sara Bareilles, but her all-time favourite musician remains AR Rahman.

Singer Kamakshi Khanna believes in giving her best and not to have pre-set notions before going in for a performance. (Mohit Kapil)

Her experience of performing in Delhi? “What’s really great about Delhi’s music scene is that you have all kinds of people, so you don’t know what to expect. You should give your best, and people will surprise you. But I’ve also had situations where people are yelling and shouting. The audience and the performer have to work together,” she says. A piece of advice she carries with herself is to let go. “It’s really important to be comfortable in your own skin.”

Kavya Trehan, singer and composer

The multi-talented Kavya Trehan sings, plays the guitar and also composes music. (Facebook/MOSKO)

Singing, playing the guitar and composing music are some of the things Kavya Trehan excels in . She was all of 14 when she realised music was her calling. “Music has always been a very honest and true expression of myself. It makes me feel like I don’t have to pretend,” she says. Kavya credits her passion for music to her school. “It taught me to have a sense of individuality. When I decided to be a singer, everyone in my school supported me. It was a natural progression,” she says.

Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, singer

Singer Sanjeeta Bhattacharya credits her parents for her passion for music.

Sanjeeta started learning Hindustani classical vocals at the age of five. “My parents made me practice every day. Then, when I was in class 10, I went for Berkley’s summer programme. That was the turning point of my life and that’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she says. Any peculiar habit of people in the audience that irks her? “I don’t like it when people talk over the music. It’s okay if they are talking, but not so loud,” she says. Biggest inspiration? “My parents. They were the ones who put me into it,” she says.

Rishab Seen, multi-instrumentalist

A third generation Hindustani classical musician, he says music was always in the house. “I was around six or seven when I started learning vocals, and then the tabla, before picking up the sitar. I was 10 at the time,” he says.

Rishabh Seen is a sitar player who plays and composes rock music on the traditional Indian instrument. (Chinmoy Sonowal)

The 20-year old plays rock music on the sitar. A fusion he decided to do to re-invent the way classical music is perceived. “I wanted to bring the kind of attention given to electronic instruments to a traditional instrument. That was one major reason I started composing and playing rock music on the sitar. I wanted to make it cool for the youngsters, also,” he says.

His inspirations range from Indian classical musicians like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain to vocalist Dave Grohl and the band, Metallica. Any advice that he always remembers? “My father told me to make sure that my music has a piece for the people in it,” he says.

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