The power of positivity. As in music, so in life.

By: Rajeev Raja

The year was 1986. And our band Colossus in Bangalore had built a pretty good reputation for itself in the Jazz-Rock space.

But never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate what was to happen next.

To our absolute delight we were invited by the organising committee of the first ever Jazz Yatra in Bangalore, to open the festival as it was the tradition to kick off with a local band.

 Needless to say we had millions of butterflies fluttering and dancing merrily in our stomachs as the day dawned bright and clear.

Performing on the same stage as us were some giants of Jazz such as the famous pianist Kenny Baron and we were pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t in a dream. The sound check went off without a hitch and and we were nervously waiting for the curtains to go up.

Suddenly we heard a commotion backstage. An Australian Jazz band, whose delayed flight kept them from being present at the sound check, were complaining in typical Aussie manner with a few cuss words being thrown around.

Curious to see what their problem was we gathered around and discovered what their grouse was. The piano was tuned a semi-tone or half note lower from concert pitch. The rest of the band were refusing to play as their material was fairly complex and transposing on the fly to compensate for a differently tuned piano was a virtual impossibility.

It was at this moment when things hung perilously in the balance, that a remarkable thing happened. The leader of the band, who was also the pianist, stepped up and said in a quiet voice: “Easy lads. Let’s not lose our sense of humour. I’ll transpose as we play”.

I was stunned. This was true leadership. Calmness in adversity. And later while watching them play a magical concert I realised that one’s approach to life defines how well one participates in it.

Through the years as a creative director in advertising and as a musician performing in India and abroad, whenever I’m faced with an impossible situation and everybody around is losing their cool, these words always play in my ear:

“Easy lads. Let’s not lose our sense of humour”.

This blog is about my musical experiences over the years and the different life lessons I’ve gleaned from them.


The power of five : the unifying quality of the pentatonic scale and the role of music in creating a sense of community and belonging

By Rohini Raja

Communication or language at the heart of its existence in culture is about a feeling of one-ness. It’s role in creating one-ness and a sense of community between people, has been ruled by community agreement. Community agreement is a state in which a community comes agrees upon the meaning and association of words within that said community.

Conflict usually occurs between cultures because of the existence of diverse communities within that culture with differing community agreements. How then does one find a common emotional and cultural language for all of humanity to truly feel a sense of belonging to each other?

Could music be the answer ? 

Music has its own language based on community agreements too. It is made up of 3 fundamental elements : melody, harmony and rhythm. The melodies and harmonies are derived from 12 distinct pitches that are organised into scales.  While there are different cultural expressions of music using these scales, we have discovered a fundamental scale which has universal appeal across most cultures. 

This is the Pentatonic scale; unique scale that is made up of only 5 notes, and yet interestingly, has great unifying powers and cross cultural resonance. Some of the greatest global hits of all time have been built around the Pentatonic scales.

In an interesting session on science and music, Bobby Mc ferrin introduces an unsuspecting audience to the wondrous and powerful universality of the Pentatonic scale. He starts with giving the audience two notes and then has them spontaneously sing the third one. And everyone sings the same note together feeling instantly connected. He then talks about how in every session that he’s conducted across the world he has received this universality of response.

Here’s a thought. With only 5 notes, it is truly possible to communicate to the entire human race in one voice. The power and magic of music and this scale comes alive, in cutting across language barriers and walls that divide and separate us both culturally and emotionally and creating a universal intuitive yet scientific language of communication. This forms a deeply pure and spiritual collective sense of one-ness and belonging in the world that no other medium can truly create.


Remember when Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder got together to create awareness for AIDS?

That’s What Friends Are For

By: Rohini Raja

In 1985 Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder came together to release a charity single called “That’s What Friends are For”, for the American Foundation for AIDS research. The album raised over $3 million for the foundation and landed at #1 for four weeks on ‘The Billboard Hot 100’. It even culminated into a 1990 benefit concert, ‘That’s What Friends Are For Arista Records 15th Anniversary Concert’, which raised over $2.5 million for various AIDS organizations.

Music and sound are very interestingly integral to the evolution of human consciousness and the elevation of society. This particular musical movement paved the way for inclusivity, love and acceptance to become pillars of the modern-day social fabric. And all through the power of sound! Who would have thought! So the next time you hear a sound or a song, think to yourself, how has this led to my evolution as a person towards being more compassionate and inclusive towards people different from me? 

This World AIDS Day, we salute these music heroes for their contribution towards society through the powerful medium of sound. 

Keep smiling, keep shining

Knowing you can always count on me, for sure

That’s what friends are for

For good times and bad times

I’ll be on your side forever more

That’s what friends are for

Article reference: ’12 Songs About HIV/AIDS That Were Part of a Movement’

By Tracy E. Gilchrist


On Music and Mental health

By: Revati Raja, MSC

One of the hardest parts of communicating and connecting with your emotions is not knowing how to reach out to others and explain exactly why you don’t feel alright as well as feeling ashamed for being human and vulnerable.

This is also a huge reason why alot of people dont reach out for mental health support. A large cause of suicide is a sense of mental paralysis that stops you from facing and connecting with and resolving the pain inside.

 The key factors involved in the decision to take your life involve, feeling too overwhelmed by a traumatic experience and strongly believing that suicide is the only way to end your pain. So really in that moment, you want the pain to end, not your life.

Through the practice of self-compassion in therapy, clients learn to develop compassion toward themselves and toward others around them. A little empathy and compassion can go a long way in making you feel less alone. The question then becomes, how do we find a tool to release our emotions when our feelings seem too hard to explain and practice self compassion?

Awareness is one such tool. And awareness often develops more in fluid rather than crystallised spaces, gentle fluid spaces like music where our emotions can flow without judgement from ourselves and others.

Are you aware of what music calms you?  What music triggers emotions you’re not yet ready for but could bring yourself to face in the warm embrace of a melody? What music helps you get closer to yourself? What music brings you inner peace?

My observations through my years working as a mental health professional is that the combination of music and therapy can do wonders to heal the human mind and help it grow fundamentally. I have often used rhythms and melodies to help my clients express emotions that they can’t put into words. While music is certainly not a substitute for therapy, it helps you connect with and respect your vulnerability as a human being which is key to benefitting from the process of therapy.

Be aware of the tools you have at your disposal so that you can channel your inner power through truly the most powerful fluid tool for a healthy mind – music. Today is about prevention and the first step towards prevention is awareness. Suicide is not the answer.

“When you’re down and troubled

And you need a helping hand

And nothing, nothing is going right

Close your eyes and think of me

And soon I will be there

To brighten up even your darkest night”

(You got a friend- James Taylor)


10 tips on how to buy your first Bluetooth Headphones

Ever seen a cool dude or lady in Joggers Park with Bose headphones — and no wires trailing? Ever wondered WTH is going on?

They’re called Bluetooth headphones and they’re the new sign that you’re ahead of the sonic curve. Bluetooth — derived from the Anglicized title of the 10th century Scandinavian king Harald Bluetooth — is a wireless short-range communications technology standard found in millions of products we use every day – such as smartphones, laptops and portable speakers. A product with a Bluetooth technology can connect wirelessly with any other nearby device that has Bluetooth as well.

And now Bluetooth has come to headphones, making music and chats suddenly wireless. No more messy tangles and cable nooses.

Should you get Bluetooth headphones? How to decide? And if yes, which kind? Here are 10 quickie guidelines –

1. Usage: If you will be using your headphone in a loud workplace to talk to other people on the phone, you’ll probably need one with a noise cancelling and wind reducing features such as the Bose QuietComfort 25. And you probably need a headset — which is what they call headphones with a mic attached in front. If you walk around while wearing the headset, you’ll need in-ear headphones with a ear hook such as the Jabra Sport Pace, or something more stable with silicone rubber tips which stay put. These can also be used while jogging.
If you’ll mainly be listening to music, buy Bluetooth headphones as they have better sound quality. Look for one with music playback control keys. If you’re the type of person who will pop a headphone on and off multiple times a day a no-hook model such as the BS15 is for you.

2. Battery Life: Bluetooth headphones require charging, so ask about the battery life before buying. Generally, the bigger the headphones, the longer the battery life, though smaller headphones usually look better and are more convenient. The average headphones can work up to 4-5 hours on a single charge, and standby time ranges from less than a week to over two weeks for headphones. JLab Audio’s Epic2 or Jaybird X2 stand out with 12 hours and 8 hours battery life respectively.

3. Mono, Stereo, and HD Sound: Mono sound headsetsfeature a single earpiece and provide sound to one ear, with acceptable sound quality for calls and other basic functions. However, if you that want to use them to listen to music or play video games, consider buying headphones with two earpieces and stereo sound, which offer good sound quality at affordable prices. Headphones with HD sound operating at 16 KHz rather than 8 KHz like stereo headphones, offer better sound quality and a truly immersive experience.

4. Multipoint pairing: Multipoint pairing is the ability to connect your headphones to more than one Bluetooth-compatible device, such as your phone, laptop or tablet simultaneously. Syska Multipoint H904, Jabra Voice Wave and Plantronics VOYAGER 510S are some great multipoint pairing Bluetooth headphones.

5. Voice command functionality: The popularity of the voice command functionality is growing rapidly. Bluetooth headphones allow pairing to a device, check battery status, answer calls, and reject calls. Some Bluetooth headphones permit users to access the voice commands included with a smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth-paired device. This makes them easier to use while cooking, driving, exercising, and working. Plantronics Voyager Legend is one such voice command Bluetooth headset.

6. Comfort: Not considering comfort while buying Bluetooth headphones can be a costly mistake. Some headphones use a head strap to stay in place, while others clip around the ear. Some headphones have earbuds thatgo inside the ear and rest in the entrance to the ear canal or at the outer edge of the ear lobe. Some earbud models have interchangeable speaker cushions that are different shapes so consumers can pick the one that is most comfortable for them.

Preferences in this area are very personal: some people find their ears aching after wearing headphones for several hours, while other are uncomfortable with earphones that hook around their ears. Try out the product at the shop if possible to make sure it feels good on your ear.

7. Mic: For people who need Bluetooth headsets especially for calling, it is important that they first check its sound quality. Do this by calling a friend and checking that the conversation is clear, audible, and without disturbances at both ends. Check indoor and outdoor volume levels, and how intelligible voices are in different situations.

8. Range: If you’re a person who moves around a lot without their phones, a headphone with a good range is necessary. Most Bluetooth headphones run with Class 2 Bluetooth, which provides a range of up to 33 feet before sound quality starts dropping. However, there are a couple of Class 1 Bluetooth headsets that have ranges up to 300 feet.

9. Budget: Bluetooth headphones on the higher end of the price range will give you better sound quality, and sometimes great designs with Bluetooth speakers, but even the low end ones such as the Brobeat HBS-730 are workable and satisfactory at ₹ Note down the features and decide whether it is worth spending the amount charged by a headphone as a higher end headphone could cost you about ₹70,000!

10. Being realistic: Technology is moving at such a rapid pace today. Headphones have now become so much more than a device only to talk or listen to music. There is no end to innovation, new and better features are added every day. High-end headsets can do everything from converting speech-to-text(VXi BlueParrott B250 XT– ₹12,839), to streaming music and local radio stations, and to broadcasting your calls through your car’s stereo system    (Jabra BT2046 –  ₹1,199)


10 Pop Hits That’ll Make Your Diwali ‘Lit’!

Diwali is the best time of the year – for children and adults alike. Everybody looks forward to Diwali because the entire atmosphere becomes so festive and happy! Quality time with the family, gifts, sweets, parties, what’s there not to look forward to? And speaking of parties, are you planning on hosting any epic parties of your own? Or DJ-ing, perhaps? Here are 10 pop songs you must have in your playlist that will make any Diwali party ‘Lit.’

10. Wild Thoughts (Dj Khaled)

9. Fireworks (Katy Perry)

8. Don’t turn off the lights (Enrique Iglesias)

7. Strip that down (Liam Payne)

6. Thunder (Imagine Dragons)

5. Swalla ( Jason Derulo)

4. Bom Diggy (Zack Knight)

3. Feels (Calvin Harris)

2. Shape of you (Ed Sheeran)

1. Despacito (Justin Bieber)

Any more to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section.

Top 10 Bollywood Songs to Light Up Your Diwali

Who doesn’t love celebrating Diwali with their friends and family? From lighting diyas, to bursting crackers and showering their loved ones with sweets and gifts, Diwali is pretty awesome for everyone here in India. Since this festival is almost upon us, are you as excited as we are? And have you already started planning for the craziest Diwali party? Let us take some of the load off your shoulders, here’s a small list of the best Bollywood songs to spruce up your Diwali party! Add these to your playlist and take your party from smooth cruising to beat grooving!

10. Gal Mitthi Mitthi (Aisha)

9. Galti Se Mistake (Jagga Jasoos)

8. Nachde Ne Saare (Baar Baar Dekho)

7. Gallan Goodiyaan (Dil Dhadakne Do)

6. Kar Gayi Chull (Kapoor & Sons)

5. Tamma Tamma Again (Badrinath Ki Dulhania)

4. Kala Chashma (Baar Baar Dekho)

3. Laung Gawacha (Nucleya)

2. Suit Suit Karda (Hindi Medium)

1. Oh Ho Ho Ho (Hindi Medium)

So, now that your playlist is sorted, start practicing your dance moves and get ready to burn (not literally) the dance floor this Diwali!

Science explains why Freddie Mercury’s voice was magical

“A force of nature with the velocity of a hurricane!”

This is how journalist Caroline Sullivan, writing in The Guardian, described the astonishing voice of Freddie Mercury, Queens’s legendary frontman.

The voice behind We Are The Champions had a range rumored to be well over four octaves. Was he naturally gifted? Was he a freak voice? Was his voice the result of intense training?

Though Freddie Mercury died in 1991, such questions have long intrigued vocologists, making his voice the subject of many well-known studies. One of them, conducted recently by a team of Austrian, Czech and Swedish researchers, found that he probably successfully faked being a tenor, though he was more likely a baritone with exceptional control over his voice production technique.

They reached this conclusion by analysing 6 interviews that revealed a median speaking fundamental frequency of 117.3 Hz, which is typically found for baritone voices. This, along with anecdotal evidence of Mercury once turning down an offer to sing in an opera duet because he was afraid that his fans wouldn’t recognise his baritone voice.

Using a 4,000 frames-per-second camera, the scientists also filmed the throat of Daniel Zangger-Borch, a professional rock singer, as he imitated Mercury’s voice, and discovered an intriguing physical phenomenon called subharmonics that Mercury used to drive his vocals to the limit. Subharmonics is a form of singing where the vocal folds vibrate along with a pair of tissue structures called ventricular folds. This form of singing is only used by Tuvan throat singers of Mongolia, except in a more extreme way.

You can hear Tuvan throat singers here — this is how Freddie Mercury used his throat.

Mercury’s vocal cords vibrated at 7.04 Hz – higher than a typical vibrato range of 5.4 Hz to 6.0 Hz. To put it in a more scientific way, The famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti produced a perfect sine wave for vibrato when he sang — a value of 1. Mercury, on the other hand, averaged a value of 0.57 — which means he was vibrating something in his throat even Pavarotti couldn’t move.

Watch what scientists found when they looked into Freddie Mercury’s voice:

16 Facts About Famous Musicians

(You Probably Did Not Know)

Musicians and artists of all time have always given people joy, solace, and perspective. And while musicians die, their music never does.

The greats will always stand the test of time and be remembered and referred to in desserted bedrooms, music classrooms, and, empty minds, staring out the window, when travelling long distances, or standing, in a crowded metro, on the way to work.

Below, we have compiled a nifty list of facts you probably didn’t know about the greatest artists of all time.

Read on, enjoy, and have some food for thought.

















If you have some interesting tidbits about famous musicians, do let us know in the comments below, we might just do a part 2!

Farewell to Madfingers

If one thing was evident at Karan Joseph’s funeral ceremony at St Andrews, it was the coming together of all musicians as one. Young or old, jazz or pop, pianist or drummer, singer or instrumentalist, it didn’t matter. Karan died too young, age only 29 — but generations of musicians were there at his funeral.

I remember when I first met Karan. Like him, I had been born and brought up in Bangalore and moved to Mumbai, but to pursue a career in advertising. Through it all I kept the musical fires burning and once when I was in Bangalore, the singer Carlton Braganza invited me to jam with him at Opus, the restaurant he had started with his wife, Gina. Carlton said he would call on a young pianist to accompany me. This was a good 10 years ago.

And that was how I met this baby-faced boy with the amazing fingers. A few minutes into the sound check I knew I was playing with someone special. What a jam we had that night: from Jazz standards, to Blues to Funk, this boy played ’em all.

Over the years I played with Karan on and off. On another occasion at Opus again we set the house on fire, this time with F. A Talafaral too in the band.

When Karan first came to Mumbai we bumped into each other in Bandra and he invited me over to the apartment he was then staying at and we got into an impromptu jam. That was the thing about him. He was always ready to play at the drop of a hat, day or night. After that I invited him for a few concerts with various bands that I played with and we had a great time on each occasion.

Soon enough, it was difficult to get his time as he got increasingly busy with tours and moving on to bigger things. Every now and then he would WhatsApp me. When I posted a teaser video for our recent NCPA concert, he sent me a sweet message:

Overall, I was happy that he was doing so well, little knowing that there were undercurrents and tensions swirling behind that ever smiling face. And they claimed him before he could turn 30.

So here’s the thing: this is a shout out to young musicians striving to make it in this mad, bad world — and feeling the stress and pain of making a start.
Reach out for a senior, well known, established musician who’s been there, done that. Besides musical guidance, more important is the advice he or she can give you about life out there, which is based on real experience. A mentor will sense when someone’s not good for you, and offer you a perspective that you can trust. I, for one, am doing my bit to help some young musicians find their feet and if each of us ‘seniors’ can open ourselves to meeting and nurturing young musicians, it will go a long way in providing security and comfort, not to mention gigs and income. At the end of it, we musicians are a community and if we don’t look out for each other, who will?

Let’s do this in memory of our dear Karan. And if anybody wishes to join me in creating a ‘Musicians Mentor’ kind of Club which can meet once a month or so, where young musicians can catch up with the seniors in the field and establish connections and friendships, do reach out to me here.

Till then, let’s aim to play our music with the same purity, innocence and energy as Karan Joseph did.

Go with God, Madfingers.

A X #roland #synthshed ?

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