The following article was written by a junior from my college. It was published in the online edition of Education Times last month. She is currently interning with the Times of India, Kolkata.
Ishita Lahiri tells us what goes into forming a band worth its salt
They drum with passion, they strum their guitars soulfully and they sing their songs without a care in the world. The bands make a performance look very easy but a lot goes into making the perfect band. Here are some of the basics that go into making a band.
Forming a rock band is not an overnight task. Though there is no conventional course one can follow to pursue this line, the primary criteria are dedication to music and numerous practice sessions. For starters, it is essential that a few like-minded people come together that have a passion for playing and are not money minded. Choosing the correct genre of music is important—they must be sure of the kind of music they want to specialise in. It is necessary that the members of a band are open-minded in order to invite different ideas and accommodate all sorts of creative thoughts.
There are numerous self-taught musicians in the circuit, however training always helps, advises Damayanti Chakravarty of Pseudonym. Damyanti says, “An aspiring vocalist should ideally get a classical music training as it helps tackle all genres of music.” Ditto for instrument players. There are tutors around the country who offer courses in guitar, drums, keyboard or any other instrument one wishes to play. Music schools too provide courses that may prove helpful to those without any knowledge of the instrument they wish to play. Being an unconventional career, it is not a smooth sail and with only a lot of hard work does a band gain popularity.
Make yourself known
All bands usually start their journey by playing in clubs and should not expect to be paid highly. Jayashree Singh, who handles the vocals for Pink Noise, recounts their first performance: “We started way back in 1976 and the pay that time was really low. In fact, play only if you are passionate about music and do not think of making money at the first go.” Supersonics’ lead guitarist Rohan Ganguli too says that the initial pay may be peanuts and those who play usually do not do so for the money. Bands usually collect money and set out in the beginning and as and when they gain popularity cash may flow in. Bands with a PR Manager have an edge over the others. However, it is not very easy to acquire a PR when you are not known well. The PR culture has not caught up in India as far as rock bands are concerned. “Besides”, says Jivraj Singh, who is the drummer for Pink Noise, “They are not always very dedicated and are quite expensive to keep. For a band that has just set out, it may be an extra expenditure.”
Bands that wish to have their records out in the market need to have contacts or cash at their disposal. They charge a hefty amount that can be reduced only if you have contacts in the right place. There are certain music companies who keep a track of the rising talents and provide them the opportunity to record in their own studios. In that case the cost of recording becomes minimal as mostly the company itself covers it. An alternative to this that is also comparatively cheaper would be recording on the computer. Starters who are financially not sound can opt for this though voice recording on the computer may be of a low quality. While recording, a band should never use second-hand instruments. Investment in a soundproof practice pad and good amplifiers helps. While performing on a public forum, knowledge about the taste of the audience makes matters easier. According to Chakravarty, “A band should have a decent demo that can be handed over to the probable venues along with the band profile.”
The victory note
Friendship, vision and the hunger to grow together keep a band together. Striking the right note on stage would require regular practice and coordination. The career may prove to be lucrative only when you put in your best and the erstwhile audience appreciates it. To sum up in the words of Tajdar Junaid, a leading guitarist, “Know your instrument as much as possible and then once on stage, clear your mind and just play!”