An interview with Shri Gautam Choudhury...
Shri Gautam Choudhury, settled now in
He suggests mastering different scales on the C harmonica would be a wonderful way to learn. Especially the G, Gm, F, Ef , D are some of the beautiful scales he says.......read ahead
1. How did the passion for Harmonica begin, how did you learn to play?
I must have been about 7-8 years old at school when another school kid brought this little strange instrument which produced heavenly sound. He refused to let me touch it. I decided there and then that I must have one of those things. A year later my grandma gave me some money on my birthday and with that I bought a "Wren" tremolo harmonica. It sounded beautiful and after a couple of days I was playing "jana gana mana" ! All by ear of course !
Its an instrument you can take with you anywhere, play whenever you feel like and it gives other people a lot of happiness. A great way to make friends. If you play it well then you make even more friends and they take you seriously. Harmonica is a very versatile and a complex instrument. It is also comparable to any other orchestral instrument (Sax, Flute, Trumpet, Violin, Cello etc) . To play it well, you must learn it well - then you can play wonderful music alone or with other instruments.
It is very easy to play a harmonica badly - and it is very difficult to play it well.
A friend of mine once said "With the music in your pocket you'll have music in your heart" !
I guess all styles ! I play western music, Indian film songs, Bengali modern songs, Latin American music, some western classical pieces etc. Basically I love good melody and good rhythm with nice arrangement.
When I started playing there was no Internet. Now, Harmonica players have access to a huge number of resources - make use of them.
First you must know how to blow and draw cleanly - For example : just practice "sa re ga ma..." up and down using short-notes/long notes using "single notes" and make sure each note is clean ! DO NOT try to play in "chords". You will create noise.
Learn to read notes. Use any music book (Indian books are fine) to practice your notes.
You MUST learn how to play a song in a different scale than just C. So, try the note "D" (5D) as sa for example....
My advice would be to start learning the staff notation. It is international music language. Also it has longtime been a standard in Mumbai/Chennai Film music world also.
It is not percieved as a musical instrument in
The movement is very encouraging but they have no future unless the instrument is studied seriously like any other serious instrument. There is still rampant "vamping" and "hand vibrato" coupled with futile efforts to play Hindi Film songs incorrectly ! Nobody even tries to better himself/herself.
In the '70s we made a BBC documentary called "Playing The Thing" - dedicated to Harmonica. Many world class players had performed in that documentary.
I have also participated in numerous Harmonica festivals and know many International players.
I have recorded three cassettes and two CDs so far (many years ago). One cassette and the CD of Bengali songs of Salil Chowdhury "Durer Thikana" (1996) , one cassette of Hindi songs of Kishore - "Tribute to Kishore" (1994), one hindi cassette of Salil Chowdhury songs "A Tuneful Tribute to Salil Chowdhury" (1993). I don't know if HMV still sells them ! Try the Internet. These days everything is pirated!
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Please note: the notes presented here are the personal views of Shri Gautam Choudhury, please read the disclaimer and conditions of use.