Thursday, July 10, 2008

From Swimming Pool To Music Studio

Source: Gorkhapatra, Arhan Sthapit

HE’S a paragon of how passion gives one a major turning point in life. Sameer Manandhar had a passion for music that turned this national swimming icon into a popular music arranger, composer and singer.

"From my childhood, I’d passion for music that landed me into the music studio from the swimming pool," he recounts his days of 2000 AD.

In 1999, Sameer brought home the bronze medal of the 8th South Asian Federation (SAF) games. "It’s a closely contested event where I could secure the medal for the country," recalls the tall ex-sportsman. "That was at the culmination of my swimming career after which I chose my career in music."

After working for 5 years at the Alpha Studio teaming with Rabin Darshandhari, Sameer set up his own recording lab ‘Pulse studio’ in 2005. A full-timer in music alternating his time between the arrangement room and recording studio, he spends his days at his studio at local Maru Tole located at a stone’s throw distance from the Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Trained under the supervision of Ram Tilak in classical music for two years, Sameer has so far arranged music for about 200 Nepali and Nepal Bhasha songs. He’s also a noted singer as well as composer of dozens of songs.

Winner of the ‘Best Vocal’ in Nepal Bhasha Pop Song Competition in 1997, and the Talent Award 2002, Sameer has stood the ‘Best Music Arranger’ at the 10th Image Music Awards last week for super-hit Rumal Lukai Lukai, a Sanjay Kishore number from album ‘Key.’

"Sameer was one of the artistes who hugged the limelight at the Image Awards function," comments Anil Sthapit, the leading cover designer and music producer.

So far, Sameer has tried hand at singing, composing, and recording too. But, in Nepali music, it’s in arrangement where he’s evinced potential to notch up a niche for himself. His work clearly stands from a majority of others in town, albeit sticking to the trendy music line. What’s the mystery?

"I carefully go through the lyrics and basic tune of the song before arranging music for it, so that the arrangement is tailored to the nature of the song," explains the modest artiste.

"I never venture to budge from the mainstream music and popular wave, but I always try to give something creative without tampering the original composition," he adds. "I make use not only of software to synthesise music on the keyboards (computer), but also of acoustics of original instruments."

No to ‘samples and remixing’: Conspicuously, he’s shown reservations for use of ‘samples’, and ‘loop
sounds’ forged through indiscriminate use of plangent synthesisers that are the fashion and ‘easy instrument’
for most of the commercial arrangers who have drawn flak from music pundits.

At a time when the market is heavily flooded with remixed music products, Sameer also keeps himself aside from the ‘fad’. "This (fad) is only tampering on the originality of good music works, and infringing the creators’ copyrights," he opines.

He enjoys drum-programming most while arranging music for songs. That apart, he takes satisfaction in experimenting on the use of traditional Newari and Nepali music instruments while arranging songs.

Recipient of national honour of Gorkhadakshinbahu 5th in 2005, he’s to his credit a solo album ‘Nhudanya Bhintuna’ cut last year.

Speciality: The songs in which his arrangement has been instrumental for popularity include Bhuli Deu (classical music-based arrangement in Jabeek’s album), Dhuk-dhuk and Bhandina ma and Kina kina (melody-based arrangements in Dawa Gurung’s album ‘Apply’).

He’s remarkably applied syncopation on the rhythmic pattern of 2/4 beats of Kaharuwa in Ashok Raj A-Su’s Yastari kina, a pop and modern-song (album Sath Deu Nadeu). In arranging music of Rajina Rimal’s Sapana-ma, Sameer made use of accidental chords harmonised with the lead-chord.

Message: The swimmer-turned arranger says, "musical dedication and perseverance is the key to success; modesty, simplicity and respect for others are important."

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