How I mastered the art of music?

Saud Hashmi
9 min readMay 20, 2022
Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

This blog is about my journey with the most popular and celebrated thing in the entire world, which makes your hips sway and mind lost.

Music is everywhere.

The birds’ chirping wakes you up in the morning. Or the beautiful call to prayer, the Adhan (if you are a Muslim). You wake up and probably get onto working out, jamming those uplifting songs on Spotify.

All those Instagram Reels, YouTube videos, Discord music VCs or even gaming soundtracks!

You stream “songs that make you sleep” before you go to bed. You put on some tunes, knowing that your day is over and the next morning the cycle repeats.

It’s music that gives you a sense of calm and relaxation in the bhaag daudh
(9 to 5) of the world. Music makes you feel special. Music uplifts your mood when down. Music also depresses the shit out of you if you listen to some Arijit Singh.

Music has been with me most of my life. The story starts when I was a little kid, probably when I was like 7…

Introduction to Music

Music has been a part of my family in a way. Well mostly been a part of my dad’s school life.

My dad used to play a lot of instruments back when he was in Daly College, Indore. He has played the keyboard, basic percussion and most importantly, he was a maestro of the flute. An excellent flutist, most of his life, he has played the flute.

My dad playing the flute — 2009

The photo above is when my dad was invited as an Indus Parent (I studied in Indus World School) to perform a workshop on playing the flute. You can see how excited, even the lazy idiots are when my father was interacting with them.

So, I was brought up around him playing the flute in his free time. He also had this little keyboard, the ones with the black body and the stripes pattern embedded into the keyboard body, and a little yellowish keys. In short, a pretty old one. I used to play all kinds of tunes on it. I never initially had a good sense of music and harmony. It developed over my developing years.

I also want to talk about my MQ, i.e. music quotient. It is probably not an actual thing, but if you classify Charlie Puth and Ariana Grande as perfect 10s, then I would have an MQ of 8.5.

And I am just being humble about my MQ…

But what really is ‘music quotient’?

Music quotient, as I define it, is the measure of the intelligence of a person in terms of being able to recognizing musical notes, harmonies, beats, arpeggios and melodies.

If you are someone who can recognize hidden beats in a song (hidden in the sense that most can’t recognize them being in the song), then know that you may have a high music quotient. Also people who can learn to play a song on some music instrument just by listening to it twice or more times also have a high MQ.

My first few instruments

First instrument: Tabla

When I was in Class 5th or 6th, my dad and his brother (who is a father figure to me), bought me a tabla. For you who don’t know what a tabla is, it’s an Indo-Persian musical instrument, invented by Amir Khusrau, a 13th century Sufi saint and poet.

Tabla — On the left, bahina; on the right, dahina

It is played with two hands. The left drum, bahina, is the heavy, bass drum to give a deep and low pitch. The right drum, dahina, is the light, sweet drum to give a high pitch. Together, they form a beautiful combination of beats, which is widely used in Indo-Persian music.

So they got me a tabla, because I saw my seniors play the tabla in school, and I just looked at them playing it. I was over the moon when I saw a fricking tabla in front of me! I started playing it. Dad also knew a student in his school, who played the tabla and so he got him for tutoring me.

Moin bhai, as I would call him, was an excellent tabla player. And guess what… he was blind. I am not teasing, just stating a fact that despite his lack of vision, he still was one of the best tabla players I have ever met. Learned from the best!

Second instrument: Keyboard

My second instrument ever was a Casio CTK-1200 Keyboard. My dad bought it for my 16th birthday. Again, I felt that beautiful feeling of seeing a keyboard in front of me. And not just a little keyboard. But a big ass one. With 61 keys, 5 octaves. I mean it was not Yamaha or Korg or Roland, but it was my dad’s love that was in that keyboard.

Casio CTK-1200 Keyboard — with songbook

I have been playing that keyboard for the past 6 years. I can play all kinds of genres, even with the limited rhythm and tone options available in the keyboard. I never needed tuition for a keyboard. I learnt it on my own, in the process of perfecting my music. I quickly transitioned from one hand, to two hands. One on the left for the chords/arpeggio and the other one on the right for the notes.

I never needed tuition for a keyboard. I learnt it on my own, in the process of perfecting my music.

Third instrument: Guitar

The guitar was gifted to my mom, by my mama (maternal uncle). It is a Givson G215 6 String Spanish Acoustic guitar.

Givson G215 6 String Spanish Acoustic Guitar

For your information, the guitar is not a 6 string anymore. 🙂

It used to, but as I was a guitar-noob once, I messed with the guitar’s tuning pegs and rotated them without knowing, that if you rotate them enough, the strings would break as a result of tensile stress! So I lost one to the stupidity of mine (LOL).

Since then, I have never fixed the guitar. I honestly don’t know why!

But it was a blessing in disguise. It just so happens that without the 6th string, I was able to position my fingers to play chords perfectly. Again getting to know the chords, without learning and training, was a consequence of trial-and-error.

I never know the chords by literature. If someone asks me to play the chord CMajor, I would not be able to play it. But if you hummed the three fundamental notes of that chord, I would find that chord in no time!

It is close to what people call the perfect pitch. People like Charlie Puth have perfect pitch. Here’s how it is defined on Wikipedia:

Absolute pitch, often called perfect pitch, is a rare ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.

Early singing career

I wanna talk about my “singing career”. I should probably not call it a career per se, but it feels like it was a complete professional journey. I exactly don’t remember when my singing became a mainstream talent of mine, but I do know that I was a kid when it happened.

The earliest glimpses of my singing appear to be in a train.

I remember singing the famous Rajasthani folk song, Kesariya Balma. And my audience were three European gals. For them, I was a cute Indian kid, who didn’t even look Indian (probably because of my fair complexion). They and I both did not understand the lyrics to the song, but all of us were mutually loving the song!

I also recall this wedding in my mother’s side of the family in Uttar Pradesh. We stayed at a lot of relative houses. Every single night, after dinner, maa would tell me to get ready to sing for the relatives, as they requested me to put on a little show for them. I was a kid back then, and a total mama’s boy. I could not say NO. But for me singing was a joy…

I would classify my voice as a Mezzo Soprano, the voice range between the notes A3-F5. For you simpletons, not as high as Lata Ji, but NOT less than Arijit Singh’s high pitch range. Just the sweet spot!

School & College Life

Going Higher and Higher…

In my school, when I was in Class 6th, I was the only kid in the class who was in both the vocal group and the instrumental group. A sense of pride for me!

Bhagyashri Ma’am, my music teacher, recognized my singing talent and trained me in classic bollywood songs. The ultimate endgame was the song, Bole Re Papihara, by Lata Mangeshkar. She wrote the lyrics on a notebook. She told me to listen to the song a few times and the next day, she would help me sing that song.

For your convenience, just listen to this song. You will understand how high I was gonna have to go to even reach the lowest notes of that song!

Keyboarding All Day Long…

After I got my keyboard (the one I mentioned before in the blog), I used to bring it daily to school. I would find time to get it on and set a musical environment in the class. I was getting all kinds of requests of songs. Some asking me to play pop songs, like Side to Side, by Ariana Grande or the Mario Theme song (I f — king taught myself to play it!).

I have also played in the school choir, for a few years, at the annual function. I have played a lot in school events. I have played music at farewells.

I also remember doing a performance, that we specially got for the annual function. I was finally not another choir bitch!

I was the leading singer and the keyboard player.

College Craze

About my college life, the offline mode has been a total of around two years. One year totally went into lockdown and shit!

In my first year (and recently for the past few months), I remember bringing my TAGG Sonic Angle Mini bluetooth speaker to college and singing with Anishv Rawal and a few others. People did recognize my singing talent in the class too, but that slowly faded into nothingness as the lockdown changed me dramatically.

My voice became deeper. I had left practicing, working on my vocals. I was still singing, but not with that enthusiasm as I used to in my school life.

Phew… That was one of the longest blogs that I have ever written. Although the title states that this blog is about how I was able to master the art of music.

I did not write directly about it, but after reading about most of my experiences, you can get a sense of the following things:

  • I was never tutored for music (except tabla, and that was initially when I just started)
  • I am close to ‘perfect pitch’, just that I can recreate music in my head
  • I can find out the chords of a song I just listened to, using the fundamental notes of a chord
  • I can recognize patterns and hidden beats in a song, that rarely anyone can do, unless they try really hard
  • I can imitate the style and rhythm of any song; and try to understand its musical structure, the notes played, the beats that go down with the harmonies
  • For me, music is more than just a hobby. For me…

Music is art. Like the Mona Lisa. Every single stroke, color and angle matters… It’s THE way to become a perfectionist…

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Saud Hashmi

Co-Founder, CTO @Stemble | 21, Muslim | Content Creator | Online Writer | Developer | Musician | Avid Learner | Bibliophile | Gamer | Consultant | Fitness Freak