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            PALM 2002

                     (Published in "Studio Systems" September -October 2002)

The AES India chapter had been busy for the last three months, planning the conference section of the PALM 2002 show, and so it was a great relief when 26th September finally arrived. The nationwide bandh on the first day was naturally a tremendous dampener on the enthusiasm of the numerous exhibitors, visitors and organizers of PALM but as the saying goes “the show must go on!” We, in the AES committee were also very excited as our international Vice President, Neville Thiele was to give the keynote address along with Subhash Ghai, the Bollywood Movie Moghul. Neville Thiele, the famous Audio scientist, has published over 30 papers on loudspeakers, filters, and equalizers, and testing methods for sound and video broadcasting.  He is also internationally known for his “Thiele-Small” parameters which are used in loudspeaker design.

The exhibition/conference was a hectic affair for all of us and as AES India Chairman, I had the added responsibility to be with Mr Thiele during his busy schedule in India. The exhibition had the usual crowd of Audio professionals, enthusiasts and businessmen and sometimes the din created by loudspeaker demos got out of hand. I guess, demo rooms will have to become a necessity at Audio exhibitions so that exhibitors can coexist!

The importance of a great demonstration can never be understated, and a clever demo has convinced many an undecided prospective buyer. Unfortunately, there were not too many such detailed demonstrations at the exhibition. A lot more musicians, studio engineers etc. will have to be hired by the exhibitors to convince the exhibition visitors of the worthiness of their product. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

Neville Thiele

It was an enormous honor and a privilege for me to spend so much time with the great speaker design guru, Neville Thiele. The unassuming manner and extreme humility of this genius, coupled with his incisive observations and vast all-round knowledge, made the few days I spent with him, an absolute delight. This 81-year old gentleman, was on the go throughout the conference and exhibition, and made it a point to catch each and every conference session he possibly could. His boundless energy and enormous thirst for knowledge was an invigorating experience, and he kept me on my toes with his constant questions.

On his first visit to India, he landed in Mumbai at what Subhash Ghai politely referred to as an embarrassing moment for India, the bandh! He seemed to take everything in his stride, and was ready for any eventuality. On this trip, he met a large number of important Audio professionals from Mumbai and Chennai, and was tickled pink to know that a few “Australian” products were actually being made in SEEPZ, the export processing zone in Mumbai. I hope the Indian Audio Industry has benefited from this rare visit of a great Audio scientist and I wish we can have many more such visits.

Live v/s Recorded

When we at AES India, met to determine the topics for the PALM conference, we decided to include a panel discussion where our primary focus was to initiate a dialogue between the artiste and the engineer, both in the live and studio fields. Through the experiences and suggestions of our panel, we hoped we could help in achieving both the artistic goals of artistes, and the technical excellence demanded by the audio engineer. We soon had confirmations from a distinguished panel of artistes and engineers who represented both live and recorded music. It included Ronu Mazumdar, the famous flautist, Taufiq Quereshi, the eminent percussionist, Ravindra Sathe, the master singer and recordist in one, Avinash Oak, studio engineer extraordinaire and Uday Chitre, the live mixing engineer for illustrious artistes like Lata Mangeshkar and Jagjit Singh. I was moderating the session and it promised to be an exciting experience.

We were not proved wrong as on that day, both the artistes and engineers got into the thick of it, and vented their woes with enormous clarity. The hour & a half was over in a jiffy, and while concluding, I had to remark that we had just touched the tip of the iceberg. It was obvious that there had to be many more such forums for discussions between artistes and engineers especially as in the future, technology is virtually going to rule the way music is going to be made, both live and in the studio.

Chennai

The launching of the South India chapter of AES saw Mr Thiele and me make a whirlwind trip to Chennai, and meet prominent members of the Audio community in a city that makes countless films and music albums. It has a booming Audio production industry, and with its incredible Audio engineering talent, it has already created works of world class standard. The launching of the South India chapter of AES would go a long way in getting the Audio community of the South together, and educate itself in the latest developments of Audio Engineering around the world. I wish Mr Modi and his team all the very best on this excellent endeavor.  This trip also served to expose us to the Real Image DTS mixing theater, where Mr Thiele and I saw a reel of an upcoming Jackie Shroff suspense thriller.

Just a few days earlier at the Real Image workshop on Protools and Procontrol in Mumbai, Sridhar had demonstrated to us the enormous potential of present day technology to achieve world class standards, at a fraction of the cost of the earlier days. Many famous Bollywood recordists along with Audio students, trainees and assistant recordists, watched a mixed reel of a recent Mani Ratnam film with dialogues, background music, effects etc.  It was truly a magnificent sonic and dramatic experience!

Healing Arts

My daughter Amrita’s recent success in her Social Work activities using Dance Therapy for AIDs affected children got me interested in the use of the Arts for healing purposes. I discovered that a lot of research has been done in this area by eminent people from all across the world. Some say that the use of music as a healing technique can actually be traced to the 18th century. The department of music therapy at the Berklee College of Music in Boston has published many studies which say that music provides a tremendous distraction for patients who are deeply agitated or in severe pain. Music Therapy has been proven to be a powerful tool that can put patients in a different frame of mind and help them relax deeply. 

The Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeet Sabha recently held a Music Symposium on Music Therapy in Mumbai, and it was a pleasure to hear the numerous Indian speakers present their various experiences on this subject with actual demonstrations by musicians. The healing effect of various low frequencies on the human body was a revelation to me, and various hospitals around the country are already successfully using this therapy to ease the suffering of the ill. Besides Music, other Art forms like Drama, Dance, Art etc. have also been proven to have therapeutic values. I hope this facet of the Arts continues to be developed further and the Arts are no longer just viewed as ‘fun and games.”

Bandh

The national tragedy of the temple killings in Gujarat was an atrocity that was condemned by one and all, and today’s world seems to run on the whims and wishes of terrorist groups. Unfortunately, the ideas for ways to handle these madmen are sorely lacking in worth. The idea of having a bandh to mark the Gujarat tragedy was one of the very worst. Instead of the bandh, I wish our politicians had announced a protest day when everybody would work double the working hours, and do some community work to show their solidarity with the nation and mourn the dead of this atrocity.

India, with the help of our very own political leaders seems to be following the well laid plans of our enemies to cause the maximum harm to the nation. With ‘friends’ like these, who needs enemies? With just one stroke, a handful of terrorists managed to cause thousands of crores of loss to the nation, and in the process shake the moral fiber of this nation. The one-upmanship of our political leaders, to score points to oust each other at our expense, is a trick that needs to be recognized by all of us and dealt with forcefully. As a famous American poster said, “Stop whining, start a revolution!”

Rock on.

Nandu Bhende

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