​Drummer Boy and other prodigies

ByMihir Srivastava

Sep 25, 2020

It’s never too early to make good music. School kids in Delhi showcase their talent online and enthral many professionals

The Internet has had a profound impact on our lives — good or bad is a matter of debate. The democratisation of music is one of them. All can employ their talent and showcase their music to the world at large, age is no bar.

Thanks to the pandemic and nearly half a year of homeschooling, many young prodigies kids have had the time and opportunity to explore and hone their musical talents. Many school children who are learning music, vocal or instrumental, and have a sense of rhythm, took to composing their own music. Some even started their YouTube channel, at times without the knowledge of their parents, to showcase their talent.

Interestingly, many parents of these kids studying in leading public schools, at least a dozen who have taken to music composition in a big way, don’t want the media glare on their sons and daughters. They believe “it’s still early days” and they have a “lot to learn.” They aren’t very open to discussing the exceptional talents of their kids.

Thankfully, not all. Baahu Singh is a 13-year-old prodigy, a student of class 8  at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya. He’s a classic example of how in this day and age when we are connected to the whole world while being oblivious of our immediate surroundings, we can do wonders sitting in front of a computer. Provided we have the talent and the gusto to pursue the talent, and showcase our music in a fairly egalitarian environment where class, creed, age, gender, nationality is of little consequence.

Sound trap—The online platform facilitating collaboration and composition of music

Baahu is a drummer par excellence, blessed with a natural sense of rhythm. He started very early in life. As a kid, his hands would twitch while sleeping as if he was beating drums. Parents—Pallavi Chaturvedi and Bandeep Singh—nurtured his latent talent. They introduced him to musicians, one of them, Suchet Malhotra, a famous producer and ethno global coordinator, was impressed by Baahu’s potential and took him under his wing.

Baahu has a natural penchant to play beats. He initially learned tabla for a bit but finally settled on the tarbuka—a single head membranophone goblet drum mostly used in Egypt, also popular in the Middle East and North Africa. Also, for a while, he took training in classical vocal singing.

The lockdown was a blessing in disguise. The break from the routine opened new windows for people who have other talents. With time on his hands, Baahu explored music on the net. Sitting in his bedroom in an upmarket apartment in Noida, he was particularly enchanted by the work of these two young American composers. Leland Tyler Wayne, 27, popularly known as the Metro Boomin or Young Metro, is a record producer, songwriter and DJ. And Tahj Morgan, 22 years of age, known as Jetsonmade, is a record producer, a songwriter who pioneered the growing rap scene in North Carolina and South Carolina.

While surfing for music, watching YouTube, Baahu came across various platforms to compose music online. Initially, he started with Audiotool—free music software and soon graduated to Soundtrap.com—a collective of passionate creators, that encourages audiophiles to “make some music, explore a new sound, create a song or collaborate with others,” irrespective of “whether you already are one or aspire to become one.”

Baahu seemed to have taken the advice seriously and made full use of their “interactive transcript feature” where you can record and edit music “as you would edit a text document”. You can also, thereafter, upload your music to Spotify and other online forums. Not just that, you can showcase your music, improve your discoverability by downloading your podcast and distribute it wherever you want, or open a YouTube channel—that’s what Baahu did. It’s called Mello Akito (means a bright person in Japanese).

Baahu is forthright about his tryst with music, talks without any embellishments. “I’m not trained in Western classical music, and not conversant with C major and E minor but I have a sense of rhythm,” he says. Initially, he tried tunes similar to the kind of music he likes, old melodies, but soon he started to evolve into something quintessential, him. “It’s a process of trial and error but I’m trying new things,” he says.

He can do it for hours. On a free day, he makes a complete composition that would otherwise require three or four days. He consults his friend Tanay, who also makes music online—the term is ‘producer’. “He gives useful feedback,” says Baahu. And of course, his parents are his greatest fans!

While Baahu’s creation is all about playing with rhythm and finding the right mix at that moment of the snare drums, hi-hat (a combination of two cymbals and a pedal mounted on a metal stand), bass (instruments that produce tones in the low-pitch range) and tongs. “I just like making music,” is his simple answer to this complex process.

Each one has his own way of going about it, and many hit the right chord. Some students do it as a way to relax, others to realise the music that plays in their mind, some visualise nature when they make music. And the younger talent gives a fresh perspective to an age-old craft.

History is witness, the young are change-makers—Ludwig Van Beethoven started when he was only seven years old, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only five. It’s never too early to make a piece of good music.

(Cover: Young talent: Baahu Singh during one of his music-making sessions)