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An engineer who gives free guitar lessons

Last updated on: January 8, 2013 18:00 IST

An engineer who gives free guitar lessons

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Sumit Bhattacharya

If you're the kind of guitar player that tries to pick up licks from the 'bet you can't play this' kind of videos, Floyd Fernandes can make you wish you had got a job at the post office instead.

On the online guitar instructional page called The Roaming Guitar School he maintains (look it up on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/TheRoamingGuitarSchool), Mumbai-based Fernandes, 43, gives out information that people spend thousands of dollars on -- jazz legend Charlie Parker's saxophone lines transcribed for guitar, how to memorise the fretboard through geometry, and suchlike.

And Fernandes delivers it all laced with the wicked sense of humour that he is infamous for in India's music fraternity.

"The sound of music got me playing drums on Chapatti dabbas back home with mum's combs and stuff," he says about how he got into music. "The guitar is a natural progression because it's cheap and light and every Goan is genetically coded to play three chords and support drunk relatives singing."

Though he is a monster musician, Fernandes is not a professional one.

"I have a master's degree in microelectronics and am a disappointment to my parents," he quips on being asked about his educational background, "as I have not scaled any heights as an inventor of devices or some such thing. I also have a background in advanced math and theoretical physics and loved the sciences from a very young age. I have a love for difficult puzzles and spend a lot of my time with a pen and paper trying stuff out."


Image: Floyd Fernandes


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'I do not feel the need to make money on my life's driving passion'

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Why does he run his guitar page for free, and not make a living out of being a teacher?

"Disturbed by the very talented youth's apathy to honing their skills before starting bands and posing, I started doing free clinics at local music stores," he says. "Tired of relying on someone else for a venue or support, I decided the student's home was the best place and the Internet a cool medium. I learned for free – from music heard and magazines/books discarded at the local raddhi shops, from guitar players at wedding bands by asking them to draw the chords out on tissue paper – and therefore do not feel the need to make money on something that is my life's driving passion. I derive immense pleasure sharing my take on music."

He adds: "When I finished college I ran a tutorial for advanced math and engineering electronics and always had a way to break complex stuff into simpler blocks. So teaching is quite natural to me and I try to approach the 'hallowed' and 'secret' tenets of music with a practical approach that bypasses the palaver."

After his engineering degree from one of India's biggest engineering colleges, Fernandes ran a tutorial class for two years. He says with his usual mix of satire: "I then joined a data acquisition company that ran exploratory tools on oil rigging platform and that got really boring after a while. Because the tools went in and came out and then they struck oil, not exactly shocking."

Now, he is part of an audio company "that basically set up the biggest audio and film mix studios in the country," he continues. "We maintained, serviced and designed several studios with the best audio electronics possible. This was amazing as I got to fuse electronics and music and I really have a blast working on consoles and the like, often pilfering some studio time to record my 'etudes'. I am a full-time maintenance engineer/boffin with the top of the line analogue and digital consoles. Though the industry has its ups and down like most, it's a fantastically interesting field with new stuff emerging every day. I am grateful for this, because it is the sole reason I enjoy what I play."


Image: Floyd Fernandes


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'Talent in the country is enviable but avenues are controlled by the unmusical'

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Fernandes, friend to almost all prominent guitar players in the country, has, put mildly, not too favourable views on those new Indian phenomena: Music festivals, and television shows on musicians -- like Coke Studio.

"These are bloody extravaganzas that have f--kall to do with music," he says. "It is another avenue for the Bollywood music industry to make bucks. The guys who take part in these things are usually super established and this is necessary because of the 'viability' of the program. The music is incidental and forgettable. Some rural talent will be procured and they will 'collaborate' with the big names and fade right back into oblivion. The country is filled with amazing talent yet the same bunch of guys will be picked to inflict their crap year after year... A parallel underground scene needs to gain ascendancy because these fakes will always be the ones running the scene."

He adds: "All music festivals with corporate backing have hidden agendas and idiots who do the programming. This is a fact. Artist management companies run festivals and only acts they 'deem' fit, that is, pals and sycophants will be on show. I reiterate: The talent in the country is enviable but the avenues are controlled by the unmusical. Some really talented bands across the country need to be heard. Without any (expletive) dictating agendas."


Image: Floyd Fernandes


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