Saturday, 25 February 2017

Music Diaries: Arpan Sen

I have been getting phone calls now and offers on collaboration of this endeavour of mine with others and trust me when I say this, I couldn’t be happier. Every time something like this happens to me for both Vanya’s Notebook and Music Diaries, it brings a lump in my throat. The second month of this endeavour, I finally present to you a person who has been the reason why I fell in love with guitar once more.

Arpan Sen. A percussive guitar player by profession is also a guitar teacher and have played with the likes of Bickram Ghosh in one of his albums. One thing that I have to say when I mention Arpan Sen is that he is one of the major reasons why Music Diaries is popular (whatever little it is). The way he fuses percussion into the acoustic guitar is something that you wouldn’t know till the time you have heard him. So with that, here’s Arpan Sen unplugged for you...

I have heard you playing the guitar for a long while now. I wouldn't be wrong or exaggerating if I say that you have renewed my love for the guitar with the music that you make. Standing here at this point of time I am sure you owe much of it to your roots. So, what was the first ever tune that you learnt to play?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— Ha-ha, sounds like I have inspired someone. It really makes me happy when someone gets inspired to do something because of me. I really appreciate that. I used to play few numbers like Baby elephant walk, Misirlou, Come September. The first tune I played on guitar was Congratulations and Celebrations. But I always had an intention from childhood that I will create something new, which will be very different from others.

That sounds super interesting. So, you play the acoustic guitar. How would you define the instrument? Or, what does the guitar mean to you?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— Yes, I do acoustic mostly. Acoustic guitar is like you have a bass guitar at the same time you can play any kind of melody and use percussion. Acoustic guitar itself is like a band to me. I feel that acoustic guitar itself has many instruments hidden in it.  I try to implement eight finger tapping in my compositions, using the right hand for the bass, for melody, I use the left hand and vice versa. I use the guitar body for beats and percussion. It's like, creating music with everything.

How did you start playing the way you do? Percussive guitar, I mean. What inspired you? How tough is it? I've seen you playing with the guitar body too.

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— When I was in a band I was a rhythm guitar player, later on I shifted to lead guitar which basically means that I was playing solo. But when I listened to other guitar players, I felt that I am not good enough and that there are guitar players who are really good at what they are doing. Then I started to fuse Indian classical music with western modes. That was the turning point; I decided to create a new dimension on guitar. When I listened to Andy McKee, I loved the way he was playing, but I never tried to copy his song, I just got inspired and tried to do something different from others. Then I watched Andreas Kapsalis Live. He has inspired me a lot. I have learnt so many important things (musically, technically) from him, he has his own signature style of playing, his influence and motivation made me compose songs, I started composing songs, I recorded it on a blank cassette with a tape recorder. Bt my compositions were not so mature , so I composed more songs till it sounded good to my ear, I wrote my songs on paper but these things were not working, then I started to write songs according to the way I felt, I started writing songs from the experiences of my life, when I am using a chord added 9th or diminish, major or whatever is it, I just applied it cause I felt or tried to apply that mood on my songs, later on I found that I have applied these chords. I always had a story (real) in my mind, which helped me to write songs. In case of percussive guitar, I don't think it's tough, I just love the way I played, and it’s interesting to me. Few of my techniques are learnt of my own. It's like if someone trained themselves to do it, it won’t be hard.
That's a beautiful way of explaining. Now since you mentioned that you have played in a band and at live gigs, what's the major difference? Between playing live and playing independently? What would you prefer and why?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— There is no such major difference. The thing that happened is when I was in a band then it was a team work and now it is more like taking all the responsibilities by myself. When I go to any kind of live gigs, then it used to be that I used to feel lonely but now people see me as an individual guitar player. So, that feels good. Now I know that the more I would push myself, I would be stronger as a musician. As far as my preference is concerned, I would always prefer being an individual musician. It is not that I wouldn’t be a part of a band later on but it is just that if I am allowed to produce the music that I want to, I would be very happy in whatever I do. Instrumental music is a bit tough to understand while people relate to lyrics the most. My main aim is to make people understand what I make. Having said that, I miss all those band members I have played with in the past and am in super good relations with all of them.

You recently released your new single, Affairs. Tell us about it. How did you start about it and what is the reaction that you're getting?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— The reactions that I have received for Affairs so far have been very encouraging. Even Andreas Kapsalis told me that it is wonderful. Also, giving me tips for improvising. For affairs I would like to say that it is dedicated to a part of my life. It happened some time when I fell in love and since I am a musician, it isn’t possible for me to understand everybody’s emotions so it used to be so that she probably couldn’t understand the depth of my feelings. I could not grasp the fact that a person’s thoughts can be layered. I am always straight on the face. She just had another affair which hurt me and affected me a lot. The result of which today is affairs. The sound is very intense and passionate.

What next? Now that affairs is out and all your others have been awesomely reacted to. What is your next idea?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— Now that affairs is out, I always wanted to do something different with every music I create. So I am doing something different next too. It would be more in the positive state of mind because that’s the state of mind I am in right now. I had even collaborated with John Devitt in one of my compositions called The Wanderer. My journey from Rays of Love to Affairs has been splendid and I would love to carry on with this tradition.

Where do you see yourself standing 5 years from now? What's your aim?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— My aim is very simple. I would always want to be satisfied with what I do. The way I create music everyday or every time with how my mood is, I would like to keep on with that. Probably in 5 years, I would have an album of myself. I don’t know what I have, in totality so I would rather like to know about myself properly. My journey would be musically recorded in a song.

Speaking about tranquility, that's your one of the most famous compositions. Tell us about the whole experience and thought behind tranquility.

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— Tranquility has been produced with keeping in mind such a kind of a person who was never in touch with the word. A street musician, who knew just to play the guitar but who never, was satisfied with his work. There was so much always going on around him. Tranquility is that mystic state of mind. Very much not the state of mind that we are in when we think of the word. Tranquility is the voice of the street musician. Chaos also creates a beautiful melody and that story of creativity is what tranquility is all about.

For the upcoming musicians, what would be your piece of advice?

Arpan Sen (Guitarist)— For the upcoming musicians, I would suggest them to do what they feel like and not get pressurized with anything else. Try to create new sounds and new music whenever you play.

Now that I am sure you have loved the interview and are almost on the verge of going to YouTube to listen to the songs mentioned by Arpan, I won’t stop you. All that I have to say would be that if you are a musician and would want to talk to me about music then all you have to do is mail me at . 

If you would want to tell me about anything, the mail ID is right there. If you want to know about music and musicians or if you want me to talk to any specific musician, shout me out at the mail ID mentioned. Till then, let your soul be musical. 


  1. Truly inspiring

  2. Hi Arpan. Hope everything is going good. loved your interview. its really amazing.I just want to ask you a question is there any special tuning to make them sound a bit louder when hammered?