Picturelife — backing up and organising my iPhoneography


Recently I decided it was time (after three years) to backup my mobile phone photographs. I only started taking mobile photography seriously after getting my Note 3 and that enthusiasm swelled with my iPhone 6 Plus. In all I had about 1,300 photographs made since I got my iPhone — just the photographs I wanted to save, the total number of photographs is greater. And I looked around for an ideal backup and storage solution with which I could maintain my photographs.

The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.

Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.


“The Beatles still sell for €5,99″ and other tales of everlastingness


I noticed on my visit to the music shop today that a new batch of low-price The Beetles CDs had arrived. Now I already own all of The Beatles, so I really had no reason to pick up the disc set to inspect it, but I did and one thing stood out: a €5,99 price tag; which is roughly $8 or £5 or ₹500 I suppose.

It is fascinating how a rock band that was active for ten years sells, nearly forty years later, for the same price as Beiber’s enhanced My World disc on Amazon.

Without meaning disrespect to anybody, I think that this shows just how popular The Beetles had become by the time they broke-up. In contradistinction, it is an issue of concern that every music group’s gospel — performing every single one of the Beeth’s excruciatingly hard-to-perform symphonies — sells far cheaper than the mediocre music made today solely for cash. Perhaps that is because everybody does it; but should repetition of a classic make it any less of a classic?

Speaking of Beethoven, I recently answered myself a question that had been bothering me: what on earth does Beethoven mean? As it turns out, Beeth is beetroot (yes), and hof is farm. So that gentleman we all so admire is Ludwig from Beetroot Farm.

But are classics really held far less worthy, or does everything modern generally take precedence when it comes to setting prices, or are our tastes as a society changing, or should there exist a very different kind of motivation to last, as former US Labour Secretary, Lynn Martin, put it:

No matter what your religion, you should try to become a government program, for then you will have everlasting life.

Even more interesting is that most of what we listen to today may be heavily modified; whether it is really done that way or not, nobody can deny that we have enough technology today to make person X sound a million times better than he really is, especially if that Mr X agrees to hand over the producers a greater percentage of profits than the better-sounding-poorly-sharing and more deserving artiste, Y.

I have, bookmarked, this 1919 photograph of Cxechoslovakian violinist and composer, Jan Kubelik, from sometime back. It really is a reminder that we came from a time when state-of-the-art music refinement was done using cones taped to reduce reverberation.

Jan Kubelik (R) with Bruno Seidler-Winkler at the Piano.
Photo courtesy Flickr/painting in light

Today, refinement has come from meaning getting musicians’ unadulterated sound to helping them by making it sound better. It has become Photoshop for audio.

A counter argument I can suggest myself is that the term classics is too loosely defined. Our renaissance classics were modern works during the renaissance. While desperate efforts were being made to save the then-classics, what was really being celebrated — being the centre of attention — during the renaissance was the day’s absolute modern attempts at art.

It then does not seem far fetched to say that Beiber may become a classic singer around the 2050s or later. And we are only paranoid in saying the classics are on a decline. Or that they are in any way comparable to today’s approach to art and society — both of which have inherently changed a lot between the 16th and 21st centuries.

But even such an argument does little to explain why The Beetle’s low-price disc should sell for close to €6.

 Cover image: Flickr/erin 

A Swiss treat: thoughts on an absorbing guitar-flute concert


I last spoke of a violin-piano concert I had attended in October last year, so I thought I would re-visit the topic talking about a guitar-flute concert I had the privilege to experience recently.

The concert spanned an hour and a half, with around seven to eight pieces being performed. It, was, all-in-all a very refreshing and absorbing evening. We will go into the details soon.

The players

There were three Swiss and one Indian musician performing on-stage. Two played the guitar, one the flute and one a relatively lesser-known Indian temple instrument known as (I apologise for not being able to confirm the name or spelling) Idikyam.

Mrs Dauwalder (L) and Ms Wysser on stage
Mrs Dauwalder (L) and Ms Wysser on stage

Michel Rutscho, a classical guitarist and professor at the University of Berne, was accompanied by his wife, also a guitarist and a teacher at Basel, and a flemenco dancer, Mrs Christine Dauwalder.

They were accompanied on the flute by Ms Anita Wysser, an acquaintance and colleague from the couple’s hometown in Switzerland.

They were on a world tour to “rediscover the finer aspects of music”.

The ideal

The concert was unique not in that it was a Guitar concert, but that Prof Rutscho et al attempted — as they have done for the past six years — to bring together Western muisc with an Indian instrument in accompaniment.

Michel Rutscho (L) and Christine Dauwalder at the concert
Michel Rutscho (L) and Christine Dauwalder at the concert

The instrument in question (as previously mentioned) was played by Vidwan Nandakumar. It added a sense of explicit rhythm and bass to the leading instruments and together they gave off a feeling of harmonic confluence with surprising ease.

The second important scope of the evening’s performance was the style of music played, and that truly made the concert worth every moment spent listening to. The musicians played classical Baroque guitar pieces from Spain, Portugal, the mediterranean nomadic lands and even as far West as South America.

It was sprinkled with a couple of modern-era guitar songs, what with the guitar being a relatively modern instrument.

The music

I will not go into every single piece in detail, but I will speak about some that I particularly enjoyed.

One of the first pieces performed was Bach’s famous Partita II in D-minor. You may be familiar with it as a violin piece, which it is (because Bach wrote for the violin), but few are aware that Eythor Thorlaksson re-arranged it later for the Guitar, so that was what I heard that evening. And boy was it fun!

Here is a video of the guitar version (because I could not find a properly played guitar version audio):

A second composition by Bach also made it to the musicians’ list: Sonata in C-major for flute and continuo.

Again, I mention this because it is one of my favourite pieces and I listen to it often. I particularly like the flow of the flute in this, and if you know anything about playing the flute (or any percussion instrument, really) you will know just how difficult this can be!

The last piece I wish to talk about is Argentinian composer Piazolla’s famous Libertango. I was thrilled to hear this, and I could not find a better piece to end the evening with.

Libertango is a piece written for liberty, hence the words liberty and tango come together to give libertango. Of course, this is not baroque, but was one of the few more moderns ones performed. This piece also marks Piazolla’s attempt at tango nuevo (the modern style) rather than his usual classical one.

Let me end this article with a small present for you: the final part of the concert filmed for everybody who was not there to witness it in person.

Until next time, and after, stay musical.


Featherwave goodies: The Abel Photographer short film soundtracks and new opening credits


2013 has been a good year for my short films. A lot of finalisation of Telltale was complete and that book was closed. Then my friend, Raghul, and I, under the Featherwave banner successfully produced our latest, and arguably best, work till date, The Abel Photographer.

New opening credits

Starting 2014, the second year for our planned Featherwave project/s, we welcome two new members on-board our small team. With The Abel Photographer, although the house debuted with its first short film, the opening credits were never judiciously worked on.

As a necessity, the same sequence was re-worked maintaining a similar idea but with very subtle enhancements. What lies beneath this video represent Raghul’s and my beliefs and approach to making a film.

It has been lengthened from 7s to 10s, includes a brief new soundtrack while maintaining the same geometry as the first sequence. This will be our permanent opening credit henceforth. It is very simple, so it does not fight with the film itself for more attention.

Update #1: corrected opening credit sequence

After I put up this credits sequence, I got a few emails from my readers. Thanks to some of their patience, I was able to point out the problem, which was one of two things: some of you only saw a black video, while most others found the title disturbingly invisible around the edges.

The second problem was because the video was getting sized wrongly on some browsers, mostly due to caching. It is very likely that you experienced one of these problems, and now that it has been rectified, I request that you spare another 10 seconds and appreciate it in its actual form.

NB This is in 3.2 kbps, our films will use a higher 5kbps version. (Why? Too huge to upload; bear with me).

On behalf of Raghul too, I thank you very much!

Update #2: the spirit behind this video

I was fighting against myself to speak nothing of this, but when over ten to twelve readers asked me the same (or a similar) question, I thought I would add it in here. The question, paraphrased, was an interesting one: what does the sequence represent? or, as one reader asked me, what was your thought-process while imagining this credit sequence?

Firstly, interesting and well-put. Secondly, the answer itself: if you observe the video rather than watch it, you notice three stages of development; under other circumstances, I would have chosen to represent this physically using several characteristics, but this time I decided to throw all the responsibility on a single property: colour.

The video goes from near-grey scale to blue to orange-yellow. It is merely a representation of what we believe in behind the scenes, the yin and yang, that a film must contain the good and the bad, the dark and the bright, the greedy and the generous, the horror and the joy, the question and the realisation; and a grey area between it all where the viewer stands, deciding the meaning for themselves.

While this is what intended/worked with, like all of Featherwave’s productions, this one, too, is open to your interpretation.

The Abel Photographer short film soundtracks

We have, lined up, an abstract-drama production to be filmed in early 2014. As most of our other works are doing their rounds, we’d like to give out the four soundtracks from The Abel Photographer short film to end 2013 and start the coming year afresh.

Abel’s theme

Abel is a fictional photographer in the film. A very famous, almost legendary figure, the entire story begins with Adam discovering one of Abel’s lost works. This is the late Abel’s theme.

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Adam’s theme

Adam Weathers, the main character in the film, is a photographer in professional capacity, who soon learns that he has a very long way to go after a realisation comes over him in the film.

Actor Raghul Selvam (Telltale) takes on the role of Adam Weathers. This is his theme.

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Fermez les yeux: the Judgement day theme

Abel’s lost photograph discovered by Adam is popularly known as Judgement Day. This piece, following the photograph, is stormy, inspiring and structurally complex to abstractly represent the picture itself.

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Les poèmes sans parole: realisation

This is a minimalist theme that reflects Adam’s realisation; it makes him stop, think and understand much better exactly what it was he was trying so hard to do. The piece ends on a ringing note summing up the entire production of The Abel Photographer.

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We hope you enjoyed whatever bit of our work you saw, heard or watched. It has been a long time since I replied to some of your requests both through this website and elsewhere who so our film, who expressed their wish to listen purely to the music. You can download that as well:

From Raghul Selvam,

Actor and co-founder of Featherwave

Fresh off the closed tab where I saw Featherwave’s new opening credit, and I must say it’s simple and yet appealing. I keep getting reminded of the niche that our films are creating. This just makes me more excited about our future projects. The way we shoot and work together, is on a different level. Starting from the very less use of words on-set and the understanding between me and V.H. Belvadi is uncanny!

I am always the lazy one, trying to push the film faster and to get over with it as soon as possible. But V.H. is a perfectionist. He will get what he needs out of the shot in a very subtle way, as in, he knows how to get work done out of people. And I hope that will be helpful with the addition of the two new members of our production in Origami! I have no words or expectations as to where we might go ahead or how big this “Featherwave” will become. I, for one, am an optimistic, and I don’t think we would stop churning out films until our house turns into a big production house. I think V.H shares the same enthusiasm in films as much as I do. And I know he won’t stop short of my expectations.

I have heard a lot of short films do not care about documentations in India, and one of the new recruits was elated that she had to sign for a film, which meant legal rights and et al!

My efforts and intentions are big for Featherwave, and I hope V.H. Belvadi shares my thoughts. After all, we do share a lot in common!

And back to me for a few closing words:

There is a lot of truth in what Raghul says — we have good communication and understanding, and that goes a long way in making a film. And there is some lie — he is not as lazy as he thinks he is, although, yes, he does try to finish a film as quickly as he can and I can only attribute it to an enthusiasm we share to watch our finished work as soon as we can!

We intend to grow big, no doubt, but that can only be achieved by keeping up all we have so far and adding to it. Introducing two new members to the team is just a start. They are the many faces of Featherwave.

2014 promises to be a good year for Featherwave, and I for one hope that this is just a start of a successful journey for our humble four-man team.

And, if you have not seen it yet, do not miss the trailer for The Abel Photographer:

Have a great year ahead and join us for more short film fun!


Music project: The tragedy of Macbeth


I believe no Shakespearean work ought to be studied formally. Shakespeare meant his work to be enjoyed, and the only way one can do that is to lock one’s self in a room and act the play out aloud.

As it happens, I studied Macbeth as a minor in my undergraduate curriculum and, in order to balance it out, I took upon myself a music project that I had been procrastinating about since nearly a year and a half. Ideas were flowing in my head, so were tunes and rhythms and lines from Macbeth.


So, around June this year, I decided I had put it off long enough and finally got down to beginning my piece. I intend to capture what Macbeth is to me while also doing justice to the play. Here are a few interesting points I will be incorporating into my work, titled Les péchés de Macbeth:

  • The piece, following the play, will consist of 5 acts set in E-flat Major
  • It will be divided into 28 extremely brief movements (on an average, 2 min each)
  • The following instruments are being used:
    • Two violin groups
    • Violincellos
    • Double bass
    • Harp
    • Piano
    • Oboe
    • Trumpet
    • Bass drum
    • Glockenspiel
  • Acts will be named descriptively, movements will not
  • Yes, since we have strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion, this is an orchestral piece; but I will not be making an opera out of it
  • (I cannot believe somebody actually asked me this, but) no, there are no guitars in an orchestra

Read and listen

Alright, now that we have got that cleared, below is a look at the completed first two movements of the first act (about 5 minutes long.) Below is a 1:45 min preview of the music, and right after that, I have given you a brief idea of what happens during this section of the piece.

It starts with an eerie ring as the three witches appear. There is a brief rhythm for the witches’ chants, and then comes Macbeth, the triumphal’s, leitmotif. As we go on to the next act, I will introduce the main recurrence of the music — Macbeth, the evil’s, theme.

The section of the piece I have provided above goes onto the Witches prophesy and eventual disappearance, which leaves Macbeth and Banquo very lost. And the music ends with a note of finality.

Listen to the section yourself:

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As you probably noticed, for the most part, the piano is very silent. I intend to make up for it in coming movements, including one dedicated entirely, while breaking orchestral norms, to a lengthy violin-piano duet. As always, let me know how you feel about this. Until next time, and after, stay musical.


Discover new music: December 2013


What is the Discover new music series?

In 2012, for about six to eight months, I ran a weekly series known as the Discover new music series where I shared some of the artists I listened to and one of their songs you might like (or at least I do) and dedicated the article to somebody.

I have decided to re-start the series, completely unconnected to the last, and this is the first post of the new series. The only difference is that this time it is going to be monthly, and each edition will feature two songs instead of one.

If you are visiting this sometime after December 2013, you can also browse through the entire list of artists and music.


This first edition of Discover new music is dedicated to my good pal Firstname Lastname who, on a recent Hangout, prompted me to re-start this series. So I find it apt that he should receive dedication for the first edition (especially since he did not receive one in the previous series)!



Cover for Enigma’s album, The cross of changes.
Image used under fair use rights, sourced from Wikimedia commons; copyright rests with the graphic artists/record label.

Enigma is a German band formed in 1990, comprising Romanian,  Michael Cretu, David Fairstein and German, Frank Peterson, which performed largely instrumental French and German songs with prominent use of sythesizers, shakuhachi flutes, drums and keyboard. (Yes, a curious collection, I know!)

Sadeness Part I

The first song I have today is Enigma’s Sadeness Part I from their album MCMXC a.D. Note the spelling of Sadeness; not sadness. That is so because the song has nothing to do with sorrow.

Instead it is a dark and haunting philosophical piece that questions the sexual nature of Frenchman, Marquis de Sade, whose life was full of controversial incidents back in the late 18th century. There are lyrics in French and Latin, but you will hardly notice them.

Did I bore you with a history lesson? Quite contrarily, trust me, once you listen to this, this will be a song you will remember as long as you possibly can. Listen especially closely from 1:10 onwards. And if you listen very carefully, you will even recognise how, at one point, he says, “Sade, tell me.”

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Shadows in silence

This is a song from Enigma’s 1996 album, Erotic dreams. I particularly like the beginning percussion beats that go on to become flat out string breves that are followed by a chant.

If you are wondering who the predominant female voice is in both of these songs, it is German singer Sandra Cretu, Michael Cretu’s wife. (Pictured above.)

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I hope you enjoyed the first edition of the new Discover new music series. We’ll meet again with more in January.

Let me know what you think of the series as well sometime.


The quest for a music cassette, “The power of love”


Everybody’s childhood has something they hold onto even after considerable years. Mine lives in a bucket under the stairway at home, but that is only one part of it. The other is missing.

A thing of the past

Funnily enough, what I call a part of my childhood was never really mine; it even dates back nearly a decade before mine. It was a little, red music cassette known as “The Power of Love” and belonged to my parents.

Once I got around, I used to carry it with me and play it over and over again in-between my classic children’s tales cassette on my personal Phillips Walkman. I was no older than six years of age. And I understood very little of whatever they said in those songs, but it did not matter: for me, it has always been about the music, the rhythm, the tone, the pitch and the feel.

When things begin to change

The songs in that cassette stayed for a very long time until, when I was just reaching around nine or ten, we moved house and a lot of cassettes and large, black, gorgeous looking vinyl records (among other things) either got unwound, broke or were lost. This was one of them. There was also a large, posh-looking gramophone from my grandfather’s era that we got rid of.

Sometimes, when I walk around in melancholy, I can still hear those tunes at the back of my mind. But I realise it is only an illusion; an innocent (freudian?) manifestation of my yearning to get that cassette back.

Amazon lists this under the name Power of Love but neither the art nor the songs match the one I am looking for.

It is most prominent when I come across select songs, and I seem to know them. It is not a déjà vu, it is quite real, because I can pause playback and hum through the song (sometimes right to the end) even when I am listening to it the first time. Of course, this does not happen with every song, just a couple of them, or three at best, in an entire year.

My explanation is that I listened to those songs for so long, it is in my subconscious — just like how we remember bits of history even if we never took out a book and dedicated years to study it. Now, when I actually want to buy that cassette, I cannot: nobody makes cassettes anymore. Things have begun to change, but that is not even the weirdest part yet.

Another novel quest

If you remember I was once stuck with a song playing itself repeatedly in my mind and a brief quest and a lot of examination later, I learnt that it was a Japanese song used most popularly in the film “In the mood for love”. This was back in late 2010. About a year later, during a local film showcasing, my friend, Raghul, and I actually watched that film and I, for one, loved it.

Now that made me launch a quest back in 2011, to search for this cassette and buy it at any cost. I have looked up and down, turned the earth inside out, asked people, poked them to answer, tweeted, traced sources whenever I heard a familiar song and generally jumped around in vain.

A.K.A. fine times
Photo courtesy: Flickr/Freshly Diced

Having searched for two whole years now, I can confidently state that that music cassette does not exist.

How does something just vanish into thin air? I even remember the cover art and a couple of songs, so, as yet another try, I am going to describe the first and put down the latter before you.

Roses and wings

I distinctly remember that the cassette cover had a red rose on it, with the letters The Power of Love written in white. It was, I think, volume 2, but do not quote me on that. I remember the font was something very similar to Elephant.

Several aggregation, chronicling and e-store services from last.fm to Amazon list a product by name “(The) Power of Love”, but none of them are the one I am looking for. My indication? I am positive there was no Luther Vandross song in my old cassette.

And how do I know what was in there? I recognise some faintly, while others my mother or my father (both who owned the cassette in their youth and adulthood and not as kids of six years) who are clearly better judges at recalling their own (rather vast, I should say) music collection, tell me in passing that some song I happen to be listening to was in their collection way back when.

Photo courtesy: Andrevruas (own work) [CC-BY-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


I can say for sure that some of my current favourites (none of which are current songs) were in it: there was Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after time”, Bette Middler’s “Wind beneath my wings”, George Michael’s “Faith”, George Benson’s “Nothing’s gonna change my love”, Kieth Whitley’s “When you say nothing at all”, Paebo Bryson’s “Tonight, I celebrate my love”, MLTR’s “Paint my love”, Chris deBurg’s “A lady in red”, Richard Marx’s “Right here waiting” and a version of “Green, green grass of home”, among many others.


From the songs, it is apparent that the cassette was an early- or mid-80s release, and that timeline fits perfectly. I actually have a list of more songs somewhere, but these are the ones that come to mind right now, as I write this, too lazy to fetch the list itself.

Unfortunately, my quest to track this cassette down has not been very successful so far; but it is far from over. My sole reason for writing this and requesting you to take your time to read this is if you already know, or happen to stumble upon this cassette anywhere, do send it my way.

A favour begets a favour. Besides, this will fit in a lost piece of a jigsaw perfectly.

 Cover image: Flickr/Coralí Cros