Striking a chord

Striking a chord

Jam rooms

Striking a chord

Bengaluru is home to many bands and musicians — both young and old. At the same time, it is also home to jam rooms and recording studios. As a number of sonic ensembles proliferate the City, jam rooms only try harder to stay in tune with the cantankerous music scene.

Their number increases and with every new jam room, comes quality equipment and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Though jamming in such spaces induces bursts of energy and creativity in artistes, the process of practise itself can be expensive.

Jam rooms generally charge by the hour and a few have packages and discounts and also differ in their rates during weekends and peak hours. With about 15 innovative and inspiring jam rooms in the City, musicians talk about what goes behind a jam room and the costs incurred.

Most jam rooms in the City are set up by musicians who have faced a deficit of such studios. ‘The Jam Hut’ in Hennur, one of the oldest jam rooms, was started in 2006 when Gerard decided to take a break from his corporate life. Guest musicians and bands thronged the place, including popular ones like ‘De Sat’, ‘Antakrit’ and ‘Brim River Bridge’.

Though jam rooms increase by the day, each competing with the other, the essentials remain the same — a drum kit, amplifiers, microphones, the required cables and a mixing console. Soundproofing the space is an equally important element for them.

Gerard says, “The main challenge in setting up a jam room is soundproofing it as it’s expensive. Luckily for me, I didn’t have too many neighbours so soundproofing wasn’t an issue. I already had enough equipment that I had accumulated over the years and my friends who were musicians contributed too. Today, there are a lot of ‘do-it-yourself’ solutions which can be effective.”

Yet there are a few jam rooms in the City that did run into financial issues initially but are up and running now. ‘DYVe Jam Room’ in Viveknagar is one such example. Yash and Vivian used to jam in Vivian’s room but always had neighbours complaining about the noise. However, now their jam room is up and running with popular bands visiting their space.

Yash says, “Sound bounces off the walls and seeps in through any nooks and crevices it can find. So to prevent that from happening, you need to cushion the walls and close any holes, however small they may be, through which the sound is getting into your neighbour’s ears. You can always opt for professional help regarding this.”

Pruthvi from ‘Bread and Jaam’ also started the space with a similar route — after some tussle with his neighbour. He says, “They kept saying that they couldn’t sleep and the children couldn’t study. We came up with a temporary solution and fixed three hours a day for practise. However, my neighbour’s patience outgrew. I was interested in learning drums and had to find a way to practice. Then, I decided to soundproof the room for my personal use and had no intention of a jam room initially.”

After soundproofing, he decided to hire it out to other bands as South Bengaluru then had very few studios. “I had no clue about the acoustics and need for a soundproof room so I went to the companies which offered such soundproofing solutions. However, they charged a lot. So I started my research on acoustics and decided to soundproof the room myself.”

As most bands pay by the hour or day, they are often worried about how much they should practise which hinders the creative process of music. The principal of NAD School of Music, Wesley Newton, says that this has always been a problem.

“It’s difficult for singers/ songwriters to work on original material in a public jam room setting as the cost factor is always on their mind and this can be quite distracting. Most bands work out their parts beforehand and come prepared so that they don’t waste time in the jam room. I wish there could be a setting where there is a separate jam room and another smaller space at the same location with cheaper instruments so that singers/ songwriters can work at affordable rates.”

The question then arises on whether a jam room is absolutely necessary. Gerard says that about 12 years back, jam rooms were not really required. “Someone in the band had a garage at home which could be easily converted into a jam room and there weren’t too many bands either. Now, with apartments mushrooming everywhere and the real estate boom, space is a constraint so a jam room is required. Jam rooms have also become a necessity as the number of bands has sky-rocketed. Most of them are located around Kamanahalli, Indiranagar and Koramangala. We need more jam rooms in areas like Jayanagar and BTM Layout.”

Yash adds, “Practising at a jam room is like taking the next step and involves the coming together of like-minded people. Jam rooms are essential since practice is necessary for a musician to make gradual progress. It would be great if jam rooms and musical bands across the City collaborate. It’s always nice to try different instruments and stage setups.”