TEDxGateway 2018: Promising sitarist Soham Munim opens up on SiGui, his own music instrument
A promising sitarist, Soham Munim is the son of the legendary Bengali vocalist, Aarti Mukherjee. His father, Shreyas Munim, a lawyer by profession, is also a senior disciple of the sitar maestro, Pandit Kartick Kumar. Soham started learning the sitar under Basab Sen at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, and later took further guidance under Pandit Kartick Kumar and Pandit Shyamal Chatterjee. He has gone on to invent a new musical instrument — SiGui.

Musical legacy

“I feel truly blessed to be able to carry the weight of my body along with my instrument quite effortlessly. My mother has recorded and performed not just Bengali songs but Hindi, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Assamese, Manipuri, Bhojpuri, Kannada, Rajasthani and Punjabi ones as well. Be it for my family or the knowledge and achievements of my Guru, I simply feel that there isn’t enough time for taking forward some of my own creative efforts vis-à-vis the colossal musical works that are already out there.”

Organic influences

“Thanks to my family, I grew up listening to so much music at home, which wasn’t a conscious choice. It’s only when I was 15 that I started registering it with Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, then Pandit Nikhil Banerjee and an endless list.”

Sitar symphony

“I didn’t choose the sitar. I was playing the bansuri during my early teens and ‘fiddled’ on my father’s sitar very quietly past midnight when everyone was asleep. It was out of curiosity as Pandit Kartick Kumarji would teach me by singing the tune or playing on the sitar, which I would try and play on the bansuri. I grew up listening to and watching a lot of sitar, particularly their fingers and hands rather than their facial expressions. I haven’t trained my voice although I reached a point in my music where I spontaneously sang to express my musical thought.”

Interesting invention

“I only felt the need to progress, be it traditionally or universally. Unlike those going after  tags of “having invented”. I focused on developing a new fingering approach and I’m humbled to be able to add to sitars already vast vocabulary as a pioneer. As an instrument, the SiGui can be either acoustic or electric or both as the nature  of its amplification doesn’t define the instrument. The significant difference between a sitar and a SiGui is in the construction of their respective fret boards (or neck).” Core message “I truly appreciate the patience with all my eccentricities that are driven by my passion to create music that I genuinely feel about.”

Achievements

Sohum Munim is a recipient of the prestigious title ‘Sur Mani’. He debuted with a Hindustani Classical album HE am I, released in 2014. He debuted on the World/Fusion arena, with album Begin TP released with Songdew in 2017. Going on to create his own instrument, the SiGui, he was awarded the Best Young Instrumentalist (Hindustani & Fusion) at Global Music Awards 2018.

(This 10th edition of the TEDxGateway sees over 20+ speakers from different walks of life sharing unique ideas that make them an inspiration the world over. Over 5500 attendees are slated to attend this feast of ideas and inspiration on December 2 at DOME @ NSCI Mumbai.)

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