Nazifa Tabassum Puly's introduction to music happened when she was only in the first grade, and though it has changed forms and dynamics over the years, her bond with music has only grown stronger. Mostly self-taught as a musician, she plays a number of instruments and sings her heart out whenever she has a break from her studies in architecture at BUET. The Daily Star caught up with her for Star Arts & Entertainment's new monthly feature The Other Side, featuring amateur artistes pursuing their passion besides studies or profession.
“I was admitted to a music class when I was very young, just beginning to go to school. It was an institution called 'Hindol', which is not there anymore. But I didn't continue there for long. I later tried to get an academic training a few times, but did not get too far with it. I learned music at Nazrul Academy, and was also a part of the 'Notun Kuri' TV show. I guess what I didn't really like was that there were exams and numbers involved, as there were competitions to who does better than others. I did not get that. I felt like it should be something I do because I enjoy doing it. So the institutional part did not really fare well with me,” she says of her early music days.
“When I was in the eighth grade, my sister brought home a guitar, and we both started learning, from chords she would note down on her diary. I went to Sandhi bhaiya (singer-composer Khaiyam Sanu Sandhi) for a while to learn guitar, but then continued on my own. Since I had training in harmonium, I had some idea of how musical notes worked, and I developed it. Then, out of interest, I started learning flute, by myself.” When asked how she managed to get a grasp of a string instrument and a wind instrument from knowledge of a reed instrument, she smiles and says “They're kind of similar. The notes go from low to high. It's the same sequence. I've also learned a bit of harmonica by myself, and now looking to learn to play the keyboard. I just got a ukulele for my birthday, looking forward to that too.” she adds.
About her fascination with instruments, Puly says “Instruments lets me think in layers. Like in a guitar or a keyboard, several notes in harmony make up a chord. With voice it's just one layer, but instruments are more layered. I like that.” Asked why she does music, Puly says “Music lets me say things I otherwise can't. For example if I say I'm sad, a hundred other people are also sad, so how do I express what my sadness is? Music let's me do that. Like when I'm playing my flute, it's speaking for me -- and that too in a universal language. And music inspires me in so many forms. I find inspiration from Pink Floyd and Radiohead, and also from Lalon and Radharaman.”
On the question whether she'll take music as a profession, Puly is divided. “It would be awesome if I could do something that I thoroughly enjoy for a living. But I don't want to have to do music to pay bills. So maybe I'll find time from being an architect and do my music,” she comes to a conclusion.