I played drums, but am sorry to say that I do not know music!

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

I ask myself what did I do in the field of music, my simple answer has always been that I did not do anything at all.  Yes I played drums in our amateur sort of musical group of friends for more than a decade, during the 1970s, but I simply did not do anything else except playing drums.

For example, in all those years I never tried to learn music. I believe that knowledge of music is something different from playing an instrument.  I never felt the need to understand or learn music. What we as friends were doing in those years was just to copy some popular songs, and try to play them within the limits of our personal abilities.

For example, Iftikhar was the most talented person in our group, who took most of the show load on his shoulders by not just singing the songs, but also by making our performances appreciated by the people listening to us in family functions.  He was the one who had the pain of learning all the songs by heart. It was not so easy in those days, yet I am sure he must have been filling in some blanks in the lyrics. Of course, this practice is not simply limited to amateur performers like us, even professionals resort to such techniques.

Both Waqar and Sohail  played guitar. Sohail did have the additional advantage of playing the keyboard too.

Ahmet on drums with Iftikhar singing

I am sure I was the weakest part of the group, and I was there only because I had a drum set.  I had learned to play drums from Richard D’Souza, one of the celebrated drum players of the city at that time. But after a passage of over 45 years I feel that he had taught me to play drums, but had not given me an understanding of music and playing the drums accordingly.

I am sure other friends in our musical group also did not know much about music. When I used the term “understanding or knowing music”, I mean the ability to create music. I am sure none of our quartet had the ability to create music. We were simply copying various songs.

The truth is that we were so busy in salvaging ourselves, by playing some of the popular songs of that period, that we never had time to bother ourselves with the painful passage of learning and creating music. As I have frequently mentioned  earlier, all four of us were busy firstly in our studies and then in our different professional fields later, that we could only assemble once in a couple of months and also when we were invited to play music somewhere. I do not remember if on more than a very rare occasion did we get together to practice.

Ahmet, Iftikhar, Sohail and Waqar – The Graduates

When we were playing at some function that was the only time we were playing together. So that used to be our practice session. Looking from that angle, I feel proud that we managed to perform songs, without going through practice sessions. Both Waqar and Sohail used to practice alone in their free time, on any song that they could find worthy of playing. Iftikhar used to sing the songs that he could find suitable. On my part, I used to practice the drum beats of these songs, in my mind only, since it was not possible for me to play the drums all the time in the house. Of course, we did not have a separate place to play music.

So whenever we assembled to play at any function, we used to play the same songs that we had been playing on previous occasions. The positive aspect of this practice is that with the passage of time we were becoming masters of those particular songs, by playing them repeatedly. That practice was also helpful to introduce variations in drum beats.

Looking back at all this, I find ourselves as being successful, because with all the limitations mentioned above, we were able to play some popular songs of The Beatles, Boney M and  other popular groups.

I feel really amazed, recalling how with great confidence we used to play very difficult songs like  “Rivers of Babylon”,  “Black Magic Woman” or “One way Ticket”.  But we did do that.  “Seasons in the Sun”,  “Baby Come back”, “Let it Be”, “Hey Jude”, were rather easier songs particularly for me on drums, but were of course not so easy for the rest of the members of the band.

But we all loved whatever we were doing, under all unfavourable conditions. We used to play music simply because we wanted to play.

It has been around 45 years that we all are no more in the field of music, but I am sure we are all proud of what we did in that eventful part of our lives.

However, still, I am sorry to say that I do not know music.