Guitarist Siddhartho Poddar Discusses Himalayas Visit and Single “Summit”
“Summit”, is a fingerstyle solo-instrumental piece that I had written back in 2011. Inspired by my journey through the stunning landscapes of the Himalayas, this composition is my ode to its beauty and grandiosity. The initial idea for this piece appeared to me in late 2010, a few months after my trip to Parvati Valley in the Northern State of Himachal Pradesh, India. It was my first visit to the Himalayas and the experience had a profound impact on me that even 6 months after the trip, images from the journey were still fresh and buzzing in my head. It influenced my guitar playing, and after many hours of – what seemed like aimless noodling on the guitar – a melody emerged from the chaos, which later became the main theme of ‘Summit’.
I was there in Parvati Valley on a holiday trip with my family in the summer of 2010, and we had spent two weeks exploring areas around the Valley. Situated at an elevation of 1,650 meters in the foothills of the Himalayas, Parvati Valley is rich in natural beauty. It is surrounded by magnificent snow capped peaks, that stand tall in the distance overlooking the valley, with lush coniferous vegetation dominating the landscape and its sweet pine fragrance hanging heavily in the fresh mountain air. It was on this trip that I experienced snow, drank water directly from a fresh mountain stream and ate fruits that I had freshly plucked from trees, all for the first time. Having lived all my life in the city of Mumbai surrounded by chaos and concrete, I was just thrilled to find myself in a place so peaceful, unpolluted, and almost untouched by humans. For the first time I was in the midst of a landscape, the likes of which up until then I had only seen in nature documentaries on TV and needless to say, it was difficult to not fall in love with the mountains.
I saw the way mountains had shaped the lives of the people who live there, how its rugged terrain provided only a few safe locations where human communities could flourish, and observed how the villages, towns and view points were spread far apart from each other, often connected just by a single road or in many cases, just a footpath through the hills. Access was relatively difficult and involved long hours of travelling but Nevertheless, I fondly remember the car rides through the meandering mountain roads and the long hikes through pine forests, all the while just enjoying the glorious landscape.
To me, “Summit” represents a view of the surrounding landscape that can be seen from the top of a mountain, a view that I had seen on this trip when I had visited the top of the Rohtang Pass. The composition can be classified as belonging to the Acoustic Fingerstyle genre where I deploy playing techniques like fingerpicking and right hand hammer-on/pull-off, while also utilizing BF#BEAB (B7sus4) open tuning, and playing a mix of Dorian, Aeolian modal scales to render the melody.