The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Sound of Music

Leaning back in his chair, Varun Gadh ’14 hums his newly composed melody as he taps his Ticonderoga pencil on the table.

For the next six hours, Gadh writes, records and edits before he is ready to publish his song on his website and SoundCloud, a music-sharing site.

Gadh is one of several students who has turned to the web to share the music he makes.

“Some tell me that I should write with a message in my mind, but the music comes to me first,” Gadh said.

Using the name “V.G. Varun,” Gadh has published 40 songs on his website and SoundCloud. In August, Gadh collaborated with about 20 other people to publish his most recent album, “Blu Light.”

He plays violin, mandolin, guitar, piano and drums and sings, hums and beatboxes, according to Gadh’s website.

“There are three reasons why I write,” Gadh said. “I want to spring out or exaggerate certain emotions. If people tell me a story, and I feel empathy for them, I will write about that. Or, if I’m inspired by another artist, I will write a song that emulates their style.”

Gadh uses SoundCloud instead of iTunes because it does not charge users to upload music. Since SoundCloud downloads are free, Gadh does not make money when his songs are downloaded.

“I’m not on the money-making, producing side,” Gadh said. “I just make music.”

SoundCloud also helps Gadh reach more people, including those at school.

“He’s very good,” Victoria Yu ’15 said. “I know how much work he put into making that album.”

Brandon Lim ’16 prefers to write and perform rap. To date, he has completed four albums and published two on SoundCloud.

His first album “The Chillest and the Illest,” published in April, features 13 songs.

Lim started writing music in fourth grade when he wrote a short song for Mother’s Day.

“Even the song I wrote in fourth grade had a lot of rap influences,” Lim said. “I can’t sing very well. However, I really enjoy rapping and writing music.”

Lim is currently working on another album that will feature songs about his personal experiences growing up.

Unlike Gadh or Lim, Ray Kim ’14 uses iTunes to publish his original work. He currently has three instrumental pieces, “The Life of an Olympian,” “Cheerful” and “Morning Dew” uploaded. Kim aspires to become a film-score composer like Hans Zimmer.

Since English is Kim’s second language, he believes that the entirety of his thoughts cannot be conveyed through language. As a result, he has taken up songwriting to better express himself.

“Whenever I can’t deliver a particular message, music allows me to represent what I believe,” Kim said.

However, Kim is often faced with the challenge of deciding how he wants to present his music.

Although generally prefering to compose music he called more unique, Kim said he is also capable of making music that is mainstream.

But many students like his music because it is so different from what they usually hear.

“I thought his music was great,” Molly Steinberg ’14 said, “I think he should give it to [orchestra conductor] Mark Hilt so that the orchestra can play it.”

Kim plans on submitting more of his pieces to competitions and donating any revenue generated from iTunes sales to World Vision, a non-profit organization that seeks to lessen the effects of poverty.

Jason Park ’14 also uses SoundCloud to upload his songs onto the internet.

Over the summer, Park published “Where Did We Belong,” “The Land Promised in Our Younger Days” and “Marks on My Wall.” More than 300 SoundCloud users follow his account.

Park started writing music in seventh grade.

He turned to music-distributing services like SoundCloud to receive feedback on his work.

“I publish songs so people can criticize me and tell me how I can get better,” Park said. “But I think it’s great that music-publishing is so accessible. Everyone gets a better chance to contribute their input or perspective.”

When writing music, Park is most conflicted when he has to decide how he wants his music to sound.

“There are so many great ways to write music,” Park said. “The hardest part is choosing which direction to take.”

Although he initially wrote hip-hop, Park now focuses on dance and alternative music. Since he also plays the guitar,  he plans to perform his original songs later in the year with a new band whose members include Robert Lee ’14 and Quinn Luscinski ’14.

“I’m a bit of a slacker, but music is one of the few things I can do and be proud of,” Park said. “It just makes me happy.”

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The Sound of Music