“I was born and brought up in Maharashtra and my schooling was in a Marathi medium school which had unique teaching methodologies. I remember I had a subject in Standard V, which merged science with geography and that kind of teaching was my first venture into learning interdisciplinary topics. I found a very similar environment at IIT Kharagpur, where I am currently doing my PhD.
Having done my Master’s in music, I had never imagined I would be a part of one of India’s premier technical institutions. I was quite sure from a young age that I wanted to pursue music as a career. Although my parents enrolled me in music classes to give me a mode of relaxation, my Guruji encouraged me to visualise music not just as a performing art but also learn the theoretical background of it. He helped me see the varied opportunities in music, which expanded beyond the classes. This approach both fascinated me and pushed me towards pursuing a PhD in music.
When I was looking for a position for the same, one of my friends notified me about the MHRD project ‘SANDHI’ at IIT Kharagpur that encompassed technology, psychology and music. Since I had not qualified NET back then, I had to enroll myself into an MS program at IIT instead of a PhD. I became a part of a team consisting of a psychologist and computer scientists. It also had people from history, architecture, language, visual communication etc. working on their own topics. As I was always surrounded by friends and colleagues from multiple disciplines, despite IIT being primarily a technical institution, I have never felt out of place. Whenever we are faced with difficulties, we all help each other by bringing in a different set of knowledge to the table.
In the beginning, I had hoped that I would be able to grasp at least the basics of psychology and technology that my project demanded but during Master’s, we were bound by deadlines and it was quite difficult for me to deviate much from my core topic which was music. It took me quite a while to understand the other topics when I did get into the PhD program two years later. Though I still struggle with statistics sometimes, I know enough to comprehend the basic ideas, which to me is a huge deal.
My PhD topic revolves around the perception of music which is an extension of the work I did for my MS. Perception is more of a…