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Guitarist writes songs for class, performs them in Bob’s

Ananda Guneratne ’14 has become a regular at Bob’s just this year, but he’s already known for his humorous songs and presence. This week, Lauren Teixeira sat down this him to discuss his musical roots and inspirations.

When did you learn to play the guitar?
That would be probably … junior year of high school.

Why did you pick up the guitar?
I decided that I liked singing and that I needed something to accompany my voice. The guitar seemed like a nice instrument.

Do you have a background in singing?
When I was very young I was in the Minnesota Boys’ Choir for a short period of time, but other than that I didn’t do much with music until junior year of high school.

When did you start writing songs?
That probably would be tenth grade, specifically there was a Spanish assignment that involved writing a song, so I wrote one.

About what?
It was called “Fragmentidos,” about memories. Later I used the same idea in a song that I performed in the talent show, but in English.

Was it well received?
Yes, I got second place.

So, what do you like about performing?
Well, I like singing.

Why do you like singing?
I’m not really sure.

It’s a hard question.
Yeah, it’s just one of those things, I guess. And then of course performing for an audience is even more fun because you can see how they react.

So give me some background on the songs you performed at Open Mic the other day. There was Captain … ?
Captain Yang.

How did that come about?
Well, Captain Yang actually originated from an assignment in one of my classes. Well, it wasn’t really an assignment because I mean there was no grading. It was very informal there were no guidelines. I think it was for Christmas or the holidays or some such thing that we were to give the gift of words to another classmate whose name we randomly drew. I drew the name of Kong Yang. I couldn’t really think of any words to give him so I imagined he was a starship captain and then I wrote a song detailing some possible exploits on which he might go. I say song—at that point it was really more of a poem. It was only later that I put it to music and added a chorus.

What compelled you to add the music to it?
It was a nice poem. Um, and it was called the “Ballad of Captain Yang” so I thought a ballad ought to have some music.

Did Captain Yang like the song?
Yes he did. He liked it a lot.

What other songs do you perform?
Well the ones I performed at Bob’s were “Captain Yang,” “Rathje 3rd,” which originates from my love of my floor, which has an absolutely fantastic community. There’s “Sleep Deprived,” which naturally enough is about sleep deprivation. I believe the first night I went to Bob’s I performed “Fragments,” which is the same song I was telling you about earlier.

No, no, the English [version]. It wasn’t really the same song it was just using the same idea, same theme in English with different music.

Do you prefer funny songs or serious songs?
I like them both. It really depends on what mood I’m in when I’m writing the song as to how it turns out. I’d say I have a moderately even balance although I think they mostly tend toward the humorous.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing humorous songs?
Well it’s not really any more difficult than writing a serious song, but of course with humorous songs people often like them more because there’s also that element of … ?

Could you explain a bit about either of them, the “Rathje 3rd” song or the “Sleep Deprived” song?
Well, the “Rathje 3rd” song, I was just sitting in my room one day playing around with different chords and I found one that sounded nice and I was also thinking about how much I like my floor, and I started throwing around some lyrics, and some of them stuck. And “Sleep Deprived” was actually a collaborative effort back in high school I was in a band senior year.

Oh? Tell me about that.
Well, we were called the IB kids.

Were you in the IB program?
Yes. So we sang various songs related to school matters and one of those that we wrote was “Sleep Deprived,” which is really written for three parts, and basically it’s exactly what it says. You know, every night you’re staying up late doing homework and then all sorts of things happen and you can never go to sleep and it feels horrible. So the song is also kind of disjointed, it changes tempo a lot and there are jarring shifts.

What do you think of the Open Mic system?
I like it a lot. It’s nice because it’s informal, and isn’t too much of a commitment. And then you can just go and write your name down and perform.

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    Susan BjorkJan 7, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Ananda will not remember this, but he did a stunning performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas when he was five years old. His great-grandma was there, she also enjoyed singing and she was thrilled. Mormor

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    sapphireDec 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

    where does it said about what kind of songs they perfomed with their guitar, huh