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In Sync

A spotlight on SOECS student, Malvika Sriram '19, as she connects her passion for music to her love for science.


She is talented beyond her years. Only a sophomore in college and she has already been featured in a film, performed nationally and internationally, and worked with Oscar and Grammy-nominated artists. Her voice is melodic, soulful, and draws you in with the mature tone. She is majoring in computer science and hopes to add minors in music and business to her resume. This young woman is driven and dedicated. With her amazing talent and creative vision, Pacific SOECS student, Malvika Sriram '19, is unstoppable.

Sriram started taking music lessons for classical Indian music at the young age of four. However, she did not enjoy it at that time and quit after only two years. It was not until later that she started picking up music again in random ways and it began to grow on her. As time went on, she discovered she had great pitch and enjoyed composing her own music. This was when she finally appreciated music as an art form; "It just had to grow on me which took some time for that to happen and when it did, it was really magical." Ever since then, she has been working with music through programming, composing and performing.

During her years of exploring music, Sriram found various genres she prefers. She sings Carnatic, a form of Indian classical music, and does two-hour performances about nine times a year, both nationally and internationally. She has branched out to Western and film music as well. In fact, one of her most recent accomplishments was having her music featured in the film, Gentleman (2016), an Indian Telugu romantic thriller. The musical director had initially reached out to Sriram to record her song during finals week, which she had to decline in deference to her education. Ultimately the musical director and Sriram came to an agreement and he gave her twenty-four hours to work on the song and bring about all the elements that were necessary to make it happen. She ended up sending him roughly three hundred tracks filled with instrumentals and vocals. After not hearing back from him for several months, he reached out and let her know that the song was done, and she needed to hear it. While she was not the primary artist of the song, Chali Gaali Chuuduu, she was shocked when she heard all of her instruments and her voice in it too.

Essentially composing the background score of a song, singing on it, and having it featured in a film is an impressive achievement. When asked how this opportunity made her feel, she stated "I was humbled and it was a fantastic experience." Although her name was unfortunately spelled incorrectly in the movie credits, she was still happy about the outcome and how the music director mentioned her in numerous interviews. Since then, she has been contacted from other music directors in the Telugu industry.

While music is her passion, computer science is Sriram's major and another primary interest of hers. A key inspiration in her decision to select a CS major was her parents, who have been involved in the software and hardware industry for years and always made science fun for her. Sriram found it easy to identify with the subject and connect it with her other interests. She became intrigued by how software works and how it can be applied to our daily lives.

It was the combination of music and computer science that brought Sriram to her professional goals. She hopes to one day create a software that can detect any note or pitch by using algorithms to calculate intervals between a scale and notate any song within any interval. The inspiration behind this responds to a need for Indian musicians because Indian music lacks a set way of writing notation, whereas Western music use music theory to read and learn music. By creating and developing her software, Sriram hopes that she will make way for a new form of music notation by marrying the physics of music and computer science. This program would make it easier for composers to stay organized and for anyone who wants to learn music. She hopes that by one day commercializing the product, she will be able to turn her passion into a profession.

When looking back, Sriram notes that her proudest moments were becoming acquainted with her music teachers. Her mom is the president of SIFA (South Indian Fine Arts) and would often meet famous Indian artists, some of whom took a personal interest in Sriram's talent. She has the pleasure of learning under Oscar-nominated Carnatic music vocalist and music composer, Bombay Jayashri, who helps her with music composition and taught her how to deliver a song in a performance. She has also studied under Grammy-nominated and world-renowned flutist, Shashank Subramanyam who works with her on laya (rhythm). Jayashri and Subramanyam have served as inspirational mentors and continue to foster her passion for music.

Sriram wants to make an impact in the world through her passion for music and interest in computer science. Her accomplishments and vision for music makes her stand out as a unique individual. She manages to balance school, work, her studies, and her music career all while working towards her goal of creating a music software and being more involved in the film industry. This young woman is on the path to following her dreams and has a bright future ahead of her.

- Eilleen Le '16

Read more stories like this from The Rock.

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