By Puja Bhetwal
As the sun sets on the college campus, a group of students gathers beside the peaceful lake in the campus park with their instruments in hand. Among them is Sunny Tuladhar, a Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DSAI) major from the School of Engineering and Technology with a passion for music. As he begins to play, the harmonious melodies fill the open air, fostering a sense of companionship and unity among the group.
Sunny’s love for music began at a young age, and it wasn’t long before he realized that his interests in computer science and music could be combined. Growing up in a household filled with music, it was only natural that Sunny would develop a deep love for it. “There was always music playing in the house,” Sunny recalls, “My sister listened to a lot of rock and metal, my dad listened to Dire Straits, and there were always music cassettes lying around.” In grade 6, he picked up his first instrument, the keyboard, and realized his true passion for music. “I used to practice for hours on end,” Sunny says. But it wasn’t until he picked up the guitar in grade eight that Sunny truly began to develop his own musical taste and style.
For 15 years, Sunny has been honing his craft as a guitarist, using software like Guitar Pro to write and record his own music. In 2015, he released his first album, “Traveler’s Tale”. A recording interface from his brother in 2016 kickstarted Sunny’s professional journey as he began recording, mixing, and producing his own music. Through hard work and dedication, Sunny has gained recognition in the Nepalese music scene, officially releasing his second album, “Charades in the Sky” in 2020. “I started as a guitarist, and now I am a singer, songwriter, and producer. Let’s see what the future holds”, says Sunny as he looks upon his guitar with a smile.
At the AIT campus, Sunny has found a special connection with other music enthusiasts. “Being a musician has helped me connect with everyone on campus because everyone loves music.”, Sunny shares. “If anyone knows how to play an instrument, can sing, or is just, in general, interested in music, I feel I can easily connect with them.” Sunny believes that musicians are generally shy people, but being one himself makes it easier for him to break the ice.
Music at AIT has been a fascinating journey for Sunny, who has encountered diverse musicians from various parts of the world. “The opportunity to connect with musicians of different backgrounds has been a real blessing,” Sunny remarks. He has learned about different music cultures through these connections and discovered similarities and differences. Among Sunny’s musical friends at AIT is Ishrat Farheen from Bangladesh, who has “amazing vocals” and sings Nepali songs. Another talented musician is Ari Khan from Pakistan, who plays the bass and fills in on the drums when needed. Despite the diverse taste in music, playing Bollywood songs remains a shared enjoyment for all musicians.
Being an active member of the Student Union (SU) during his time at the institute, he was at the forefront of organizing and participating in various music-related events that have left a lasting impact on the campus community. “The SU was able to put together a few acoustic evenings by the pond that were simply magical,” Sunny recalls. “Performing for the regular welcome and graduation programs was a great opportunity to showcase our musical talents to a larger audience.”
Sunny’s musical expertise was also put to use when he organized a music workshop in both semesters, teaching basic music standards and the basics of playing guitar and ukulele. “It was heartwarming to see so many students eager to learn about music and pick up an instrument, even in graduate school,” Sunny shares. “I was happy to share my knowledge and help people explore their musical interests.”
As a self-taught musician with a passion for art and science, Sunny always felt drawn toward a field that could combine these aspects. With a burning desire to learn more, Sunny chose Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DSAI) as his graduate program. It was a multidisciplinary subject that offered a perfect intersection between art and science, and Sunny was eager to dive into its depths. As he started taking classes and working on projects, he found that his background in music proved to be a valuable asset. Whenever given a chance, he chose music-related projects, and the professors were more than happy to support Sunny in his musical endeavors.
For instance, in his Data Management and Modeling course, Sunny worked on a database system for a music-selling platform. In Business Intelligence and Analytics, he analyzed data from music streaming platforms and created a song recommender system. In Recent Trends in Machine Learning, he attempted to identify guitar tones using deep learning techniques, and in Human-Computer Interaction and Information Visualization, he conducted an experiment to determine the impact of music on concentration while working. Lastly, in Computer Vision, Sunny made a script using Google’s MediaPipe that could recognize guitar and ukulele chords based on the player’s hand shapes.
“The possibilities seem endless. I had always wanted to find a way to combine my love for music and my passion for computer science, and this program offered me just that,” said Sunny, smiling with satisfaction.
As Sunny looks to the future, he sees a world where technology and music are more closely integrated than ever. “I see crazy stuff happening with AI technology.”, he remarks on the development of Artificial Intelligence. AI can create sounds and compose music, but Sunny believes the human touch will always be a part of music, citing its flaws as what gives music its feel. However, the current trend may change this. Sunny hopes the human voice will never be replaced, and people will always be able to express themselves through music. “I would always like to hear another person singing and expressing their heart with their vocals,” he says.