Vij Sodera and his music
Vij recalls that the sum total of his school musical education amounted to devastatingly exciting old English tunes such as “D’ye Ken John Peel”. It was only when he went to medical school in Sheffield that he was introduced to the Spanish guitar by a friend. He proceeded to teach himself and took frequent breaks from his evening studies to work on his finger-picking. Three of his early compositions had distinctively catchy medical elements – for example, Kreb’s cycle, bacterial endocarditis, and acute glomerular nephritis.
His early acoustic guitar and vocal influences included Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen and Simon & Garfunkel. However, his greatest influence was undoubtedly the band Yes – with their sophisticated symphonic arrangements, Steve Howe’s virtuoso guitar styles, and Chris Squire’s growling bass lines. He still manages to stumble hopelessly when playing even the simplest phrases of Steve Howe’s guitar work. So he leaves the clever stuff to his brother Pardeep. Other influences were Santana for the melodic guitar work and Latin grooves, Mark Knopfler for his exemplary song-writing and guitar-playing, and Peter Gabriel for his song-writing and production techniques.
Vij’s song arrangements often include a dash of Indian and Middle-Eastern rhythms. He also likes to experiment using different objects for percussion purposes (such as a cow scapula and rib, biscuit tins, and cloth scraping), and using specialised wind instruments (such as a hollow ostrich egg and a cylindrical DVD case).
Regarding lyrics, one of his earlier medical school compositions included a most satisfyingly lengthy name of an enzyme in the short ditty called The Party:
There was Will Rubin,
Penelope Cillin, and from across the sea so blue,
Uri Dine Diphosphate Glucose Glycogen Transglucosylase, too.
Another early song was the iconic Subacute Bacterial Blues, which looks at the world from the viewpoint of a bacterium that has infected an aortic heart valve:
More recently, Vij was particularly pleased to have included, in his song Arc of infinite radius, the first nine elements of the Periodic Table in order of atomic number (H He Li Be B C N O F).
The track “One Giant Leap for mankind”, from his album Earthcircle 4022 was inspired by Neil Armstrong’s historical speech from the Moon, and this song paraphrases the apostle Peter’s preaching at Pentecost after the Resurrection. The video for the song was filmed in Jerusalem and Galilee.
Most of the songs are inspired by a Biblical theme. Once the lyrics and tune are worked out, Vij records a draft version, and then Chris Height (drums, vocals), Andrew Dickinson (bass) and Pardeep Sodera (guitar, harmonica, keyboards) come in to work on the clever bits – “the icing on the cake”. Mark Sharp played keyboard on many of the songs before he moved to Denmark.
Most of the recordings were done in Vij’s studio. The videos for the songs were filmed and edited by Vij and his daughter Lisa, who have worked as a team for many years. Additional vocals, saxophone and keyboards are provided by Lisa and his older daughter, Melanie.
Surgery and Publishing
Vij looked after a Minor Injuries Unit for nearly twenty years, and from 1987-2017 he ran his private surgical clinic specialising in skin surgery.
He is an acclaimed medical author who has published eight medical textbooks on skin tumours and skin surgery. Five of these books comprise a new Minor Surgery series in digital format, available from the iBooks store.
Vij has also published a light-hearted book entitled Dermoscopy: an alternative atlas (free for anyone to download), which illustrates a number of non-medical subjects as seen through a dermoscope. (Dermoscopy is the magnification of skin using an oil interface or polarising filters, to facilitate the diagnosis of skin tumours.)
His celebrated 560-page book One Small Speck to Man ~ the evolution myth contains some 1300 pictures and shows how all the animal biology falsifies the notion that humans are modified apes. Vija’s natural history studies have taken him to East Africa, Canada, Florida and Iceland, where he has photographed diverse wildlife and geology. Along with the anatomical dissections and most of the photographs, all the artwork and diagrams are his own work.
His new two-volume book GOD: the Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Proof is soon to be published, and also his 300-page pictorial guide to Biblical Israel.
He is also currently working on a 3-volume series on Minor Injuries, and is planning a television series that celebrates animal anatomy.
Having always had a special love of animals, Vij is an accomplished wildlife artist, and has exhibited many of his paintings. A number of his paintings are featured in his book One Small Speck to Man and are also on view in his consulting rooms.
Professor Kreb described two biochemical cycles. The famous ‘Kreb’s cycle’ (also known by the catchy name ‘the tricarboxylic acid cycle’) deals with the metabolism of glucose to produce the energy bonds in adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The less well-known ‘Kreb’s urea cycle’ deals with the metabolism of ammonia waste into urea. Vij was in a biochemistry lecture when he thought about linking the two cycles into the framework of a bicycle. With the ‘Kreb’s cycle’ and the ‘Kreb’s urea cycle’ making up the front and back wheels respectively, the painting Kreb’s Bi-cycle was born. To complete the picture, the Bi-cycle stands inside an abstract mitochondrion, which is where Kreb’s cycle does its thing.
The painting ‘Red Thunder’ displays the power and majesty of the elephant, Vij’s favourite animal. He’s always amazed as to how wonderful they look, and likes to imagine that, after having made all the other creatures, God jotted down these notes regarding His next creation: ‘I think I’ll now make something with the longest nose ever, huge sticking-out ears, long goofy teeth, and a great fat belly’. On paper, it seems the most ridiculous of characteristics, but how fantastic and noble is the living elephant! God certainly knew what He was doing.