Chola Bronze, The Shiva Nataraja

shivanataraja

The cholas came to power in the later 9th century and ruled most of South India,  Sri Lanka, the Maldive Islands, and even parts of Indonesian Island of Java from homeland near Thanjavur (Tanjore) on the Southeast coast till the 13th century. Chola rulers were active patrons , and during their reign ,poetry, drama, music and dance flourished. They also constructed enormous stone temple complexes decorated on the inside and outside with beautiful depictions of Hindu gods.

While the stone sculptures and the inner sanctum image empowering the temple remained immovable, changing religious concepts during the 10th century demanded that the deities take part in a variety of public roles similar to those of a human monarch. As a result, large bronze images were created to be carried outside the temple to participate in daily rituals, processions, and temple festivals. The round lugs and holes found on the bases of many of these sculptures are for th poles that were used to carry the heavy images. These statues are admired for the sensous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewellery.

Chola period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique. Although bronze casting was a tradition for a long time in the South, but during the Chola period a much larger and a greater number of bronze statues were made further attesting to the importance of bronze sculptures during this period.

When these statues were worshiped, they’d be covered in silk cloths,garlands and jewels and wouldn’t appear as they do outside a religious context. Decorating the statues in these ways a tradition at least a thousand years old.

The god usually resides within a stone icon installed in the inner sanctuary of the temple. But in order to make himself accessible to everyone, he is brought outside the temple walls for processions. Special sculptures are created solely for use in processions, usually made of bronze. The god leaves the inner sanctuary and inhabits the bronze sculpture after intensive ritual purification.

The Bronze Hindu sculpture of thee Shiva Nataraja was one of these sacred sculptures made for processions. During the procession. Poles were inserted into the holes on the base of the statue so that the temple attendants could easily carry it through town.

shivaprocession

The Shiva Nataraja would be so richly adorned with clothes, flowers and jewellery that the sculpture would be barely visible. Often only the eyes would be visible and being the most important feature. As long as the eyes would be visible through the heap of offerings, the darshan would be  experienced by all present. Till this date, darshans are carried out in a very similar way.

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MUSIC AND SOUND

Music is a sound we consciously create. It becomes a pattern that triggers something in each of us and makes us feel an emotion. I don’t have the most deep connect with music, or I didn’t rather. But now music has started having a larger impact upon me. There are certain songs that are my go to emotional support songs and there are those that I listen to that just make me happy. However I don’t enjoy every genre of music. I’m a safe listener, I don’t experiment. That’s also why probably this essay is harder for me to write than I can imagine.

 

When thinking of Goa and the music festivals that goes on there the first thing that comes to mind is psychedelic music. This type of music is heard in attempts to enhance the experiences of psychedelic drugs. In the 70’s and 80’s there was an emergence of the hippie ideology in Goa. People started consuming Marijuana and LSD as an alternative source of consciousness. Goan trance was immensely popular and the precursor to psychedelic music in goa. The goal of trance music was to make bodies move in completely different ways and experience a certain sense of euphoria.

The last music festival that I went to was Sunburn, Mumbai. There were DJ’s like Krewella playing but it was a concert that I thoroughly didn’t enjoy. I don’t know whether It has to do with the fact that I deeply despise trance music as a whole or whether we have outgrown concerts. I guess it has to do with various factors by and large. For me I miss the whole point of psychedelic music because I don’t do drugs or have never tried them before. Sometimes to me it feels like just loud sounds put together to pass off as music. Being drunk at a trance music concert could get me through it but what if that phase has passed too? What if I just cannot do EDM, the baby of trance.

The festival more than anything was extremely crowded which was the first and most putting off out of many things. This huge ground at Turf Club, Mahalaxmi was overworked with frenzied fans high on drugs and alcohol enjoying the concert like it was their first and last. They seemed to get the music and seemed to really enjoy it and get into it. While for me my high from alcohol seemed to have vanished within the first 30 minutes of the concert. I couldn’t do it. Looking at all the people brushing up against each other and push to go more ahead was sickening. I realized that you needed some sort of agent to help you enjoy these things and alcohol wasn’t worthy enough of one. I want to enjoy a concert high on some drug for experimentation one day but that one, I just did not enjoy. Towards the middle of the concert on reaching the bathroom my friend Jhanvi and I looked at each other expectantly and at the same time decided to make a run for it. We left the concert sneakily with bubbling laughter on the outside but I know both of us worried the same thing. Were we too old for this or have we finally realized that without an external agent we just couldn’t enjoy EDM.

A few years ago my friends and I travelled to Pune for a David Guetta Concert. We were excited out of our minds. The ambiance was completely different. It was a massive crowd but in a massive ground. The crowd didn’t match up to the place, which made a huge difference. It gave us breathing space. The entire day we eagerly awaited Guettas arrival. He is one of the best Dj’s in the world. I wasn’t even high at that concert. Not even on alcohol. When the main act arrived, I don’t know what it was, but from start to finish I didn’t stop dancing even for a minute. I enjoyed every moment of his concert. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that most of his songs had lyrics and lyrics are important to me and are what help me relate to a song. Without lyrics most songs are just noise to me. I clung to every word of David Guettas playlist. I scream my heart out and enjoyed like there was no tomorrow. I don’t know what that music did to me but without any external force I was completely euphoric. I went on tall boys backs, danced with my girls and all in all had a great time. There was even a surprise performance by AKON in the end. I think what made the concert enjoyable was the ambiance being not too crowded and heated. But mainly knowing most of the songs and the songs having words.

I don’t know whether I will ever enjoy an EDM Concert again. I think this proves the point that this type of psychedelic music relies heavily on having external catalysts speed up the process of reaching that state of euphoria that makes such music enjoyable and actually become music to the ears. I know one day I want to experience it but I know I’m not ready.

Guest Lecture with Anuraag Dhoundeyal

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Anuraag is a musician and a versatile singer. Anuraag believes in the potential of music to transcend all boundaries and to help individuals become more sensitive to their environment. Anurag has to his credit a number of performances and collaborations, both national and international, in India and abroad. He has partnered with musicians from different genres in creating original compositions as well as lending his voice for multiple projects covering genres like western classical, jazz, folk music from Africa, Ireland and Rajasthan, world music and Sufi. He has also composed and performed the music for a South African play ‘The Coolie Odyssey’.

As a Music Educator, he was invited by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London) to attend workshops for Professional Musicians and Educators and also to conduct workshops on Indian Classical Music for the post-graduate students of the University.

Through a lecture demonstration, Anurag talks about music and its reactions on the brain.

Sound and Film

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Sound and Cinema go hand in hand and when one is used to hearing a certain something while images are moving, it is hard to get rid of that and not feel the same.

For most of us we have lived in a world where a film always carries sounds with it and thats what brings the motion picture to life. Sounds convey a lot of things to us, music, dialogues, emotions.
A wailing and heartbroken woman is know for her banshee like scream when her lover leaves her or dies or something equally tragic,the happiness felt by someone when their dreams come true or their hearts desire is fulfilled.
Without Sound the world we know wouldn’t ever be the same, so many little discreet sounds create the soundtrack of our lives and without us knowing it the entire story has already been written.
Sometimes I wonder how people watches silent films but then again they had their own charm to it and the absence of sound made you focus more on the film and the filming and other vital details regarding the film. Actors back then had real talent to express themselves, nowadays people are reliant solely on how good their dialogue and how their role is.
When silent movies were first shown (in the 1890s) they were the absolute cutting edge of technology, there was nothing to rival them,radio broadcasting hadn’t been developed then let alone television, photography was still in its infancy.Everything was still so brand new at that point and it was still growing and discoveries and innovations were being created or being imagined by brilliant individuals.
Sound Explaining Pictures not only the micro dramatics expressed in the microphysiognomy of the face can be made intelligible by the sound which causes it. Such a closeupplussound can have the inverse effect. The closeup of a listener’s face can explain the sound he hears. We might perhaps not have noticed the significance of some sound or noise if we had not seen its effect in the mirror of a human face. For instance we hear the screaming of a siren. Such a sound does not acquire a dramatic significance unless we can see from the expression on human faces that it is a danger signal, or a call to revolt. We may hear the sound of sobbing, but how deep its meaning is will become evident only from the expression of sympathy and understanding appearing on some human face. I think that the film Gladiator is one such film is it’s music almost brought me to tears and it moved me, the background score is by Hans Zimmerman.The song that plays at the end of the film has deep thought behind it as it is surrounded by the death of the main character and how when the camera focus’s on his face and his life through the film it feels like he can finally go home and is no longer trapped as a prisoner or in this body,he can finally return home to his loved ones in heaven.The song captures the journey as a peaceful one and the unity and loyalty shown amongst the guard towards Maximus is shown through the voices that rise within them.Now We are Free was an appropriate title for the song as he was then well and truly free.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72uwmHsFSAg

Frozen, an animated film was a film that shows the need to break free and be yourself no matter what others might feel because at the end of the day its your happiness that counts.The Song that really struck a chord with me was Let it Go which had such power in the strong and it mimicked the mere emotions of the lead character in the most powerful way one knew of. The sound starts melodiously but turns into a powerhouse song that would soon be an anthem around the world.It showed the transition between a trapped queen to a free woman who lives and does as she pleases.The sound itself teaches you to embrace all sides of you and to never be ashamed of yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk

The Piano Tuner is  a french short film directed by Mr.Oliver Theiner, this film is a brilliant take on how far people will go do certain things.

A young man decided to  act blind and get into peoples houses under the pretext of tuning their piano.He survives throughout the film with getting away with all the crimes but no one doubts him as they all believe that he is blind.

The sound of the Piano masks the sound of him committing a crime by glaring and staring at people while they reveal themselves to him.

At the end of the film, he makes yet another effort to visit a house but what he discovers is the one thing he didn’t expect.He enters the place and he falls over spilt blood of the man of that house, he gets startled but he cannot act as if he witnessed it,because that would bow his cover.

He starts playing but the woman finds his suit to be bloodied so asks him to change, and he sits there silently playing the piano while he wonders where the woman has gone.

After a while the woman returns with a gun and puts it against his neck and he realises this and says to himself”She will not kill me, till I’m playing” The constant Sound of the piano becomes his bane and solace at the same time as it is the sound he will die to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz3jDPpYk-Q

Sense of Sound: Assignment 2

Cinema and Sound

“Where words fail, music speaks.” -Hans Christian Andersen.

Sound plays such an essential role in a film. It fundamentally sets its mood. Even though we don’t think it makes a difference, watching a movie without its music would change the experience entirely. It helps the viewer connect to the movie and its characters at a greater level. Having sound or music at a crucial part helps make the views feel what that characters are feeling. The music of a film actually helps the view get a clearer idea of the emotions felt at that moment. There is always the presence of sound and music that runs through the entire film. Most of the time we don’t even realize it but get accustomed to it at an indescribable level. Filmmakers employ various techniques to achieve the right atmosphere for instance fast music for suspense, deep music for melancholy or sharp music for intrigue. Sometimes when the words aren’t enough to translate the gravity of the situation, it’s the music that then helps accomplish those emotions. Music does more than just enhance the film; it fortifies our memory of that film to the emotions felt at that point and without its music the movie almost looses its meaning.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is one such film that has used sound and music in an intriguing manner. The plot of the film is rather dark. It revolves around the murder of a wealthy woman, the theft of her priceless painting and the battle of her family over her enormous fortune. Although it has such a dark plot it falls under the comedy genre and I think it has a lot to do with its art and sound direction. This film was basically a flashback of a story in a story. The events that took place were actually in 1932 and was told to the author in 1968. After which a girl in 1985 starts reading a book where the story is penned down and is being narrated by the author from his desk, the start of the story. To me the plot didn’t really matter by the end of it as compared to the way it was made. There wasn’t one single minute in the entire 1.39 minute run time of the film that didn’t have a background sound. The background score by Alexandre Desplat features orchestral elements, keyboard instruments and balalaikas along with European melodic themes. As the film is set in the olden days, the filmmakers have employed techniques to make it look as if it was a movie from that time itself, especially with the music. Like any old film the sets look as if they’re actually sets and aren’t real, probably made of paper. The music is extremely stereotypical, for instance when they’re running there is a fast beat, when something suspicious is happening there is a slow beat. When there is a romantic gesture there are heavy but soothing vocals. What also made it interesting is in between scenes there was cartoonish music and at some parts I almost felt like I was watching a Charlie Chaplin movie. Through out the score there was a lot of string music, enumerating the generation at the time the movie was set. For me the dialogues were overpowered by the background score and without this kind of sound direction I feel like the movie would have almost no meaning. It was like the sound was explaining the picture.

Sometimes music creates its own language, speech beyond human speech. But when human speech is put into a melody, the music becomes the dialogue. This is exactly what musicals are. The musical I thought was the most appropriate is Mamma Mia, adapted from the WestEnd and the Broadway musical. The beauty of Mamma Mia is how so perfectly the plot has been created to fit the ABBA songs in it, it almost seems as if the songs were written for the movie. Its like most of the dialogues are the songs essentially. This movie is set on a Greek island, about a young bride to be, Sophie who wants to be given away by her father (who she has never met). But she doesn’t know who it is and has 3 possibilities and so she invites them all for her wedding without telling her mother of course hoping to find out who her real father is.

“I have a dream, a fantasy

To help me through reality

And my destination makes it worth the while

Pushing through the darkness still another mile”

What Sophie sings while posting the letters. It shows what she desires without really saying it as a dialogue. I feel like it is easier to express ones true emotions in song rather than a dialogue and so every song in this movie helps one understand what each character is essentially made of and what he or she feels.

“I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay

Ain’t it sad

And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me

That’s too bad

In my dreams I have a plan

If I got me a wealthy man”

This is Donna, Sophie’s mothers’ introduction while she is fixing up her hotel for her daughters wedding. It shows how caught up with life she is without saying it in a direct manner

“Mamma mia, here I go again

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my, just how much I’ve missed you?

Yes, I’ve been brokenhearted

Blue since the day we parted

Why, why did I ever let you go?

Mamma mia, now I really know

My my, I could never let you go”

This is when Donnas 3 olden day love interests arrive, Sophie’s possible fathers.

“Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight

Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight

Take me through the darkness to the break of the day”

This is at Sophie’s bachelorette and when her three possible fathers tell her they want to give her away separately. Also place where the sound cannot be isolated, while the song is going on there is a parallel conversation between Sophie and her fathers.

This way the plot thickens and the lyrics of the songs replace the dialogues and really help you get into each and every character so effortlessly. In this movie the plot is essentially the music and so without the music there would be no movie.

“Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable, powerful, it has to mean something… Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space”. Interstellar by Christopher Nolan was one movie that made me feel butterflies in my stomach. The basic plot of the film is about finding a new planet for the survival of the human race. It was very thought provoking to see how time is warped in space and how that would affect human life and what isolation can do to a person. Along with the expedition they raised many questions about the human race it self and the emotional connect to one another and how no matter what those feelings transcend through time and space. It really made me question my existence and the fundamental idea of life and time even though it was a fiction movie. It may not have been real life, but it showed what life really means. The movie seemed so real, as if this was actually happening. I have to admit I didn’t understand everything, but with all filmmaking techniques put together I could feel every emotion that was intended to be felt. Hans Zimmer has exceedingly well created a background score that makes you feel the vastness of the universe, which was oddly comforting to me. Through the movie there is always that supernatural background undertone, which gave a constant eerie feeling. There is also a sacrificial and honorable feeling that comes out through the tunes of the score. What made it so interesting to me are the parts where you could feel the silence and loneliness, when you can here the most distant sounds. It is these distant sounds that builds the tension in the film. The parts where the spacecraft is shown form the outside, that is space, there is remote silence as no sound travels in space, which adds to the feeling of limitlessness and enormity. It kind of transposed me to a different space of heightened emotions in the duration of the film. I’m sure the movie would not have been so successful without the clever induction background score. There are many such techniques employed by filmmakers in different genres to bring about different emotions within the viewer changing the movie watching experience entirely.


 

Trance Music

The concept of music has been around since the medieval times. It’s an art form whose medium is sound. Every kind of music has had to have a folk background and then gone through an evolutionary passage. There are now a number of different genres of music like pop, rock, trance, folk, punk, instrumental and so on. Over the years music has changed to so much that each genre now has a specific characteristic. The feeling I get when I listen to say rock is miles apart from when I listen to trance. To be honest I feel the music you enjoy is very situational, the kind of atmosphere you’re in or even the people you’re with. I’m sure no one would want to go for an EDM concert with his or her parents.

EDM or Trance owes its recognition in India to Goa of course. It began around the hippie time as a rebellious movement. To understand trance one must understand the ideology it came from. The hippies believed in being free and in a “heightened state of consciousness”. It was the time when the philosophy of drugs and sexuality cultivated and therefore till today people believe that trance is synonymous with drugs and Goa in India. Whenever a person says Goa you instantly think; great new music, raging parties, cheap alcohol and drugs, the beaches, see food and culture comes much later. Goa is now the party city of India. People seem to think Goa is the place to experience EDM concerts for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t seem that obvious to me. Do you really have to be in an intoxicated state to enjoy trance music? Or is it just a thing you have to do because everyone around you seems to feel that way. Even if you don’t really know what you want you know that Goa is the place to be if you want to “enjoy trance”.

Concerts are a comparatively new craze in Mumbai. Over the last few years there have been a number of EDM concerts with artist like Afrojack, Steve Aoki, Sweedish House Mafia, Hardwell and many others, which have all been sold out for the simple reason that it’s a concert and so you have to go for it. Even if you don’t really like or even know the artist you have to go for it because its a concert. Everyone always cribs about no big names apart form EDM artists come to Mumbai and then promise themselves “no more EDM concerts” but the next thing you know you’re booking your tickets for the next Sunburn Mumbai. It’s not about being hypocritical, it’s about wanting to be part of something, standing with hundreds of people and having a good time. At least you claim to be having a good time. These concerts have a rather large target audience now with teenagers from the age of 15 up go to have a “good time”. Everyone goes through the concert phase where you just can’t miss even one concert and then you just grow out of it.

Sweedish House Mafia was once concert that was so excessively overhyped where every single person you knew had to be there. I have to agree it was a great concert, I remember having a blast. Just standing there and chanting the words to “Don’t you worry child” along with entire audience feeling like you’re apart of something big. I actually think that marked the beginning of the craze of EDM concerts in Mumbai. Over the last two years I went for many concerts; Steve aoki, Avicii, Hardwell but all these were long ago, which just means that I invariably out grew these concerts with absolutely no regret.

Many people still think of trance as noise, some are captivated by the sound of the beats and some “need to be high to enjoy it”.

“Trance is a very emotional and uplifting form of dance music. It appeals to many people in this way having such a strong connection with emotions. It makes people happy and ready to party.” -Tiesto

I see validity in it to a certain extent; music cannot just be made out of the blue. It needs inspiration and emotional connection otherwise what is produced would truly just be noise. Even if I say I don’t like trance when I’m in that kind of an atmosphere where everyone is happy I would enjoy it too.

I feel like lyrical music has a lot to do with what you think about it and what you interpret it as. The satisfaction and euphoria arises from your mind itself. But I believe trance speaks to your body. I believe that, if you can feel the beats of the music thumping within your heart and body it is successful, other wise its just commotion.

The Bollywood culture too has started inducing a sense of trance into a few of their songs, such as Dum Maro Dum and Manali Trance. Although both of these stick to the stereotypical ideology of Trance where everyone is intoxicated or high in the music video. It’s so thought provoking how trance from the western world influenced Goa and then go on to influence Bollywood music.


 

 

 

 

Sense of Sound: Assignment 2

“Films are 50 percent visual and 50 percent sound. Sometimes sound even overplays the visual.”

-David Lynch (Film Director)

Films were once devoid of sound. Who knew that something that never existed in films would eventually become an integral part of completing a film. Today we see how films give utmost importance to sound designing and yet, sometimes people do not seem to notice sound as one of the most important elements of a film. Every sound in a film is very carefully and intentionally placed in its specific position in order to express an emotion or depict a certain thing.

Every kind of film has a major role of sound playing in it, however they are designed in different manners for different kinds of films. For example in an animated movie, every sound is designed from scratch from different points of inspirations and this also includes the most faint ambient sounds. On the other hand, when movies are shot in public spaces or rather in any spaces, the existing ambient sounds come into play automatically. In this manner the degrees of sound designing differ in different movies.

The role of sound design also differs based on the genre of the movie. The genre of the film plays an important role in determining the kind of sounds and the amount of sound designing that is required. In certain series of films, sounds become important identifying characteristics. For example, just the voice of a certain person would establish his presence even if he wasn’t visible on the screen at a particular time. In a similar manner, in fantasy films, a certain sound could define a certain creature in the manner in which we identify animals in real life. Sound could also help in establishing the mood of a certain scene in a movie or even a complete movie.

As we learn from the essay by Bela Balazs, sound in reality is everything you hear. An untrained ear might call it noise, whereas a trained ear might just make music out of the sounds around. The essay also suggests that we live in an acoustic world, which includes the minutest sounds from the creaking of a door to the humming of bee at a distance. Another very important concept that the essay is covers is that of ‘silence’. Silence itself is a sound which also plays a very important role in films. It adds it own kind of drama and suspense, or maybe a sense of peace depending on the context of the movie. But silence isn’t just hearing nothing. In that case a deaf person would know what silence is. “We feel the silence when we can hear the most distant sound or the slightest rustle near us. The silence is greatest when we can hear very distant sounds in a very large space.” Silence can be used in a number of ways depending on the context of the movie.

The first movie that I would like to state as an example would be the horror film, ‘The Conjuring’. Every horror film scary only because of the manner in which we relate the sound effects to the visuals in front of us. Ever thought of a ‘creaking’ door without the ‘creak’? Nothing could define the fact that the door was creaking other than the sound itself. In this manner there are certain things that only the sound design can execute. Silence also plays a very important role in horror movies. I believe that no horror movie can be complete without the effective use of silence. Again, silence is used in a different context in these movies. Silence is used to build suspense, create tension and fear in this movie. This silence is used in contrast with sudden loud sounds immediately after, and this is what makes the particular scene scary. For example, in ‘The Conjuring’, when the mother goes down into the basement and gets locked, silence is used to build the tension in the scene, which is immediately contrasted with the loud clap right beside her ear. Then the scream right after, adds to the fear and tension. Bela Balazs, in her essay, also suggests that we relate certain sounds to certain expressions. Therefore, the scream is more effective when we see her face full of fear along with the sound.

This happens because we relate certain sounds to certain visuals. This has happened over time because of the references made to specific expressions in film over a period of time. So therefore, when we hear a scream we will expect to see that face full of fear. In case we do not, the overall effectiveness of the scream also reduces.

In the past couple of years, the animated movie ‘Wall-E’ has been noticed as an iconic movie when it comes to sound design. The sound design for this film is done by one of the most reputed sound designers, Benjamin Burt who has also designed the sounds for other famous films such as the Star Wars series and the Indiana Jones series. However, the amount of work he has done for the sound designing of ‘Wall-E’ is much more than what he has done for any other film. ‘Wall-E’ is an animated film that doesn’t have any dialogues but only uses sounds for everything. Its the story of a cleaning robot that is working alone after he is the last one left. For this film, Ben Burt has designed over 2500 sounds, all from scratch. He has used simple objects such as metal sheets and slinky toys to create the sounds for this movie. When asked in an interview, he recorded a tank moving and sped up the clip to depict the treads of Wall-E when he moved. Therefore, in animated movies, the process of making the visuals is separate and the process of creating the sounds in separate. However, both are equally important as I have been stating above. This movie also has a very effective use of silence. They portray the ambient sounds very well which help in establishing the locations of the scenes.

Lastly, I would talk about a short animated film by Disney which doesn’t have any dialogues either. ‘Paperman’ by John Kahrs is another example of the effective use of silence. This movie has no dialogues and still brings about a great number of emotions using simple sounds and visuals. In the very opening scene, we see the boy and girl separate from each other and this entire scene combines very well with the silence at that moment in the film. The silence and the face expressions, together, bring about the intimacy between the two people and also express the sadness of them being separated although they do not know each other. Even later in the film, the manner in which the builds up compliments the progression of the film before it reaches its climax.

Therefore, this is another example of the importance of sound design in a film.

Thus, through the above examples we see the role of sound design in films. We see how sound plays a significant role in expressing the film and how a film without any sound at all would seem incomplete today. The minutest of sounds in a film help in establishing a fact and therefore I would conclude by quoting Walter Murch;

“The ultimate metaphoric sound is silence. If you can get the film to a place with no sound where there should be sound, the audience will crowd that silence with sounds and feelings of their own making, and they will, individually, answer the question of, “Why is it quiet?” If the slope to silence is at the right angle, you will get the audience to a strange and wonderful place where the film becomes their own creation in a way that is deeper than any other.”

Sense of Sound: Assignment 1

I mean, the genuine roots of culture is folk music.

-John Lydon

John Lydon very accurately states the importance of traditional music the quote above. Traditional music has been an integral part of India’s rich culture for so many years now. This music has undergone various changes over the years and has come to point where it is valued by some and also abused by some.

Traditional music was a very important factor in defining societies. This happened because every region in India made their own kind of music which was mainly because of the different instruments they used in these different parts. These instruments were different because all the instruments were made from natural things that were available in these regions. Thus, explaining why the music was different in every region.

Traditional music was also always used in times of celebrations and festivities, thus playing an important role in defining the culture of different regions. Over time, this music has now evolved into something completely different. This change began in Goa when colonialism began and Westernisation prevailed over India.

Simultaneously, a completely different genre of music was building up in the Goan communities. This was due to multiple things happening simultaneously such as technological advancement, westernization, the hippie movement. The hippie movement started in the United States and these hippies migrated to Goa which influenced the music in Goa. This genre came up to be known as Goan Trance. This wasn’t only a change in music that took place but was part of a bigger movement.

Goan Trance brought about several changes in the society. Hippies rejected established institutions and rules. They believed that the dominant culture was already corrupt and there was a need to break free from these rules. This was where it all started. Trance became more and more popular and so did the ideas of the hippies spread further. This brought about a shift in the mindset of the younger generations and nowadays, sometimes these ideas are misinterpreted and thus misused. This misinterpretation is very evident when it comes to the usage of drugs. Drug usage and intoxication in trance concerts, now seems like a necessity to some. This is where we go wrong.

International artists have now been performing at concerts in India for quite a long time. It started off because people wanted to see these artists perform live in front of them. This created a very different feel in listening to the music naturally because of the ambience and surroundings. Therefore, people went to these concerts to ‘listen’ to music. I remember when I had once gone for a Bryan Adams concert. The crowd was ‘sober’ and yet energetic. This is one concert I found extremely entertaining and a major part of this was because of the ambience.

However, when I went for Zedd’s performance soon after in Bombay, I really did not seem to enjoy the concert as much as I enjoyed the previous. I had all my friends around me falling on each other, the entire venue smelling only of weed and people just losing their minds over getting more drinks. This wasn’t even close to what I had expected of this concert. More than enjoying the music, I had to make sure that a couple of my friends dont end up brawling with some other drunk guys. This is what every EDM concert is now headed to. The first thought that people get when they hear about a gig is ‘let’s get drunk’ or ‘let’s get doped’. Is this what music is really about?

The issue with this is that, since EDM has evolved and developed into such a large genre, it has started affecting all the other genres too. So nowadays, people assume that every concert is meant  for the same purpose — to get intoxicated. Certainly, there were concerts that were meant to have intoxicated people to enjoy the music and ambience, but the problem occurs when people apply the same concept to every concert. I believe that this is where we flawed and thus are truly missing  out on the experience that music is meant to provide us.

To conclude, I believe that this trend is still in change and eventually people will truly understand the experience that they are missing out. Music has a certain quality and expression that cannot be replaced by any kind of intoxication, and when people do realise this, this trend will once again begin to change. Finally I would end by quoting:

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”

― Confucius, The Book of Rites

Electronic Music

Electronic music

Music is a form of communication almost everyone enjoys. There have been various genres of music and each of them portray similar messages in different ways. Right now, I feel music is mixed up everywhere because of electronic music. Almost every song you hear now days has some elements from one of the common genres such as rock, pop or hip hop, mixed up with some electronic music and dubstep. Personally, I’m not a fan of this electronic music, I feel it’s quite distracting and doesn’t really mark it’s statement clearly.

I say so because, in the past, music genres such as rock, pop and hip hop have used their art form to communicate certain messages to the community, they’ve used their art forms to express their beliefs, (right or wrong, doesn’t matter, at least they had something to say). You have punk rock bands such as Green Day, who have something to say, who openly protest against the materialistic way of life and the political scenario in their country. Then there are older rock bands which again protest against certain ways in which their country was run, they argued against the hypocrisy and the corruption. There there were other groups expressing their emotions of love and passion, but when you listen to the recent electronic music, you don’t really have much of a feel to it.

I’ve been to two different electronic music concerts, one was sunburn Bombay, and one was Tiesto. Both of them were of the same electronic genre, but the experience at for both was different. Sunburn Bombay literally felt worse than the experience in a packed local train at peak hours. There were people all around, dancing, screaming, behaving as disruptive as possible. Men trying to touch women while they were dancing, kids who barely looked fifteen smoking marijuana. Everyone drunk everywhere, pointlessly loafing around the place. It felt as if the concert was not even meant for the music, but was meant for men to come, get drunk, have some drugs and touch some women and leave and carry on with their lives. I don’t remember which artist played there, neither do I remember a single song I heard, that’s how pointless I felt the music was.

This is what I don’t like about modern electronic music, it doesn’t really mean much, almost every song sounds the same, and the fact that they are all overplayed so much for every occasion makes them even more painful to bear. Musically, most of the modern electronic music doesn’t really seem to have much beauty, it sounds like a compute being scratched and crying out in pain. It doesn’t have that calm mellowness something like a tune from a string quintet or a violin would provide. Neither does it have the pump and the aggression a guitar would provide. It’s just something new immature children listen to when they come are roaming around downstairs on the streets in their cars . Most of it sounds like gibberish computers being scratched and wailing in pain. This electronic music fashion has a lot more effects and problems related to it according to me. If it were just music, it would be fine, but the fact that, this being such bad music and having no message whatsoever to give to the audience is influencing them heavily. Drugs such as marijuana casually being consumed while getting downstairs in the evening when the child’s mother thinks he’s going to play some cricket with his friends is highly unacceptable. You can’t solely blame the music for the consumption of the drugs, but you can definitely blame it’s fame for the influence of the wrong habits.

On one hand there’s this gibberish electronic music played at concerts such at sunburn, on the other hand, there are a few genuine artists who actually explore this genre to make true music. I don’t really have a very great knowledge about these artists as I’m not very inclined towards this genre, but, I have listened to some of them such as Tiesto, a little bit of Romanian trance music and a few other artists. I even went for a Tiesto concert in Mumbai. Now the experience at this concert was absolutely different compared to the experience at Sunburn. Here I felt that people were actually present for the music and for the love of the music. People seemed to be behaving in this manner of respect towards the music, everyone was dancing to it, but the body language and the code of conduct was absolutely different as compared to what it was at sunburn. There seemed to be less of chaos here, less of people pushing screaming and shouting, but more of people actually listening to the music and dancing to their own groove and enjoying the music.

There are also certain groups present currently who fuse electronic with their genre, some succeed, some fail miserably. An example of a band that succeeds really well is Thirty to Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park. Both these bands are ideally defined as rock bands, but both have fused several of their songs with electronic music. The point is that, though these songs have been fused with electronic music, they still have a something to say, they don’t just go on in constant gibberish like plenty of the EDM dJs. This makes me wonder, is it EDM that’s bad or is it the artists who are bad at their work?

SOUND IN FILM

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Most of us think of film as a visual experience without realizing the impact sound has on this experience, sometimes even contributing more than the visual language offered to a viewer. Sound largely contributes to the emotion and rhythm of the film. It provides a set tone or an emotional dimension towards the story and characters of the film. In some cases, sound also works as a medium of understanding the change in mood in the film or an intuitive change in plot.

The Theory of Sound by Bela Balazs speaks of a similar take on the vast potential of sound towards a film and the numerous possibilities that can be experimented through the medium of sound.

The essay instantly reminded me of the Great Gatsby which for me did a fabulous job in terms of sound and justifying the mood by the background music, yet maintaining a sense of compatible contrast between the visuals and the background tracks. Set in the 1920s the film ironically boasts music of the contemporaries. The Great Gatsby houses everything from jazz, techno-rap, EDM, hip-hop and dubstep along with pieces from Lana Delray and Beyonce altogether which before the release would have been usually interpreted and put into a modern, today’s age context. The film defies the norm and creates magic with the blend of visuals and sound. My most favourite scene being the party scene at Gatsby’s home where Fergie’s “A little party killed no body” runs through the background along with jazz beats of Bang Bang and intermittent conversation all contributing to the one of the most brilliant scenes I have seen almost making all of the glitz and glamour of the world come alive together in those few shots. The sounds in this scene form a sort of space colouring as Balazs explains in his essay where a sound has the ability to shoot an image, setting and a certain palette into our minds. As soon as you hear the tunes of the party scenes you instantly imagine a extravagant, flamboyant and colourful set up. Another one of my favourite scenes from the film is when Gatsby and Daisy reunite at his house and he showers her with all kinds of clothes from the top floor while she basks in the luxuries of his love and riches. During this scene Lana Delray’s “Young and beautiful” plays which instantly puts you in the Daisy’s shoes for those few shots and creates a deep emotional impact of love and intensity. Much like Belazs’ explanation of the ‘Acoustic World’, the pitch and repetition of words in this number make for a strong emotional connection between the viewer of the film and Daisy.

Another movie that instantly struck me as soon as I read the references Belasz makes to typical sounds such as a floorboard creaking in a deserted room or the deathwatch beetle ticking in old furniture, was the Conjuring – a film whose sound effects were enough to snatch my sleep away from me for days after I watched it. The horror film which is said to be based on a true story, changed everyone’s perspective to a regular sound of a clap. We have often experienced the regular thrill when a ghost or vampire jumps into the scene out of nowhere in a regular horror movie but this film provides a much more intensified gasp just by the sound of distant claps. Not only does the film brag its ability to make you shiver just by the sound of its clapping from hell soundtrack but it easily creates the most horrifying and feared moments in the prescense of absolute silence except for a soft humming sound that leaves you scarred for hours after. Conjuring is one of the few films of the ones I have seen that successfully manages to create emotion and emit sound in silence. The film manages to create hollowness in sound and messes with all our previous perceptions and relations that we draw with sound. The Asynchronous sound in the film contributes significantly to the story of the movie and the feeling of terror, isolation and suffocation.

Absolutely contrary in terms of mood, setting and beat to the Conjuring is Jodhaa Akbar, a Bollywood film based on a historic love story between a Rajput princess and a Mughal emperor. This film emanates the feeling of royalty, pride and in some scenes love through its sound using basic elements that make up the tracks and help us generate the feeling of going back in time into an India full of kings, queens, grand palaces and sword fights. This film especially fits into the category of a film that creates visuals by its sounds. If I were to close my eyes and watch the movie, 90 percent of it would still absolutely make sense and create images in my head due to the sound. Simple use of trumpets and loud drumbeats while the entrance of King Akbar automatically characterizes and personifies a character in your head while you hear the high pitched instruments that are usually associated with royalty or pride. The scene of the sword fight between Jodhaa and Akbar specifically is one of the scenes that can be effortlessly understood and visualized just by the sound effects during the fight. As Bela Balazs’ essay points out that in several instances sounds explains the pictures, Jodhaa Akbar is a good example of the film that does and lives up to the accuracy in sound expected by a film depicting the lives of the emperors and princesses of India during the Mughal period. Yet the film does not lose out on the implication of love through sound either, popular tracks such as “In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein” or “Jashna Bahaara” hold significance in creating the romantic mood of the film while “Khwaja mere Khwaja” and “Mann Mohana” are tracks that distinctly represent the Islam-Hindu aspect of the story.

Bela Balazs rightly says that sound has a major part to reveal the film and its feeling to its audience and is almost and in some cases more significant than its visual language. Sound has the ability to do wonders of all kinds, some of which I noticed in the films above that definitely prove the power of sound.

Tribal Dance, Gadhika

gadhika2

Gadhika is an art form practised among the Adiya community of Wayanad district in kerela. It is a kind of dance and there are two variations of Gadhika called Naattu Gadhika and Pooja Gadhika. While Naattu Gadhika is staged publicly, Pooja Gadhika is performed for ritualistic purposes, mainly to cure illness. The format of this art form is like a dance drama and it will be accompanied by musicians who play wind instruments and drum. The artists of this dance drama move rhythmically according to the music and the dialect used is a mix of Kannada and Tulu languages.
Gadhika is often performed in the Malayalam month, Mithunam which falls in June-July.  The participants of the art form, visit the houses from which they have received invitation to perform and then conduct the rituals. This tribe believes that someone falls ill when gods are angry and Gadhika is performed to please the gods and thus cure the illness. The costumes are simple, yet colourful. The principal performer will be Moopan, the chief of the tribe and he invokes Lord Shiva to help cure the patient. Once Lord Shiva was brought down to earth and pleased with invocations, other gods including Chamundi, Maniamma, Malamkali and Karimkali are believed to arrive. The participants are dressed in simple, but colourful costumes and they include men dressed as women. The main function of such performers is to welcome the gods and goddesses arriving in response to the summons of Lord Shiva.

Video of gadhika dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asau_RiPQiw

references:

http://www.indiavideo.org/kerala/arts/tribal-naattu-gadhika1-1158.php

http://www.keralatourism.org/wayanad/gadhika-tribal-dance.php