Sense of Sound: Assignment 2

Sense of Sound: Trance Music 

Sunburn, the festival of lights, sounds, fluorescent paint and non-stop dancing is synonymous with Goa. The EDM, Electronic Dance Music genre flourishes here with the people in Goa, creating an atmosphere everyone wants to be part of. For those few days, time ceases to exist and everyone on the beach together breaks out into dance while exploring alternative states of consciousness.  This genre of music started with the Hippie movement, as a reaction to end war and exploitation. They formed counter cultures from where non-conformity and rebellion were expressed in these electronic beats. However this music wasn’t only limited to Goa, and soon spread out all over the country. Sunburn in Goa, is the most sought out festival all year for people in India, however there are few concerts organised in Bombay as well. Every year Sunburn now has three-four concerts with world-famous EDM Dj’s performing here in Mumbai, on different dates and venues. And for one second don’t even think that they aren’t as packed and energetic as Sunburn, Goa itself.

I had gone for a Sunburn festival in Bombay at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. It was held in summer and was prominent featuring artists like Krewlla. This music festival was huge and was advertised all over. It had all splashes of neon colour and alcohol flowing everywhere. As soon as we entered the concert we were overwhelmed by the amount of people there. It was a frenzy where the music was as buzzed as the audience. We entered late, as it began at 6, so coming in at 7 we couldn’t breathe or even hear ourselves think. The lit-up stage in the middle had the Dj’s pumping their tunes while all over people were swaying away. My friends and I couldn’t push through the crowd at all, after about moving five steps ahead we gave up. There were bars on all the other sides, with people who where running to and fro. No one wanted to miss the performance, as if you could with the blaring sound system. This day almost everyone I met was either drunk, high or even both. The fact that my friends and I decided to go sober for this concert, was a huge mistake.

We were standing dancing to electronic beats and looking around. And by dancing I mean shuffling our feet from side to side, thats about it. We would turn our heads to see the neon fluorescent lights shinning back right at us, the exciting light and paint that creates the perfect atmosphere for this kind of genre was failing to elicit a reaction from me today. I think I was the only one wishing that I could be some other place right now, because everyone seemed to be absorbed the the Dj and her console. For a long time, trance music just played on and on. The beats for me getting worse by the second. More electronic, robot like, losing any resemblance to my idea of music. For a brief second, my favourite few songs played, and my hopes were raised. However within a few moments, it all came crashing down, because those songs were so mixed with some trance tune that I could barely recognise them at all. However no one near me seemed to car that this music sounded like a drone, they all were in their own states having a out of body experience.

That’s what annoyed me the most, I just couldn’t seem to have fun, no matter how hard I tried. Maybe it was the fact that this wasn’t my favourite genre of maybe it was the fact that I was completely in my senses. I had not one drop of alcohol in me, a stark contrast to the rest of the audience there. However I began wondering, if a consumption of any sort of drug or liquor was part of this whole sensation. Did it make the music better or the experience more memorable? Did that experience help make these machine like sounds, that I refuse to call music melodious and enjoyable?

After a while, when I couldn’t take it anymore, my friends and I left for dinner at Olive. Eating edamame and sitting with a soft hum of our conversation was probably the best part of my night.

However the next day, everyone I spoke to loved the concert, and this baffled me even more. I just couldn’t understand why. However this phenomenon of trance and EDM in Bombay, is just slowly growing. The number of concerts day by day are increasing, Steve Aoki, Swedish House Mafia, Blaster Jacks, Afrojack and so many other artists have concerts here and each being a sell out. Trance music in India has tapped out so much money from all over, where people go to have a experience they wont forget, or more honestly won’t remember.

At each concert the crowd starts from 15 years and goes on. However the younger you are, the more concerts you go to. It’s a phase I think, where you want to experience music, visuals and the environment. I remember my first music festival at Pune. I went to see David Guetta live and I didn’t stop dancing. I was barely fifteen and I was completely in my senses, however I yet had the time of my life. I was moving to each beat, the lights were criss-crossing around us, while the mood was live and upbeat. There were florescent bands on our hand, and blinding lights all over the place. We were shouting, screaming and moving. We had never had more fun. The entire experience just made us want to move and forget everything else going on in our lives. He could have been playing anything and we would have had the time of our lives.

The EDM and trance music festivals are created in a way to gain a response from the crowd. It’s almost like music that is created for the people and that’s why I think it is such a sensation. The music is mechanical, created on sound systems and mixers. It is music that is mixed and created according to what the crown likes at that point. It has no one distinct sound or rhythm, it changes with time and artist. That’s what everyone likes, the versatility of this genre and the pleasing nature of the experience. Everyone who goes for a concert knows its so much about the place, the people and the mood. It is music generated from various sounds and with it’s changing nature it appeals to a wide crowd. Old songs, new songs are all fitted into this genre, with a little altering everyone is dancing to the beat.

I think however maybe the likes and appeal of trance is a phase for some people. After some time you can’t enjoy those beats, though many would disagree. It yet is a sensation and will live on for very long. I can’t deny how great the atmosphere of the concerts of this music genre is. It is something one should experience once in their lives, to realise the strength of music one has over people. It is lyrical, lit up stage for people to completely lose themselves, where the music never stops.


Film & Sound Techniques 

Movies:

‘Father and Daughter’ by Michael Dudok de Wit

Birdman

Harry Potter Series

Films are highly visual representations of life and art that are heightened by the surrounding sound. Sound is something very interesting that can make a sad, happy, scary or even romantic. Sound is essential in setting the mood and atmosphere of the visual created before your eyes. Just as pictures are exciting, sound also has that effect on people. Whether they are mundane or extraordinary sounds, they all do something to the viewer and extract from them various reactions. Mostly all movies use a plethora of sounds that speak to us and create certain emotions.

The Intimacy of Sound is a focus on acoustic close ups, where normal sounds which are lost in day to day life are heightened to create a certain reaction. During the day we hear millions of sounds but we barely pick up any. We pick up the loudest or the ones we want too. Even if we hear the everyday sounds, we very rarely consciously pick them up, because of how busy we are. However in movies, we are forced to listen to these sounds, because like a close up, the sound director is making us focus on this sound to manifest a certain awareness or reaction within us. The sound like even a buzzing of a bee, something we would oversee can be made out very loud to make a certain point. So therefore these sounds with low effects create a emotional and intellectual link with the audience.

Such an example is seen in a short animated film, ‘Father and Daughter’ by Michael Dudok de Wit. This is a short, heart-breaking film about the relationship between a father and daughter. In the movie it shows how a father leaves his daughter and doesn’t come back. The daughter day after day, year after year keeps coming back to the hill he left from hoping to see him. At the end we realise that he had killed himself. This entire movie has a soundtrack that changes and moulds itself according to the mood. However the intimate sounds are the more interesting component. They make the movie more tangible and easier to connect too. Despite the beautiful violin music playing thought out, the sound director has also highlighted some everyday sounds at different parts of the movie.

For example the sound of the cycle plays often to highlight the last journey of the father and daughter together. The sound of the cycle is heard again later to show the audience the end number of times, the daughter has taken this route to come back to hope for her fathers return.

Another sound, is he sound of the waves and the sea. This sound that is distinctly heard symbolises the final separation of the two. It is loud and then almost dies down as the moment passes us by. The rustling of the leaves shows us how even in the harshest of weathers, she doesn’t lose hope. It also signifies the passage of time, to show how she keeps coming back, season after season. At the end of the movie, we can hear a chirping of birds then later accompanied by soft music. The birds symbolise the fact that she will now be free of the hope she is harbouring, because it is a climatic moment, where she will know the truth about what happened to her father. Also we see that she too has died to be reunited with her father.

Thus in this movie we do see how music is important, but sounds also have a effect on the audience and create  a very strong emotional connection.

Sound Cannot be Isolated, in movies sound is crucial, however it is impossible to hear only one sound. If there is a scene of people eating at the restaurant, their conversation isn’t the only sound you hear. There are sounds of the band playing, waiters, people, music and much more. Therefore no sound is truly isolated. Even if the activity is not in the frame of the film, we yet hear various sounds. The entire acoustic environment is displayed within the movie, even there is just a close up shot.

In the movie Birdman, and many others this can be seen. The Birdman is a movie that is shot about a actor trying to re live his fame. He is shooting a broadway show where he hopes he is remembered. The only thing he fears is oblivion. The entire movie, is shot in a way, where there seem to be no cuts. In the movie, there is often no isolated sound in various scenes. In the scene of the terrace where Emma Stone and Edward Norton are talking, you can hear their conversation, but with that you can hear the buzz of New York City. We get a feeling that we are on the terrace of a broadway theatre by the other noises in the surroundings, like the traffic, people talking, cameras clicking and so on. Also while they are shooting or acting on stage we hear other shuffled noises of the background stage, the people gasping, clapping, then objects moving, which makes the scene seem like it’s a broadway show on the stage.  Also when they are performing and the camera frame only shows the broadway stage we also know whats happening in the audience because of the other sounds you can hear.

Another technique is sound explaining pictures, this is when a picture or an emotion on the face of the actor explains the sound. So for example the sound of a siren is playing, and you see a thief’s scared face, and you then identify the sound. This happens all over in movies, but I want to look at the Harry Potter Series. This happens very often in these movies. In these various movies, when Sirius is crying and Harry takes in his tears we see how he has been wronged throughout by wants on the frame. Then when Dumbledore is killed we realise that he is by the expression on Harry’s face. We realise what is happening because of the expression on everyone else’s face. Also whenever we hear the hissing of Nagini we know it is symbolic of Voldemort. We also hear the scream from Harry when his head hearts which is symbolic of Vodermort.

Therefore we see how sound in fact enhances movies to a large extent.


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