Sense of Sound : Precipitate

Click below to hear the soundtrack

Mozart’s requiem creates a sense of uneasiness and heaviness, there is a gradual but highly intense rise in the piece, at the same time suggesting how beautiful the chaos is. There are sudden pauses that complement each of our unique tunes added.

cd cover

sense of sight, chola bronze

The Cholas formed one of three ruling families in Tamil-speaking south India during the first two centuries CE. In the mid-ninth century the family came to dominate the region, building an empire that would last more than four hundred years. The Chola period is also known for its sculptures and bronzes. Among the existing specimens in the various museums of the world and in the temples of South India there are figures of Shiva in various forms, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, Shiva saints and many more.

531_M                                                                                         Ganesha

India, Tamil Nadu; Chola period (880-1279), 11th century
Copper alloy
H. 21 1/4 in. (54 cm); W. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
1979.026
                                                                               

Ganesha, the son of Parvati and Shiva, is one of the most popular gods of the Hindu pantheon. He is worshipped as the god of good luck and remover of obstacles. Ganesha’s elephant head is the result of a quarrel between Shiva and Parvati. Angered by Ganesha’s refusal  at Parvati’s request  to let him see his wife while she was bathing, Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head. In order to soothe Parvati, who was devastated with grief, Shiva agreed to replace Ganesha’s head with that of the first creature he saw, which happened to be an elephant. The body of ganesha is very different from the muscular body types of shiva and vishnu, the sculpture has all the characteristics a ganesha idol , the large round belly, the elephant head and four hands. The stance of the ganesha is relaxed, and you can also see the ornamentation that has been done on the headgear and the body of the ganesha

References:

http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=1&CountryID=1&ChapterID=7&ObjectID=531

http://navacholasculptures.com/bronzesculpture.aspx

Sense of Sound: Assignment 2

Sound and Film

The night after reading Theory of the Film: Sound by Bela Balazs, I realised how dependent I was to the sound of the air conditioner to sleep. As I walked towards my car the next morning, I noticed how accustomed I was to the sound of the car cleaners splashing water on the cars every day.  As my day passed on, I tried to pin point every sound that I was so used to hearing, but didn’t take notice of.

The sense of sound is one of the most underrated yet powerful tools, especially in the art of film making. The detailed sounds, background noises and even the silences all sum up to invoke different types of feelings and emotions in the viewer. There are a lot of everyday sounds we ignore, yet a movie has the privilege of heightening these sounds to create suspense, or make the viewer anxious. When these simple ignored sounds are heard distinctly, it gives a sense of space and the extent of silence in the film.It is also amusing how just being observant of these sounds can almost make us nervous, which tells that how less attention we pay to our sense of sound. 

A good example of intimate sounds is the kitchen scene in the movie Jurrassic Park. Here the scene starts off with no background sound, yet highlighting ordinary, overlooked sounds. The clanking of the metal door, switching off of the lights, footsteps echoing in the empty room; all act like precursors for the final grunt of a dinosaur, which is not even that loud without the build up created. All these prominent sounds make the viewer more aware of the situation and their sensitivity to the sounds also increases. If at such a moment, suddenly a loud sound is played, the viewer would be frightened and probably even scream as a reaction to the auditory jerk they receive. Even while watching the movie if the viewer is eating pop corn, they would consciously become more aware of even the biting noise of the pop corn in their mouth in this scene of the film. It almost makes one feel as if they are in the space itself, making the scene more realistic.

While sounds are specifically heightened in a movie with detail and intimacy, they aren’t completely isolated. In any scene, background noise constantly plays, making the scene more realistic. These sounds fill in the space or the environment tried to be created, and set a mood for the viewer.

Like in the movie Final Destination 2, a scene of a death in an apartment is constructed with the help of the background sounds. A loud music starts off in the background, which binds all the activities happening. The sound of the gas being turned on, the simmering of the food on  the pan; all happening simultaneously with the loud, rock music playing. Things get more chaotic when the microwave starts crackling and creating sounds, along with the smoke alarm’s constant beeping. The ringing of the phone at the same time adds another layer to these overlapping sounds. The audibility of each sound is so clear, and none of them have been drowned out, making the viewer feel confused as to where to focus, just like the protagonist in the film. So the emotions of the subjects have almost been transferred to the audience through the discord of sounds created.

The scene wouldn’t have been as effective if any of the sounds were to be isolated or eliminated. Taking the same popcorn example here too, the chewing sound would not bother the viewer at all, as a loud, noisy mood has been established.

Another way of designing sound, is by tapping memories of the viewer. Some sounds are recognised by the ear, reason being as to whether we’ve heard them all our lives, or we relate to them with specific things. However most of the times these sounds re accompanied by visuals, so we don’t realise our familiarity with them. But what if the visual were to be removed and one was to only rely on the sense of sound? It would be more difficult as the ear is not used to it, yet it is not impossible.

In the raid scene of the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the visuals are very unclear and in some parts almost pitch black. Yet the sound of the helicopter,  and that of the commandos preparing their ammunition, with an engine sound in the back, constantly keeps shifting. Repetition is used to make the viewer be able to recognise the two different activities happening in the same scene. So even when one can’t see a thing, the helicopter wings helps to distinguish the change of space. There is also a constant sound of the cricket, which one relates to as night time. Even though it is not a literal reference, the basic conditioning of the ear is used to make these connections.  Also the sounds of bullets being shot, doesn’t have a visual along with it, but you can make out that it’s  hitting a metal surface.  Here sound helps us identify different materials too without seeing or feeling them. The moment the beeping tone starts playing, there is a sense that something has gone wrong, as we relate to this sound as being an emergency or alerting sound.This scene is a good example of how we use memory to track the sounds we hear.

Good sound designing of a film forms the backbone of making the viewer experience every action happening throughout the movie. It is one of the most crucial parts, yet not much credit is given to it in the overall putting together of the film. It also has a lot to do the human psychology, of how  different sounds affect a person’s emotions. They weave the entire film together, leaving you with an intimate connection with it.


Trance Music

trance: [trans, trahns] 

noun

 a half-conscious state, seemingly between sleeping and waking, in which ability to function voluntarily may be suspended.

 

A deviation from mainstream music in the 1990s, trance music emerged as the new cult in the history of music. Using fast beats, repetition and the absence of lyrics, music aficionados believe that trance music transports the listener into a completely different dimension. Today every club, party or concert is all about trance music, and people swear by the effect of this genre of music. 

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is a sub genre of trance, which became more popular with the abundance of djs now creating this kind of music from their homes as well. The popularity of this genre has led to the explosive growth of production applications that has made the creation of this genre of music easy and on a wider scale that it has been in the past.

 In 2014, I had the experience of an EDM concert when I went for the Swedish House Mafia concert in Mumbai, a trio of djs from Sweden, world renown for their EDM music. The concert was held at Mahalaxmi racecourse, a huge open ground that could easily accommodate thousands of frenzied fans of the new emerging music genre. Before the concert, I had had a few drinks, and was nothing more than just tipsy. The trio arrived and the concert was in full force with people were dancing and cheering to trance-infused beats of the Swedish sensations. In the beginning I too was dancing to the music, but soon my high had drained out and I was left in a melee of people inebriated by the music. It was after the loss of my high, when I actually noticed how bad the concert was!

 The place was over-crowded and everyone was on top of each other with people jumping, stepping on each other, and not caring enough about whom they were hurting. Standing in that crowd, you were touched by everyone around you, yet none cared. It was a crowd of youngsters aged 15 and over, high on alcohol and drugs, enjoying the space as if they were alone. They seemed to be out of control of what they were doing. However fun this thought may sound, the idea of feeling like you’re in another world, I realized it wasn’t the music which made one go into the sense if ‘trance’, but it was the concoction all the other external factors where music just acted as a catalyst. The atmosphere made me feel claustrophobic and disgusted and the music didn’t even help me feel elevated. Probably the heat and the crowd surpassed the power of my high and the impact of the music on me, but does that really mean you can enjoy trance music only in a state of intoxication?

 I personally feel that if the atmosphere hadn’t been as claustrophobic and dusty as it was, and probably if the location was different, maybe I would have enjoyed the music better. Maybe I would have felt the music alone. Or perhaps if I was in a weed infused half-conscious state, I wouldn’t have been affected by these external factors.

 The same year, I went for a Sufi concert in Turkey. The ambience was completely different; with people seated on diwans in an open auditorium at night. The music was slow, played by a Ney, a flute. The visuals were just of people in white taking circles, and simply spinning in a very stable fashion. This music made me feel as though I were in a state of trance as I watched the Sufi dervishes spinning in their long robes. I was not under the influence of any kind of drug or alcohol, but still felt hypnotised by the atmosphere and the music environment. It felt as though nothing else mattered, the feeling of letting go is what took over me, and when the music stopped, I was dazed. It was a spiritual kind of upliftment.

In this case the spinning of the dervishes helped create the illusion of being in a state of hypnosis, and I found this experience better than the previous one. Maybe that has to do something with the kind of person that I am. I’m not the type to lose complete control of myself which is why I did not like my experience at the concert at racecourse which created a disgusting and overcrowded atmosphere of frenzy. For me the atmosphere created by the performance is completely responsible for the response you have to music and the Sufi concert appealed to me because of the calm and soothing, but yet a dreamy state that it put me in. 

 Interestingly in both the genres of music, no lyrics were used. This makes me question the relation of wordless music to the state of trance. Probably the blankness and emptiness of the music allows people to render it in with their own thoughts and emotions, making the music a piece of their own. It may also help in taking the music within themselves which causes the new dimension of trance.

 If I would sit in my room and just play some EDM, it would be like noise to me. I would personally get irritated with the fast beats. Here again the question that arises is that does it mean that one has to be in a state of intoxication of either drugs or alcohol to feel the essence of the beats? Today, in our generation everyone is open to everything, and they don’t hesitate to try something new just for the “kick” of it. But can trance be translated as meditation as well keeping in mind the example of Sufi music, instead of being something reckless, loud, can it also be something calming and soothing?


sense of sound, electronic music

ULTRAmusicsymbol

Music is an expression of emotion, it is a language understood by everyone. In 1912 Ferrucio Busoni a music composer from germany wrote a book about a new aesthetic of music, this is what he says about music, ‘Music was born free; and to win freedom is its destiny. It will become the most complete of all reflexes of Nature by reason of its untrammeled immateriality. Even the poetic word ranks lower in point of incorporealness. It can gather together and disperse, can be motionless repose or wildest tempestuosity; it has the extremest heights perceptible to man—what other art has these?’. This greatly influenced music producers and encouraged them to use different methods to make music, one of the earliest forms of a synthesizer was the theremin which really caught the interest of composers but it was the invention of the midi that really led to the increase of the popularity of electronic music, the moog synthesizer invented in 1964 merged a keyboard and synthesizer, this opened a world of possibilities. Early electronic music was greatly influenced by jazz and blues, chicago was was the major center of music in the united states, house music was termed as underground, experimental music, which followed a 4/4 beat and had a higher bpm than other forms of music and was generally played in clubs, it was widely known as chicago house. This led to the creation of various electronic music genres like soul, trance, house, techno, disco . A classic example of detroit house is  Leroy Burgess song, called mainline. As there weren’t any limitations on electronic music, artists developed a different aesthetic over time which formed into various genres of electronic music. The hippie movement in the 70s really mirrored the idea of electronic music that was  freedom. psy trance is a culmination of arpeggiated lead and bass, along with heavy use of snares and hi hats, and generally plays over 130 bpm.

When i first started listening to western music i started off by listening to rock, grunge, pop. Artists like sum 41, red hot chili peppers and so on, until i stumbled upon the song levels by avicci and i was amazed by this kind of music and i wanted to listen to more of it, slowly my interest in rock music started to fade as i explored the world of modern house music, i came across different styles within house music i started feeling that all of this was too repetitive and i needed something different, not something so monotonous, then i came across deadmau5 the only artist who truly experimented with different kinds of sounds and variations, he does not make house music or trance, his music fits a larger genre called electronic music, todays mainstream artists have forgotten that electronic music is about being open to new possibilities. Nowadays modular synths are being used to create realistic sounds trying to mimic sounds of string instruments and drums has also become very popular, this can be seen through daft punks new album. In my opinion anjunabeats and anjunadeep are record labels that are producing original music and have different styles of trance and deep house within the record labels themselves. These record labels were started by Above and Beyond, who are trance music legends and were inspired by goa trance and decided to name their record label after anjuna beach in goa.

No matter how monotonous or uninteresting the music is, you will enjoy an electronic music concert of any sort, 2 years ago i loved mainstream EDM and i was reallly excited about sunburn mumbai, im sure i wont be too excited about it now. Even the experience of walking to the venue, hearing a song from a distance really gets you prepped for the concert, And its just an enjoyable experience, waiting for the build up and going berzerk when the beat drops, but after a while it just gets plain boring, because its the same pattern with a different melody, its not complicated enough to hold your interest and make you think about the various sounds, its a collection of heavy drops, a concert is not just about the music, its about the crowd the lights the alcohol, its like a huge party where you just need a simple beat to dance to.

In todays times where everyone is obsessed with big room drops, there are artists who actually are talented and are maxing out every software, every synth, and trying to do something innovative, deviating from the 4/4 beat pattern, incorporating classical instruments from around the world, collaborating with classical music artists and creating pieces of music that are truly unique.

If interested, electronic music in the 90s, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFLRHPUWBI8

Sense of Sound

Music is a very integral part of cinema. Cine is not, just about the visuals, it’s about the complete audio visual experience. The visuals act as a medium for us to see, but the audio acts as the medium for us to feel the visuals. The audio sets the mood of the film and makes the exaggerates the experience of the visuals in order for us to be able to focus only on what is needed to be, because if we watch a film with either no sound or with all sound(which includes noise) like how life is, the mood of the film won’t be set, you won’t feel that rush of adrenaline or the passion in the romance, it’ll just be a bland experience.

A great example of a movie where the background score has been used brilliantly could be Rush by Ron Howard. The sound score has been done by Hans Zimmer. Rush is about the F1 season of 1976, which shows the rivalry between legendary F1 drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. The film by itself has so many different themes and emotions it needs to explore with it’s sounds. F1 by itself is known for the noise of it’s cars in the race, the adrenaline rush that sound gives to it’s fans, the glamour that surrounds it, the competition, the risk of losing your life and then the music needs to get the 70’s in, the characteristics of two contrasting, yet extremely determined charters, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. James Hunt, on one side who was an extremely charismatic young playboy, while Niki Lauda, an extremely calculative young perfectionist. The sound score had to get the mischievous and playful mood of James, and the patriotic and always serious mood of Niki Lauda. So, Hans Zimmer went on to produce different kinds of scores, one kind which gave out the playfulness of James and the other which gave the seriousness of Niki. Then as the plot develops further in the film, you see James getting more serious and more determined and the soundtrack changing, becoming more grave and literally making the audience feel the pressure the racers felt while racing and experience the Rush they did. I personally think that one of the main reasons this film did so well was because of the music.

Another film I feel that owes it’s success to the sound score is Interstellar. Film directed by Christopher Nolan, sound score produced by Hans Zimmer again. The film is about space travel and finding a new habitable planet, but at the same time, the film is about a father-daughter relationship, emotions and love. Hans Zimmer effectively manages to make us feel the mysteriousness of space with his piano and organ scores, yet with the various different levels of pitch and tempo, he gives makes you get away from the emptiness and blandness and loneliness of space, but makes you feel the urgency Cooper has to get back to his daughter. It also has the best usage of silence in a film. The scene where Matt Damon’s character Dr. Mann loses it and crashes his space ship onto the dock and there’s an explosion, but instead of treating that explosion with a loud blast, all that’s there in the background is silence. It’s the silence that says this is it, all hopes are over, Cooper is never returning to Earth again, he’s never seeing his daughter again, everything’s over. On the other hand, it also gives the realistic impression of what space sounds like, because space is a vacuum, hence, there’s no sound travelling in it. The music made by Hans Zimmer for this film is what makes it feel so colossal and so hypnotic, that the viewers are transported to another world for a short duration of the film.

Another film with an effective sound score is Top Gun. The film is about a hot shot adraniline junkie naval pilot getting into an advanced fighter training academy. This film again explores various emotions that need to be brought out with the help of sound, there’s the mach, alpha male feel that needs to be brought out, then there’s the patriotic victorious feel that needs to be brought out, Tom Cruise’s flirty nature, then his failure and his determination to get back up and his victory over all odds. All these various emotions need to be brought out and they are with various guitar tones in the background. The constant beeps and sounds of electronics while in the cockpit view makes you feel the stuffiness and anxiousness a fighter pilot feels. Even the sound of the heavy breathing of the pilots gives you an insight on the conditions of a pilot. The sound of the jet engines and sonic boom from the aircraft gives you a feel of the adrenaline rush meant to be experienced from the film.

Overall, I think sound is extremely crucial to films. None of the films mentioned above would be successful without the sound scores. The sound in the don’t just add effects, but also help in developing characters, showing progress in the plot and setting the time period. All the sound clips exaggerate the emotions meant to be felt and help the viewer focus on to that particular emotion the director wants the viewer to feel.

Sense of Sound : Assignment 2

Goa- Change in Music Scene 

Hippie Life in Goaparty1

I have never been to the sunburn festival in Goa or any music festival held there but from what I’ve heard through many peoples stories,,it almost felt as if i was living vicariously through them as their experience never was captured so vividly in their minds.

The Goa Music scene has almost always been described to me as loud, youthful, fun and something that everyone must experience in a lifetime.It was a place where the hippies found solace with people similar to them and their activities of the free life and letting their minds lose with the help of hallucinogens.

The music started to change from artists and musicians to DJ’s and the EDM and trance world took over and Goa became a destination for everything to do with that kind of music and sound and people.It became like a world inside a tiny place.I have heard so many stories of people and their experiences at Goa and how they will never forget the moments they spent at the beach intoxicated and high.To me it feels like a getaway moment for most people, how they disconnect from the reality and connect to this magical world.

I once knew of a young man who told an audience at a seminar that the one thing he will never forget was his journey to Goa and the things he felt throughout the time he sat on the beach with his friends.

He spoke about the first time he was high on drugs and that while listening to the music at one place he did not realise when his friends were with him or no.

The only constant thing at that point to him was the trance music playing in the background and how his heart beat was hooked to it and the rhythm could be felt in his inner self.

I feel that the experience iIhad at a concert was at a total contrast to the one this man spoke of and it felt like I was on cloud 9 even though I was sober and didn’t feel the need to intoxicate myself to feel the music in my veins. The Sound did that all by itself.

My first concert was to see a local band called The Colour Compound who were playing for the After 8 Event at my Junior College ( Sophia College).Even though I had spent 2 years in the institute I had never been able to go for the band event and the excitement in me was overwhelming as I was finally getting to witness an actual band sing and perform in front of me. I was even more amped up because I was with my college friends and we had all come together for this one evening .

As soon as we entered the hall it was pitch dark and all that i could see were faint old spotlights that were atleast 20 years old and the smell of vintage seats  made me reminisce about the best years of my life. This place which was going to be flooded with sound had a personal connection to me as the first time I ever stepped onto a stage was the same one

The silence was almost deafening first and the excitement was getting to us,we couldn’t not wait any longer or else we would explode.The moment we heard the first guitar strum we could almost taste the magic in the air, everyone around us started screaming and howling as if there was no tomorrow.For most of us we couldn’t see a tomorrow beyond this one night.

The band finally came out with a bang, the tall,dark man on the left had the light above him and he kept strumming the guitar in his hand and our ears never left him,until the singer opened our souls with his harmonious voice. I had never heard this band before but at the same time this raw feeling of something so brand new leaves you in a happy state/

The band played all the songs from their debut album and some were upbeat like “Time After Time” and some mellow ones,which had me and my friends swaying like groupies. This was my first time at a concert and the light and sound uplifted me and I felt lost in the music and not the crowd which was something I felt a lot of.

The harmonies of these 4 and the guitar and drums matching the beat of my heart was enough to enjoy the moment and be lost in it. At this point it didn’t matter that my friends and I had extremely polar opposite tastes in music the sheer dancing and sound is what united us and the differences were erased.

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Most young people now love to go for EDM or Trance concerts and I usually am the one to go for rock music or Alt.Rock, because I  feel that they have substance and real sound which one can relate to and feel one with.Somehow I haven’t found a song in the EDM Genre that makes my heart beat faster and slower at the same time,the day i find that, thats when I will actually learn to appreciate  EDM Music.

It felt euphoric to meet the magic makers backstage and that memory is ingrained in my mind and I would not have wanted to be inebriated that night nor would I have wanted to be in an alternate state of mind that is usually associated with these Trance and EDM Scenes.

I dont understand the association of alcohol and getting high during a concert,because for me I would want to be sober and actually remember how I felt that night and how the sounds elevated me. It feels like people go to these concert only to get drunk and get high but they are forgetting the reason they are there,they should drown themselves in the music instead of an alcohol bottle.

Chola Bronze Sculpture

Chola Bronze Sculpture

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The Chola Dynasty was one of the longest ruling dynasties in southern India. It started ruling from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century. The Chola’s have now left behind magnificent pieces of architecture, sculptures as well as grew extensively in the field of literature.

During this period, a great number of bronze statues were casted, giving importance to the sensuous figures, elaborate and detailed treatment of their clothing and jewellery. These sculptures were not only made for decoration purposes, they were heightened when people worshiped them. It not only added to the significance of the statues but gave it a greater value and recognition.

Among the numerous Chola bronze sculptures, I’m focusing on the Durga that is now found at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Durga is known as a powerful warrior goddess who destroys and battles demons. She is considered to be the sister of lord Vishnu and therefore is often found in the Shiva temple.

The exquisite sculpture of Durga, reminds me of a lithe, youthful goddess. Unlike the other female figures of that period, she isn’t as curvy or sensuous like them. Her bodily form is more like an adolescent’s body. Moreover, the position in which she is standing is symmetrical, be it the two arms on either sides, the beautifully wrapped dhoti and her short, but identical leg form. The rough details in her short, patterned lower garment is contrasting to the long dhotis worn by the other female figures, adding to the assumption of her being a young goddess. Her breasts too are softly modeled and naturalistic in profile. The way, in which her eyes are shown, make it seem like she is calm but at the same time inactive. Beneath a tall conical crown, her face is gentle and introspective. It therefore is hard to comprehend what she is doing standing in this front view position. The dull, black bronze metal complements her gloomy mood.

Sense Of Sight – A Unholy Practice

gajon 1gajon

 Gajon festival, held in West Bengal, India on the last day of Bengali year on the occasion of worship of Lord Shivas wedding with Parvati, also known as Neelavati, which is celebrated all over Bengal under various monikers. It is Gaajon in South Bengal, Gambhira in North Bengal and East Bengal (presently Bangladesh), Gamira in further North and simply Neel in East Bengal. The customs and rituals vary according to different ritualistic practices. Despite the presence of a Brahman priest or a Qazi, weddings essentially have less to do with rituals and are more adorned with a string of traditional customs not literally connected to religion, but from the beginning of time a sense of magic, sorcery and spirituality.

Lord Shiva is believed to be born in the month of Shraabon and his wedding is celebrated during the last three days of the month Chaitra. Now being a celebration of wedding, the groom comes from his village, with his kin and other relatives of the village. The term Gaajon, rooted deeply in the notions of a folk fest, actually reflects on this idea. (‘Gaa’ is the colloquial Bengali term for village while ‘Jon’ is a reference to general populace) Gaajon thus becomes a carnival of the groom party laced with mirth, shrieks and screams.

Gajon has usually been a carnival for the lower class and lower caste, there have been instances in kolkotta in the 19th century where the rich babus would also participate. The 19th century also witnessed processions of clowns and jesters to celebrate gajon. As its been a festival/carnival for the lower class, the educated ones attempted to give it a seal of distant approval by terming it ‘folk culture’ as a larger canon of a folk festival

What happens in it?

These are Sadhus or Sanyasis, in the occasion of worship to Lord Shiva dancing around with different parts of human dead bodies. This practice has been going on for hundreds of years and it’s a tradition still practiced bt in the interiors of West Bengal. This is a very ugly and unscientific practice and the administration or police does not bother stopping it.

Its also funny and astonishing as to where do these sanyasis get these dead bodies or human parts from?

Whether it’s the Bengali Gaajon, Gambhira or Neel; they are primal and violent. But they are charged with a sense of spontaneous humanity. Can we till date connect ourselves with that humanity which is primitive and kinetic?

Film and Sound Techniques.

SOUND AND FILM.

 

We so rarely are able to make a connect of a particular sound with its source. At any point of time there are infinite sounds ringing around us but we filter and hear the ones that appeal to us, without always knowing of its origin. I can never watch a movie on mute. For me in a movie the sound is equally as important as the visuals. Even in a “silent” film the use of sound is so crucial that it has to cover up for a lack of dialogue. Therefore we see that even a silent film isn’t really “silent”. So what is a film without sound?

In a room with various visuals and sounds it is always easier to pin point the visual than the sound. Too many sounds can blend and merge into one dimension. However the way sounds are used in movies for its infinite dimensions is utter brilliance. The three films that I will talk about correlating them to the use of sound in each are Troy, Mama Mia and Dil Se.

Starting with Mama Mia. Although television and film are greatly visual mediums, sound is also needed to create an extra feature to the visuals and to enhance the world on screen. What is it without its songs? Without the tireless voices of ABBA still echoing in our ears. The movie functions because of its grooving and painstakingly beautiful music. The characters each reveal themselves with the songs they sing. This musical is one of my absolute favorites. We got to know the nature of the older three girls Donna, Rosie and Tanya or the three younger ones Sophie, Lisa and Ali they all express their sentiments through music. We get to know of Tanya’s flirty nature or of Donna’s complexities and struggle between choosing her love and the father of her child after her frivolous and eventful summer all those years ago. We get to know of Sophie’s determined urge to get to know who her father really is and of her feelings towards her mother or to the man she is about to spend her life with. It is important to get to know each character personally and the songs in this movie are exactly what help with the development of each character. It’s a film that would not function without its music and sound and make it the vibrant film that it is so legendarily known to be. The use of silence and sound is done so superbly in this film it is almost brilliant. No one song is unnecessary. Each help in the progression of the movie. The sounds of the ocean and the quietness of the place they live in are also shown through those various sounds. It seems like they’re the only ones on that island, the way each voice echoes so clearly. The splash of the waves or the cry of the mother each sound is paid so much attention to.

When I think of an action and historic film like Troy firstly the thought that pops into my mind is that how can any action film even be shot without sound? What’s the bomb blasting without its sound? What’s swords clashing and blood falling without sound? What’s the sound of a Trojan horse of deceit without sound? What’s war without the sound of death ringing on our ears? In the movie Troy Based on the Grecian story of war ignited by love between Paris, Prince of Troy, and Helen, Queen of Sparta, Troy is a film which will surely raise the bar another notch.  Epic films tend to be accompanied by soundtracks that include either forgettable pop songs or an exclusively forgettable score; Wolfgang Petersen’s Greek popcorn flick Troy has both. The music that accompanies Achilles and Hector through their many trials and misfortunes is predictably similar to that of Gladiator. Incorporating Middle Eastern female vocalists into enthralling string cues and thunderous beating over endless action sequences. However in a war film its important that the use of combat and the sound of the intensity of the battle also comes across in an avid manner. If the voices overlapped at points during conversations it would become tough for the viewer to understand the context of conversation. In such films to cast actors with different and distinct voices is also extremely important because without a visual of a person it is very difficult to understand where the voice is coming from. Voice-overs may also be occurring in the film, which makes it hard to relate a voice. Each sword clashing is crucial to the film. The cries of vain during war, the bloodshed, the loss, the struggle without the sound none of these would be possible to be expressed. Gestures in this case would not be enough.

I had to include a Bollywood movie and what better than a movie that failed to captivate me except its extraordinary music, Dil Se. This is a movie where the element of sound is directly correlated to that of music. Right from the first scene in the train where the catchy song of “Chaiiya Chaiiya” leaves you murmuring its tunes, you know that this is a movie of some great music. The music really captures the mood of the movie to a large extent and is the saving grace of the romance between the actors according to me. Be it “Jiya Jale”or “Aye Ajnabi” the songs are so enthralling that you see the characters differently only because of the impact the song has on us as an audience. The beauty of the lyrics and the simplicity of the instruments and music just captivate the audience to such a large extent and for those scenes the audience fails to remove their eyes from the screen at all. The lyrics of “Aye Ajnabi” become such a core and signature component of the film that according to me without the introduction off that song the romance could be close to dead. This is another film that might have been dead without its music. The dimensions created through music and sound in this movie is unbelievable. The climax of the movie comes towards the end when the two protagonists hug and die together with the bomb blasting. We can always question as to what impact that might have made on the audience if there was no sound. The sound created a dimension and layer, which left that deafening sound banging on our eardrums.

Thus we see through these various examples how the use of sound is so significant in every genre of movies world over. How films cannot function without the music and sound. So can a film really truly be called a silent film? I think not. Our sense of sound thus seems to play an extremely large role in our understanding of films.