The Alternative State of Mind?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”
Friedrich Nietzsche’s words could not have been more accurate to show the progression and transformation of music over the years. Indian and western music have gone through decades of change and varies of critiques, finally achieving a high pedestal that it deserves.
Traditional music which played a big role in the communities of north and south India having a distinguishing factor depending on it’s origin are now popularized and flourished to the entire world. Music has been an important part of the lifestyle of the common man even before the regime of the colonizers could set in.
Music to celebrate holy festivals and in darbars made the environment and state of mind of the people, engaged in the festivities, a tradition followed for hundreds of years. The communities made their own music by making different kinds of wind and string instruments using natural resources.
With the rise of technology, these traditions are omnipresent with a few changes to the process of music making. Instead of local tribes crowds have been engaged to the beats of DJ’s. Instruments have got localized and have the same look and use whether it is played in India or any other western country.
This localization of the western into the Indian has been rooted through the practice of music in Goa. Goa is known as the hub of the new aged music over the past few years. From having the Ghumott as a pride instrument amongst the Goans to having pride in music festivals amongst cultures, Goa and music have come a long way.
The Portuguese intervention helped the Goan communities of Hindu and Christian practice music apart from the traditional way and introduced the westernized style of music. From playing the Ghumott to violins and percussions, to the new genre of Trance clearly shows the revolution of music.
The development of trance flourished with the 1970’s Hippie Movement. The early ideology included the counterculture values of generations disapproving with western materialism and the Vietnam War. This movement gave rise to a different set of communities that demanded peace, were naturalists, and explored psychedelic rock, sexual revolution and had a heightened use of drugs.
Trance music also known as an alternative state of consciousness or Psytrance pervades the life of every teenager till date who is introduced to crowd appealing music.
I remember one of my first concerts was a live singer, Shakira. The lit up stage, the craziness in the crowd almost camping on the grounds in the wait for one of the most revered artists, the chanting of song lyrics during the performance was one of my best experiences.
Over the years I have seen this experience of mine almost fade. From crowds like almost family to doped up alcoholics. From chanting to simply moving to beats without having a control over your body. This is the state of people while listening to trance music in recent times.
Trance was a genre of music that was unique and a difficult art of creating beats by mixing vinyl disks. Now it has become a genre that can only be enjoyed when in the state of a high. I don’t remember the last time I visited a live music concert or where I saw the crowd really indulging themselves to the beats of the rhythmic art of trance or EDM, electronic dance music, without being intoxicated.
Of course concerts like Woodstock had a large use of drugs, but the concerts had a motive of gathering people in support of a bigger cause and making them have a good time was just a part of it. It was in these concerts where alternate genres of music were experienced and encouraged.
Where are the folk? Where are the punk rocks? Where are the live?
The dominant association of drugs with Trance/EDM has almost hidden the others to a smaller sector.
The Sunburn Festival, which took place in Mumbai a few years ago, was something I was excited about, as it was a first in this city. I excitedly got my band as soon as they were out and waited for the day of the show. As soon as I entered the arena I felt like I was in a sauna of drugs. It felt as though with every breath I took I would be high, or “in an alternative state of consciousness”.
Considering every teenager is exposed to these kinds of environments, is it right to be a part of such a genre of music? There was a time where I absolutely enjoyed and loved EDM and Trance. But now is it just an excuse for people to get high? Why do artists of only these genres come on tour to our city? Where are the others? Is there such a drastic change in the mindset of people to only enjoy music when in a different state?
“Without music, life would be a mistake”
I absolutely agree with Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote. But what I ask all the music lovers is at what cost does one go to enjoy it?
Theory of film: Sound
Scientifically, sound is created when there is a mechanical disturbance from a state of equilibrium, which propagates through the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other mediums. Sound can also be seen subjectively as the human interpretation of these mechanical waves by the auditory sense.
However, Bela Balzs’s essay on sound in film shows how there are a lot of elements besides the scientific or subjective thinking of sounds, which make up sound, not only in films but also in our everyday life. Apart from the sounds heard, sounds that are seen also play an important role. Hearing and visuals have a strong connection and when integrated, help in the understanding and the generation of different sounds.
Sound in films, theatre, television, radio are a key in the understanding this connection and also understanding the role of sound in everyday life. Bela Balazs states in her essay ‘the sound film will teach us to analyze even chaotic noise with our ear and read the score of life’s symphony. Our ear will hear the different voices in the general babble and distinguish their character as manifestations of individual life. It is an old maxim that art saves us from chaos. The arts differ from each other in the specific kind of chaos which they fight against. The vocation of the sound film is to redeem us from the chaos of shapeless noise by accepting it as expression, as significance, as meaning.’
According to me sound plays the most important role for the creation of moods, settings, character sketches, expressions, reactions and the plot. This can be noticed largely in sound film. In everyday life, these can also be seen. For example, when a siren is heard on the road depending on the expression or movements of people does one realize it is for an emergency and/or death peril.
To further show the importance of sound I will be taking three different genres of films and showing the use of sound based on Bela Belazs’s essay.
An American epic romantic film, directed by James Cameron, Titanic, 1997 is one that has a strong visual and auditory connect. This movie’s elaborate costume and set designs, creates the setting of the film. However with the absence of sound, this movie would never have been able to stir the crowd that it has, and continues to for years. Christopher Boyles, Mark Ulano with the help of James Cameron have used sound to explain every scene in the movie.
Had it not been for the loud brawl of the steam from the chimneys, the Titanic would never have felt so grand and exotic in its demeanor. The clinks of the cutlery and authentic background music made during the scenes of the lunches and dinners of the upper class and revered ministers as opposed to the banging of pans and loud chanting of drunks in the service quarters could never have been signified had it not been for the dialogues, music, sound effects, costumes, and sets that were added to the scenes.
Here the sound editors and cinematographers have used sound to explain the picture scenes by showing the significance of some sound or noise. The effects of it are seen on the expressions of the characters. Therefore this doesn’t make the sound have a dramatic appeal unless it is required and is often not heard clearly by the viewer.
During the wreck of the steam engine, the only aspect of the movie, apart from the expressions and movements of the people, was the use of dramatic sound effects and music, which created the entire setting. Boyles and Ulano’s use of Asynchronous Sound, which is seen in a close-up in which the surroundings are not visible, or a sound that seeps into the shot sometimes impressing the viewer simply because the source cannot be seen, has been successful in showcasing a realistic approach of the sinking Titanic.
The raging water, the screaming passengers, the breaking and ripping of parts of the engine created an environment of terror and madness only because of the used of innumerable sounds. Had this movie been a silent film, there would be no feeling or realistic approach for the plight of the passengers that went through the horrid wreckage of the Titanic.
Another film genre, which is solely dependent on the use of sound and sound effects, are horror films. The basis of making the viewer scared and horrified is the use of loud, dramatic, and repeated music. If a horror film were watched in mute it would never create any fear. Another aspect used in this genre is the use of silence.
Silence is an acoustic effect, but only where sounds can be heard. The presentation of silence is one of the most specific dramatic effects of the sound film. These aspects can be seen in Bhool Bhulaiyaa (English: The Maze). A 2007 Indian psychological comedy horror film directed by Priyadarshan, which is the official remake of the 1993 Malayalam film, Manichitrathazhu.
This film revolves around the myth of a castle ghost causing one of the protagonists to get possessed. Whenever the scenes of the ghost would come there would be a repetition of the sound of ghunghroos (tiny bells) that was used. This created a symbol for the presence of the ghost and created a sense of fear in the viewers mind.
There was always an air of silence that pervaded during the horror sequences that was broken by one loud gash of dramatic sound. Here the visuals of the costume and make up of the ghost also played a big role. The use of intimacy of sounds played a big role in this movie. Intimacy of sounds is perceived sounds which are included in the accustomed noise of daytoday life, but which we never hear as individual sounds because they are drowned in the general din.
In this film the close-up picks up these sounds making them effective and has an influence on the sequence of actions. For example, the sound of footsteps, the creaking of the door, the sound of somebody’s voice are everyday noises. However the sound editor Pritam and cinematographer Tirru have heightened the everyday noises and given them a distinct role increasing the horror appeal of the film.
The last film that shows the importance of sound is Satyajit Ray’s 1960 Bengali film Devi. This film, which shows the obsession, herd mentality and blind faith that people have in God is fantastic in its cinematography and sound. Even though it is a Bengali film, a language unknown to me, I was able to grasp the story with ease only by observing and hearing every scene. The tone at which the actors spoke in, their reactions, the unique camera angles were all able to narrate the story even through the barrier of language.
This film that could be seen as a silent film for those unknown to the language, is yet successful in engaging the viewer and setting the plot. The remorse seen on the protagonists face when she was forced to sit on the pedestal of God can be clearly witnessed by the background music and the emotions she portrayed.
The scenes of the heightened belief of the crowds from every village in the protagonist are seen by the chants they sing and their looks of content. In this film education of the ear is required more than sight. It is through the sound played that the feeling and setting of each scene is projected.
Therefore through these three films, the importance of sound used by directors adds to their productions. Sounds heard in daily lifestyles are as important as sight. Sight is usually put on a higher pedestal and often largely dependent on. However, science tells us in fact that the ear can distinguish more delicate nuances than our eye. The number of sounds and noises a human ear can distinguish runs into many thousands far more than the shades of color and degrees of light we can distinguish.
With the use of repetition, we have created a narrative of the journey, through the entry point of the building to the lifts. The intermittently occurring voice over personalizes the track as to what india bulls means to us.
click link for soundtrack:
Our soundtrack is a compilation of what India Bulls is for us. It is essentially the journey from the time we get out of the car to the Id scan in the lobby. However the constant repetition of the whistle is metaphorical to the discipline and routine associate the building with. The background murmur is of a teacher instructing us to discover a sound for ourself, this ironic approach adds a personal element to the direct connection we make with India bulls to ISDI.
The loud, overlapping sounds project a noisy and busy environment. The feeling of always being in a hurry is another aspect projected through the soundtrack. There are two distinct sounds that are repetitive, which forms a hierarchy of sounds in the soundtrack itself. Overall, the soundtrack gives the feeling that the actions of the sounds are all taken in one place.
The repetitive sound of the whistle overpowers the entire track forming kind of a rhythm. The continuous whistle induces a fast pacing beat. With the addition of the female voice to the whistles it sounds as though a regime is being put into place. Along with these, there is a clanking sound that adds a calming more repetitive effect. What ties the entire track together is the end, because of it’s uniqueness and difference with relation to the other sounds, making it an appealing conclusion.
CD cover ideation
Krishna dancing on Kaliya
The Chola dynasty came into power in the 9th century, and ruled till the 13th century, over South India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives Islands, and even parts of the Indonesian island. During their reign poetry, drama, music, and dance flourished.
Temple bronzes produced under the Chola dynasty of south India are among the most spectacular works of art ever created in the world. During this period bronze casting reached a level of excellence, and sculptures developed a level of artistry finesse.
These works of art exemplified the graceful forms, delicate modeling, and technical sophistication. They also played a big role in demonstrating the integral role they played, and continue to play, in the rich tradition of Hindu mythology. Another key feature of these bronze sculptures is their paradoxical mix of the spiritual and the sensual.
Krishna dancing on Kaliya, one of the famous Chola bronze sculptures, rests in the Asia Society Museum, New York. This sculpture depicts the victory of Lord Krishna in overcoming Kaliya, a snake king who had been poisoning the waters of the sacred Yamuna River and terrifying the local population.
Lord Krishna’s hand gesture is like a gesture of reassurance, done to comfort his devotees. Apart from the spiritual characteristics that makes this sculpture an idol of worship, the sensual appearances are unique, and seen only in the Chola works of art. The figure of this masculine God isn’t like the perceived body of an extremely built figure but holds a petite persona yet embodying masculinity. The snake holds a sexual connotation as is phallic in nature.
The Chola sculptures have idolised forms of beauty, which make the art works striking and different. The position of Lord Krishna is popular symbol for Gods. The intricate detail giving for ornamentation makes the model seem real, projecting the excellence of their craftsmanship.
Lasya, in the context of the Hindu mythology, is known as the soft and ‘Shringarik’ (to dress up, be erotic) dance performed by Goddess Parvati (Goddess Uma). The origination of this dance form was when Lord Shiva had killed the demon, ‘Tripurasur’ and danced in rage, also known as the ‘Tandava’. The tandava had vigorous and brisk movements giving the feeling of the whole world being in a process of destruction. In order to pacify and please Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati performed the Lasya in which the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic also.
Lasya is also known as the female version of the Tandava. There are three types of Lasya Nritya that are practiced today: ‘Vikat Lasya’, ‘Visham Lasya’, and ‘Laghu Lasya’. Vikat Lasya is a dance, which mainly revolves around the rhythms, and emotions of dance. Visham Lasya uses a special footwork and horizontal and slanted movements. Laghu Lasya is a dance where sounds are produced on the earth through the use of anklets, etc.
Instruments with soft sounds and a high brass quality are used like the ‘Manjira’, ‘Flute’, ‘Ghungroo’, ‘Madal’, ‘Khol’, ‘Tabala’, and ‘Thumburu’. As this dance is mostly performed by females, the costumes are shringarik and attractive. The costumes are usually Chunnatdar Dhoti, a broad Waist Bandh, and Patka. They also wear garlands of flowers in their hair and have bright or dark colors of Chunnis. They were pearls and flowers in their necks and hands.
This dance form flourished when Goddess Parvati taught this dance to Usha, the daughter of Daitya Bannasur. Usha popularized it in Vrindavan. The female performers were known as Devadasis who performed this dance in temples. These devadasis were accomplished artists who would sing, dance, and play many instruments. But this tradition came to an end as the devadasis lost their position in the society. Then dance entered the royal courts. Here the artists called Rajanartakis, performed in the courts of kings who gave them shelter. Even these were accomplished artists like devadasis.
Many of the Indian dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Mannipuri, Oddisi, Kuchupudi etc. owe their roots to Lasya.
In the mood for love
‘In the mood for love’ directed by Kar Wai Wong is set in a Shanghai enclave in Hong Kong in 1962. This movie is centered on two people who have rented adjacent rooms in a small, cramped up apartment. The journey of the protagonists through unrequited love in their marital life and a building of a relationship with each other, are shown in a romantic melancholic manner.
Wong’s use of repetition, colour, and series of revelations have helped in the development of the plot. There are contrasting factors among the protagonists and the other characters. Chow’s friend, Su’s boss and the landladies have abrasively loud characters, differing extensively from the quiet and soft personalities of the lead couple which make the journey through the movie unique.
Apart from the use of the supporting characters with distinct personalities, Wong has also been successful in using the absence of characters in the plot of the story. The lead couple’s cheating spouses are never seen in totality. They are either covered by the corridors of furniture or just by their voices. However the viewer can still feel their impact and their presence.
There is a dwindling of characters towards the end of the movie, which is another contrasting setting chosen by the director. The compact tenant that is seen crowded with people and packed with noise throughout the movie is seen deserted and uninhabited by the end, which adds to the essence of absence. The struggle of being cheated on, and moving into a complicated relationship with the cheated, can be seen exemplified by the empty flats and the less of characters through the film.
The protagonists relationship with their spouses that was lived in solitary can be mirrored to the repetitive use of long and empty corridors. The presence of these corridors was always shown in the scenes where the protagonists were away from each other, or thinking about their unfaithful marriage. A distinct frame, which repeats through the movie, is the position of the protagonist in the corridors, as they are either standing outside of them or it is empty. This can be related to the loneliness felt by the lead couple and their attempts to put an end to it.
Wong’s use of repetition seen by the constant use of frames with corridors is also given importance to by the cinematographers: Mark Lee Ping Bin, Kwan Pun Leung, and Christopher Doyle. They have made the use of tight and long shots extensively during these frames to increase the thematic and emotional aspect of the film.
Apart from the style of shooting, the cinematographers have also made use of repetition when they show scenes of the protagonist and a build up of their relationship. The scenes of the lead couple even when they were together were always shown through a mirror or a window and never seen in the same frame. In these single shots, every reaction that had its own identity was captured and shown to the viewer. Therefore they have metaphorically shown the duality amongst the protagonists even when they are in the same setting.
The running of parallel narratives along with the tragedies and growing love story between the protagonists is an interesting tool used by the director to break a monotony that could set into the story line. These different narratives are seen linked to each other with their relation to the leads. Apart from the narratives of the surrounding characters, the different roles played by the protagonists, when they tried mimicking the relation of their spouses or the scene of how they perceived the affair to start, ran parallel to the center story.
Music is a huge contributor to the movie. It keeps the story interesting and engages the viewer by projecting the feeling of an action sequence even though there is none. Throughout the film there are only two tracks that are used. This music is used during the scenes of revelations, or during the build up of the leads relation. The monotony of the music creates a routine for the couple and the repetition of it causes their relationship to grow stronger. The recurrent tracks also play a role in associative memory, as the sound of the track will always make the viewer relate to the protagonist. Apart from associating the viewers with the central characters, the music also reflects how the lead had the same thought processes at the same time.
The change in the moods of the protagonist can be clearly seen through the changes in the costumes of Su. In the beginning of the film, Su wears dark colours with striped patterns, projecting the dismal mood. The time when Su and Chow start getting to know each other over their lunch dates, she starts to wear bright colours with floral patterns, projecting the mood of a blossoming relation.
Kar Wai Wong has made use of repetitive motifs to make the viewer resonate and relate to multiple signifiers that can be seen projecting from this film. His jagged edits, and use of colour has been used to symbolize the passage of time. The last scene where Chow whispers in the hole of a tree creates a melancholic romantic and emotional mood. The fact that still the very end of the movie, the protagonists were still with their spouses and had moved on with time, showed their realization of how they were never meant to be. The compact use of dialogues and tight shots of expressions, helped the viewer grasp and become a part of the journey and exceptional love story.
This wooden structure was made for my project called ‘Flight’. The structure had to reflect flight or a perception of it. My perception of flight is shown through an abstracted form of birds. This structure can be perceived in a number of ways besides that of flight.
When the structure is closed, one of the first formations it takes is that of two rings intersecting each other. However when the structure is opened as seen in the second picture and each part of the structure is opened up as well, it takes the form of an exploded ball.
The appearance of the structure also resembles a children’s toy that help in their motor skills. The circular form can also be seen as the shape of the alphabet o.
The opened form, with the difference in thickness and increasing heights, starts to form a maze or a jungle gym where the level of difficulty increases with every rise.
The flexible nature of the structure creates a sense of fluidity. This flexible and fluid state can also be a representative of an abstracted dancer striking a pose in the purest form. The pure and raw feature comes through the use of material, which is wood, and the fact that the structure is not coloured. Which is a factor to show it as pure without any use of façades.
This picture clicked on an evening at marine drive through a car’s window can draw multiple relations to nature and the metropolitan city Mumbai. The fading light of the sunset, the tornado-like formation of the clouds, the groups of scattered people and the tall skyline of Mumbai are the most prominent. The feeling of movement is very strong because of the blurry state of the trees, the people, the sky and the pathway.
The clouds that have a tornado formation, spreading towards the right of the pictures gives a feeling of a surging storm. The slant angle at which the clouds are positioned show the direction the storm is moving, towards the cityscape.
The movement of the storm is also seen because of the difference of colour in the skies. The contrast of the dark blue at the left of the image to that of the right can almost show the storm engulfing the skies.
Another relation this picture projects is the dynamism of nature that is innately changing. This change can be seen through the sensation of movement in the clouds, trees and seas. However this contradicts the still and concrete structures of the dark coloured buildings of Mumbai that show the struggle of urbanization.
A third perspective shows the relation between man and nature. Mans achievements and progress shown by the skyline is seen as insignificant by the omnipresence of nature which can foreshadow the grandness of the tall buildings. Seen by the clouds progressing towards the row of buildings.