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Out of the Sound Suitcase

More than a music director,Sneha Khanwalkar is a traveller,a wanderlust at heart,who strives to explore the soundscape around her.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: April 13, 2012 1:49 am

More than a music director,Sneha Khanwalkar is a traveller,a wanderlust at heart,who strives to explore the soundscape around her. The 28-year-old is always on the move,constantly looking for music and talent. She travelled to the interiors of Punjab to create the rustic tunes of the 2009 hit film,Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and packed her bags for Jharkhand in search of sounds for Anurag Kashyap’s next,Gangs of Wasseypur.

So when she was approached by MTV for a travelogue-style music show,this curiousity had Khanwalkar sign up for Sound Trippin. “I don’t think I will fit in as a judge on music shows. I knew that if I would ever do anything on television,it would be a show that brings together music and travel,” she says. A weekly,the show will go on air on April 14 at 8.30pm.

Ten cities and towns,innumerable people,infinite mundane sounds and ten songs — Khanwalkar has travelled to places such as Yellapur in Karnataka,Varanasi and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh,Majuli in Assam and Qila Raipur in Punjab for the show.

With a recorder in hand,she has visited leather factories,kitchens,bus stops and captured everyday sounds such as whistles,cheers in a sportsground,the cacophony of a wedding band,a dog’s bark and people’s laughter. These sounds are then woven together to form a composition and layered with lyrics,sung by people she meets during these trips. “One doesn’t necessarily need an array of playback singers to make good music,” she points out.

It was not easy to find the right voices — while some people she met were trained in music,others were just closet singers. It was also a challenge to get them to croon without apprehensions for a stranger. “In Varanasi,we shot a meek untrained boatman performing with a trained tagda folk singer. But the latter kept imposing his superiority on the boatman. In Majuli,an Assamese girl just couldn’t sing as she was too shy of the boys in my team,” she recollects.

The show also made Khanwalkar come in close contact with other art forms of the cities she visited — especially theatre and dance. “In Kanpur,we recorded a nautanki act in a lodge. I was amazed at how double entendres are part of these people’s daily conversations. While recording,it was a riot; they picked on everything in that lodge,” she says.

An interesting cocktail of rustic,unpolished tunes with a dash of electronica,the music is innovative to say the least. The title track,for instance,retains the sounds Khanwalkar recorded at suburban Yari Road in Mumbai and she has produced it in a way that lends it a trance and electronic dance music feel.

Aesthetically shot,the series is a treat to watch. It is well-paced,Khanwalkar is spunky and the music is just what one expects from her. The concept stands out in this crowd of music shows as the viewer gets a feel of how noise can be turned into music.

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