Listen to a song composed with the sounds of people, places in Mumbai
Take a musical trip down memory lane
For city musician Sandunes or Sanaya Ardeshir, the urge to find music outside of a studio made her take up the project Searching For Sound, a global series based on found sound, produced by Red Bull Media House. For the project, Ardeshir strolled around popular landmarks of the city, such as Dadar's flower market, St Xavier's College and Chor Bazaar, to gather sounds, and created the track Switching Rails. The song also features musician Aarifah Rebello and Baul musician Malabika Brahma.
Edited excerpts from an interview.
How did you look at Mumbai through sound?
I felt connected to the city in a different way. It's quite an experience to be in a public space with a field recorder because it enhances your hearing. Mumbai is a very noisy city and that makes for a lot of content. It felt nice to re-purpose sound. And it developed a new sonic palette for me and impacted my method of production. I have been exercising the habit of building the palette and then getting into the creation process as opposed to using stock sounds and templates after this project.
Prior to this, I didn't have a substantial philosophy about the sounds of Mumbai. Once I had wrapped up, I came away feeling that the city has an essence that speaks about the work ethic and general level of high functionality that the residents possess. I feel that compared to other metropolitan cities, Mumbai is the 'can-do' capital. It was a very palpable and audible essence that I could capture, as there was so much urgency everywhere, whether it was places or people, there was a general theme of hyper productivity and getting things done. People work very hard to make a living. This resonated with me, and I would call this the sound of Mumbai.
What difference did you spot in the sounds of different places?
During daytime, it is a lot more hectic. I wouldn't have to look at the tags of my files to be able to tell what I recorded in the day and evening. Even the voices of people had a sense of relief that the day was done during evenings. It was very difficult to make all the sounds fit into one space. At one point I realised that I have way too much than I could squeeze into one song, but it all worked.
What roles did the locations play?
I created pillars that would tick-mark all boxes; ones that hold academic, cultural, geographic and historic significance. A few places such as Chor Bazaar and Dhobi Ghat were obvious choices. I also recorded at the Kanheri Caves. Despite being one of the oldest parts of the city, few seem to be aware of this hidden gem. Mumbai is an amalgamation of different cultures and traditions, which was palpable in the sound.
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